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Everything posted by Dante

  1. Do you think that your reasons would apply to every individual (even if they didn't recognize them right now), by virtue of their nature, or do you consider them your own personal preferences?
  2. I agree with your ideas about habit formation, and certainly people use this reasoning as a rationalization for a self-destructive lifestyle. However, there is a place for getting some real-world experience of "what is out there," what a real sexual relationship is like to be in, what is actually important to you in such a relationship, etc before you go straight for the deepest human connection you can imagine, with someone who shares all your highest values. Any line of reasoning can be abused, of course, but that doesn't mean it isn't valid.
  3. You seem to be laboring under the idea that Objectivism doesn't already take account of the facts you've illuminated about might and power. It does, which is precisely why it advocates as an ideal end goal a government which uses its own might to enforce the rights of its citizens as against the might of potential aggressors, both individuals and states. However, Objectivism also incorporates facts that you are missing, facts that form the foundation for an objective morality, for a stronger foundation of moral 'shoulds' than simply your "I want to." These are the objective facts of human surivival and flourishing, which allow us to argue for limited government as an objective requirement of human flourishing rather than as simply something that we want.
  4. We certainly have to make them illegal, and we do use might embodied in a government in order to do so. However, the question of what things it is right for the government to ban and what it is not has to be settled by moral philosophy in order to advocate for a different form of government. Once again, you completely ignore the normative in favor of the descriptive. The truth is, we need both, one to understand the world around us as it is, and the other to show us the way the world should be, and what direction we should try to move it.
  5. Well I'm glad you've managed to characterize the positions of those who disagree with you so accurately.
  6. Grames, I think you might be on to something. I'd tend to draw a distinction between people who have a sexually loose period in their youth, but eventually settle down, and people who are determined never to settle down or to find one person that they can invest deeply in, romantically and sexually. I think the real hindrance to one's life and happiness is not a few years of fooling around in one's youth, but rather a failure to ever grow out of this phase and find someone to build a life with. Obviously you should still be discriminating and careful even in this 'youthful' period, but expecting one's first sexual partner to be a lifelong love can have its own negative consequences. This looser attitude towards sex doesn't really become a problem until it becomes permanent.
  7. That's fine; that's not what intellectualammo is saying. He's clearly advocating for the idea that might makes right, that "right" and "wrong" are simply labels for whatever philosophy the most powerful person or group happens to be forcing on everyone else.
  8. Not precisely. The Objectivist case does indeed rest upon the fact that each individual must think, decide, and act for himself in order to achieve the best life possible. This comes from the self-oriented nature of life; no one else can do your living for you. However, this does not mean that objectively true moral principles are impossible to form, or that these principles do not apply to people who do not recognize them. Deciding on the right or wrong action in a particular case is indeed an individual decision, but there is an objectively right and an objectively wrong way to do so. The Objectivist case for limited government does not rest on the notion that no one ever knows what is best for anyone else; in fact, Objectivist moral principles tell us precisely what the best way to live is, for everyone. We need limited government because the only way for a person to truly follow moral principle and flourish is to understand it himself and apply it individually to his own life, a task no one else can do for him. intellectualammo seems to be saying here that the concepts of "right" and "wrong" have no meaning outside of a human-made social system which assigns these concepts to particular actions. The Objectivist view is precisely the opposite; that even alone on a desert island, given that one wants to survive, there is a right and a wrong way to act. Right and wrong are not fully human creations; they arise out of the choice to live, and therefore arise through human involvement, but after that point we can't simply decide that something right or wrong by societal decree. The facts of survival and flourishing make it so. Laissez-faire capitalism doesn't make the initiation of force wrong; it is wrong because it is contrary to the nature and requirements of human life. LFC simply codifies moral principle in an objective legal system. intellectualammo, your doctrine of "might makes right" confuses the descriptive and the normative. More precisely, it does away with the normative by saying that whatever happens is right because, by definition, the person trying to make it happen had the might to make it so. That would be fine as a descriptive statement, replacing "that was right" with simply "that happened," but putting it forth as normative in addition to descriptive simply codifies a vacuous moral system.
