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Everything posted by Dante

  1. As is pride, and advocates of rational self-interest damn well shouldn't give that one up. The fundamental problem with the idea of greed is not simply that it carries a negative connotation, but that with greed that negative connotation is inexorably tied to the idea of "too much." In common usage, greed is much more closely tied with wanting too much than it is with disregarding others' rights. Plenty of instances of greed don't even involve rights, like the food example sNerd gave. The implication inherent in the word is that selfishness must always be limited, that it cannot be allowed to overstep its bounds or it hurts everyone involved. The problem, of course, is that rational selfishness should not be limited; it should be one's guiding principle in life. Violating rights is bad, regardless of whether the intentions were selfish or selfless, and rational self-interest is good up to any degree, it cannot be excessive. The word should just be thrown out.
  2. Well, they have people to take carts from the outside cart depository and bring them inside. Ideally, that's all they'd have to do when they go out there.
  3. That's great. I never implied otherwise. In fact, if you actually read my post, you'd see I put the emphasis on reason-based Christians replacing authoritarian-based Christians: "For Christianity, those who stressed religious and political freedom gained ground on those who stressed revelation and authoritarianism." I never implied that those who stressed revelation and authoritarianism changed their minds, but rather that they lost influence to those who stressed reason. If you can find somewhere where I made the ridiculous claim that most living people in the religion actually changed their minds, rather than the shift occurring over generations, please point to it. Otherwise, I hope we're done straw-manning and side-tracking; yes? What is your support for the claim that radical faith-based Christianity is more faithful to the "basic nature" of the Bible than reason-based Christians, or that radical Muslims are more faithful to the "basic nature" of Islam than those that also support Western values? Both belief systems have self-contradictory elements, and yet you seem to hold the view that one side of such contradictions reflects the "true" religion and the other does not. How do you know this?
  4. Of course the shift was driven through individuals within Christianity who placed reason over faith, including Aquinas. That's my argument. Christianity is what Christians practice, and the religion as a whole shifted due to the positive influence of Christians like Aquinas. And there is a similar tension between different kinds of Muslims, as you yourself note from personal experience. Islam =/= Islamic Totalitarianism.
  5. That argument isn't even internally consistent. You claim that the moral intrincisist elements in a religion with the features you describe will inevitably lead to religious totalitarianism, but there's a reason you limit yourself to Christianity during the Dark Ages: because it would be historically illiterate to make the same claim about Christianity during the Reformation or the Renaissance. And yet, during those periods Christianity still held that God created the universe and handed down absolute moral law. So what changed? Those elements will always be there, and the emphasis on faith, revelation, and moral intrinsicism will always create a tendency towards the type of political system you're talking about. However, this tendency does not make such a result inevitable, precisely because such a religion is internally inconsistent. Without internal consistency, interpretation and emphasis make all the difference in the world. What changed during the Reformation and Renaissance was the interpretation and the emphasis of Christianity. The Bible didn't change, but the beliefs and the teachings did. For Christianity, those who stressed religious and political freedom gained ground on those who stressed revelation and authoritarianism. Isolating one element of Christianity and arguing that the tendency it introduces into the ideology is inevitable constitutes a rationalistic argument that ignores historical fact, and the argument is still rationalistic when applied to Islam. For Islam, as well as for Christianity, there are those who stress religious and political freedom and liberal values as well as those who advocate for authoritarianism, and both sides have to ignore some element of their religion in order to hold a consistent position one way or another. Islamic totalitarianism is a subset of Islam, one which faces strong opposition from the rest. If you're going to equate the two based on the fact that "The logical political system compatible with a God created universe who hands down commandments is a religious totalitarianistic theocracy," then there is also no difference between Christianity and Christian totalitarianism; they are one and the same movement. After all, Christianity has these elements too.
  6. I'm not seeing this demonstration at all in the Open Letter. First off, the most space by far is devoted to the compulsory juries issue, where Kagebein's argument is not that Hsieh is wrong about juries, but rather than she has misunderstood Peikoff and they both agree that these arrangements should be voluntary. No 'incompatibility with Objectivism' there. The other issues which are brought up are not explored in any kind of depth; in most of them, an assertion is made, such as the following: "Hsieh attempts to uphold the principle of property rights as a non-contextual absolute, thus violating the Objectivist principle of objectivity, which holds that all conceptual and generalized principles are contextual; only the proper method of reason is absolute in all contexts." However, there is no support provided. There is no demonstration of any kind. Three such issues are brought up on one or a few paragraphs each, and again assertions are made without demonstration. And then again, we get to an issue which gets more than a few lines, anencephalic infants. Here, Kagebein is even less impressive. He claims to have found a 'fundamental misunderstanding of Objectivism’s ethics' in this quote of Hsieh's: "For the record, I have zero desire to eat human flesh (!!). But I don't see any strong grounds to condemn someone who did as immoral, provided that no rights were violated (or any other injustice or immorality done) in the process." He attempts to read this quote to support the idea that Hsieh thinks that morality doesn't extend beyond rights-violations. Putting aside the fact that Hsieh does weekly podcasts on issues of practical ethics that often extend beyond merely discussing rights, she notes the possibility of 'injustice or immorality' above and apart from rights-violations in the quote itself! Kagebein couldn't even find a quote capable of being fully pulled out of context in order to support his argument here. In short, I see nothing in this essay or on the page in general which is substantively adding to the discussion in any way.
