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necrovore

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  1. Thanks
    necrovore reacted to KyaryPamyu in Your Thoughts on Modern Poetry   
    You might be referring to Tenderlysharp's post from a while back.
    From the founder's mission statement:
    They do publish every style under the sun, so it's mostly of interest to those that want to keep up with what's going on in the poetry world.
    There's far more rhymed poetry in the older issues (1912 onwards).
    Like The New Yorker, the magazine has an 'open door' policy where they publish poems even if you're not famous. They receive about 90.000 submissions/year, with a publication rate below 1%, making it one of the hardest literary magazines to get published in. They even reject submissions from Pulitzer prize winners (and sometimes publish the resulting hate-mail as well).
  2. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from tadmjones in Russian invasion of Ukraine/Belief of Mainstream Media Narrative   
    Maybe because this is a case of bad guys vs. bad guys, like two groups of gangsters in a gang war. Sure, one of them had to start it, and that one (Russia) was wrong for starting it, but that doesn't make the other group of gangsters "good guys."
    p.s. I do not know if my position here matches that of anybody else in this thread. I just saw that one statement and wanted to respond to it.
  3. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Is being anti mandate an accurate description of Objectivists?   
    The problem here is that failure to get vaccinated is not an initiation of force.
    The government exists to protect people from criminals (and invading foreign armies), but not to protect them from natural phenomena such as hurricanes, earthquakes -- or viruses. In a free country, people can organize to protect themselves against such things, and the government is only involved insofar as it prevents crime from occurring.
    In some circumstances it might be possible to sue someone for negligence if their failure to do something causes a natural phenomenon to be worse for someone else. Generally, however, I think you have to willingly assume a responsibility before you can be held liable for shirking it.
    Interestingly, the government has granted the manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines "immunity" from liability lawsuits.
  4. Thanks
    necrovore got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Is being anti mandate an accurate description of Objectivists?   
    The purpose of government is (supposed to be) to protect individual rights. The only way to violate individual rights is by initiation or threat of force. Therefore, the government maintains a monopoly on force to ensure that it is only used in retaliation and only against those who initiate or threaten its use.
    As such, the only "mandates" from a proper government are negative obligations, e.g., don't murder people, don't defraud people, don't steal from people, don't extort stuff from people, etc.
    The government can enforce these without ever initiating force.
    Individual rights are not (supposed to be) subject to vote. Unlimited democracies usually end up tyrannical, as mob rule.
    As for vaccine mandates, the issue here is whether one has a right to one's own body. I would say so, and therefore I oppose vaccine mandates on the same grounds that I oppose the forced pregnancy and childbirth that result from abortion bans.
    A vaccine mandate is not the same thing as a vaccine itself, and it's possible to recommend a vaccine without supporting a mandate. I mean, I think everybody should read Atlas Shrugged to "inoculate" themselves against socialism and communism, but I absolutely don't believe that the reading of Atlas Shrugged should be mandated by law.
  5. Like
    necrovore reacted to MisterSwig in Ayn Rand Fan Club podcast   
    "The burden is on those who claim fraud..."
    The burden is on anyone making a claim. Not just those claiming fraud took place. The burden is also on the officials running the election to convince me that they are honest actors who ran an honest election. And they have failed that basic criteria in several ways, namely by littering the streets and mailboxes with "mail-in" ballots and not checking IDs at voting centers. It doesn't matter if people can't prove fraud when the people running the election can't prove legitimacy.
  6. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from The Laws of Biology in Given that there are limits to the rationality of chimpanzees, wolves, dogs, etc., does it not logically follow that there are limits to the rationality of homo sapiens?   
    This looks like the mind-body dichotomy again, but in a different form. The ancient idea was that reason is a "spiritual" phenomenon which should not be "sullied" by connections to "the flesh." The modern, more "materialist" take would be what you are describing, that there is no spiritual phenomenon at all, that there is nothing but the flesh and that what we think is "reason" is actually nothing more than a phenomenon of the flesh and therefore subservient to it.
    Ayn Rand does not believe in the mind-body dichotomy. A man is an integrated being, and reason is the faculty that a man uses for living his life. Reason means applying logic (the art of non-contradictory identification) to reality, but reality of necessity includes the nature of a person's own body and its needs. (For example, you have to eat food and not poison, and reason is the most effective tool people have to identify what is food and how to find or produce it, and how to identify poison so that it can be avoided.)
    It is possible to deliberately put reason in the service of unreason, but that would be a lower level of evil than mere unreason. Criminals do that when they plot to rob a bank or to enslave a population. It is possible (but not sustainable over the long term) for men to prey on other men.
    The life proper to man is to deal with reality directly (rather than relying on victims to do it), and to deal with other people only as traders, offering value for value.
  7. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from The Laws of Biology in Given that there are limits to the rationality of chimpanzees, wolves, dogs, etc., does it not logically follow that there are limits to the rationality of homo sapiens?   
    Of course we have limits. What Ayn Rand referred to as "the crow epistemology" is an example of a limit -- you can only keep so many things in mind at a time. You can see | as one, || as two, ||| as three, but you'd have to count |||||||||||| because otherwise they just blur together.
    However, we can abstract over abstractions, and that sets us apart from the animals, even monkeys. Once you can abstract over abstractions, you can get to discoveries like those of Newton and Einstein (and Rand herself in her own field).
