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DataPacRat

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  1. TT, If I don't otherwise reply, then I'd at least like you to know that I'm saving a copy of everything you've written here to refer to when I do the rewrite.
  2. The central region of the setting is divided among the "Sephirotic Empires", which are more like regions of a similar philosophy containing a number of individual polities, comparable to the idea of 'Christendom' or 'the Islamic House of Peace'. The Objectivist Commonwealth is, approximately, as powerful as the combined Sephirotics, and is also unusual compared to them in being a (nearly) unified polity. These last three items are meant to refer more to how the Commonwealth interacts with other polities, rather than how individuals interact. That is, how the country/nation/government/etc as a whole engages international relations, which, for many philosophies, is somewhat different than how individuals interact with each other. For example, 'helpful (but expect memetic conversion)' would mean that the Commonwealth offers aid to other polities, but tends to do so in ways that are explicitly designed to promote its particular philosophy and to attempt to convert the aided polities to Objectivism. (From the Commonwealth's point of view, Objectivism is /correct/, after all, so such conversion is simply another form of assistance...) I think the original authour was making a similar difference here between the ethics of interactions between individuals (which I understand the Objectivist position on fairly well, from http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethics_Main.html , among other sources) and the "meta"ethics of interactions between sovereign nations, for which I'm not entirely sure of the Objectivist position on. This one, I don't see any problems in fixing that way. In the proposal for the revised version, I'll swap out the word 'communion' for something involving such volitional exchange.
  3. I have a basic understanding of the principles of present-day Objectivism, such as are described at http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/ ; while a number of the fine details escape me, I at least know the basics well enough to argue for or against them. Given that the setting is around 10,000 years from now, all the terms in use in the website are translations into present-day English from whatever future language is being used. My current thought is that the 'common' in the name comes more from the common defense - that is, Objectivists believe that everyone has the right to use force in self-defense, and a rationally self-interested extension of that right allows for the similar use of force to defend others, promoting one's own benefit by promoting the common weal. After all, a group of transapients who explicitly announce "You mess with one of us, you mess with /all/ of us" has a pretty high deterrence value for those who would consider initiating force against them or otherwise infringing on their rights. That, I understand; http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Politics_Rights.html is the first reference I check when looking up the Objectivist conception of rights. This gets into a tricky area. From what I understand of Objectivism's views of vegetarianism, as mentioned in http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Evil...etarianism.html , those beings who are not 'rational' do not have rights, and thus an Objectivist does not have to worry about violating their non-existent rights. In OA, one of the interpretations consistent with the evidence is that a transapient is so much smarter than an average human that they effectively undergo a mental 'phase change', and such a being might consider a human to have precisely as many rights as a human considers a cow to have - that is, none. Going by this interpretation, Objectivist ethics would primarily deal with interactions between beings of the same 'toposophic' level, with no consideration given to 'lower' beings other than how they benefit the 'higher' beings, such as as property, or left in wild reserves, or even as parts of the higher beings' minds. The other interpretation I can work out is that Objectivist ethics apply relatively equally to /all/ beings of human-level intelligence or higher, and the complications come from the inequalities of power between human-level intelligences and beings of astronomically greater intellect and power. In the current writeup of the Commonwealth, there exists a single being of the highest mental level (the sixth 'toposophic'). Going by the first interpretation, the entire Commonwealth would be its property, with which it could do as it wished, which could be interpreted as a 'command economy'. Going by the second interpretation, then, as you say, the write-up would have to change it from command economy to laissez-faire capitalism. OA assumes AIs of just about any imaginable sort can be created - self-willed or not, conscious or not, sentient or not, consisting of a hive-mind or a single individual. (Will respond to your next post in a separate post.)