  7. Can we agree that it is initiation of force to have sex with someone without their consent? The quote concerns deducing a woman's consent from her presence in the situation. If, as I and others have argued, this notion of conveying consent is wrong, then applying this incorrect notion of consent will result in having sex without the consent of one's partner. That is where we're seeing force.
  8. I was just watching Louis CK (a comedian) and came across a surprisingly relevant bit about his reaction to a girl telling him she liked it when guys just went for it, held her down and had sex with her. Doesn't exactly contribute to a discussion, but thought I'd share. WARNING: Profanity
  9. Percepts are epistemologically first because they are what our conscious mind actually deals with. Sensations are integrated into percepts unconsciously, automatically, before they reach our conscious mind. In terms of physics, sensations come first, interacting with our senses, and then are integrated into percepts automatically by our brains. When we look out, we don't see or hear individual sensations, we see them already integrated into percepts. This is important to understand because the fact that percept formation is automatic means that it cannot err. It occurs according to deterministic processes. Our conscious mind can misinterpret percepts, but there cannot be a contradiction within the physical process itself that produces percepts. David Kelley's book "The Evidence of the Senses" goes into great detail concerning perception and sensations. Grames, one of our frequent forum users, has posted his notes on the relevant section here: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=17927&view=findpost&p=237133. It's quite involved stuff.
  10. It is literally impossible to come up with a list of "implicit expectations" that the average person has about a sexual encounter, or that one might expect one's partner to have, ex ante. There is an immense variety across genders, cultures, sexual subcultures, religions and moral systems, and individuals in general. It is also unnecessary to produce such a list. Nobody needs one, for the simple reason that one party does not get to decide whether the other's reasons for calling it off are legitimate or not. It's not about being reasonable or unreasonable, rational or irrational. When determining what the guy should do, it's only about rights and consent. Yes, absolutely. It is up to her at that point to decide what will happen (well, up to her and the guy, as he could also call it off at that point if he wanted). It's her sex life, it's her body, it's her call. Simple. She was certainly immoral for lying to herself about her true intentions, and for putting herself in this situation to begin with, but that's irrelevant to what the guy is obligated to do if she asks for it to stop. Morally speaking, she probably should call it off if she suddenly starts facing some inner turmoil about sex. She needs to sort all that out before she does anything with anyone.
  11. Okay, so how about this claim: In this particular example, the one that Peikoff gives, what is said ("stop") does override or nullify what is done (the woman's previous action of going up to the room). Furthermore, taking this former action as continued consent when in fact it is not amounts to initiating force.
  12. I'm gonna reply to this, because after reading Peikoff's comments carefully and also reading this thread, I think this argument is clearly the same one Peikoff's putting forth. So the argument here is that she actually is consenting by being in the room regardless of what she says, up to the point where she tries to leave the room. The analogy is that posting on this site communicates one's consent to be posting on this site, even if one says in the post "I don't consent to posting here." This is a flawed analogy because here, the individual is simultaneously taking the action and also stating that they don't consent to it. Their statement is the relevant action. In this posting analogy, we have just one action, making the post, and it's sending contradictory messages about consent. In the Kobe example, on the other hand, we have two separate actions. The first is going up to the room, and the second is verbally stating 'stop.' The first gives consent, and the second is intended by the woman to withdraw that consent. Therefore, a more relevant analogy would be making a post, and then later messaging the site owner or an admin asking to have it taken down. In that situation, it seems obvious to me that the later message does adequately communicate that the post is staying up without the poster's consent. (Of course, that doesn't obligate the post being taken down, because the site owner doesn't need continued consent to keep posts up, as stated in the forum rules. Here, consent is not required to keep the post up, because it's on the site owner's property and not the poster's. Unless someone wants to argue that the sex situation is analogous and continued consent by the woman isn't required, the analogy breaks down here). The salient point is that the later message does withdraw consent. It's a separate action, taken after the first consenting action, clearly intended to communicate that the situation has changed and consent no longer exists. If you continue at that point, you're continuing without the consent of the person. In certain circumstances, that's permissible. The posting example is one; holding someone to a bet that they made, lost, and then tried to back out of would be another. In the sex example, I hope we can agree it's not.