  9. You might try Kelley and Thomas' The Logical Structure of Objectivism. They reformulate and add a few things, which you'll be able to recognize if you are indeed familiar with Rand's original presentation, but it does a good job on clearly illustrating the structure of support for some key Objectivist principles, and its diagrammatic style adds to the clarity immensely. Also, it's available free online, here.
  10. $700 billion is simply the amount of money that went out on the fiscal side. Let's not forget about the $7.7 trillion that the Fed lent out free to irresponsible banks Also keep in mind that number is only going to go up, what with Bernanke's plans to keep interest rates at zero until at least late 2014. Not to mention the fact that we're one more Euro-debt-crisis scare away from QE3. People attempting to evaluate the level of government involvement following this crisis ignore the monetary authorities at their own peril. I agree with you that explicit socialism has not and will not come to America. Its credibility in the Western world is shot since the Soviet Union collapsed. However, the new incarnation of that old chestnut is government micromanagement of every aspect of the economy through infinite regulation, and it's hard to argue that this one is less dangerous, only less overt.
  11. So... you should have named this topic "Obama's Birth Certificate *WAS* Digitally Scanned". I guess when you state it like that, it looks pretty uncontroversial, considering that it was put on the internet digitally. More accurate than "faked" though.
  12. To summarize, you completely disagree with the entirety of the Objectivist ethics, for which you would substitute hedonism.
  13. What in the heck does being well-versed in Objectivism have to do with evaluating the credibility of the source of this particular claim?
  14. Dante


    The difference is that dollars must be accepted in the U.S. by legislative fiat, and as a result of this it has also become our unit of account. There is more to currency than simply a medium of exchange; it is used as the base unit for essential business functions like accounting. This is why playing with the value of the dollar has devastating real effects. This hypothetical switching off the dollar process you describe would be a disaster for all dollar-holders except for the first few, especially if it happened overnight. The more people tried to move off the dollar, the more worthless it would become, and the vast majority of dollar holders would be left with bank accounts not worth enough to buy even 5 euros on the forex market by the time they tried to do so.
  15. It is a mistake to think that simple fundamental laws and principles are incapable of producing complex outcomes. We observe this both with evolution and with things like spontaneous order, a major component in a free market society. You have not offered any way to either a.) measure complexity, or b.) determine "how much" complexity a process like evolution could create. Since this is in fact a futile task, the argument for ID inevitably reduces to hand-waving, as it has here.
  16. Certainly, there are a number of valid macroeconomic uses for empirical economics. Money is inherently a macroeconomic phenomenon, and there are a number of empirical regularities concerning the behavior and effects of various monetary phenomena. For example, monetary shocks take about 5 quarters to affect output, and 6 quarters to affect inflation. These are purely economic regularities, and yet they are important to any investor or economist wishing to forecast the likely effects of monetary policy.
  17. Dante


    The dollar will never be replaced so long as legal tender laws require it to be accepted as legal tender in the U.S.
  18. The argument simply points out a contradiction in the design argument. If complexity implies design, and the designer is a complex sentient being, then he needs a designer himself, and so on. You don't need to go to the data when an argument is self-contradictory. That's how logic works.