    Also, you seem to be referring to the reason-emotion dichotomy, which is related to the mind-body dichotomy. Christianity (and Plato) held that Man consists of an animal side (body) and a spiritual side (mind / soul) and that these sides are necessarily in opposition (which is not true). They would have put reason on the spiritual side and emotion (which all animals have) on the animal side. Aristotle probably followed Plato on this point, at least a little. The discovery of evolution did not come until much later, and merely provided a new way to describe this same dichotomy (reason being relatively new on the evolutionary scene, whereas emotion is much older).
    Ayn Rand found that reason is a volitional faculty. You have to choose whether to use it. If you choose not to use it then your mind "falls back" on emotions, but there is no way to validate those emotions, and they are not enough by themselves to allow a human being to live a successful life. (For animals, emotions and instincts are enough, but just barely -- they only need to breed more than they die.) For humans, trying to live without reason leads to failure and then to the emotions that come with that. Reason, on the other hand, can be validated (and must be, because reasoning errors are possible). Valid reasoning will lead to success and the emotions that come with that.
    I don't think it's possible (or "hubris") to "rely on reason too much." The only way to correct an error in reasoning is through reason.
  8. Like
    necrovore reacted to Dupin in Peikoff supports truckers, Snowden, denounces 2020 election fraud, Big Tech, mandates   
    Yesterday Amy featured Leonard Peikoff on her podcast.  He's late to the party but better late than never:
    https://rumble.com/vuv5ak-leonard-peikoff-salutes-the-truckers.html
    On all the issues of the title of this post he differs from the so-called Ayn Rand Institute. 

  9. Like
    necrovore reacted to Boydstun in Peikoff supports truckers, Snowden, denounces 2020 election fraud, Big Tech, mandates   
    I watched this chat, and these are the same "small potatoes" curtailments of individual liberties today relative to the giant curtailment, ever-growing today and for a long time in the US. And that really big one is not even mentioned, let alone put as the top-priority current policy issue here, just as in almost all media and voices of political leaders. I'm embarrassed to to have to state the obvious for an audience of this caliber: the greatest stab against individual liberty in America since 2001 (and many, many of the years before that) are federal budgets in the red.
    There is indeed something seriously undermining liberty here, and that is the governmental plundering of property in America. Your right to your property together with your rights over your body and your labor makes for much of what is your freedom. Every federal budget that is in the red is an acceleration of the taking of your property and your making of a life for yourself (ditto for posterity yet to be). This is the most import stab against liberty going on today. All the chatter on masks or which bathroom to go to or stopping illegal crossings of the Mexican border or the stopping my maple syrup at the Canadian border is small potatoes compared to our failure to get these deficit budgets stopped. It should be the top political issue you see gets talked about. In April 2017, with both chambers of Congress in the same Party as the White House, a federal budget in the red was passed. The leaders all congratulated themselves for compromising with the other Party. Was that comprise “I’ll cut this if you’ll cut that”? No. It was “I’ll agree to you raising that if you’ll agree to me raising this.” This is the serious issue on which voices should be sounding.
  10. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from Boydstun in The Objectivist's Creed: Has anyone ever boiled Objectivism down to a short, memorizable statement? (compare: Apostle's Creed)   
    I want to reference the beginning of an article called "Lisp as the Maxwell's Equations of Software," where the professor of a class on electromagnetism (quoted by the author of the article) presents Maxwell's Equations, and then says:
    The article then quotes Alan Kay, saying that John McCarthy's Lisp interpreter, itself written in Lisp, is like "Maxwell's Equations of Software."
    Sometimes I've wondered if it's possible to create the "Maxwell's Equations of Objectivism," which would sum up everything about Objectivism in a very small space, like on an index card.
    I'm not sure it's possible.
    Even if it is possible to sum things up that way, the resulting situation is probably just like the one the electromagnetism professor described for electromagnetism: understanding the summary might be easy, but understanding all the consequences of the summary would be another matter.
    — Sometimes I think this one would be sufficient: "Existence is Identity; Consciousness is Identification."
    This statement sums up the proper relationship between existence and consciousness, and I suspect that if Objectivism were lost, this statement alone might be enough to enable it to be rediscovered. (Or maybe more is needed.)
    The consequences that need to be understood, however, are not merely the consequences of that statement alone, but also of all the facts in existence.
  11. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from Easy Truth in The Objectivist's Creed: Has anyone ever boiled Objectivism down to a short, memorizable statement? (compare: Apostle's Creed)   
    I want to reference the beginning of an article called "Lisp as the Maxwell's Equations of Software," where the professor of a class on electromagnetism (quoted by the author of the article) presents Maxwell's Equations, and then says:
    The article then quotes Alan Kay, saying that John McCarthy's Lisp interpreter, itself written in Lisp, is like "Maxwell's Equations of Software."
    Sometimes I've wondered if it's possible to create the "Maxwell's Equations of Objectivism," which would sum up everything about Objectivism in a very small space, like on an index card.
    I'm not sure it's possible.
    Even if it is possible to sum things up that way, the resulting situation is probably just like the one the electromagnetism professor described for electromagnetism: understanding the summary might be easy, but understanding all the consequences of the summary would be another matter.
    — Sometimes I think this one would be sufficient: "Existence is Identity; Consciousness is Identification."
    This statement sums up the proper relationship between existence and consciousness, and I suspect that if Objectivism were lost, this statement alone might be enough to enable it to be rediscovered. (Or maybe more is needed.)
