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Everything posted by Dante

  1. I think this discussion has missed what I see to be the money quote from that Swift interview, and it's not the one where he says that parents should think about how they're disadvantaging others by reading to their kids. He's describing the fundamental task of the philosophical work under discussion, and he describes it like this: He assumes that the moral default is perfect equality, and that any deviation from this outcome has to be justified on some independent moral grounds. He does indeed think that many parenting activities (such as bedtime reading) can be justified on indepe
  2. Well I'm late to this thread, and it appears to have become somewhat contentious, but I just wanted to post a resource that might be interesting for the original question. George Walsh, a philosopher who largely agreed with Rand's theses, maintained that she had misunderstood Kant on some fundamental issues. He puts forth his own interpretation of Kant (limited to the area of metaphysics) in contrast to hers, and catalogs the areas where he thinks they are in agreement, and where their significant differences lie. It is available online here: http://enlightenment.supersaturated.com/obje
  3. They are not striking simply because they face a few taxes and regulations. They are striking because they live under a truly totalitarian, evil government. Although it's common for fans of Ayn Rand to say that this or that new regulation sounds like it could have been ripped from the pages of Atlas Shrugged, the fictional government in the novel is actually far, far worse than the government that we have today. Recall that Ayn Rand was born in Russia and lived through the Russian Revolution and Bolshevik rule before escaping to the U.S. In the 40s and 50s, when she was writing Atlas Shrug
  4. Wow, I hadn't even read this when I posted my last post but it proves my point exactly. I completely agree; owning the house inevitably gives you ownership of the dirt that it is on. Now you're attempting to separate the dirt from the land... but the dirt is the land. That's what land is. Defending property rights in buildings, agricultural fields, roadways etc is defending property rights in the corresponding land; you cannot defend one without the other, as is clearly illustrated here (even if you don't admit it).
  5. Air is almost perfectly non-excludable and non-rivalrous, and nearly impossible to assign private property rights over. Land is not. The examples you give for using the land without interfering do not use the land at all. Laying cables far below my land is not using my land; nor is flying an airplane over it. Owning a plot of land doesn't give you rights in an column of infinite height above and below your land. It gives you ownership over a limited region above and below the surface and no further; the limitations are defined by whether use of those areas interferes with your use of t
  6. You can separate them conceptually, for analytic purposes, but you cannot separate them in practice. To own a building is to own the land beneath it; you get to decide to what use that land is put and exclude others from using it for their own purposes. If you decide to transfer your property rights in the building, whoever you sell them to or will them to will also need the ability to decide how to use the land beneath and to exclude others from using it. Without this right, the building can be knocked down or removed from the land by anyone who wishes, as they have just as much right to t
  7. And after you've built a building on the land, what if someone else wishes to use that same land for a farm? Are they entitled to knock down your building? If yes, then I hope you can see that the unraveling of all property rights proceeds in quick order. If no, then you've used the land for your own purposes, and have excluded the land from being used by others for their own various purposes. What is this if not a property right?
  8. One of the major themes of Atlas Shrugged is that active evasion, the refusal to know or see what one should (by all rights) realize is at the root of the evil that plagues the book. In the very first passage of Part II of the book, Stadler is talking to Dr. Ferris about Project X. After Dr. Stadler inquires about it, Ferris replies, "The work has to do with sound. But I am sure it would not interest you. It is a purely technological undertaking." Dr. Stadler: "Yes, do spare me the story. I have no time for your technological undertakings." Dr. Ferris: "May I suggest that it would be ad
  9. He delivered the power of science into the hands of those people that wielded political power. His name single-handedly led to the creation of the State Science Institute (an institution whose evil nature is gradually revealed over the course of the book). Recall the passage when he is introduced as a character: "At the age of forty, Dr. Robert Stadler addressed the nation, endorsing the establishment of a State Science Institute. "Set science free of the rule of the dollar," he pleaded. The issue had hung in the balance... The name of Dr. Robert Stadler acted upon the country like the cosm
  10. You do know that second post is filled with references, right? BGE stands for Beyond Good and Evil, followed by specific page numbers...
  11. The Atlas Society recently published a blog post about Objectivism and the family, in response to a Salon article that referred to Objectivism as anti-family. The salon article can be found here, and the TAS response here. This prompted me to read the original TAS article that the Salon guy linked to, found here. I found the account of Objectivism and family relations highly unsatisfactory, particularly as applied to sibling relationships, and I decided that I wanted to write up the response below. In her article on family relations and Objectivism, Malini Kochhar attempts to lay out a vi
  12. A couple of points on this. First of all, I would strongly disagree that Shylock represents true justice in The Merchant of Venice. His whole motivation is a personal grudge against Antonio, and he attempts to use the laws of his time to carry out this vendetta. The proper counter-point to this sort of behavior is not blanket mercy or compassion, regardless of whether the individual deserves it. These are just two sides to the same false choice. The real alternative is true justice, which can include extending mercy and compassion, but only when the individual is deserving. Rand's own
  13. Objectivism requires, in a nutshell, that you do not attempt to gain values through dishonesty. This means more than simply ensuring that what you say isn't technically a lie; it requires that you endeavor to appeal to others' reason and intelligence rather than their stupidity and gullibility. In both of your examples cited above, the person is clearly behaving dishonestly, and in both cases it comes in the same form. The person is failing to disclose a fact that they know will be material to the decision of the person that they are tricking. In your original example, the guy clearly knows