  19. It is a mistake to attempt to classify an entire scientific field as either quantitative or qualitative. Some questions within any given field can be addressed quantitatively, and others are by nature not quantifiable. Physics might represent an extreme case where almost every relevant question is quantifiable, but in economics or psychology, for example, there are questions which are quantitative in nature and questions which aren't. So, I've been having some of these thoughts churning for a while throughout going to PhD school for economics while also having respect for Austrian economics, and I'm gonna choose this point to just put some of them down. This isn't picking on you or this particular link so much, just stuff I've been chewing on for a while. Here goes. Rothbard is mistaken to dismiss wholesale the methodology that he outlines in four steps as "positivism" in that piece. There are plenty of stylized facts which we observe with regularity but which are not well understood, and proposing and testing explanations of these facts is a worthwhile enterprise. His rejection is based on his argument that Step 3, the testing step, is impossible, with the example of price inflation. Here he is simply mistaken; the entire goal of statistics and econometrics is to isolate and test variables in an environment where direct experimentation is not possible. Of course, it is true that every econometric methodology and equation has assumptions imbedded in it, and the strength of such an analysis ultimately rests on heuristic arguments about the plausibility of those assumptions (usually, that the dependent variable is uncorrelated with the error terms in an econometric equation). There have been some incredibly embarrassing empirical papers published relying on assumptions that can be shown to be wildly inappropriate. This should caution the economist when interpreting the results of such methods, but it is not an argument for the wholesale rejection of this kind of testing. Sometimes, a very good case can be made that the assumptions are accurate, and the econometric analysis that results is therefore definitive. Incidentally, his reference to the "well-known social science analogue of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle" is indeed well-known in economic circles as the Lucas critique, and no economics paper that fails to confront it will be taken seriously in modern academia. I share Rothbard's regard for the methodology of praxeology; making deductions from true facts is a methodologically sound way of forming general principles about economics. However, if this were all economics was, it would be extremely limited in what it could tell us about the real world. Often such a process of deduction leads to two theoretical effects which work in opposite directions, and without turning to the data at that point, one is left unable to make any final conclusions. Oftentimes, the data allows us to conclude in such a situation that one effect is typically much more significant than the other, leaving us ahead of where we were before data analysis. It always strikes me as odd that Austrian economists such as Mises and Rothbard reject any sort of attempt to quantify relationships between economic variables, given their regard for the ability of entrepreneurs to navigate the marketplace. Rothbard, for instance, says in that article: Of course, he is correct that everything on which such a numerical relationship depends could change by tomorrow. And yet, the methodology he rejects is exactly what entrepreneurs do when they attempt to predict market demand in order to decide how much to produce, what price to set, etc. What does he think butter manufacturers rely on when they decide how much to produce? Rothbard and Mises consistently defend the ability of entrepreneurs to develop methods of meeting market demand as well as is possible; how does he think they do it? They do it by relying on the relative stability of economic relationships that have been shown to be pretty stable in the past. Of course, these relationships are based on consumer valuations at the core, and they could change drastically tomorrow. Sometimes they do, and entrepreneurs go bankrupt, and economists relying on these relationships say things that are way off. However, most of the time these relationships do hold up. In summary, good economists do recognize that when they find an empirical regularity and explain it, they haven't done the same thing that a physicist has done when he models a natural law. Empirical regularities in economics depend on individual behavior, and that can and does change constantly. However, given this fact, it is still possible to glean something useful from quantitative relationships. If this were not possible, entrepreneurs would be just as lost as economists in producing for anticipated future demands, and the whole free market system, which relies on entrepreneurs to make good predictions (as Mises, Rothbard, and Kirzner constantly remind us) would be dysfunctional.
  20. That is rationalistic. In actuality, some recipients feel that way, and some don't. If you're merely arguing that one should strive to only help those that don't feel entitled to it, then I'd agree, but if you're trying to argue against volunteer work entirely then you're off base.
  21. This is not an argument against volunteer work, it's an argument for directing such work towards those genuinely trying to become self-supporting, or towards those few who literally cannot be.
  22. Are you kidding me right now? You really think the reason I accept that computers are designed is because 'that's what everyone tells me?' There's no evidence of such an obvious and banal claim that I could possibly be relying on instead? Like, say, the factories where they are made? Rejecting speculation of entities ('designers' of DNA) which are completely unlike anything we've ever seen in nature isn't appealing to tradition, it's rejecting the arbitrary: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/arbitrary.html. What you're calling 'tradition' is actually the accumulation of scientific knowledge of what is possible in nature, and if you're going to criticize me for 'appealing to' the scientific evidence, well okay then. You got me.
  23. Are you under the impression that the genetic code for hair color or other such characteristics is not contained in each and every cell? People alter what is coded deep in their genome every day.
  24. All your analogies are way off because each of the designed objects you pick has an easily identifiable designer (us) operating through known causal processes, which is completely unlike your hypothetical and unidentified designer of biological structures.
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