    The consequences that need to be understood, however, are not merely the consequences of that statement alone, but also of all the facts in existence.
  12. Like
    necrovore reacted to Reidy in House for AR   
    Angi has posted digital realizations of some of FLlW's unbuilt houses, including one for Rand and her husband. Unfortunately it's only still pictures, not a 3-D walkthrough. (For a great example of the latter, see the Imperial Hotel.)
    I'd hate to have to open and close all those louvered windows each day.
  13. Like
    necrovore reacted to whYNOT in Reblogged:Is Trump Done, and Does It Matter?   
    There's such a thing as these new 'Democrats' pushing the US as far Left as they can go as fast as they can, and Trump and his normal antics are the problem?
    Sorry, I found myself nodding along in agreement with this article, then the present reality hit.
    Trump's election obviously was the temporary block on the Left's ambitions, which they've taken up with an extra vengeance since. They have now blatantly outed themselves and shown their true colors.
    Otherwise, maybe some other GOP candidate of the decent, gentlemanly, good-loser sort - who could not have stood a chance against Hillary - and in her two terms she'd have eased the country on the same route, anyhow.
    It was always my stance and my cause for support then, that a 'self-interested' and independent America was what Trump and his supporters were essentially after. Only, no one, or few intellectuals articulated it as such, on moral grounds. Then, predictably, the opposition including Objectivists cried "nationalism!"
    Never mind about their 'brothers' keepers', even the religious conservatives know when their nation was and is being sacrificed at home and abroad. Charity begins at home, they will say.
    It is not my first concern that Trump himself is re-elected, only that the Biden bunch isn't. (The media have made certain "Trump-fatigue" would set in).
  14. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from happiness in Is it possible for a free country to come about quickly?   
    I think the rules are different when you have a small group where everybody knows everybody else. In such a case, people deal with each other based on their direct firsthand knowledge of each other, and specialization is much more difficult.
    Consider that if I were one person living by myself, I could not have a separation of state and economics, because by necessity I'd have to do both functions, since there's no one else to do them. And then, within the area of state, I wouldn't be able to separate executive, legislative, and judicial functions, because again, they're all me. If it were me and one or two other people, that's still not enough people to split them up properly.
    Even if there are four or five people, maintaining those distinctions would create all sorts of artificial barriers which would be costly and inefficient. (You're on an island with Bob and Carol and Dave, but Bob is handling the judicial branch today, so if a judicial question comes up between Carol and Dave, you can't work it out yourself; you have to go ask Bob...)
    I imagine that if a dispute breaks out, getting a "fair trial," the way you would want one in a large society, would be almost impossible, precisely because everybody knows everybody else, and there's no practical way to separate people's firsthand knowledge of each other from the issues at stake in the case. I mean, if you never liked Bob, you're more likely to convict him just because of that, and even if you could separate your dislike of Bob from your judgment in the case, you would have a hard time proving that you had done so. You could lay out your reasoning in writing, but people would still have grounds to suspect that what you wrote was different from what you were actually thinking. How does Bob get any right to an impartial judge or jury, when the community is that small?
    When you have thousands of people who don't all know each other, barriers between people exist anyway; they cannot all know each other anymore, so it becomes possible to use those barriers between people for separations of powers and other specializations.
    There have been small "communes" where people allegedly practice Communist principles, but in fact, since they all know each other, they can use their knowledge of each other to make everything sort-of work without genuinely relying on Communist principles at all. (Besides, since the principles are wrong, if they followed them strictly, their community would die out.) When you have a small group of people, such small groups are all very much the same, and any sort of political principles are premature.
    So a small group of Objectivist geniuses could well start their own little village or something, but they would have a hard time demonstrating to the rest of the world that it was really based on Objectivist principles, and not merely on the fact that they know each other well and work together well. Objectivist principles would probably help them work together well, up to a point, but if a dispute happened, they would probably fall apart. They are too small of a group. (Or else they might compromise their principles in order to stay together, but that introduces problems of its own.)
    (It is also a problem when you have a large society ruled by a small group of people, when each of the people in the ruling clique knows everybody else in the clique... and when they prevent anybody not in the clique from holding office... because they cannot police each other properly anymore, because they are not impartial... and they can collude across "separation of powers" barriers...)
    I think America came together because you had a large group of people who did not all know each other but had similar ideas, and they also had a blank canvas upon which to create a country. The blank canvas these days is hard to come by, but not impossible. But you also need the large group with the common ideas. I don't think a small group would be able to do the job. You might think that the Founding Fathers were a small group, but I think what they did was only possible because they were representative of a larger group from which they came.
  15. Thanks
    necrovore reacted to tadmjones in Shameful Display of Anarchy and Violence   
    and some more with the advent of time
    https://www.revolver.news/2021/10/meet-ray-epps-the-fed-protected-provocateur-who-appears-to-have-led-the-very-first-1-6-attack-on-the-u-s-capitol/
  16. Like
    necrovore reacted to Gus Van Horn blog in Reblogged:Did Prager Sweep Causality Under the Rug?   
    As if saying it enough times will make it so, Dennis Prager has written yet another column asserting that a secular society is -- somehow -- also therefore a less free one.

    Somehow? you might ask.

    Well, you tell me:Does this not seem like an odd way to open an argument about secularity ... Gosh! what is that word? -- necessitating? ... the decline of freedom in our great republic?

