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Everything posted by Jas0n

  1. The bolded is a non sequitur and the italicized, while true (you have to be alive to have the faculties to think), is entirely unrelated to the argument that the quote you present seems to be skirting around.
  2. That's certainly how I took it. Her heroes weren't antisocial by nature, they were simply surrounded by people with whom they had no interest in being friendly. That is to say, they valued their individualism such that they took it as a natural fact that they should not pursue empty friendships, friendships with people who do not share their values and so forth.
  3. Identity qua identity isn't a metaphysical existent, it's the attribute which defines "that which exists" (that which exists possesses identity).
  4. There's no fraud here. Consider what fraud actually is - quoting Rand, "fraud ... consists of obtaining material values without their owner’s consent, under false pretenses or false promises." [TVoS, TNoG] There is no promise or pretense in a mortgage contract, it's simply a series of if-then statements. (If you pay your mortgage in full, then the bank removes the lien and the house is yours outright. If you don't, then the bank repossesses and you lose the property.) There's no false pretense here - the possibility of default is built right into the contract. The strategic default is not an immoral action.
  5. Jas0n


    I don't think you should associate yourself with the organization. Why would you? Is it really ethical for you to join such an organization if you refuse to accept their terms? There's an element of dishonesty in there that should be avoided.
  6. I would say that the thing to do here is consider this proposition by way of some hypothetical example, and ask yourself why an artist would put his song online for free in the first place. Would he have done it as a matter of pure, unadulterated self-immolating altruism? I'm not inclined to say that such a thing would be impossible, but there are two problems here. First, he (the artist) obviously does have something to gain by making his work available for free download. Your interest is of value to him, and this particular gambit represents a marketing maneuver wherein he attracts you with free content, in the hope that you will appreciate his work enough to buy an album, pay for a concert ticket, tell a friend... the gambit may not pay off every time, but the artist stands to find the success he seeks by accepting that one out of every several downloads generates a new loyal fan. Second, beyond our suppositions and beyond any communication you might have with the artist (say, an explanatory paragraph on his website), his motive will be a mystery to you. Trying to psychoanalyze the artist without any significant reference - just based on this free download - is a horrible mistake. Now... since we're dealing with hypotheticals, we could suppose an artist who puts his work online for free, and disclaims the download by insisting that you not appreciate his art, not purchase his albums, not support him by buying merchandise or tickets to his show, not share your knowledge of him with others. And I wouldn't blame you if you decided not to download his music after all. But by in large, the evidence (and the business sense) suggests that it's a marketing ploy, not some altruist pitch toward economic and artistic suicide.
  7. It's my impression that this step out of the closet of religion (so to speak) generally leads people not to "liberalism" (as taken to mean "political leftism"), but rather pragmatism. There, reason is applied, but only selectively and without consideration of ideas or ideology as pertains to the whole of reality.
  8. Mr. Ellison, you have an odd way of going about making points. Here you're trying to pass off those arguments which oppose yours as being the result of dropped context, of having no referrent in reality... but you talk about private ownership of a nuclear arsenal as if such an accumulation of (potentially) destructive power occurs in a vacuum - as if without the government meddling you're advocating, average Joe Citizen could go out and buy up a nuke if he were so inclined. What do you think a nuclear warhead costs? Where do you think they come from? Do you have any idea how they are constructed, or for that matter how they are put to use? I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you have made it at least as far as the conclusion that it would be a tremendously expensive, time- and energy-consuming process to construct these items. Now consider the firm that invests all that time and energy acquiring the materials and constructing the weapon. Do you suppose that firm will see it as being in their best interest to pawn off the warhead to a dangerous person? Also, I am assuming that you're not opposed to government possession of such ordnance, when I ask: where do you suppose the government gets their weaponry? Do they manufacture it themselves? As I recall, Ayn Rand said that a proper government consists of a military, law enforcement, and a system of courts - which does not include a mining facility, radioactive materials refinement, weapons construction... so do you envision giving certain firms a special status which allows them to produce this weaponry? Wait, Rand wanted a pretty strict separation of state and commerce, and she spoke severely about government favors to one company over another. So that can't be it either. What's left? Your demand for an absolute ban on these things is incompatible with Objectivist philosophy, from foundation (where you treat intent as though it were an attribute) to implementation (where you wind up having to violate some free market principle no matter which direction you go).