  4. That's the existing article, which was in place before I joined the OA project; it's what will form the basis of any revisions, so is certainly a good place to start. One note - the setting assumes the existence of 'transapients', sometimes called 'posthumans', which are capable of thinking useful thoughts that a human brain is literally incapable of thinking. (There are various levels of such transapients, the higher levels able to think in ways that the lower ones can't.) The page describing the setting's basic rules about any conflict between different levels is at http://www.orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page_id=33 , but can generally be summed up as being about as lopsided as a group of well-prepared wolves (or amoebas, depending on the levels involved) trying to fight a group of well-prepared humans. Some general notes on 'canon' for the setting are at http://orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page=gen_canon .
  5. I'm part of a collaborative writing project, "Orion's Arm", http://www.orionsarm.com/ , a science-fiction, transhumanist space opera universe set around 10,000 years from now. So far, one collection of short stories in the setting has been physically published, and more ideas are on the way. One of the polities in the setting is called the "Objectivist Commonwealth", which is supposed to be based on something approximating present-day Objectivist philosophy. While I disagree with certain of the conclusions of Objectivism, I seem to /know/ more about it than any other OA member, and so I've been asked to see if I can come up with improvements for the existing write-up. But, knowing the limits of my own knowledge, I thought it might be a good idea to ask for input from some actual Objectivists. So... is anyone here interested in helping me make sure I don't make unknowing errors about Objectivism in the new write-up?
  6. I'm glad to hear you say that - it seems to be quite close to my own recent insight about comparing different philosophical systems to Euclidean vs non-Euclidean geometries. That 'as long as' seems to have been the tricky point, at least in the last thread; according to some of the posters, believing that some sorts taxation may provide more good than harm (when used to fund certain specific life-saving systems) is, practically by definition, 'advocating the initiation of force in society', and thus people who "believe in taxation" do not fall under your "as long as" clause.
  7. I've read a few posts, here and elsewhere, in which the posters seem to imply that someone who has learned of Objectivist philosophy, but still disagrees with their interpretation of any given Objectivist principle, is necessarily therefore somewhere in the spectrum of irrational to immoral. I'm not talking about monsters who think the entire world should be enslaved for their benefit; but much smaller disagreements, such as between an Objectivist and a secular humanist who disagrees with the Objectivist about various political issues. If you present an argument based on Objectivism's axioms to someone, and they demonstrate that they follow and understand the argument, but they disagree with it (due to having a different set of axioms), does that mean they are being irrational? Does it mean they are immoral? Should they be shunned, or mocked, or accused of trollery? Does such disagreement mean it's not worth working with such people even for shared goals? Or, let's take a different sort of disagreement, between two people, each of whom claim to be Objectivists, but find themselves disagreeing about some aspect of philosophy, neither able to convince the other. Does this imply that at least one of them is not a 'real' Objectivist, and should thus be treated as irrational, etc? Or, phrased another way: do you believe that the only way a person can be moral is if they agree with your current beliefs about morality? (As in my previous thread, this post is based on my outsider's perception of Objectivism and how Objectivists behave, and I freely acknowledge that the evidence of my experiences may have led me to faulty conclusions, in which case I would appreciate any help you would care to offer in correcting my flawed understanding.)
  8. I apologize that in my desire to maintain my privacy, I have allowed myself to be so unclear that I have failed to communicate very well, allowing for this misinterpretation. I will now try to clarify. I have what I suppose we can call my Chronic Condition, which is what limits my earning potential to its present level. In addition to that, I have had several, and expect to have more, Acute Episodes, requiring modern hospital care for my life to continue. The former is what limits my income to its present level; the latter is what, if I had to directly pay my own medical bills, would have required treatment so expensive as to be unaffordable, leading to my demise outside of a society with government-funded health care. "Sure, you can learn the secrets of the universe. All you have to do is climb these hundred flights of stairs." "I'm in a wheelchair." "You just don't feel like it. If you really /wanted/ to learn, you could do it. And no cheating by using the elevator." Please do not mistake disagreement for lack of understanding. I believe that I have learned the basics of the argument you mention; I simply disagree with some of the premises of that argument, based on the slightly differing set of axioms used by myself and the Objectivists here. Remember the difference between the axioms of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry? Each system of axioms creates propositions that are correct within its own framework - and while some of those propositions are the same or similar to propositions in the other framework, some are entirely incorrect according to the other system's axioms. Learning about both systems can provide useful insights, regardless of which system is assumed to be the correct one at any time. I am sorry that you feel this thread has been so useless. I have found it quite enlightening so far, both about myself, and, if not necessarily about Objectivism, then at least about Objectivists. Grames - thank you for that reference, I'll go give it a read now.
