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  1. I think some in the computer revolution have a libertarian philosophy, and the idea that computers could have egalitarian effects. Ayn Rand doesn't really fit it in to that, he was selecting facts to fit his thesis. And he incorrectly states Objectivism is about selfishness in the traditional sense. The whole thing seems a bit mental for something made by the BBC.
  2. It's deeper than "Dobbie is a free elf!" political stuff, it's metaphysical too. Even though they are ostensibly casting magical spells, they can't just make them work by clicking their fingers. They have to learn the exact incantation and exact hand actions etc. So even though it's magic it's really cause and effect. It's very English in that way.
  3. Ayn Rand tried to discover a reality-basis for the concept of morality. What she found was surprising. She discovered that morality does not exist between you and others (as is traditionally thought) but between your actions and you (for proof of this see her writings). So logically, if morality is "all about" the relationship between your actions and you, then altruism, which in it's purest form is directing all your actions away from yourself, must almost be the definition of evil, right? The only tiny sliver of morality that has anything to do with other people is the non-initiation of force rule. That is where Libertarians differ from Objectivists: NIF is everything to them. They have accepted the Christian premise that ethics is all about the relationship between you and others, but say that relationship is NIF. NIF is almost a sidenote in Objectivist ethics, because other people are a side note. (But it is very important in Objectivist politics which as a field is all about others anyway.) Edit: Remember Galt's Oath: "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." Another (less inspiring) way of writing this is "I swear by my choice at the fundamental alternative, that I will not be altruistic and will obey NIF." See she separates altruism from NIF and puts altruism first.
  4. I would question the idea that pollution is a long term problem. It seems to come from specific technologies (e.g. batteries), not all technologies. And as people have become educated about it, they are demanding cleaner technolgies and we see that all around us. Historically capitalism has given the most tech progress, so it is the quickest way to save the planet. Long term threats are nearly always ideas not concretes.
  5. It's definitely moral for the people concerned to try and end their suffering. Morality as a concept mostly pertains to how you act towards yourself, not how you act towards other people. If you tried to end the suffering of others I'm not sure what that would be called.
  6. For those of you in Australia, the documentary "Ayn Rand: In Her Own Words" recently aired on ABC and is available free to view on the iView website for another 8 days: http://www.abc.net.au/iview/
  7. Sure there is. You can't prevent violence, but you can ban it. You have courts and a police force and make it publically known that anyone who is violent will be subject to that system. But how would seek justice without a government? Do you advocate vigilantism? Surely objectively, evenly applied law is better, and that requires a court system where a 3rd party decides the sentence. Also, by the logic that only the victim can seek justice, nothing would ever be done about murder, since the victim is dead. I think you have a principled position, but it is not based on rational principles. Rational principles are based on observation. And in the case of organising society, that has to be based on history, on hundreds on years of human experience. On one hand, yes you've got the fact that governments create wars. But on the other hand you have places such as Africa where the government is too weak to stand up to groups such as drug gangs and people's lives are hell, like a continuous state of war refugees. And rationally one must look at all examples, you seem to see only the first set. I think instead of outright rejection of government, this evidence requires a recognition that there are different types of government. Then you need to distill what elements of each type are leading to success and which to failure. Of course this is not easy, since nearly all the examples are mixed, but the Objectivist position is that it is the capialist, individual rights respecting elements that are causing success, and the force-bringing socialist elements that, to the extent they are present, cause harm.
  8. But Al Qaeda destroyed the twin towers and they are not a government. People can just get together with others who have similar ideas and form groups, and those groups can get ugly. But you can't ban the forming of all groups, what about good groups? You have to look at the fundamental problem which is violence and ban that, and then you need someone to enforce it which is a government.
