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  1. I'm a graduate student in theoretical physics, and his extremely subjectivist view of quantum theory is neither canonical, necessary, nor reasonable. In fact, modern quantum physics, equipped with protected and weak quantum measurements has been able to uncover much more of the previously "hidden" (or as Mr. Wilson would say non-existent) quantum world. For example, using weak measurements experimenters at the University of Toronto were able to map the average trajectories of photons in the double slit experiment, while determining which slit each photon went through, WITHOUT destroying the interference pattern. Also, more importantly, even during a strong quantum measurement (one which appreciably disturbs the system in question), it is not necessary for a human observer to actually OBSERVE the measurement or its results to have the same physical effect - which further discredits the subjectivist view of knowledge in quantum mechanics. Aside from his erroneous physical understanding, Mr. Wilson commits a larger philosophical error by taking quantum physics out of its proper observed context and applying it in an over generalized manner. Unless you're a nano-technology engineer or a particle physicist then quantum mechanics is almost certainly completely unrelated to your life in any way whatsoever.
  2. I think its important to emphasize the importance of long term happiness in your argument. Many people view rational self-interest as seizing the maximum amount of benefit in the immediate present as opposed to finding important goals and working towards them in the long term. Happiness changes over weeks, not over the course of hours. At the same time, you need to be open and honest about your motive for presenting the argument, otherwise he might sense that you're evading an issue purposefully or subconsciously.
  3. I haven't been able to dig up a pre-print (or access the actual journal article) yet. From what I gather from the pop science articles, this paper discusses an experiment which uses nonlinear optical effects to gather information about a momentum probability distribution without sacrificing information about particle position. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle requires that certain complimentary pieces of information cannot be mutually extracted from a physical system. A particle cannot give off position information without stealing some information about momentum. When a particle is at a definite exact position, quantum mechanics predicts that it can have any momentum whatsoever. This research shows that a particle with a very precise position will have a momentum obeying a reasonable probability distribution. In my view this may prove to be a small victory for physical realism (the philosophical position that physical reality exists independently). I'll keep looking for more information.
  4. You might be interested in the videos by Stefan Molyneux on the same subject - he's a once objectivist who has a unique perspective on the issue.
  5. Other people already answered the questions sufficiently, so I'm only approaching property right from a more concrete perspective. 1. For a scientist being allowed to think means being allowed to check thinking with experiments. Furthermore, scientists think about the results of experiments which may be performed, based on the results of prior experiments. Without the ability to earn property or material resources a scientist cannot actually perform experiments, and no scientific thinking is possible in the realm of natural philosophy. The more ambitious the man and the greater his vision - the more long term his effort will be and the more he will need property rights. Whether you're trying to draft a theoretical model or create a business, you need the product of your labor to remain in your hands. "When you clamor for public ownership of the means of production, you are clamoring for public ownership of the mind." - AR
  6. Ayn Raid said: "A group, as such, has no rights. A man can neither acquire new rights by joining a group nor lose the rights which he does possess. The principle of individual rights is the only moral base of all groups or associations." What individual man has the right to tax his neighbors? The social contract is invalid, because individuals do not have the right to create contracts for other men - so therefore groups do not have the right to create contracts for other men. I do not care what some tyrants in Washington D.C. vote to do with my life, because it is not their life to vote on. Grames, you said that no moral duties exist, but you said that in a proper society I could be forced to pay taxes by (moral) law. For a law to be moral it must be necessary for my life, but to say that I _MUST_ contribute to my own welfare is to make protecting values a MORAL DUTY. If you advocate taxes, you advocate duty and murder, no matter how you try to dress it up. A voluntary tax isn't really a tax, its a donation. Claiming that donations are moral and calling them taxes, just so one can say, "Taxation can be moral" is a laughable abuse of language. As if changing the meaning of the word taxation somehow allows one to change the moral stature of a man who takes property by force. I also find the following statement to be absolutely collectivist, however the author of the statement may have not been thinking about what he was saying? "If you think Ayn Rand has contradicted herself, in writing and in such an important article, you need to check your premises." Another human being is never the standard of truth.
  7. A brilliant argument I first heard from Stefan Molyneux involves starting with the question, "I respect your right to disagree with me. Will you extend the same courtesy and respect my right to disagree with you?" If they say no, they're not actually open to debate and continuing would have been stupid anyway. Once the conversant says, "Of course I will respect your right to disagree with me on ______ (i.e. taxes)." At this point you simply point out the blatant contradiction inherent in him advocating a position which involves the initiation of force. If he advocates FORCING you to participate in his social program through taxation, he does not really support your right to disagree. The whole problem with the social contract is that people want to replace reason and self-interest with force and duty (which is the opposite of being allowed to disagree). The root of the validity of this argument lies in Ayn Rand's observation that force negates free thought.
  8. Correct physical reasoning (even to a non-Objectivist theoretical physicist) would involve drawing general/universal principles from the observed world. Its okay to have inspiration, but it has to at least relate to, explain, or unify some already existent principles or observables. Learn some math, get a basic introductory physics textbook. Geometry and algebra are your friends.