  9. It appears that we've reached the point where we're simply going to start repeating our assertions at each other, possibly interspersed with "Sez you" level sniping at the other's claims. As I said just above, either you accept my claim that I require medical care beyond that which I can afford to pay for in order to simply stay alive, or you don't. If you do accept that, then the rest of my argument follows. If you don't, if you believe that I'm lying about my medical needs, then ask yourself this: what possible benefit could I get from making such a lie? And, even moreso, could any possible such benefit outweigh the costs of abandoning my attempt at maintaining a reputation for honesty?
  10. I'm aware of that belief. And, as long as I maintain my privacy by not publicizing certain details about my situation, you will continue to lack the evidence that would change your mind, and so it will be quite reasonable for you to disbelieve me on that point. However, consider this: I am the one and only DataPacRat in the world, and so my posts here under that name are tied to my whole online identity. I consider the benefits of having a reputation for never trying to deceive another to be worth a great deal, and so I do my best to never lie, and, whenever I discover I am mistaken about something, to immediately and publicly own up to my error. I am, to the best extent that I am able to be so, an Honest Rat. If there were ever a single demonstrable example of my having deliberately deceived anyone, then that reputation for honesty would disappear in a heartbeat... and I would be considered no better than any other despicable liar you care to think of. Hopefully, as I spend some time here, I will continue to demonstrate my honesty sufficiently that you will be willing to accept my claims at face value... even in the case where I choose not to provide evidence for those claims for privacy purposes. Or, perhaps you will continue to believe me a liar, in which case nothing I can do would persuade you otherwise.
  11. That is why I added the caveat about wiggle room for that classic dilemma. When there /are/ third choices, in which it's possible to survive without violating anyone else's rights, then of course that would be the preferred option. I believe some previous posters in this thread disagreed with the point about whether the standard is all lives, or one's own life, so I trust that you won't mind that I won't take your word on that issue being settled. I'm used to being called weird by ordinary folk; I find it amusing that I'm so far off the charts that even Objectivists (who, regardless of the merits of the philosophy, aren't exactly mainstream in present society) consider my situation to be an edge case.
  12. Precisely. And, in my posts above, I have described the circumstances that are required for me to continue to live - and, outside of those particular circumstances, the way I choose to go about living, my morality, is very close to the Objectivist system. I'm all for reducing government, getting rid of what taxes are possible, and generally avoiding interfering in anyone else's life, and pretty much any other aspect of Objectivist philosophy you'd care to describe... /after/ my survival needs are met. The main argument going on here seems to be different assumptions on what is required to survive. Outside of that specific area, I don't really have any serious arguments with any of the points that have been mentioned.
