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The Individual

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  1. Is anyone familiar with the works of Anthony Flew? Especially with his book "There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind" (2007). My friend, D, after my relentless reasoning, almost converted to Atheism. But this afternoon, D paid an unfortunate visit to his cousin. His cousin's husband is an academic theologian. And he completely turned D around and my friend is now brimming with religious furor and was quick to blast me for being un-objective because I do not consider both sides of the God argument. I read a bit about Flew and the interviews he gave and articles written about him and his argument for God, and it doesn't make much sense. But I'm not very familiar with his work. Can anyone with a better knowledge of him clarify his work?
  2. If someone you loved passed away, it doesn't mean your life would no longer have any value. Surely there are still things you treasure just as much as your loved one. Ayn Rand lost her husband which she said was her greatest value but she didn't lose the will to live. She was crushed by her husband's demise no doubt and she learned to cope with it. There are things which still mattered a lot to her - her philosophy, her love for life, etc.
  3. Why is Insider Trading a free-market ideal?
  4. I watched Letters from Iwo Jima couple days ago. There was a scene in the movie where two soldiers - call them X and Y - were digging trenches in the ground. Soldier X said some unpatriotic things to Y which were overheard by captain Z. Z rushed over immediately and furiously confronted X demanding he admit to his saying of unpatriotic things. X denied. Z then questions Y about X. At this point, Y, conscious of what X had done, intentionally lied to captain Z so that he could save his friend X from punishment. Are such forms of lying immoral?
  5. Okay, I wasn't aware of the other threads about this topic. Can I delete this thread? I cannot seem to find the correct link to click.
  6. I was reading about David Kelley's split from the Objectivist movement and he went on to found the Atlas Society, distinguishing it from Leonard Peikoff's Ayn Rand Institute. I'm slightly confused. Naturally one would stick to Peikoff because he is acknowledged as Rand's intellectual heir but does Kelley deserve any kind of recognition?
  7. Yes, agreed. But can you explain the "there is no pro-active police involvement" part? Shouldn't the police be involved to arrest the person who flagrantly violate the rights of others?
  8. Prisoners still have rights. A prison doesn't have absolute control over a prisoner. It is definitely immoral if prisoners are abused or manipulated. Because in an Objectivist society the car park would be owned by private individuals, if a person has been arrested for a minor crime such as not paying parking tickets, the first thing the authorities need to do is to make sure he pays the parking ticket to the private owners of the car park. Whether he deserves further punishment is subjected to the Law of the country.
  9. When Rand wrote "When man thinks there is a fire in his mind, it is proper that he holds fire at his fingertips" it is not meant as a positive comment for smoking. It is symbolism. Self-immolation is the deliberate attempt to harm or sacrifice oneself. Doing hard physical labor or intensive sports isn't a deliberate harm to one's body. Furthermore a sportsman can prevent such injuries to his body by playing responsibly and maintaining his body well.
  10. Yeah, Castle, at least he stopped stealing. It's a start.
  11. I'm afraid we've gone back to square 1 or even further back. The good news is he deleted those songs; the bad news is it's not based on Objective morality but his Christian religious morality ("Thou shall not steal" of the Ten Commandments). I tried explaining Objective reality and the sorts to him. But he said "I can't ever be in a position where I do not believe in God." Well, I think that's that. I won't end our friendship but we're definitely not philosophical friends.
  12. My friend and I have been friends for more than 3 years and have been idiots longer. But recently, after poring through many different kinds of philosophies, I discovered Objectivism. The first I read about Objectivism was that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest. My first thought was "It's bloody excellent. It's been what I was searching for." Before I discovered Ayn Rand or Objectivism, I intended to live my life selfishly. But I knew it was lacking something (because pure selfishness without regard to anyone else but oneself, selfishness at the expense of everyone else is insane) and after I read about Objectivism, I found what it was I lacked - rationality. I didn't jump onto the Objectivist's bandwagon immediately. I read on and the more I read the more I agreed - full respect for individual rights which can only mean one economic system (you guys know what it is), Reason as our way of perceiving reality, etc. I thought for weeks about Objectivism and I've come to fully embrace it. But my friend hasn't. But I do not want to dismiss him just like that. Like him, I used to steal music and movies by downloading them illegally but I deleted everything of it since. I've bought more music CDs in the past month than I had the past 5 years. I'm trying to appeal to my friend's Reason, to explain to him why his actions are morally wrong, to change him. He says "Knowledge should be free (in the monetary sense)" and that "Paying is an obstacle." I'm trying to explain to him that Paying for Knowledge is a mean of earning it. Otherwise, if he doesn't want to pay, he should get out, do his own research and get his own Knowledge. It's very tough to convince him. To him, what I'm asking is too overwhelming. I'm quite sure of you people experienced the same when you attempted to Reason with your friends. I do not want to cease this friendship - Oh! My friend just contacted me through MSN to tell me I'm right about Morality. Ah, I shall continue later.