  9. If there's one thing I don't need from you, it's a lecture on Objectivist law. I say this primarily because you appear not to have any idea what absolutism a "ban" represents - and your position is indicated by your having suggested that you wouldn't "let" someone have something which you fear. "I wouldn't let you have big guns because I can't conceive of any use other than killing people" (which is a paraphrase - I'll pull exact quotes if you'd like), if presented as a foundation for law, would be entirely non-objective. As I've said, you package-deal intent which is pretty ridiculous, you forbid anyone and everyone from formulating their own valuations and instead adopt your own (based on that same package-deal no less), and again as I've said, you appear to be operating under the assumption that laws are generally created to grant rights, rather than to protect them. It seems like you're in the habit of assuming that a given unethical action necessarily involves some object, some tool, some instrument... and you're marrying the action to that tool conceptually, as if the action were itself an attribute. The result is, for example, a machine gun which you can only see as an implement of making war, or an explosive device that you can only see as an implement of murder-suicide. Quit doing that. "Intended use" isn't an attribute. I'm not sure whether to fault your reading comprehension or just laugh... I didn't say that I thought you were wanting to ban smoking. I pointed out that your line of argument takes the same route (or, in other words, makes the same errors) as a typical argument for a smoking ban. Specifically, you assume your own judgments about a given thing (gun, cigarette) as if they were drawn not from your own values, but from some attribute of the object itself, and the argument this produces leads you to believe that you'd be right in sacrificing people's property rights wholesale. Shall I be more specific?
  10. Oh so you're of the opinion that laws are supposed to tell people what they're allowed to do - as opposed to prohibit those acts which are by their nature evil? That would imply that all acts should be considered evil until deemed otherwise by law... odd that you'd ask me if I was up on my reading. Or maybe you're really having trouble with sorting act and actor out from those objects which the actor happens to employ in his actions? Incidentally your argument reads like the same they use to advocate smoking bans and the like. (X can only ever be bad for you, so public good blah blah)
  11. As evidence goes, it would be circumstantial at best. I see no reason to prohibit free trade based on that. This "suicide vest" thing is the worst, because it's named in such a way as to just make the point real obvious... only it doesn't tell you anything about the item itself, it just tells you how the alleged wearer intends to use it. It's a vest! It doesn't think for itself - building intent into the name like this is an obvious package deal to the same end as this categorization of large-caliber weapons as "weapons of war." On the other hand, say someone tells you about a vest strapped with C4. Now we have something to work with. We're talking about a vest lined with C4, so now we can discuss potential uses. (And, lo and behold, suddenly we can hypothesize some of those uses for the vest that extend beyond jihadist-esque terrorism.)
  12. Let's assume for the moment that this were true. So what? Is it your contention that the right to assemble freely should be abridged? Speaking to efficiency... what would safejob.org (or whatever) do that a union couldn't? Do you see no utility in having workers organized such that they have a means of settling problems amongst themselves? What are your thoughts on the "white collar vs. blue collar" mentality that tends to arise in workers - irrational as it may be - when they perceive the businessman as a tyrant -- and do you see the union as having no impact on that?
  13. Near as I can tell, rule of objective law (as opposed to rule by men regardless of structure) is the only way to achieve political freedom. Ayn Rand has said, "no mind is better than the precision of its concepts." For the same reason, no nation is better than the precision of its laws. As far as I'm concerned, as long as laws are objectively written and applied, the means of establishing figureheads is largely academic.
  14. That's not what I was referring to. Here's one quote: "The government may however completely ban those weapons and arsenals that are meant not as instruments of self-defense, hunting, or target practice, but war, mass-murder, terror attacks. (such as large bombs, machine guns (not all "automatic weapons", but actual machine-guns, like helicopter-mounted Gatlings), chemical and nuclear weapons." Here's another: "My reasoning was that weapons of war are useful for war, not self-defense or hunting." And another: "I disagree that it is not up to me (or objective laws) to decide what is used for war and what for self-defense (or hunting). Of course it can be determined what weapons should be allowed and what shouldn't be, objectively. You just have to look at what damage they can inflict on a crowd or building, and at what distance. If it does more than even the most extreme requirement for self-defense from criminals, it should be banned from civilian use, except perhaps in licensed facilities where gun enthusiasts can rent them out and play around with them." (Notice that not only does this one suggest that certain mechanical objects have only specific uses, but also that there should exist some regulatory body which has the capacity to regulate them, and decide who is and is not allowed to "rent them out and play around with them.") Here's a really ridiculous one: "A suicide vest is an objective threat, because the only use for it is murder-suicide. It should be outlawed in a civilized society, because no one has the right to murder, or even just threaten to." ___ Classifying something as a "weapon of war" means package-dealing the act of making war with what amounts to, as I said initially, a paperweight. The intent to initiate the use of force is attributed to objects which, of course, possess no means by which to intend to do anything at all.
  15. In a Capitalist society, those "better workers" would be free to pursue greatness down whatever avenue they find or make for themselves. No union as such could or would have the power to stop them. If a businessman decides that his factory will be all union, and that all men will work to a quota and not beyond, then it's not the union itself that limits the innovator, but the businessman who adopts that policy. The union would make for a loud, unified voice in dealings with the businessman... it doesn't follow that it would exist to crush the Stakhanovs or whatever... Do you see something inherently bad about members of a large group having a unified, represented voice, or a dedicated advocate?
  16. Jas0n