  13. I find that statement interesting, given that I acquired the idea of survival being a pre-moral choice... from Rand's own philosophy. From http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethi...alStandard.html : "To every living thing, there is one primary choice, and that is to live or not -- to engage in the action required to further its own life or to engage in action that destroys its own life. The only other alternative is death. Choosing life as your standard of value is a pre-moral choice. It cannot be judged as right or wrong; but once chosen, it is the role of morality to help man to live the best life possible. " From http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/morality.html : "Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course." -- “Causality Versus Duty,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 99 and: "It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality. The only man who desires to be moral is the man who desires to live." -- Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 123
  14. Responding directly to your questions: Were I to be without modern Western medicine, I would die. With it, I would live. If I had to pay any significant amount of cash for insurance or individual treatments, I would not be able to afford it, and thus would not receive the health care, and thus I would die. Responding to your non-questions, I plan to live forever, or die trying. Reason is one of the greatest tools for helping me survive, and the better I can hone my reasoning abilities, the more likely I will be to survive. I am hear to learn what I can; and thus, even if I'm not persuaded to share your beliefs, and you're not persuaded to share mine, my learning what your beliefs are is far from a waste of my time. Should you gain any understanding of my beliefs, that's a happy bonus. You seem to be applying the fallacy of the excluded middle - that someone is either able to completely take care of themself, or they are completely incapable of doing so. Naturally, I do not fall into the category of people completely incapable of taking care of themselves - as I said before, I manage to keep a roof over my head, my larder stocked, and about a hundred dollars more each month. However, due to my particular circumstances, my survival needs require somewhat more than that, and thus I do not fall into the former category, either. Thus, your two categories are insufficient to describe the entire range of human experience, making your point moot. Actually, my comments about that were directed to the poster 2046 in particular, whose question was what I was responding to in my previous post. Given my experience in other topics, if someone claims that the only way to understand a topic is by reading one particular reference, and nothing can be learned on that topic without reading that particular work; that it is impossible for anyone else, such as forum posters, or other reference works, to provide a reasonable grounding in that topic; then they are mistaken. I have already learned a good deal about Objectivists from this forum, and even gained a few insights into my own beliefs, so I'm quite happy to remain here for a while, continuing to learn what I can, at least until I find somewhere else online where the cost/benefit ratio of time spent to insights gained is even better. As for $30, I would like you to consider these numbers: Take your own monthly income, and subtract your own rent/room and groceries/board. Whatever the remainder is, multiply it by 30%. Whatever this amount is, it is in some senses, for you, the same relative value as that $30 would be for me. Imagine that someone suggested that you should purchase a couple of books for that 30% of your monthly discretionary income; do you think that that is the best value you can receive for your money? Or, as I suspect, are there other things that you can spend that much money on which you would value more than those particular books?
  15. Given that you have previously demonstrated a lack of understanding of a point I raised, I do not expect that you will understand my reply to this question, let alone agree with it. However, I've found it quite useful to re-examine my beliefs every so often, and have gained the occasional new insight from doing so, so I'm writing this post more for myself than for you. And, who knows, maybe I'll manage to communicate something to you - it's said that you don't truly understand an idea unless you can describe it to your grandmother. I'm going to make a differentiation between "needs", that which is necessary to survive, and "wants", which may be useful but won't lead to death if not met. If your question is about the latter, then my answer would be completely different. Rephrasing your question slightly, it becomes the classic philosophical dilemma, if you had to choose between stealing a loaf of bread or starving (with no wiggling about for third choices), is theft moral? That Gordian knot of a puzzle was solved by somebody who said that survival is a /pre-/moral choice. That is, that issues of survival are not questions of morality or ethics, but of how to define what one's moral/ethical system is in the first place. ... and there's that insight I was hoping for. Most Objectivists I've talked to treat health care as an issue about government funding, and thus about taxation, and thus about rights, and thus about politics, and thus about a subset of ethics... while I treat it as a survival issue, of making the difference between life and death, and thus a pre-moral issue. I would be willing to steal a loaf of bread from you, violating your right to property, to survive; just as, if our positions were reversed, I would expect you to try to steal such a loaf from me in order to survive. Similarly, I am willing to live in a society where you are forced to pay taxes, again violating your right to property, for health care that make the difference between me living and dying. (Of course, once I /do/ survive, whether via bread or a hospital, it then becomes both of our rational self-interest to try to arrange for a society where such life-or-death choices never have to be made in the first place, but that heads off into a whole other topic...) So, responding directly to your question: yes, I believe that, to me, my life is more important than your rights. And that, to you, your life is more important than my rights. As long as the issue is of survival vs rights, survival trumps rights. (Things get a lot stickier when it's a question of one person's survival vs another's, or one's rights vs another's, but, again, that's a whole nother topic.)
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