  13. Objective Morality, I get it. But should its application be Absolute and Uncompromising?
  14. Again, I quote my friend verbatim: "Sometimes morality can be compromised. You accept that as long as the purpose of that compromise is valid - and the validity is subjective - I feel it is valid for my pursuit of knowledge to trump "stealing." You can't say I'm immoral. You can't. People have different views on when it is valid for morality to be compromised. Harm does not have to be one of them. For me pursuit of knowledge is one of the valid reasons - limitless pursuit of knowledge. So morality is not absolute." Individual rights should be applied universally and absolutely, and there should be no compromise. That is a fact isn't it? Same goes to the fact that Morality should be Absolute as well.
  15. Yes, he's trying to rationalize immorality. He doesn't believe Morality and Individual Rights should be absolute; he believes it is subjective, differing from person to person. When I attempt to explain to him why Morality and IR should be absolute, he retorts by saying "It's only your opinion." or "That's what you think." He said to me (and I quote verbatim): "We have different criterion for what is valid. This is what pisses me off. Who are you to say that yours is anymore right than mine. You proclaim your ideas as absolute truth. That is your opinion - that individual rights has to be upheld absolutely" and that I'm "operating on a dogmatic principle." How do I respond to that? I believe in Absolute Individual Rights and Morality and that is my point of view. He disagrees and he has his own point of view. I have my philosophy and he has his. Is it right of me to claim that my philosophy is the best way to live and that his is not?
  16. My friend and I, we're students. I raised the idea of part-time employment. His reply was that he will still be limited to whatever income he receives. He wants unlimited access to his "knowledge", to his music, movies, films and documentaries. And only through illegally downloading is he able to acquire all the music and movies that he want to satisfy his insatiable thirst of knowledge. Our polytechnic has a library. My friend borrows Music CDs from the library and rip the songs out. I've tried explaining it to him such an action constitutes stealing as well. He knows it is stealing, he knows he is violating the rights of another person(s) but he justifies his actions by saying he values Knowledge higher than Morality. He says he is going to live only once and therefore isn't going to allow a moral issue to hinder his pursuit of Knowledge. He claims to support individual rights - rights for free speech, rights for homosexuals, etc - but says sometimes such rights can be over-ride for a higher purpose - to him, that higher purpose is Knowledge. Apparently, he has a "standard" by which he decides when individual rights can be over-ride. His standard would be: Benefit to oneself must be greater than harm to another." He also attempts to justify illegal downloading by claiming that it actually helps the artistes. He gives an example of Camera Obscura. Because no albums of Camera Obscura was sold in Singapore, illegal downloading, he says, helped Camera Obscura by increasing their fan base and when Camera Obscura arrived in Singapore for their concert some time later, many many fans attended it thereby benefiting the band. This would not have happened, he says, if no one in Singapore hadn't illegally acquired their album. Ultimately he thinks that, whatever form of Means is okay, as long as the End is noble.
  17. My friend comes from a middle-income family. He doesn't receive much allowance. He has a high regard for knowledge. Therefore he justify his stealing of music, movies, documentaries, etc (by downloading them illegally) on the basis that he shouldn't allow his financial situation hinder his pursuit of knowledge. He is willing, he said, to forgo morality for knowledge. This is an absolutely ridiculous justification for stealing. There is no justification for stealing in the first place. He knows it is immoral. But he isn't going to allow his morality to stand in the way of knowledge. He values knowledge more than his morality and hence he feels fine about it. I asked him then: What has knowledge taught you? To be immoral? He had no reply. What does an Objectivist say to such a person?
  18. "If someone is destitute and unable to find non-sacrificial assistance (charity) then it may be that the only option is prostitution (or possibly theft, which is clearly worse since it is an initiation of force)." - The Allotrope In a situation as you described above - destitute and unable to find non-sacrificial assistance - prostitution may be the only option. I think it also depends on the person's valuation of his/her life, principles and his/her body. Theft on the other hand isn't an option in the first place. One does not have the right to take by force another person's property. Theft is a moral and legal crime.
  19. This picture is perfect. What's her name?
  20. Johann Strauss II - The Beautiful Blue Danube
  21. Nanite1018, I would suggest do not convert your children into atheists. Teach them Reason and let them discover atheism by themselves.
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