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  1. Like
    Dante got a reaction from EC in My Anti Gravitational Theory   
    Gravitational theory is extremely well-supported by the evidence.
  2. Downvote
    Dante reacted to Brian9 in Is taxation moral?   
    If I don't agree that society must be forced to pay for government services, that does not make me a criminal. You have no right to compel me by force. Your need for some man-made good is not a claim on any producer. Want a prosecutor to argue your cause in court? Pick up a law book. Do it yourself. Get a job. Stand on your own two feet. BE A MAN. No, wait. MAN UP. Yes, I like that better.
  3. Like
    Dante reacted to Grames in Is taxation moral?   
    "The ends justify the means" argument is NOT in fact a logical fallacy. The mere appearance of the form of the argument is no demonstration that it is invalid, which is the requirement to be a fallacy. Sometimes the end does justify the means, sometimes not. Any means that is justified is justified because of some end. What is necessary is to keep multiple ends properly ordered and subordinated. A means toward a first end is not rationally justified when it contradicts some other end which is a greater and more important end. Taxes cannot be ruled out on the grounds of rights when an adequate defense is necessary for the defense of all rights and the lives of those possessing them.

    {Tara Smith covers the ground of justification, rational action and the relationship of means to ends in Viable Values pages 40-50.}

    I have argued that if you want the effect you must enact the cause. I also argue that the principle of objectivity should be applied to the government's finances. I have argued that the government's laws compel one to be rational within the realm of force, to value at least in action the principle of rights and the government that guards them.

    I have not argued against the principle that the individual an end in himself. My primary argument has been from consent, not a greater good argument. Only an end in himself has the power to consent. You are an end in yourself and have a contractual relationship with your government. You are still consenting even if you explicitly disavow your country, your government, and all of your neighbors. The only way to accomplish the withdrawal of consent is to either leave the country or take up arms in rebellion. Ayn Rand uses this principle to answer questions about war at the Ford Hall Forum in three different years {see Ayn Rand Answers pages 94-95}. She explicitly attacks the premise that only individuals exist, not countries and governments.
  4. Like
    Dante reacted to Grames in Is taxation moral?   
    Even a primitive government having a single law, for example a law that prohibits murder, imposes a morality on others.

    Force does impose values, but that is not a power inherent only to those that initiate force but also equally to those who retaliate with force. Those who initiate force attempt to gain a value, those who defend or retaliate are attempting to keep a value. State action is just a subcategory of the genus human action, and all human action is directed towards values. The values protected by the principles of rational government and the particular persons who are its officers, agents and citizens are the inalienable human rights.

    Within its narrow domain over physical force, the state compels compliance with the proper value system upon all who act contrary to those values. To the extent that tax laws are a necessary means to the end of a government equal to its task the state can compel compliance with tax laws. I have argued and given some evidence that tax laws have historically been necessary to meet the high costs of financing wars. The conclusion is that taxation can be moral and does have a place within the government of a free society.
  5. Downvote
    Dante reacted to Brian9 in Is taxation moral?   
    "The link between payment and protection cannot be maintained by a proper government."

    What on the planet Earth does this mean? Even if you forcibly made a claim on everyone's life in order to support the hired gunmen of your choice, and to the exclusion of every other independent mind, how would you be severing the "link"? You would only be making every man & woman not ends in themselves, but ends to the tax collectors, and people like Grames who insist that the people are too dumb to keep themselves alive, and that therefore he and his cronies must step in and pay for our government with our money. The Link would be -slaves/sheep-Grames' tax collector's -Grames' Government. What is proper about that? Why do you think a proper government can't be conscious of who is paying the bill? The idea that a government even could possibly make itself unaware of who is footing the bill I find patently absurd? That notion must be a result in the fact that our culture is steeped in this giant lie that the people who govern us are somehow a more noble breed that can't be tainted by the power of money. We must keep them from our dirty money as much as possible, because we don't want to corrupt them with our concern for profits. Its rubbish I tell you!
  6. Downvote
    Dante reacted to Brian9 in Is taxation moral?   
    "No, what you and the government owe me is a prosecutor"

    Nobody owes you anything. Your need is not a claim.
  7. Like
    Dante reacted to Grames in Is taxation moral?   
    Identifying government as a contract is implicitly within her reasoning, that there is consent is explicitly within her writing. Consent and contract together establish that taxation would be voluntary, explicit reaffirmations are not necessary.

