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Everything posted by Dante

  1. The evidence on the subject available at the time was a bit lacking, certainly compared to what it is today. Today, we know that this claim is wrong. Google is a wonderful tool. Simply labeling disagreement with you 'the *insert unsavory word to Objectivists* approach' is not a valid argument or defense of your viewpoint, no matter how much you seem to enjoy doing it.
  2. It's not a 'categorical imperative' to be clear about what is and is not Objectivism by clearly stating a few philosophies that contradict Objectivism. Notice that they didn't say: "If you consider yourself an Objectivist but agree with these people, you should stop considering yourself an Objectivist because I said so." That would be authoritarianism. Rather, they simply, "You are not an Objectivist if..." It's simply a clear statement of definition. Consider this; would you have a problem if the names they listed were, for example, Jesus Christ, Mohammad, and Buddha? Fortunately, it's generally not necessary for them to list these people off as well, because pretty much everyone agrees that their philosophies contradict Objectivism. This is not the case with Kelley, for example, and that's precisely what makes it necessary to be clear about what "Objectivism" is in this context (I'm actually not sure why Sciabarra is on this list; I'm pretty sure he's never tried to claim that he is an Objectivist). Objectivism does not need authoritarianism, but it does need its proponents to be clear about definitions. Now, the part of that statement that bothers me is the wording of "You do not qualify as an Objectivist if you ... associate with the false advocates of Objectivism..." I assume they mean ideologically associate with them, rather than socially associate with, but still it comes off as, "If you talk to or hang with the Brandens or Kelley, then you can't hang with us." I hardly think that, for example, going to TAS events disqualifies one from being considered an Objectivist.
  3. Sure, but there are some basic requirements for friendships that result from the Objectivist ethics. For example, the friendships in question should be mutually beneficial, and the values that you're getting from them rational. So if you're friends with someone who always dumps their problems on you but is never willing or able to help you with your problems, that's not a rationally justifiable friendship. If you like spending time with someone because they're not that smart and being around them makes you feel better about your own intelligence, that's not a rational value on which to base a friendship. So, we can use the Objectivist ethics to see in general what kinds of friendships can be valuable and what kinds cannot be; but beyond those kinds of fundamental characteristics, choosing friendships is based on individual characteristics and what appeals to you personally. I might think George is really funny and like hanging around him, while you find his humor crass and grating and therefore avoid being around him. That kind of thing is simply up to your individual personality and tastes, and so long as the friendship your examining is on a rational basis, you should consult what appeals to you personally in making decisions. I'll draw an analogy with choosing a profession. In a sense, the justification for my choosing to become an economics professor is simply that I think the work will make me happy. It's a profession that appeals in particular to me, to my interests and talents, and that's a good enough reason to choose it. However, there are some basic requirements on choosing a profession that we can draw from the Objectivist ethics; for example, it needs to be productive. If I thought that being a con man would make me happy, that doesn't justify me choosing the profession; defrauding others is a fundamentally exploitative and parasitic activity. So that kind of requirement eliminates certain professions, but doesn't really help me to decide whether I should be an economics professor or an engineer; my basic reason for choosing the first over the second (or any other possible profession) is that I think it'll make me happy.
  4. Except that each person's highest value is his or her own life. Attempting to claim that the highest value is some abstract "life" and therefore homosexuality, because it does not result in children, 'does not value life' is rationalistic, and a confusion of what is meant by valuing life for the Objectivist. Objectivism as an ethical code is always a guide for the individual valuer, who should always be focusing on his particular life. Valuing one's own life and therefore being true to oneself could certainly result for some people in a homosexual lifestyle, and everyone engaging in homosexuality for these reasons is operating on the premise of life: their own individual life, not some nebulous, abstract, 'furtherance of the species' conception of life, which by design refers to no life in particular.
  5. ... Volitional beings cannot be the property of another. Moving on.