    In case your'e having a hard time putting a finger on why it does, let's consider an uncontroversial phrase that I would have thought was also familiar to almost any educated adult and certainly should be to any intellectual:Prager frequently equates the left with what he calls "secularism." I personally think the left looks more and more religious by the day, and "nature" is a strong candidate for one of its gods.

    Be that as it may, let's run with Prager's assumption for a moment that religion necessarily implies belief in a god of the Judaeo-Christian sort. If so, then I completely agree with him on both counts: America is both less religious (in that sense) and less free, and those facts about our culture are likely correlated.

    But so, too are US spending on science, space, and technology -- and US suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation, from 1999 to 2009 -- according to the web site, Spurious Correlations. Those numbers are facts and so is the correlation. But I don't think even Dennis Prager would seriously argue that one of these causes the other.

    Prager's article says not a peep about causation, but that's something we really ought to consider. America has become less free and less observant of traditional Western religions over the past century.

    Anyone who values freedom would do well to ask that question. Prager, oddly, just assumes -- or seems to want the reader to assume -- that less religion somehow causes less freedom. At least one thinker I am pretty sure Prager has heard of, Ayn Rand, would beg to differ, as her greatest student, Leonard Peikoff, once outlined in some detail in his essay, "Religion vs. America."

    Within, Peikoff argues in part:If the case for liberty is actually secular, then something other than an some woozily-implied causation of less freedom by an absence of Christianity might be causing the two cultural trends Prager brings up, but doesn't seem very serious about understanding.

    To wit: His "opposition to slavery was based entirely on the Bible," even if true, does not imply that without religion, we would all advocate slavery. As witness the oath of Ayn Rand's most famous character, "I swear by my life ... and my love of it ... that I will never live for the sake of another man ... nor ask another man ... to live ... for mine."

    As for what might be causing the two trends, my note about the left becoming more quasi-religious should offer a clue, but a more full explanation would come from Rand's and Peikoff's extensive analyses of the baleful influence of Immanual Kant -- whose mission was to save Christian altruism from the Enlightenment -- on our culture over time. In short, our society continued moving away from Christianity, but also, thanks to Kant, began moving towards a duty-based ethos and its anti-freedom political correlate of statism.

    -- CAVLink to Original
  17. Like
    necrovore reacted to dream_weaver in Articles in the news, referencing Ayn Rand   
    Per Drudge Report: How Ayn Rand stopped UK's passport scheme...
    Did Ayn Rand defeat vaccine passports?
    Javid is widely known as a fan of Ayn Rand’s brand of radical individualism, reportedly once telling Parliament’s Crossbench Film Society that he wooed his future wife by reading her passages from The Fountainhead. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find him resistant to implementing as national policy a requirement to show medical paperwork in order to do something as everyday as going clubbing.
  18. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from dream_weaver in Some Thoughts on The Arbitrary   
    This is a question of terminology. I'm trying to distinguish words and ideas from reality itself. If you hold that a "fact is a type of claim" then you lose (or at least muddy) that distinction. What is a fact a claim of? What do you call the thing out there in reality?
    (A statement is a complete sentence, not just a noun. So if a statement is "factual," i.e., true, the underlying fact, out there in reality, must be more than just a "thing" like a rock or whatever, it has to be a thing doing (or being) something, even if only existing.)
    As evidence that my distinction here is not mine alone, I offer this: if I say something, and someone replies, "Is that a fact?" they're asking about the state of things "out there" in reality; they aren't asking for a mere categorization of my utterance (which could be determined entirely from the utterance itself, and from a knowledge of how to categorize utterances, as opposed to looking at whatever I'm talking about). If a fact were a type of statement then asking, "Is that [statement] a fact?" would be the same sort of thing as asking, "Is that statement using an intransitive verb?"
    Another thing to consider is context. All statements are made in a context. The context can be used to resolve ambiguities and to specify meanings. If I say, "That book is on the shelf over there," it would have to be the context that would make it clear which book and which shelf.
    Some contexts are broader than others. The broadest context available is the context of "all human knowledge," but smaller contexts are frequently useful and necessary, so you can have your own personal context, e.g., concerning whatever is in your immediate vicinity, and distinguish that from other contexts.
    A statement has to be put into a context in order to be judged as true, false, or arbitrary (or "possible," "probable," etc.). Further, the same statement can be true in one context, false in another, and arbitrary in yet another, although this might hinge on certain words that have different meanings in different contexts. (I should also point out that in the case of a "word salad" which isn't even grammatical, there's no use trying to put it in a context, because context doesn't make any difference...)
    I did make a distinction between a statement which is "arbitrary in a particular context" and one which "would be arbitrary in any context." The latter, I think, is what most people here mean when they state that something is "arbitrary."
    The examples of arbitrary statements given by Peikoff seem to be of that latter type; they seem to be those where the claimant is deliberately trying to insulate a claim from evidence. I think such a statement, "detached from the realm of evidence" as Peikoff describes it, is very different from a claim that merely lacks evidence. A claim that lacks evidence is merely useless; a claim that's impervious to evidence is another sort of beast -- and the statements Peikoff makes about the arbitrary being "an affront to reason and to the science of epistemology" would make more sense applying to the latter.