    Note that Ayn Rand's argument for the superiority of the principle of "tying government revenues directly to the government services rendered" seems to be epistemological; direct fees are more concrete and less abstract than taxes so people will more easily be able to understand the relationship between what they pay for and what they get (is this a "dark view of human nature"?). The necessarily collective service of national defense cannot be sold off piecemeal and must be dealt with in the abstract and funded indirectly, even in her speculative scheme. Any realistic estimate of the costs of war will lead to the conclusion that fees for ordinary government services will quickly be priced out of the reach of ordinary citizens if that is the only fundraising method available.
  8. Downvote
    Dante reacted to Brian9 in Is taxation moral?   
    Grames, all of that exists in the real world. Armies for hire have always existed. Competing police forces have always existed. Competing court systems have always existed. Competing systems for the incarceration of prisoners have always existed. I think somehow people imagine that competing police forces would have to be shooting at each other all the time for control. Most people have a difficult time fleshing out the concept of competition in any sphere of life and when force is involved, it doesn't make the task any easier I will grant you. But competition exists all the same. Competition is a law of nature. I compete with my local policeman for my own protection for instance. The more I can rely on myself, the less I need him. If I hire private security, I need him less. The FBI and the CIA compete, don't they? All levels of government compete with one another. One policeman competes with his partner for the promotion. States compete for population. Yes, it is true that government often tries to grant monopoly rights to certain agencies. It does this all the time. It never works. Prison systems compete with one another I'm certain. You can think of a thousand way in which the laborers in force compete. They compete with the laborers in other markets as well, because competition is pervasive and goes across all boundaries. So, what do you think? Are you ready to concede that there is a market in force?
  9. Downvote
    Dante reacted to Brian9 in Is taxation moral?   
    And governments are consumers of other goods. The whole market is an integrated whole. Any agency of force has technology costs, transportation costs, you name it. They have to integrate with the rest of the market in an intelligent and efficient way. As time marches on, some ways are shown to be better than others. One can't snap one's fingers and say, we've figured out the business of governance. Everyone send your checks to us and we'll get the job done. It doesn't work that way. You have to compete. You have to be good at the job and who is the judge of that? Not you. Because anything you can do, I can do better.
  10. Downvote
    Dante reacted to Brian9 in Is taxation moral?   
    I tell you I'm waiting patiently, and I acknowledge that you have plenty of other people to respond to, and this is your response?

    Could it be that you just don't want to address what I said?

    Stop lying. You don't have my consent. I don't want you taking any part in my government. I frankly don't trust you. You twist the meaning of my words, misquote me as having said "I just don't feel like paying my taxes", which I find insulting. You ignore whatever you can get away with and then dismiss me very rudely after I politely remind you I'm waiting for answer. I respect your position not at all, but I don't fault you for that. I fault you for a lack of intellectual honesty.

    EDIT: For anyone else looking to have an excuse to leave this conversation, I think all you need to do is pick up the point I've been making. And Grames, if you can finally pin him down, will become very bored with this whole topic. It is either that my arguments bore him and are easily refutable, or that he has no answer to them. I know he has no answer to them, because I know I am right and I know he is wrong.

    EDIT: My entire post should have been the following: Look, he is defeated, he refuses to answer my arguments. It is a simple, powerful fact.
  11. Downvote
    Dante reacted to Trebor in Is taxation moral?   
    Consent and responsibility are two distinct concepts.

    To consent is to give one's permission to or to agree to do something. (Obviously this means voluntarily. Involuntary consent is a contradiction.) Being responsible is the state or fact of being accountable (or to blame) for something.

    If a majority of the citizens accept your view on taxation and consent to taxation as a means of funding the government, those who do not agree, do not consent, but they will be forced to pay the tax, and their rights will be violated, with the consent of your majority. Complying with the law or obeying the law does not imply consent or moral approval of the law or the government.

    Still, even those in the minority are responsible in the sense that it is their government that will be initiating force against them (with majority approval), and that, given that they are ultimately responsible for their own lives, rights and freedom, they have to decide what to do in the face of such a violation of their rights: flee or attempt to change the government, etc.

    "The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all." Bastiat, "The Law"

    The phrase, "the consent of the governed," simply means the consent of the individual(s) for the government to defend his rights, acting as his agent of self-defense, in accordance with the principle of individual rights. The individual has the right of self-defense, and it's only that use of force that he has the right to delegate or entrust to the government. He has no right to consent to the violation of the rights of others.
  12. Like
    Dante got a reaction from bluecherry in Is tyranny intrinsic to governments?   
    The statement that you can't "claim to have anything to do with Objectivism," if you hold a particular view on the application of moral principles seems ludicrously overstated to me.

    But ignoring that, it doesn't look like Maximus is attempting to pass his view as Objectivism, as evidenced by his statement: "I happen to disagree with Rand on this [the subject of duty and honor]." Thus, a much more useful avenue of discussion would be to ask him about his reasoning and to have a substantive discussion or debate over that, rather than attempting to impugn his "Objectivist cred".
  13. Like
    Dante got a reaction from brian0918 in Is tyranny intrinsic to governments?   
    The statement that you can't "claim to have anything to do with Objectivism," if you hold a particular view on the application of moral principles seems ludicrously overstated to me.