  6. Babies are exempt because human beings cannot be literally owned by other human beings under any coherent system of individual rights. Several people have already pointed this out, but it seems like you are more interested in running in circles for twelve pages than allowing the dialogue to progress.
  7. I really like the content on your blog. Particularly, I think the personal aspects of your posts are very engaging. As for the layout, I don't like the fact that the content is restricted to this iPad-looking window inside the webpage rather than simply going from top to bottom. Less content fits on the screen and the reader has to scroll more often. However, others seem to like the look, so take that as you will.
  8. So it seems to me like there are two different principles being illustrated in the story concerning fame and fortune. The first is that the main character is so fixated on those things that he wants, "Victory. Fame. Money. Respect. Achievement..." that he hardly even gives a thought to what he needs to do to win the duel and get those things, and this results in his death. The second is that, even if he were to win and get all those things, ultimately his life still wouldn't mean anything; he'd just be a 'titanium crate.' So on the one hand, we have the fact that you won't succeed by just dreaming about and wishing for fame and fortune, and on the other hand we have that even if you get it, it's not worth anything if that's all there is to your life. Now, the first aspect is illustrated well through the events of the story. We see the narrator fixated on fame and fortune, and giving nary a thought to what is actually needed to win a Laser Pick Duel, and as a result when the moment comes he is frozen and then killed. I really like this aspect of the story. However, the second aspect that you attempt to weave into the story, basically cannot be shown through the plot as it stands (because he never actually achieves fame and fortune, and we don't see anyone else who does, really), so you basically have to tell the reader, via a realization by the narrator just before he dies: "The money, the fame, it would provide me with nothing. I’d only end up how I was before, lacking skills, friends, and a productive future. I’d have some pleasurable values, but for what end? I’d have my material values, then what?" Personally, I'd just focus on the aspect of fame-seeking that is illustrated in the story, and drop what amounts to telling the reader, "If you pursue fame and fortune and actually get it, you'll still end up empty." It is a short story after all, and I think including both of these aspects is attempting to do too much. The plot structure which is perfect for illustrating failure doesn't work very well for attempting to show the results of success.
  9. It's really quite common for newcomers to be misinformed about what Objectivism is and who qualifies as an Objectivist, whether or not certain people 'speak for Objectivism,' etc, and this is a highly inappropriate and frankly ridiculous response to such confusion.
  10. I'd strongly disagree with your impressions of Objectivism and most Objectivists. Most of the Objectivists I've encountered, and certainly most of the people on this forum, have no problem with homosexuality, and there is certainly nothing in the philosophy itself which justifies homophobia. I hope that you'll explore the forum a bit to see if that changes your impression of Objectivists at all.
  11. Except the roads that you drive on are not your property. They are owned and maintained by the government, and as such the government should be able to place reasonable restrictions on who is allowed to drive on the roads. Ideally, the roads would be privately owned; but even if that were the case, I'd bet my next paycheck that the owners of those roads would require something like a driver's license in order to drive on the road (administered by a private testing agency, probably). Requiring that people demonstrate some level of competency before allowing them to operate heavy machinery at high speeds on your property is quite reasonable. So long as roads are still government-owned and operated, they are justified in requiring driver's licenses, and I for one am very glad that they do.
  12. But the premise that you are relying on, that the only two possible causes of motion are previous motion or volition of some kind (correct me if I'm misstating that) is a scientific claim about what kinds of things are possible in the universe. Furthermore, it is a claim which is much more suspect in a quantum-mechanical universe of vacuum energy and particles winking in and out of existence randomly, than it was in a classical universe where space is, well, simply empty space within which objects interact.
  13. Instead of friending people, you put them in one or more of your 'circles.' With circles, you can post things to just certain people and only view posts from certain people rather than everyone. Also you can put people in your circles without them having to put you in their circles. The privacy and security settings are much better and much more accessible than Facebook. There aren't any annoying apps (yet, at least), and I think the layout looks better too.
