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Everything posted by Dante

  1. Let's be clear about what the claim is here. Religious people, merely by virtue of being religious, are therefore mentally unhealthy. Not that they hold wrong ideas, or even that their methodology for deciding on these ideas is wrong, but that their actual mental functioning is flawed. Recall that we're talking about 80% of all Americans here. I don't see how anyone living in modern-day America could possibly think this, or stand by a statement like this.
  2. Let me stop you right there. No legitimate medical profession would (or should!) include religious belief as such as a contributing factor to mental illness, and you do a disservice both to atheists and to psychologists by claiming that anyone with religious belief has some level of mental instability or psychological illness. This is simply a ridiculous notion.
  3. For the record, I don't think that the anti-Kant T-shirt is a legitimate exercise of intellectual property. Furthermore, I think people here have been mislead by Timothy Sandefur's statement concerning the anti-Kant T-shirt in his essay. It essentially functions as a hook for the essay, to draw in the reader's interest by pointing to a particular case of IP abuse that is also specifically related to Objectivism. However, although Sandefur implies that the anti-Kant shirt was part of the reason that the cease and desist letter was sent, he doesn't actually say that, and I suspect he can't. The facts are that this person was producing a number of shirts with slogans from Rand's work, and he was sent a cease and desist letter on the strength of at least one of those shirts (not necessarily including the Kant one). We don't know whether the anti-Kant shirt was specifically targeted by the letter, and I suspect it wasn't. If it was, Sandefur would have used that to strengthen his hook. This seems to me to be simply Sandefur motivating his essay and providing the reader with an example so ridiculous that it sticks in one's mind. That said, I don't think I would agree that any of the T-shirt examples cited in the essay, even the ones specific to John Galt, are examples of IP violation. I don't know where I'd draw the line, but mine almost certainly wouldn't include that stuff. However, the text of the novel itself certainly should be protected by IP, in my view. I'm glad this example was just brought up, because that would be the concrete case that I would point to as to why I accept the legitimacy of IP, even though IP is certainly abused in our current legal system, and I'm not even sure where I would draw the lines if you put me in charge. It's clear to me that to reproduce the complete text of a novel in a physical book form and then sell that for a cheaper price is a violation of the rights of the author. Their product is not just the physical copies of the books that they themselves print, but the text of the novel itself, and they have the right to stop others from printing copies of the book and selling them. Furthermore, changing one word of the novel when reproducing it would not make a difference. It is still substantively the same novel, and changing one word does not mean that it would be legitimate to print and sell copies of this alteration. Obviously, as you keep making changes, at some point the reproduction becomes a derivative work or an homage, and thus legitimate. I don't know where this line should be, but it's clear to me it must exist.
  4. The point of the example is simply to illustrate that exerting mental and physical effort on what is already someone else's property doesn't make it yours. The example was a bit contorted and historical because, quite frankly, we don't really have unowned land in America anymore. When we did have unowned land out West, we had a system that avoided many of the problems that you point to in your previous post (how do we decide how much land a person reasonably owns from developing some of it, do they need to fence it off). Their solution was simply to standardize the area of land that an individual or family could lay claim to, based on (I think) their judgement of about how much land one family could reasonably farm (160 acres). I think you also had to fence it off, though I'm not sure about that. If we drop the 'innocent,' such that person B doesn't have to think the land is unowned, it's much easier to construct a current example. I can't take my neighbor's lawn, which he lets grow wild without any maintinence, by waiting until he goes on vacation and then planting grass and flowerbeds over there. The point is simply that if we acknowledge a preexisting property right in something (land, a particular design), no one else can gain that same property right simply because they exerted effort and created or improved something. Obviously any analogy to physical property introduces the rivalrous aspect of physical property, but that doesn't mean we can't draw lessons from physical property. We simply need to tread with caution to make sure the rivalrous nature isn't essential to the argument. Here, I don't think it is. So long as we recognize a property right in something, that property right cannot be usurped simply through exerting effort. Thus, we don't need to be concerned about the innocent inventor from a justice standpoint. Hopefully I'll have time to put down some more thoughts about IP later, that's all I have time for now.