    Classical music

    For the time being, my favorite composer is Bach. I appreciate the sheer mathematical genius behind his work. Some of it is pretty malevolent (which may explain why it occasionally makes its way into horror films) but the brainpower behind it all is impressive. For more on that, check out a recording of Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. I also am on a kick right now where I am listening almost exclusively to solo piano stuff, rather than orchestra or accompanied piano... and currently, the disk that's stuck in my player is Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations (the 1981 version). There are some thirty-two tracks, bookended by absolutely beautiful (though tragic, maybe) arias. And I think he gets to every emotion you'd care to name in there. I can't recommend it highly enough. Rachmaninov's name has come up enough in this thread. He's great. There's a lot of good out there... I'm surprised Handel isn't mentioned more often by Objectivists. Purcell has some good tunes, Vivaldi...
  17. Well, the good news is, in a Capitalist society, it wouldn't be up to you to let anyone have anything at all, aside from that which is yours to give or not give.
  18. "X's are for..." "X's are only useful for..." "the only use for X is Y..." (and therefore you shouldn't have X) "Jake_Ellison" is who I have my eye on at the moment. It looks like if he carries his argument to its logical conclusion, he'll do so by making a highly arbitrary metaphysical distinction, the likes of which so-called progressives have been using since the dawn of property rights to abridge same. Do you want specific quotes?
  19. Unions aren't a bad deal. Unions using government as a club to clobber businessmen is a bad deal, but unions certainly have their place. For example, in an ideal Capitalist society, remember, government regulatory bodies would not exist (see also: OSHA). Sure, it's in the best interest of a businessman to keep his factory in safe working conditions. But having his men organized amongst themselves (and maybe with other men who do similar work in other factories) provides a means to understand safety issues and to bargain for the alleviation of some elements of danger. There are arguments to be made from efficiency as well...
  20. It's silly to apply "intent" to what amounts to a mechanized paperweight. The motivating power behind any handgun or machine gun or nuclear bomb or lead pipe is a human being. It's him or her that initiates a violent act, and is therefore culpable... not the inanimate object he or she happens to have picked up and used.
  21. Baseless speculation aside, by saying that you support obama because McCain would've done the same or worse, aren't you buying into the entirely false dilemma that the "two-party" system attempts to foist on voters?
  22. Jas0n

    Code of Values

    By all means, correct my errors if I make them. I appreciate any criticism of an argument I may make... if I'm wrong, presumably I'll see my error and can correct it or bear it in mind for the future and if I believe I'm right, I'll just argue with you. But for as long as I've been reading Rand and trying to apply her philosophy to my own life (and the lives of others, by way of this kind of setting), I've had very little opportunity to have my arguments criticized vis a vis Rand's work, aside from the scrutiny to which I myself subject my posts and so forth. So this is good. I think what I did in the first place was conflate rights and values. I'm not even sure why that would happen.
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