    But ignoring that, it doesn't look like Maximus is attempting to pass his view as Objectivism, as evidenced by his statement: "I happen to disagree with Rand on this [the subject of duty and honor]." Thus, a much more useful avenue of discussion would be to ask him about his reasoning and to have a substantive discussion or debate over that, rather than attempting to impugn his "Objectivist cred".
  14. Downvote
    Dante reacted in How do you reject Physics Determinism?   
    According to Objectivism, free will is “axiomatic,” which means (1) it’s “self-evident,” “fundamentally given and directly perceived”; and (2) the denial of free will is self-refuting. Let’s examine each of these claims.

    (1) free will is self-evident. Here’s the “argument,” compliments of Leonard Peikoff:

    How, then, do we know that man has volition? It is a self-evident fact, available to any act of introspection.

    You the reader can perceive every potentiality I have been discussing simply by observing your own consciousness. The extent of your knowledge or intelligence is not relevant here, because the issue is whether you use whatever knowledge and intelligence you do possess. At this moment, for example, you can decide to read attentively and struggle to understand, judge, apply the material, or you can let your attention wander and the words wash over you, half-getting some points, then coming to for a few sentences, then lapsing again into partial focus. If something you read makes you feel fearful or uneasy, you can decide to follow the point anyway and consider it on its merits, or you can brush it aside by an act of evasion, while mumbling some rationalization to still any pangs of guilt. At each moment, you are deciding to think or not to think. The fact that you regularly make these kinds of choices is directly accessible to you, as it is to any volitional consciousness.

    The principle of volition is a philosophic axiom, with all the features this involves…

    Behind Peikoff’s argument is an important but unstated assumption. Peikoff is assuming that acts of introspection yield self-evident truth. Whatever a man observes through introspection is “fundamentally given and directly perceived” and, by implication, axiomatic. So if a man observed himself being controlled by forces not of his making, this would make the principle of determinism a self-evident fact worthy of being embalmed as an axiomatic truth.

    Does introspection really yield self-evident facts? No, of course not. Nor is it an assumption that any Objectivist, from Rand down, would ever consistently adhere to. People observe through introspection, for example, unbidden emotions which they cannot control. They feel angry, sad, fretful, anxious, regardless of whether they wish to feel these things. As even Objectivism concedes, human beings do not have direct control over emotions. They experience, introspectively, emotions rising up within them, irrespective of any volition. So does this not mean that feelings are determined? Isn’t that the “self-evident” fact directly observed through introspection? But no, not at all. When it comes to emotions, Rand took an entirely different approach: “In the field of introspection,” she declared, “the two guiding questions are: ‘What do I feel?’ and ‘Why do I feel it?’” But wait a minute! Whatever happened to direct contact with the facts assumed by Peikoff in his argument about volition? By implication, Objectivism rejects the notion that emotions are beyond volitional control, even though this is how we experience them in introspection. So if our experience can mislead us in the case of emotions, why can’t it mislead us in reference to attention, focus, and thought? How can introspective observation be “self-evident” in one instance and not the other? This is left unexplained in Objectivism because neither Rand nor any of her disciples ever noticed the inconsistency.

    (2) Determinism is self-refuting. Again Peikoff provides the argument:

    When the determinist claims that man is determined, this applies to all of man’s ideas also, including his own advocacy of determinism. Given the factors operating on him, he believes, he had to become a determinist, just as his opponents had no alternative but to oppose him. How then can he know that his viewpoint is true? Are the factors that shape his brain infallible? Does he automatically follow reason and logic? Clearly not; if he did, error would be impossible to him….
    If a determinist tried to assess his viewpoint as knowledge, he would have to say, in effect: “I am in control of my mind. I do have the power to decide to focus on reality. I do not merely submit spinelessly to whatever distortions happen to be decreed by some chain of forces stretching back to infinity. I am free, free to be objective, free to conclude — that I am not free.

    Like any rejection of a philosophic axiom, determinism is self-refuting.

    This argument gratuitously assumes that the individual must be able to control his own mind in order to know anything. Yet what is the rationale for such an assumption? Why can’t the mind, operating on its own principles, gather in data from external existence, analyze it, and reach conclusions? There is nothing logically inconsistent in such a notion. That it seems a trifle strange does not constitute a self-refutation. It won’t do to confuse the strange or the paradoxical with the illogical. Computers, which are deterministic systems through and through, with no volition of their own, can reach conclusions from data fed to them. Why couldn’t the mind of the determinist behave in a similar fashion?

    Even more objectionable, however, is the caricature of determinism in Peikoff’s argument. Determinism may be as implausible as you like, but it’s hardly the thin gruel of a doctrine presented by Peikoff. It comes in many different versions and brands, many of which are quite sophisticated and not so easily refuted. One could believe, for example, that while the intellect may be volitional, the will (i.e., Rand’s emotional mechanism) is determined, so that a man may control his mind but not his temper. All kinds of variants and mixtures are possible, most of which are not even broached by Peikoff’s argument.

    The bottom line is this: the arguments essayed by Peikoff for free will and against determinism are both grossly inadequate and hardly rise to the level required by “self-evidence.”
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