  5. I don't have a full-fledged defense of IP to lay out here, but I would like to address this issue of the innocent independent inventor that is raised both here and in the contra-IP essay linked to earlier. In this situation, inventor B has, through his own independent intellectual and physical work, produced something that happens to fall under a patent owned by inventor A. I think we can shed a little light on this by considering a similar situation in the case of physical property, say unowned land. Consider a situation where individual A begins to develop some parcel of unowned land and, because of this development, attains the title to that land from the government. Following this, individual B happens upon some portion of the land (perhaps a portion that A has not gotten to yet), thinks it is unowned, and begins to develop it himself. He goes to the government to get the title, but discovers that the land is already owned. All his efforts have been wasted, and he is not entitled to any profits from the land development he has done. This is a case where both individuals have exerted the same types of intellectual and physical efforts by which one comes to own land, but (due to the 'first to file' type system) only the first individual owns land at the end of the day. Would we say that individual B has been wronged by this system? Certainly, the fact that individual B has expended mental and physical effort, yet does not end up with the resulting property, is unfortunate. However, does this mean that the conception of property here is faulty? Or is it simply an unavoidable outcome resulting from the necessity for having some objective 'first to file' system?
  6. The majority of Christian denominations (in America at least) believe that the teachings of Jesus have supplanted Old Testament verses like this. There are some radical Christian sects that don't (like Christian Reconstructionism), but most Christians see verses like this as part of their history, not part of their doctrine. It takes more to understand a religion than just reading its holy book. Edit: Just found the name for this doctrine (that Old Testament verses are largely not applicable to today's Christians): Dispensationalism
  7. Wow, thanks! This looks great. I very much enjoyed the first Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies book.
  8. Picking one concrete difference between men and women and extrapolating one's entire theory of masculinity and femininity from that is not a good example of keeping one's ideas tied to reality. This requires taking all facts into account, periodically checking and rechecking one's conclusions against these facts again and again. Without that, floating rationalism is exactly what it is.
  9. They stopped selling it at the ARI bookstore? It's quite an interesting read, although very dense. I recommend it for those seriously interested in the topic.
  10. Dante


    Also, it looks like bitcoins are experiencing quite a bubble right now: https://medium.com/money-banking/2b5ef79482cb
  11. This thread is a revealing display of the utter lack of intellectual justification for the position that homosexuality is immoral. It doesn't get more rationalistic than this: 'I define sex as only between a man and a woman... so how could same-sex couples possibly have sexual desire for one another? I've defined it away!' The best part is pretending to cite evidence by simply referencing 'human biology.' Quality, in-depth support that.
  12. This is rationalism. You still have not confronted the previous dissections of your arguments, or even acknowledged that they exist.
  13. Secondhander dealt with this 'argument' thoughtfully and thoroughly here: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=25156&p=308005 Rather than confront this argument, you simply moved to a new thread without those posts in it, and kept repeating the same one-liners. Considering that you reasserted this argument: You need to confront Secondhander's reducto ad absurdum here:
  14. That's how I read the assignment also, but if that's the case, why would a student get in trouble for not following through with the stomping? If the assignment ultimately allows students to decide they can't do it, then they wouldn't be sanctioned for that.
  15. But we do have a concept to delineate literature which records reality vs. recreating reality, do we not? Fiction vs. nonfiction.
  16. Yes. He's a real person in addition to symbolizing something for her.
  17. You're reading in something that isn't there. The kiss was not sexual, it was symbolic.
  18. Yeah, I know what you mean. That movie Ocean's Eleven sucked, they spent the whole movie trying to steal from someone! /sarcasm
  19. The "no gun" list is an interesting suggestion, but I don't see how it is substantially different from requiring background checks. To buy a gun, you would still have to provide your name and proof that you are who you say you are (as is done at the airport), and thus your name is still recorded with the purchase and the serial number of your gun. The gun dealer doesn't have the information in your background check under this system, but surely the government could get that information if it desired. In short, you still have to meet a positive burden of proof that you haven't been banned from buying a gun, the same as under a background check system. In either case, providing one's name and proof of one's identity is simply what has to happen if we want to stop certain individuals from purchasing guns at the point of sale.