  19. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from Boydstun in Some Thoughts on The Arbitrary   
    This is a question of terminology. I'm trying to distinguish words and ideas from reality itself. If you hold that a "fact is a type of claim" then you lose (or at least muddy) that distinction. What is a fact a claim of? What do you call the thing out there in reality?
    (A statement is a complete sentence, not just a noun. So if a statement is "factual," i.e., true, the underlying fact, out there in reality, must be more than just a "thing" like a rock or whatever, it has to be a thing doing (or being) something, even if only existing.)
    As evidence that my distinction here is not mine alone, I offer this: if I say something, and someone replies, "Is that a fact?" they're asking about the state of things "out there" in reality; they aren't asking for a mere categorization of my utterance (which could be determined entirely from the utterance itself, and from a knowledge of how to categorize utterances, as opposed to looking at whatever I'm talking about). If a fact were a type of statement then asking, "Is that [statement] a fact?" would be the same sort of thing as asking, "Is that statement using an intransitive verb?"
    Another thing to consider is context. All statements are made in a context. The context can be used to resolve ambiguities and to specify meanings. If I say, "That book is on the shelf over there," it would have to be the context that would make it clear which book and which shelf.
    Some contexts are broader than others. The broadest context available is the context of "all human knowledge," but smaller contexts are frequently useful and necessary, so you can have your own personal context, e.g., concerning whatever is in your immediate vicinity, and distinguish that from other contexts.
    A statement has to be put into a context in order to be judged as true, false, or arbitrary (or "possible," "probable," etc.). Further, the same statement can be true in one context, false in another, and arbitrary in yet another, although this might hinge on certain words that have different meanings in different contexts. (I should also point out that in the case of a "word salad" which isn't even grammatical, there's no use trying to put it in a context, because context doesn't make any difference...)
    I did make a distinction between a statement which is "arbitrary in a particular context" and one which "would be arbitrary in any context." The latter, I think, is what most people here mean when they state that something is "arbitrary."
    The examples of arbitrary statements given by Peikoff seem to be of that latter type; they seem to be those where the claimant is deliberately trying to insulate a claim from evidence. I think such a statement, "detached from the realm of evidence" as Peikoff describes it, is very different from a claim that merely lacks evidence. A claim that lacks evidence is merely useless; a claim that's impervious to evidence is another sort of beast -- and the statements Peikoff makes about the arbitrary being "an affront to reason and to the science of epistemology" would make more sense applying to the latter.
  20. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from Boydstun in Some Thoughts on The Arbitrary   
    [Long post ahead...]
    Most of what I know about the arbitrary comes from Leonard Peikoff's OPAR. However, although I think his presentation is clear, I've noticed that my understanding of the concept seems to differ somewhat from that of some of the other people on this board, so I want to state what I think he means. So this post is my interpretation of OPAR, or perhaps it would be more apt to say I'm writing an elaboration on OPAR to establish how I'm interpreting it, and I'd like to think my interpretation is pretty straightforward, but we'll see.
    First I want to establish a difference between a fact and a claim.
    A fact (which can also be called a piece of evidence) is something out there in reality, and it is true by definition. A fact can never be false, and a fact can never be arbitrary.
    Some facts are available to direct perception, but others aren't. Some facts have to be discovered by inference, such as the existence of neutrinos. Other facts are man-made, such as two people being married.
    A claim, on the other hand (which can also be called a proposition, an assertion, a statement, a sentence, or a group of sentences) is something that somebody says (or writes). It might be true, or it might be false, or it might be arbitrary.
    If I say "There is a 4K monitor in front of me right now," then that is a claim. The existence of the 4K monitor itself, however, is a fact (unless I am mistaken or lying, in which case the claim would be false and the fact would be different from what I claimed. But we would never say that the fact is false.)
    When Peikoff identifies the arbitrary in OPAR, everything he says amounts to the idea that the status of "arbitrary" can only be given to a claim, and not a fact:
    This is why I claim that a fact can never be arbitrary.
    But a claim can be.
    Whenever people are arguing in a forum, all they can do is make claims. Strictly speaking, the facts are not on the forum (except for facts about what somebody previously wrote on the forum). Facts are "out there" in reality. So anything I can write on this forum, or even link to, is actually a claim. And because it's a claim, it could be true, false, or arbitrary, and it's up to you to figure out which. So how does one begin to do that?
    There are facts that are immediately available to you, possibly even in front of your own eyes, and in that case it's pretty easy.
    There are also facts that are not immediately available. For example, consider the claim that neutrinos exist. Do they? I have to admit that I have not personally verified that they do. I haven't done the experiments and I don't have the proper equipment to do them. Would it then be fair to claim, then, that maybe scientists made up neutrinos in order to get more grant money?
    In this case I think the claim that neutrinos exist is more credible than the claim that scientists made them up, mostly because when you ask people why they claim that neutrinos exist, you get led to lab results and to mathematical relationships between them. (And when you ask why the mathematical relationships exist, you get led back to more lab results.) In particular, when you measure radioactive decay, and you do the math about what goes in versus what comes out, you end up with something "missing" in what comes out. This was the theoretical basis for the idea of the neutrino -- that the neutrino was what was missing. It was also mathematically predicted that neutrinos interact with matter, albeit rarely, and then experiments were done and the interaction was actually observed. In principle, at least, I could make the same observations myself. It would be expensive and difficult for me to run such experiments, but the fact that the claimants are appealing, ultimately, to direct perception and to reasoning from that, is what gives this claim credibility.