  14. From where I'm standing, it means that your posts typically make no sense whatsoever.
  15. McCaskey elaborates more on these claims in a draft of a book chapter on induction and concepts; the draft can be found online here: http://www.johnmccaskey.com/joomla/images/for-download/PittVolume.pdf In it, he provides an overview of the history of two competing ways of viewing induction: induction as justifying propositional inference vs. induction as forming correct concepts and definitions. Although the 'problem of induction' refers to the first view of induction, the second view was the prevalent one during Hume's lifetime. Thus, on page 15, McCaskey writes: "Eventually there
  16. This might be of interest. I was just re-reading Robert Tracinski's "What Went Right?" series of articles, and he discusses Julian Simon at some length, tracing his impact on thinking about population issues and citing him as an example of an intellectual forming principles consonant with Objectivism first-hand, inductively, and therefore playing a positive cultural role:
  17. Just wanted to come in and share my two cents. I agree with the claim that inviting someone up to your place (for coffee, or whatever) after a date carries a sexual subtext. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with communicating one's intentions with subtext, rather than explicitly, so long as you are committed to making sure that there are no misinterpretations between you and the other person. I'll use this particular situation (from the OP) as an example. The man is clearly trading on the ambiguity of the situation in order to get her up to his room, by any means possible. He ignore
  18. Objectivist journalist Robert Tracinski apparently lives in Cantor's district, here is his take on the primary: Why We Fired Eric Cantor
  19. You act as though she simply picked definitions that she subjectively liked the best. In fact, she developed an entire theory about the best way to form concepts and definitions, and then applied this theory to come to the concepts and definitions that she used in the rest of her philosophy. You've gotten this entirely backwards. The concepts and definitions that Rand used were not set as axioms; as I stated above, she lays out at some length her ideas about how concepts are to be formed. We are all free to determine for ourselves, and debate with others, the merits of her theory o
  20. It bears pointing out that corporate welfare, in the form of direct subsidies to corporations, is not the main form of crony capitalism. Most crony capitalism takes the form of more subtle influence of government regulation, in an attempt to put one's competitors at a disadvantage. Take the Dodd-Frank legislation as an example. The idea that a new massive government regulation, over 2000 pages in length, is actually going to help the "Too Big to Fail" problem by making companies smaller is laughable. Regardless of what the regulations say, the fact that there are 2000 pages of them with
  21. The question of the wage gap between men and women has been refuted time and again. This is a fairly good article that was written in response to President Obama claiming in the state of the union that women make 77% of what men make. In short, that number is just the median female wage vs. the median male wage. It does not control for different occupation choices, differential time off for raising children, different hours worked, different education choices, etc. Once you control for the really obvious stuff, the wage gap shrinks from 23% to 5%. In addition to being a red herring
  22. The essay in the OP doesn't make a single reference to the purpose of the metaphysical/man-made distinction, the reason that Rand makes it in the first place. Ridiculous. The purpose of the distinction that Rand puts forth is to aid in one's moral judgment of facts. Specifically, it helps distinguish facts which can properly be judged (such as the structure and powers of a government) from those which cannot (such as the occurrence of a storm). This is a necessity for man for several reasons. Passing moral judgment on metaphysical facts (such as blaming a storm for the damage it caused
  23. Yeah, the movie definitely wasn't over an hour in, and if you walked out at that point you basically missed the point of the movie. ****SPOILERS FOLLOW.****** The theme of the movie, in my view, was the fantasy of 'something for nothing,' played out in its most extreme form. DiCaprio's character (Jordan Belfort) basically walks into a stock trading firm and figures out a way to make millions of dollars with nothing more than smooth talk (and fraud). For a lot of people, this is basically their ideal life, and the movie certainly indulges in showing this fantasy brought to life on th
  24. Well my own research focuses on the National banking period in particular (1863-1913), so that's what I know the most about, but that is also when most of the nationwide panics occurred, so that might be of interest to you. There's a good paper available here that gives an introduction to the regulatory structure of the national banking system, by Bruce Champ . There are also a few other papers in that series that discuss the national bank note puzzle and silver certificates. Also, Banking Panics of the Gilded Age is the most recent comprehensive study of financial panics during the National
  25. When a particular argument requires a caveat in order to be correct, it's not unreasonable to expect someone making that argument to include the caveat.
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