  9. I would prefer there were no wars, but you can't let terrorists just plan and plot with impunity. Unless you go on the offensive they will just keep coming forever. BTW, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are not bankrupting the US, it is social programs that are doing that. This document is a few years old but there are several similar documents on the web and it shows that even at peak expenditure, the Iraq war cost only 1% of GDP. Speaking purely financially, the US could maintain the current presence in Afghanistan and Iraq "forever" and not go bankrupt. http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/108054.pdf
  10. Being prevented from killing another human being (once it meets that criteria) is not an act of force against you, it is the whole reason for having a government. My understanding of your argument is that you think it's irrelevant if the fetus becomes a human being at some point or not, because before that point it is not a human being and therefore ok to abort, and after that point even if it is a human being it is a rights violator for taking sustenance from the mother and therefore still ok to abort. I agree with the first half, that it is ok to abort a non-human being. But I disagree with the second. A fetus, not having the power of restraint or mind control over the mother, is not violating her rights merely by taking sustenance. Therefore once it reaches the point of becoming a human being, it is a non-rights violating human being and she may properly be prevented by the government from aborting it. But I do not know at what point this transition takes place. Actually I don't know why a woman would object to such a law. It is not like saying, once you are pregnant society owns you. It is like saying if you get pregnant, it's your life, you can get an abortion. But you don't have forever to decide because at some point it will get rights too. It is only the religious interpretation, that gives rights at conception, that makes the woman a slave, because she has no period of decision. But as long as there is a period of decision, there is a decision! It is not an all or nothing thing where if you can't defend abortion at all times in all circumstances then women lose, it's that once you've defended a long enough decision period, women have won regardless of the rest of it.
  11. Dr. Peikoff clarified what he meant by "egalitarian nihilist" in his podcast #163.
  12. That is an excellent point. Also, another related point is that the perceptual level happens automatically, so a purely perceptual being can not have free will. Concepts require effort to form and are therefore optional and therefore closely related (not sure how exactly) to our freedom of action. So a fetus (and even a small baby) not only was it forced in to that position by the mother, it has no free will to change it on its own.
  13. I have never heard this argument before, that the fetus could be regarded as a rights violator, so thanks. It is interesting, but I have two objections: (1) Is the fetus really a separate organism, or is it part of the mother's body? For example I believe the fetus shares the mother's bloodstream. Because I'm not sure that a part of your own body can violate your rights. Would a tumor be a rights violator for example (though I apologise for the horrible analogy)? On the other hand it does have different DNA, but why should that be the deciding factor instead of it's physical separation? (2) It's not the case (I believe) that any invasion of your person counts as a rights violation. A stranger simply bumping in to you on a crowded street is not a rights violation. The concept of rights comes from the need for man's mind to connect with his actions. Violence can "sever" that connection by e.g. restraining the limbs, and rights are to prevent that. But the fetus is not stopping you from acting according to your thoughts or wishes, so is it violating your rights? Yes, it takes sustenance from the mother, but that is not forced, she can abort. If a human fetus grew some sort of tenticle in to the brain stem and took over the mother's free will then it would be a right's violator, but I'm not convinced actual human fetuses are.
  14. Good find. But the thing about Objectivism is that once you understand it, you realise it's not just an opinion, it's actually true - something she discovered. But on that page he says he is not an Objectivist. So assuming he values truth, he mustn't have understood it yet. So he is teaching a course on something he doesn't understand.
  15. Leftists have this idea that everyone going to Uni is somehow an ideal, but not everyone has an academic mindset and they will make some people miserable who could otherwise have had happy lives.
  16. No it isn't in their self-interest, for the same reason that preying on others in not in your self-interest. Preying on others is an act of violence and so is forcing another human being (in this case a businessman) to do this or that against his will. The idea that violence never works out is an extremely tried and tested principle, worked out over centuries of human existence. You can't outsmart it, just this once. If we were a different kind of animal, one that knew the future through perception, just as we currently know the present, we could regulate to our heart's content. Since we would know exactly what will happen in any given scenario, we would know if there would be any bad consequences to a particular regulation. But we are not that animal, our perception is only of the present and the only way we know the future is through concepts, which are abstract and general. Meaning: the only way we can guide our actions is with something general: principles. So the answer to why not regulate this particular machine, or this particular workplace is: "My consciousness does not allow me to see the future exactly, therefore I must make this decision on principle. And on principle I will not use force against another human being." Well, maybe you can outsmart it on occasion, just as the occasional dictator is successful. Because principles are just the best known/most general case, not all cases, and they are learned, not holy writ. But if you want to act rationally, they are still all you have to go on. Actually in a deep senseā€¦ in order decide "Stuff the principles, I am the exception. I will be a successful dictator, and all my regulations will work out great!" you first have to abandon concepts as your future guidance, which means making yourself an animal on the mental level before you commit violence on the physical level, which is kind of interesting.