    The idea that "neutrinos are a lie made up by scientists," on the other hand, actually clashes with all that evidence (just like the Christian claim that evolution is a big scientific fraud and that the truth is creationism and Noah's Ark and the like). Each time you claim that one of the scientists' conclusions is wrong, you also have to claim that something is wrong with the evidence or the reasoning that led them to that conclusion. So the idea that scientists made up neutrinos (or evolution) is just not tenable.
    Here I've actually pointed out that the claim that "scientists made up neutrinos" is false. (I can't say I've really proved it's false, but I've described what such a proof would look like.) But that doesn't demonstrate anything about the arbitrary.
    So how do you establish that something is arbitrary?
    Yes, it's necessary to establish that something is arbitrary, as opposed to simply claiming that it is arbitrary. A claim about a claim is a claim. So if you claim that "Claim X is arbitrary," that claim can itself be true or false -- or arbitrary! In particular, if you don't have a means of establishing that a claim is arbitrary, then the claim that "Claim X is arbitrary" has no relationship to reality and is therefore itself arbitrary. So there has to be a way to establish arbitrariness.
    To prove that a claim is arbitrary, you need to prove that it has no relationship to reality. The arbitrary is neither true nor false. That's its definition!
    Peikoff mentions a context, as well:
    To prove that a claim is arbitrary, a context is necessary, because all knowledge is contextual. A context is also necessary to prove that a claim is true or false. In a particular context, however, a claim will be one of these three things.
    If we could go back in time and talk to Aristotle, the statement that "neutrinos exist" would be arbitrary to him. He'd technically be entitled to dismiss it. He wouldn't have the context of scientific research to show why neutrinos might or might not exist. He also wouldn't have an immediate need to know whether they exist or not (and if he did need to know, that need, and the reasoning that led to that need, would establish a context). However, if a time traveler could walk up to him and tell him that such things as neutrinos exist (I don't know why the subject would even come up, but bear with me here), he might ask, "Why do you say that?" -- and it would be possible for the time traveler to answer (although the answer might require a book or two). In that case, the time traveler would be establishing the context that allows the claim to be shown to be true.
    (This establishment of context is also necessary when you're a kid going to school and your teachers teach you that neutrinos exist -- the teachers have to establish the context, in order to keep the statement from being arbitrary. Often they fail or refuse to do this... and then claim, sometimes implicitly, that students should simply believe what they're told...)
    So I propose that if somebody makes a statement that appears to be arbitrary, it's entirely rational to invite them to establish a context for it. This doesn't contradict the onus of proof principle, either -- it's an instance of it, it's telling the person making a statement that he must also establish the context for it. If such a context can be established, it becomes possible to debate whether the statement is true or false: it is no longer arbitrary.
    If someone refuses to establish such a context (and it has not already been established) then they're advocating the arbitrary as such, and that's invalid reasoning according to OPAR.
    It's also possible that someone simply fails to establish a context; in that case, they are not "advocating the arbitrary" per se, but you would still be entitled to consider that particular statement as arbitrary, and dismiss it from consideration, until a context is established.
    In a few cases, it's possible, and sometimes easy, to prove that a claim would be arbitrary in any context -- an example would be the skeptical claim that reason or evidence is itself invalid. How can you have evidence for a claim that evidence is invalid? Such a context cannot exist. Another example is circular reasoning, where a claim is only valid according to itself. Whole religions work that way.
    Another example occurs when someone works to maintain a falsehood, for example, the idea that scientists made up neutrinos. This would have to be a person who does not reject the arbitrary in principle, and who expects his audience not to reject it either. If an idea is proved false, the arguer may try to "promote" the idea to arbitrary status in order to "protect" it from evidence, and argue that it may nevertheless still be "true." However, the very protection from evidence, the fact that no evidence could ever prove the "promoted" statement false, is what marks the statement as arbitrary, and therefore dismissable. (Peikoff presents several examples of claims that are "promoted" to arbitrary, such as the skeptical "problem of error" where the skeptic flips the onus of proof and demands that someone with a true claim prove that non-detectable errors don't exist.)
    Once a context has been established, and a claim is shown not to be arbitrary, then the claim cannot be dismissed on the basis of "arbitrariness" anymore; it has to be dismissed on some factual basis (e.g., irrelevancy) or else dealt with. Making it "arbitrary" again would require deliberately setting aside the facts that establish the context -- and that's evasion! (I suppose there might be a case where someone could prove that the wrong context was being used...)
    On the broader Internet, there are various claims from news media and bloggers and such. Assessing whether those claims are true, false, or arbitrary, is a little harder, because with broadcast media you usually can't ask them anything. You can, however, look at whatever context they've already established.
    I do have rules of thumb. For one thing, somebody who points to evidence for their claim is more credible than somebody who just asserts a conclusion without evidence. This is true even though "pointing to evidence" means making more claims. People who say "see for yourself" run the risk that others will see for themselves, and the fact that they are willing to take that risk says something good. People can also point to evidence in the form of videos or documents.
    For another, claims that are consistent over time are more likely to be correct, whereas, over time, a lie becomes more and more likely to be discovered as such.