  9. "If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man’s only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a “moral commandment” is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed." - Rand If you want to look at people, do it. Morality is about choosing to think so that you do not want to do irrational things. First you come to understand why an action threatens your happiness intellectually, and then later you'll come to understand it emotionally. Correcting the basic premises which direct your emotions will take time and work, but it is the key to reaching integrity and getting the weight off of your mind. 1. Don't let guilt run your life - that's the opposite of philosophy. Have fun with it. 2. Don't let people bother you when they demand unearned love, forgiveness, admiration, or respect. Simply understand that you cannot actually give these things - because they are automatic responses to virtue in other men. You'll forgive someone when you see he's learned a moral lesson, not when he coerces forgiveness out of you 3. Be comfortable with judging people when you meet them. Its a virtue, its natural, and its necessary for identifying the good. 4. Consider therapy to get over your fear of others. You're going to have to understand how you formed your premises if you ever want to change them.
  10. Temperature with the addition of negative absolute temperature is just a generalization of the concept of temperature. Generalizations such as this are not meant to invalidate the normally observed 'temperature' (they can't). Physicists often introduce generalized concepts in order to make complex systems more understandable. 0K represents the temperature at which atoms do not move, whether negative temperature exists or not.
  11. Atheism is not an ideological position. If everyone happened to be atheist, certainly nobody would discuss atheism. If almost everyone happened to be atheist, non-atheists would be seen as isolated madmen who talk to snakes and burning bushes. Similarly in categorizing physical health, I do not know of any word for a person currently without cancer, because not having cancer is the norm of human life. Also, I spend no time each day practicing the non-belief of Zeus, Set, or Odin even though my atheism refers as much to those gods as it does to any modern pantheon. Da Vinci drew a model helicopter and presented a testable hypothesis based on his thinking. Da Vinci was a theoretician, but he wasn't a mystic. He understood he could extend the principles of wind resistance and mechanical work to fly, whereas mystics dream up non-existent principles out of their non-thinking. He understood he could extend these principles because contradictions cannot exist, whereas mystics understand nothing and live in their self-created dreamland. A thinker does not know everything, but he does know knowledge is possible. If a god did exist, it would be bound by reason and evidence just like everything else. If an agnostic claims a being may exist which repudiates logic, he is actually claiming that reason and evidence are not valid (i.e. do not apply to everything which exists). If you do not believe in contradictions however, then any 'god' you think may exists is not a 'god' in the traditional sense and you need a new word. Its either non-contradiction (reason) or your god (faith) but not both.
  12. Look at the argument rephrased: 1. Only statements about something that exists can be true or false. (Assume for reductio) 2. "Contradictions exist" is a statement about something that does not exist, namely contradictions. 3. Therefore "contradictions exist" is neither true nor false. (By 1) 4. But if contradictions do not exist, then "contradictions exist" is false. 5. Therefore "contradictions exist" is false, in contradiction with 4. 6. Therefore, by reductio ad absurdum, 1 is false.
  13. "Bugaboos do not exist because Bugaboos, by postulation, are perfectly round, perfectly square creatures." This needs to be broken into its assumptions. DEF A - A Bugaboo is a perfectly round, perfectly square creature (A requires BOTH B and C) DEF B - A perfectly round creature contains no edges DEF C - A perfectly square creature contains edges (B and C are contradictory) The axiom of non-contradiction states that contradictions do not exist and so the bugaboo does not exist by definition. In fact, asserting the existence of the Bugaboo is the same as asserting the existence OF a contradiction, since it has contradictory properties. Please reread the last two sentences. You begin by asserting a contradiction exists and then proceed to "prove" things based on that point to create another 'contradiction'. However, the argument's premise in pointing out the second contradiction is that contradictions do not exist, thereby revealing a contradiction in the author's thinking.
  14. Since the issue of this thread is the WIKILEAKS release and not the morality of the soldier releasing data, I think its a little irrational to get into an emotional frenzy about the soldier. As for the morality of the wikileaks operators, it may be stated that they attempted to contact the department of state and ask which documents should be censored or omitted from the release for legitimate reasons (i.e. to protect life/liberty). I think the behavior of WikiLeaks is appropriate and will have a positive influence on the world. Democracy isn't about voluntarily electing dictators, its about choosing representatives of the people. Requiring State employees to keep all government operations secret, and then never releasing that information essentially uses force to keep the American people ignorant indefinitely. If you can keep the past 30 years a secret, its very easy to lie about what constitutes a proper use of force.
  15. Photons do not emit photons to attract other photons or to 'interact' in the kinematic sense. Gluons (strong force) on the other hand can "emit" gluons to attract other gluons creating a 'strongly' nonlinear effect and making the strong force the beast that it is. The effect in the double slit experiment is the superposition of two (or more) photons occupying the same regions of space.
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