  13. Actually, he said something more than that. He said that a woman's presence in certain situations can be taken as consenting to sex even when she explicitly refuses. As far as I can tell, this clearly means that the woman's mere presence in the situation (the room, in his example) is consent enough for ignoring her verbally saying stop, even if you as the other individual judge that she's sincere and not being playful or flirty. This is a different conversation than arguing over whether continuing at that point falls under the term rape. If you've posited that she's not actually struggling or resisting other than verbally, then we could have the argument about whether that legally qualifies as rape, or whether instead it falls under the broader term sexual assault or whatever. In that case, we're just arguing over what to call this (clearly despicable and illegal) act. It's also a different conversation from the question of what level of legal proof someone would need to put forth to substantiate the claim that they verbally withdrew consent and their partner continued regardless. Obviously, it can't just be their word, as that would give someone the power to send any of their previous sexual partners to jail whenever she wanted. Anyways, all of this is irrelevant to the question of what the person in the room should do and is legally obligated to do when their partner verbally withdraws consent. I can think of one situation the woman saying "no" or "stop" doesn't obligate you to stop, and that's the situation where both people have agreed beforehand on another word that means stop instead (the safe word) for the purposes of a resistance fantasy. Here, it's okay to continue because she's not actually communicating that you should stop by saying 'stop,' and she could easily do that by saying the safe word instead. That is not the example Peikoff gives. In his example, the woman verbally withdraws consent, the man knows she is doing so and thinks she's sincere, but her 'presence' overrides that somehow. It seems to be an argument that she can't actually withdraw consent without leaving the room, so until she physically tries to do that he's got a green light. This is just plainly false. If she clearly and sincerely says 'stop,' then guess what: you no longer have her consent to continue, regardless of which room she's standing in.
  14. In a word, yes, and I can think of a number of reasons why she might very reasonably do so. Maybe the guy doesn't put on a condom. Maybe he gets too 'physical' with her. Maybe he has an obvious STD. Maybe it turns out he's into to some kinky stuff that she doesn't wanna do. Or maybe for no particular reason at all, just because she doesn't feel right about what's happening. If there's one thing that a person (not just a woman) should legitimately have absolute control over at all times, it's who he or she has sex with.
  15. Yikes. I wish he'd just stop making podcasts.
  16. I think you've completely misread the situation here. They're not talking about philosophical altruism here, just doing kind things for others. Notice how they use 'selfless' as a synonym for kind; i.e. the things they're calling 'selfless' really aren't. The way I read this, the women in the study are more deserving of 'rational affection' than the men, because they're more likely to do kind things for personal reasons rather than to impress others.
  17. Well I love Pearl Jam, period. Hadn't heard this song before though, thanks for posting it. Good stuff. I like the lyrics. They're somewhat vague, which is nice, but they definitely give you a sense of self-assertion, and Eddie Vedder rocks in any case.
  18. That is precisely what you will find in the Objectivist literature as the most prominent defense of a creator's property right in his or her creation. Our characteristic method of survival is through production. We take what is found in nature, improve it, and then use our creations and alterations to improve our lives, to flourish. The system of justice which provides the widest scope for this flourishing by one's own labor is precisely the system which protects a creator's right to use, transfer, and dispose of his work. This is the core argument at the center of Rand's defense of property rights as a vital component of individual rights, to be protected by a proper government, and the support for the argument arises directly out of her characterization of the way humans survive and flourish.
  19. More and more I'm thinking that that's what we should do, and all we need to do, and plus it's much more politically feasible than simply ending the Fed.
  20. Oh, I don't require a damn thing in the way of approval either way. I'm simply stating that if a person negatively judges others based on morally neutral characteristics like race, gender, or sexual orientation, they can and should be judged negatively by the rest of us as a result.
  21. However, those who treat sexual preference as a moral issue should be opposed, and homophobic is often an apt description of such people. To treat morally neutral characteristics like gender preferences as immoral distorts morality and incorrectly impugnes the moral character of groups of people.
  22. Looks like they blacked out the Google label; clicking on it brings one to information on SOPA/PIPA.
  23. sNerd's gonna have to change his welcome statement
  24. He basically said that "if you can get away with it," you should present a virtue as your weakness, like "well I just have a compulsion to get to work on time" or "I'm not very social, I just can't drink much at Christmas parties." Personally, I think that's a terrible answer. In the first place, it's transparent as hell, and secondly, the employer is trying to get a feel for whether you can objectively evaluate yourself. A response of "Oh, I get to work on time" is obvious b.s. and does not signal someone with self-awareness at all. What you should do is present one of your weaknesses that is relevant to the job, and then go on to talk a little about concrete ways that you're trying to deal with that weakness or turn it in to a strength. I don't think Peikoff's response is immoral, as he's not advocating lying about your characteristics, but he's saying to present something true about yourself as your weakness that the employer will evaluate positively, and that's so transparent.
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