    A third important thing is that people can be credible in some matters but not others. Unfortunately the "conservative" news media is full of credible, documented claims of tyranny followed by the claim that "this is all in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, so Jesus is coming back!" Since the claims of tyranny are documented, they can be believed, but it is still possible and reasonable to dismiss the Biblical prophecy stuff. If someone says "Water boils at 100 C, therefore, God exists!" then we as atheists are not obligated to deny that water boils at 100 C.
  21. Like
    necrovore reacted to Easy Truth in Reblogged:Speech, Property Rights in Trump's Crosshairs   
    But the problem is in fact governmental.
    The core problem is that these companies have liability protections that publishers don't have. Many of the recommendations in the article like using AI for this or that are already implemented with varied success. The bottom line is that a business should have the freedom to publish what it wants and be subject to proper libel and slander or child pornography laws. If it wants to be an arbiter of truth, it should be ready to face both the legal and business consequences. We have to keep in mind, these social media companies are providing something without getting anything for payment. There is no standard contract between the user and the provider which makes it even more complicated.
  22. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from whYNOT in Reblogged:Speech, Property Rights in Trump's Crosshairs   
    In The Prince, Machiavelli speaks of how a ruler who needs to do something unpopular can simply get one of his subordinates to do it for him, and then, if worst comes to worst, he can not only deny responsibility, but make a public spectacle of punishing the subordinate.
    A government can not only use that to wield "unpopular" powers, but also powers that it is not supposed to have in the first place. In the United States, censorship is one of these powers -- and the subordinate in this case is the "privately owned" corporations, who "volunteer" to be subordinates because they have to, because the government wields various carrots and sticks. The government has figured out a way to get the practical effects of censorship while not doing it itself, thus having plausible deniability. This depends on allowing a few big corporations to have their hands in almost all speech -- and then the government "delegates" the power of censorship to them.
    I think it's actually is proper to call this "censorship," because, when it comes down to it, it is the ruling regime doing it -- indirectly.
    The corporations aren't really doing it of their own free will. If somebody puts a gun to your head and makes demands, then whether you agree with the demands or not doesn't really make any difference -- although the gunman might tell you that things will go better for you if it seems that you do agree. But it's a little different when the gunman is the government: people who really do agree might not mind the gun at their heads, because they figure, "the bullets in that gun are for other people, people who disagree... but I agree, I co-operate, so I don't have to worry about it."
    When the corporations become unpopular, the government can make a big spectacle of "trust-busting," and the showmanship on this has actually already begun -- but you'll find in the end that, even if the government theatrically breaks these companies up, it won't make any practical difference. A few new rules will be announced, nobody will go to jail, and if you end up with two or three Facebooks or whatever, they will all toe the same line.
    In a free market, companies would compete for people's business, and a company that started banning people for their political views would simply drive those people into the arms of the competition. A company in a free market wouldn't ban people for political reasons, because it's suicidal.** So why are companies doing it? Because they're confident that there is no competition for those people to go to. Why are they so confident? Because the government is guaranteeing it. We don't have a free market.
    Trump has failed to grasp the nature of this problem and thus is proposing incorrect solutions.
    However, once again we see some people claiming that there isn't really a problem at all, and that if people are being kicked out of the public sphere for their political views, it's just "the free market at work." That isn't true either.
    (Some Republicans are doing one other thing wrong -- when they see the power being wielded, they don't want to eliminate that power, they want to take it over for their own use. That's not right, either: some powers cannot be used for good, at least, if good is defined as "promoting human survival.")
    Over the decades, there have been a lot of people complaining, rightly, about smaller "public-private partnerships" than these, and how such partnerships somehow manage to wield government powers while simultaneously not being subject to any constitutional restrictions because "they aren't part of the government, they're privately owned."
    Well, now we're coming to the culmination of the trend: companies and government are, for all practical purposes, just aspects of the same thing.
    To save the free market we need to separate these things: the only ultimate solution to this censorship problem is a separation of state and economics, which would include the elimination of all of these powerful regulatory agencies, so that the regime has no way of compelling compliance with its censorship desires.
    ** This sentence isn't correct as worded. A magazine publisher, for example, is not "suicidal" if he only accepts certain kinds of articles for his magazine. A phone company, on the other hand, would be "suicidal" if it tapped in on people's calls and cancelled their service over their views.
  23. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from Boydstun in Does objectivism offer a way to demonstrate that even the purport that nothing is real/the objective doesn't exist/antirealism/idealism/etc is self refuting or otherwise flawed from the start?   
    You should check out Leonard Peikoff's book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. It answers these questions in the first chapter!
  24. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from tadmjones in Reblogged:Speech, Property Rights in Trump's Crosshairs   
    Technically, yes -- but context is everything.
    If Coca-Cola does this of its own free will in a free market, that's one thing. Because in a free market people would probably switch to alternatives, and, more importantly, they'd be able to. (Even if Coca-Cola had the same bias as 99% of the population, in a free economy, a niche market would arise for the remaining 1%... because there is good money to be made serving niche markets... unless, like, that were prevented somehow...)
    A semi-free or non-free market changes things considerably, though, because the idea that Coca-Cola is somehow just a private company making its own decision is merely a cover. This is not an independent, uncoerced decision, and you can tell because all companies are leaning the same way, and any time somebody wants to start a competitor that leans the other way, the effort is stymied by legal and regulatory issues.
    The thing is, this is not about Coca-Cola at all. That's what I think DeSantis and Trump are missing when they target Twitter or Facebook. Yeah, the people who run these companies are jerks. But the government is pulling the strings here, and only that kind of jerk would be allowed to succeed under this government.