  17. I'm glad he's dead but it's ideas we need to defeat not individuals. But hopefully his death will at least demoralise his followers. He was probably held up as a sign of US weakness, since he was still alive after so long. But now he is gone they may start to fear us a little more, and there's nothing wrong with inspiring a little fear in your enemies.
  18. Also, with regard to stealing food in an emergency being ok -- this is because moral principles (like all knowledge) need to be arrived at rationally, through observation and induction. So of course, Objectivist morality applies to normal life, because that's where all the examples are. Some bizarre emergency where you're lost in the woods or whatever, how could there possibly be enough instances, varying in enough ways, to make a proper induction from that? The only moral rule in an emergency is to try to return things to normality as quickly as you can, so that your rational principles/guidance become available to you again.
  19. Unlike the tiger with it's claws or shark with it's teeth, the human being has a conceptual consciousness and dexterous hands as it's survival mechanism. This is what nature has given you, so it's rational to try and use that to survive with. By thinking and not by violence. The fact that some people are able to survive by violence (dictators and the like) is just mind-blowing to me. I don't know how you can contradict the facts, so blatantly presented to you by nature, and still come out on top! But then, I think that most people who do attempt this contradiction do fail, they end up dead or in prison. The dictators are almost the exception that proves the rule, since they are so few. I think a rational person, who wants to do the best they can, on balance of the evidence, has to go with a life of work and thought.
  20. I hate it when they do that. The opponent needs to immediately ask "Works to achieve *what*?" and then go back to asking if that thing is moral.
  21. When someone claims there is an all powerful being, the best you can do is imagine yourself looking, staring really hard, at reality trying to understand it, and they say that again. Because in that context, you can really see how useless of a statement it is. It's just arbitrary. It doesn't get you anywhere. It doesn't advance the discussion or the understanding. It is just a furphy out of nowhere. It's like "Yeah thanks mate, now back to what we were doing." There is no requirement in the method of reason to refute every claim anybody ever makes. Reason is not about answering claims, but about induction and deduction from what is.
  22. I will buy it on DVD (or preferably from iTunes), so he shouldn't be disappointed in his profits just yet!
  23. Egalitarian part is he doesn't think any nation is any better or different to any other. But this is a very dangerous idea for a US politican to hold. Other countries are held together by the idea of a home for a particular race, e.g. China is the land of the Chinese, France is the land of the French. But the US is the land of the free. This gives the US a great advantage in being able to accept new immigrants (*), but has one major disadvantage. If you make China socialist or communist, it is still the Chinese race and it still continues, but if you make America unfree you take away it's binding idea and risk it breaking apart. So it is very important that Obama's socialism not succeed. (*) One third special case is the UK. Even though this is the country of the English, it was also the biggest Empire in history. This necessitated working with other races, which became part of the culture. So they are able to integrate new immigrants despite being a racial homeland.
  24. I have listened to the UO lectures, they are very good, but I would recommend reading OPAR a few times first so you don't go in cold. Also, don't be afraid to simply ask questions of the Big Guns. I have had both Leonard Peikoff and Harry Binswanger answer my questions in the past and I am nobody. Just be polite and make sure you've tried to find the answer in the literature yourself before asking.
  25. I'm sorry I didn't know that you were well known and were serious about this, I apologise for my hostility. However I believe it can not work because contracts are only as good as the force that backs them up. Between individuals under the same government they are great, but between nations not so much. I think your best bet for freedom is to advocate for change in your own parliament. If you really want your own nation you will need a credible military from the start.
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