  14. Just a comment on this; I don't think that this line of argument is a valid approach to determining whether or not intellectual property rights are valid. After all, if a thief put hundreds of man-hours into planning and executing an elaborate heist, we would not then say that he is entitled to "reap the rewards" of his effort. This is because his efforts have been geared towards an activity that violates someone else's rights. So the question is whether the patent-breaker is violating someone else's rights through his labor, like the thief, or engaging in valid production, like the original inventor. Obviously, this hinges on whether or not the original inventor has a property right in the idea that is being copied. In either case, it is begging the question to say, "Well the patent-breaker exerted effort, so he's entitled to the copy," because it assumes that his efforts were not violating the rights of the inventor. The more intellectual property debates I observe, the more I'm convinced it always comes down to one's overall theory of property rights; why we have them, what they are meant to do, etc. Most other arguments that I see about IP specifically, like the one you've put forth, end up ultimately depending on a pre-formed theory of rights, and don't help to determine whether IP is valid.
  15. I think you need to flesh out a little more just what part you're criticizing. The argument centers on what is contained within a concept, and how we can sometimes use that to ascertain the truth of propositions concerning that concept; I don't understand how what a person can or cannot conceive of is relevant.
  16. Can't we all just acknowledge that in any coherent system of equal individual rights, people cannot be owned by other people, and then move on from the bearing children example?
  17. Sarcasm doesn't translate too well over the internet, but I'm guessing/hoping that's what this is
  18. It's pragmatism to expect one's ideas to actually work out well in reality? There is a difference between pragmatism and recognizing that if we have the correct moral principles, they should also be practical for human life, and here's the difference. Pragmatism is "whatever works, regardless of principles." It fundamentally rejects the idea that we can come to principles which we know will never need to be broken. Here, however, we are arguing over principles; property rights in certain kinds of ideas vs. no property rights in ideas, ever. My response to Mnrchst's assertion would be that, in fact, no one is advocating property rights in everything that could possibly be called an idea, but rather property rights in certain kinds of ideas, e.g. inventions. You will not find Objectivists arguing that, for example, scientific discoveries should be patentable in some way.
  19. If you're suggesting that the theistic side of the debate does not suffer from this problem, then you don't understand what they are arguing. Both sides in this discussion are positing that something "has always been there." The two sides simply disagree over what that something is; for us, it is the universe pretty much as it is now, while for the theists it is a conscious being, God, who initiated the universe as we know it. The reason for this is simple; if you're ultimately 'not really satisfied' with something always having been here, then your only alternative is truly causeless creation at some point in the past; something from (literally) nothing. Neither Jacob nor we Objectivists are willing to make that kind of claim. Are you? You cannot make that claim on the basis of the evidence. All that we can say at this point is that almost 14 billion years ago, the universe as we know it was a singularity which then rapidly expanded. We have absolutely no evidence at this point to suggest what shape the universe was in before that singularity, and certainly nothing on which to base the claim that it didn't exist before that point. A series of bangs and crunches stretching back forever (for example) is equally likely. You seem to be suggesting that there might be something else which is equipped to address questions when we have absolutely no evidence to go on. Some kind of shortcut to knowledge when we don't have any hard facts. This is simply not the case. Any questions that cannot be addressed using 'observable reality' simply cannot be addressed. There is no shortcut to knowledge through faith or feelings or guessing or anything else.
  20. I just missed your 100th rep point!

  21. There are very few out there who deny the self-evident, and many of those people simply misunderstand what is being put forth as self-evident by Objectivists. Furthermore, I see no indication of anything like that in the OP; just someone who thinks Rand said a bunch of stuff she didn't actually say (contempt for the poor and weak, moral indifference to the suffering of others, and her demanding to be treated as a demi-god) and misunderstanding what 'closed system' means. Calmly and rationally arguing with such people is not always a waste of time; how else will misconceptions about Rand ever get cleared up? I do agree, though, that Youtube comments are not the place for it.
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