    (Edit: When a guy has a gun to his head, the solution is not to put another gun on the other side of the guy's head, with an opposite set of demands -- but that seems to be what the Republicans are proposing...)
    Permits which you're required to apply for will mysteriously take longer to get -- any inspections or audits that have to be done will take longer and will find more little problems, and they'll dispute you whenever you claim to have corrected them -- you might get constantly harassed by law enforcement over crimes you can't control that are associated with your product or service -- whether you qualify for liability protections will be disputed -- your suppliers, employees, customers, investors, etc. will have similar problems.
    On the other hand, a company that cooperates will get permits promptly, will breeze through inspections or audits (if there are any), will find that law enforcement doesn't blame them for the actions of miscreants who happen to use their property, will find that of course it qualifies for liability protections, and its business associates will have similar benefits.
    This is how political machines in big cities have always worked -- e.g., try getting a permit in NYC or Chicago -- and now it has moved to the Federal level.
    It can be many times more expensive to operate a company if it is disfavored by all these bureaucrats with discretionary powers. If the operating expense is too high, the company can't stay in business. Even if the company does stay in business, it is at a disadvantage. And yet, if a court asks the bureaucrats why they decided something the way they did, they can always come up with an answer that sounds "reasonable," and hey, the metal was rusty, so we did have to close the company until they had it replaced (never mind that the other company has metal that's about equally rusty but we decided it wasn't an issue there).
    All this is only possible because the government is in a position to do this sort of thing.
    This is basic cause and effect, although in this case you see the effect and have to infer the cause, just like seeing the effect of X-rays and having to infer that there are X-rays (because you can't see them directly). There are also many historical examples of this sort of thing, including "machine politics" cities like Chicago and Detroit, where this has been going on for decades, although Ayn Rand also saw it in Russia, and it also existed in Wiemar and Nazi Germany and in other authoritarian states throughout history. What more evidence do you require? Ayn Rand herself recommended a separation of state and economics. Why do you think she recommended that? Was she wrong?
  25. Like
    necrovore got a reaction from tadmjones in Reblogged:Speech, Property Rights in Trump's Crosshairs   
    In The Prince, Machiavelli speaks of how a ruler who needs to do something unpopular can simply get one of his subordinates to do it for him, and then, if worst comes to worst, he can not only deny responsibility, but make a public spectacle of punishing the subordinate.
    A government can not only use that to wield "unpopular" powers, but also powers that it is not supposed to have in the first place. In the United States, censorship is one of these powers -- and the subordinate in this case is the "privately owned" corporations, who "volunteer" to be subordinates because they have to, because the government wields various carrots and sticks. The government has figured out a way to get the practical effects of censorship while not doing it itself, thus having plausible deniability. This depends on allowing a few big corporations to have their hands in almost all speech -- and then the government "delegates" the power of censorship to them.
    I think it's actually is proper to call this "censorship," because, when it comes down to it, it is the ruling regime doing it -- indirectly.
    The corporations aren't really doing it of their own free will. If somebody puts a gun to your head and makes demands, then whether you agree with the demands or not doesn't really make any difference -- although the gunman might tell you that things will go better for you if it seems that you do agree. But it's a little different when the gunman is the government: people who really do agree might not mind the gun at their heads, because they figure, "the bullets in that gun are for other people, people who disagree... but I agree, I co-operate, so I don't have to worry about it."
    When the corporations become unpopular, the government can make a big spectacle of "trust-busting," and the showmanship on this has actually already begun -- but you'll find in the end that, even if the government theatrically breaks these companies up, it won't make any practical difference. A few new rules will be announced, nobody will go to jail, and if you end up with two or three Facebooks or whatever, they will all toe the same line.
    In a free market, companies would compete for people's business, and a company that started banning people for their political views would simply drive those people into the arms of the competition. A company in a free market wouldn't ban people for political reasons, because it's suicidal.** So why are companies doing it? Because they're confident that there is no competition for those people to go to. Why are they so confident? Because the government is guaranteeing it. We don't have a free market.
    Trump has failed to grasp the nature of this problem and thus is proposing incorrect solutions.
    However, once again we see some people claiming that there isn't really a problem at all, and that if people are being kicked out of the public sphere for their political views, it's just "the free market at work." That isn't true either.
    (Some Republicans are doing one other thing wrong -- when they see the power being wielded, they don't want to eliminate that power, they want to take it over for their own use. That's not right, either: some powers cannot be used for good, at least, if good is defined as "promoting human survival.")
    Over the decades, there have been a lot of people complaining, rightly, about smaller "public-private partnerships" than these, and how such partnerships somehow manage to wield government powers while simultaneously not being subject to any constitutional restrictions because "they aren't part of the government, they're privately owned."
    Well, now we're coming to the culmination of the trend: companies and government are, for all practical purposes, just aspects of the same thing.
    To save the free market we need to separate these things: the only ultimate solution to this censorship problem is a separation of state and economics, which would include the elimination of all of these powerful regulatory agencies, so that the regime has no way of compelling compliance with its censorship desires.
    ** This sentence isn't correct as worded. A magazine publisher, for example, is not "suicidal" if he only accepts certain kinds of articles for his magazine. A phone company, on the other hand, would be "suicidal" if it tapped in on people's calls and cancelled their service over their views.
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