  20. This is not an accurate description of tabula rasa as Rand conceived it and argued for it. Rand's issue was with the idea of innate knowledge, not innate tendencies, reflexes, or processes. Certainly we are born with certain capacities, tendencies, predispositions, etc. Rand was attempting to address a different question: are we born with innate knowledge? Her answer to this was absolutely central to her philosophy, because she argued that we are capable of obtaining knowledge only though a volitional process of observing reality and forming concepts. Furthermore, we can verify the truth of this knowledge through observation. If we have some form of innate knowledge that is not subject to verification through observation of reality (as, for example, advocates of ethical intuitionism would argue), then her whole theory of knowledge is flawed. The phrase 'tabula rasa' might be used differently in the psychology literature, but as Rand (and many philosophers) used it, it addresses the question of innate knowledge, not predispositions, tendencies, or capacities. It's not a question of whether we can change our tendencies or predispositions through volition; we could be completely unable to do that, and still lack any form of innate knowledge. If this were the case, tabula rasa as Rand conceived of it would still hold.
  21. How does running a background check force people to provide additional personal details to the government? The gun purchase is registered with their name and the serial number on the gun in either case, and the background check (as I understand it) does not add any information to government databases. It simply searches the existing data and notifies the gun dealer of preexisting criminal records. As to individuals having to demonstrate their innocence, is this not what a proper border policy would do by screening for criminals and enemy combatants? Is this not what the government does when considering hiring individuals as government employees, or what a private employer might also reasonably do?
  22. What do you think 'inevitable' means? Because from where I'm standing, the phrase 'could be inevitable' makes no sense at all. Freedom of choice and the fallibility of the knowledge discovery process means that we can't be sure that true ideas will win out; it also means that we can't be sure that people will choose to do wrong. In both cases, the choices of people who have free will determine the outcome. If you're asking whether it's theoretically impossible for people to live in society without intentionally initiating force, my response is unequivocally no.
  23. I see this issue as similar to the question of so-called "Gun-Free Zones" at schools. You haven't created an actual gun free zone simply by passing a law that says you can't bring a gun there. In fact, this creates the kind of perverse scenario with zero enforcement where only the law-abiding citizens obey the law. If you actually want schools to be gun-free zones, that requires erecting actual physical barriers to people bringing guns into schools (metal detectors, security guards, etc.). If you call a school a 'gun-free zone' but don't erect any such barriers, then it's a gun free zone in name only. Similarly, it's all well and good that we agree that violent criminals don't have the right to buy and own firearms. However, unless you erect actual barriers to their purchase and ownership of firearms, then they've only lost this right on paper. In actuality, they still have it. Yes, it's true that this involves every person walking through a metal detector, or undergoing a background check. That's what it takes if you want these restrictions to exist somewhere other than on paper.
  24. The two (preventing criminals from buying guns and arresting criminals for owning guns) are not mutually exclusive. They are complementary, and both justified in the same way: violent criminals have forfeited their right to purchase and own firearms. Characterizing this as 'targeting law abiding citizens' is simply hyperbole. Universal background checks could conceivably be misused to erect barriers to law abiding citizens buying guns (by creating a process that takes months to complete, for example), but there is no reason why this must be so. At the same time, universal background checks do erect significant barriers for criminals looking to buy guns, despite your appeal t the black market. Operating in the black market involves operating through an informal networks of contacts that many criminals simply do not have. Even if you do, it involves more risk and higher prices. I fail to see why requiring background checks for gun sales at gun shows and internet sales of guns is a huge joke, or creates laws that are impossible to enforce. These steps are clearly more feasible than a universal gun ban; about the only thing they have in common is that people use the word 'universal' to describe them.
  25. It's worth pointing out that the practical implementation of prohibiting gun sales to criminals involves requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. This is one of the prominent gun control proposals in the wake of the Newtown massacre, and probably the single law most likely to pass. The NRA is prone to prattle on about spreading 'suspicion' about gun owners by requiring background checks, or that it will lead to registration and confiscation, but the truth is that if you agree that violent criminals have forfeited their rights to buy firearms, universal background checks are simply the necessary practical implementation of this policy.
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