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Boydstun

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  1. When the grandson was a toddler, we were at a restaurant, and I walked him around at one interval to a small Christmas tree with those old-fashioned colored lights. Pointing to a particular light, I asked him “What color is that?” He always answered correctly as I continued to point and cover the gamut on the tree. I’m pretty sure that the ability to identify individual colors in a grouped array is not originally the seeing those colors as individuals subsumed under the concept color. One has learned the proper relation of words blue and color in learning some language and sharing the world through it. (On cognitive developmental psychology of learning the various sorts of attributes of things, see 28-33 here.) I’d be pretty surprised if learning the distinction between entities and their attributes did not require learning subject-predicate relation in one’s native language. To be sure, with further cognitive development, on learns how to put any category in the subject spot, not just entity, but at first I’d bet a coke it’s only entity there. Learning concepts and language seems to be a hand-over-hand sort of deal. To reach our modern basic concept of force, basically Newtonian, took a lot adult thinking and controversy. Though push and pull are examples of it, earlier in intellectual history, for example, not only certain changes in state of motion required some sort of force, but keeping something moving (even in vacuum) was thought to require force. I imagine beginning to get the elementary concept of force (which happens to fall under the precised Newtonian one approximately) is already underway in learning first words. When a young child says ba (ball), turning it over in her hands, the object being isolated is known to have various ways it can be made to act by the child. Talk of “concept formation” (and “conceptualization process”) in epistemology did not begin with Rand. However, in epistemology, I think it’s better to stop using that phrase if one is not literally talking about cognitive development in time, and if one is talking about that, it must be informed by the relevant contemporary psychological research to have any serious traction. However, the epistemological business (a philosophical business) of offering ways of seeing how various sorts of concepts are organized in their relations to each other and to the things they are about is just fine, mighty fine. That is analysis, not mainly theory of the genesis of concepts, and we should stop calling it a theory of concept formation. The enduring fertile innovation of Ayn Rand in theory of concepts, I say, is an analysis: the proposal of a mathematical structure to concepts in their taxonomic relations.
  2. JKM, you might be remembering an essay or two in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. That would be the one "'Extremism', or the Art of Smearing" or perhaps "The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus."
  3. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant IV-a I made a mistake concerning Kant’s doctrines on logic. Relying on a smaller pool of Kant material in English, Peikoff 1964 had also made this mistake. I asked of Kant in the Prep thread (2009 paper) as well as in this Dissertation thread: How can logic be rules necessary for correct operation of the understanding and reason if they simply are rules given by the understanding and reason, and they are rules descriptive and necessarily operative in all understanding and reason? “I concur with the conclusion of Peikoff and others he cites that once Kant had the constitution of the subject the sole source of the purely formal and purely a priori, he was not able to stably maintain an absolute necessity of PNC and other principles of logic together with their normativity, which latter entails our ability to not adhere to such principles. I add that this same irresolvable mess arises for every other sort of cognition purely formal and purely a priori, whether analytic or synthetic, once Kant has squarely located their source purely in the constitution of mind, in its fundamental dynamics, not at all in the constitution of the world.” (Kant III) The world according to Kant—the empirical and the mathematical—cannot be found with structure contrary to the formal structure of logic provided by human mind. The source of form had moved indoors. Conformance of the world to logic is assured in Kant’s scheme; there is absolute rightness of PNC (and its cohort, identity) for the world we take up, even though PNC is ultimately sourced in pure mind. Objects of any sort can be given to us as objects only upon actuation of our conceptual, logical faculties. The portion of mind trying to discern the world beyond the world’s bare, mind-given logical form is able to commit contradictions, within Kant’s scheme. The pure understanding gives some laws, but the impure understanding may fail to always conform to them in its pursuit of specific empirical and mathematical knowledge. We can still fault Kant in his view that we possess any “pure a priori” knowledge of any thing at all, in Kant’s radical senses of the a priori and the pure; we can deny that PNC or any other formal principle is such knowledge as that (on purity, see Chance 2018). But it is not the case that Kant’s scheme falters over the fact that humans make logical errors. (Notice Kant’s stress on human logical fallibility in lectures already from the early 1770’s; Lu-Adler 2018, 108.) Peikoff quotes from the Abbott translation (1885) of the Introduction of Kant’s Logic (the Jäsche Logic) : “How error is possible, since in the formal sense of the word, that is, how a form of thought inconsistent with the understanding is possible; this is hard to comprehend; as indeed in general we cannot comprehend how any faculty can deviate from its own essential laws” (44). But Peikoff and I failed to notice or anyway failed to address Jäsche’s words, reflecting Kant’s notes for his logic lectures, on how this problem is to be resolved (here staying with the Abbott translation): “Besides the understanding there is in us another indispensable source of knowledge. This is the sensibility, which supplies the material for thought, and besides works according to different laws from the understanding. From the senses, however, considered in and by itself, error cannot arise, since the senses do not judge. / Hence the origin of all error must be sought solely in the unobserved influence of the sensibility on the understanding, or, to speak more exactly, on the judgment. It is owing to this influence that in our judgements we mistake merely subjective reasons for objective, and consequently confound the mere semblance of truth with truth itself.” (ibid.) Thinkers following on the heels of Kant then need not “return to an ontological interpretation of logic, thereby preserving absolutism in logic by founding it on facts of reality independent of the variable workings of human minds” else plunk for conventional choice of logical rules such as PNC, the fork proposed in Peikoff 1964. For instance Robert Hanna’s 2006 neo-Kantian, subject-sided, anti-conventionalist account of the nature of formal logic crafts a third way. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Peikoff’s reliance on Henry Mansel’s infirm understanding and adulterated representation of Kant was unfortunate. I refer specifically to Mansel’s Prolegomena Logica: An Inquiry into the Psychological Character of Logical Processes (1860). Mansel insists an empirical psychology must be put to work to “vindicate” logic. Mansel and others Mansel cites who took this post-Kantian turn were trying to keep a foot in the school of Kant (and touting themselves as significantly Kantian) while kicking that foot with the other, empiricist, Kant-undone foot. “To Psychlogy we must look for the explanation and justification of the peculiar features of Logic” (1860, 6). Not by the lights of Kant! For Kant all successful reasoning and understanding requires formal logic as a necessary presumed norm; psychology cannot attain and justify psychology’s special knowledge without thoroughly conforming itself to the general norms of formal logic, which are already presumed (further, Hatfield 1990). When Kant was four years old, Christian Wolff was writing: “In order to demonstrate the rules of logic, principles must be taken from ontology. Furthermore, . . . we must learn from psychology what the cognitive faculty is and what its operations are. Hence it is also clear that, in order to demonstrate the rules of logic, principles must be taken from psychology. . . . Therefore, ontology and psychology should precede logic if everything in logic is to be rigorously demonstrated and if its rules are to be genuinely known.” (quoted in Lu-Adler 2018, 92) In Wolff’s view, we have a natural aptitude to follow the prescriptions that are the principles of logic, but to cultivate that aptitude into a habit of their correct use requires learning explicitly what those rules are. The correct logical rules having become explicit are to be followed for knowledge in general, and they are discernible as the correct rules by their enablement of the complete demonstrations in mathematics, particularly in geometry (Lu-Adler 2018, 90–97). Kant took under consideration the ancient and medieval views on logic as well as moderns such as F. Bacon, Locke, Leibniz, Wolff, and of course Baumgarten and Meier (Wolffian variants). Meier followed Wolff in taking logic-as-a-science (what Kant would later call pure general logic) to be based in part on principles of psychology. Kant was rejecting this already in the pre-Critical period of the Bloomberg logic lecture notes from the early 1770’s (Lu-Adler 2018, 110–11). Kant regarded pure general logic as a science in his strong sense of science, in which the object of the science is treated “wholly according to a priori principles” (1786, 4:468). A science is termed proper science by Kant if it not treated only according to laws of experience and has more than mere empirical certainty. Proper science has apodictic certainty. Science more generally is “a system, that is, a whole of cognition ordered according to principles,” and “such principles may be either principles of empirical or of rational connection of cognitions into a whole” (4:467). In proper science, the connecting principles are not empirical, but the rational connection of ground to consequence. The empirical connections in chemistry do not possess the necessity that yields apodictic certainty, according to Kant. Proper science of nature has only as much apodictic certainty as there is in it a priori knowledge and application of mathematics. Empirical psychology is even farther from being a proper natural science than chemistry (4:469–71). “A rational doctrine of nature . . . deserves the name of a natural science, only in case the fundamental natural laws therein are cognized a priori, and are not mere laws of experience. One calls a cognition of nature of the first kind pure, but that of the second kind is called applied rational cognition” (4:468, my underscore). That distinction under the terms pure and applied resembles the distinction under those same terms in Kant’s treatment of logic, although the two sorts of laws of nature, unlike principles of logic, are not norms. (To be continued.) References Abbott, Thomas Kingsmill, trans. 1885. Kant’s Introduction to Logic. London: Longmans Green. Allison, Henry and Peter Heath, eds. 2002. Immanuel Kant – Theoretical Philosophy after 1781. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chance, Brian A. 2018. Wolff’s Empirical Psychology and the Structure of the Transcendental Logic. In Dyck and Wunderlich 2018. Dyck, Corey W. and Falk Wunderlich, 2018. Kant and His German Contemporaries. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hanna, Robert. 2006. Rationality and Logic. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. Hatfield, Gary. 1990. The Natural and the Normative – Theories of Spatial Perception from Kant to Helmholtz. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. Kant, Immanuel. 1786. Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Michael Friedman, translator. In Allison and Heath 2002. Lu-Adler, Huaping. 2018. Kant and the Science of Logic. New York: Oxford University Press. Mansel, Henry Longuevill. 1860. Prolegomena Logica – An Inquiry into the Psychological Character of Logical Processes. London: Oxford University Press. Peikoff, Leonard. 1964. The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism. Ph.D. dissertation. New York University.
  4. I wrote this several years ago, and I want to post it here in the Prep thread in order to refer to it in the Dissertation thread, where I'll be assimilating the work of Lu-Adler mentioned in the post before last after all). Normativity of Logic – Robert Hanna Robert Hanna does not accept Kant’s idealism. His account of the normativity of logic in Rationality and Logic (RL) is nonetheless sensibly characterized as a quasi-Kantian account. Professor Hanna proposes that we have a faculty of logic in which dwells a protologic—a set of schematic logical structures—upon which any formal logic, classical or nonclassical, is constructed. This protologic Hanna argues to be presupposed, constructively and epistemologically, by any formal logical system. Standard modern logic, which is an enlargement (and some correction) of logic beyond its development by Aristotle, is called classical to distinguish it from its further extensions and from its rivals. Logics that only extend classical logic will have modified some of “the classical logical constants, interpretation rules, axioms, or inference rules such that all the tautologies, theorems, valid inferences and laws of elementary logic still hold, along with some additional ones” (RL 40–41). Such are modern modal logics (Garson 2006; Priest 2001). The rivals of classical logic make modifications to “logical operators [constants], interpretation rules, axioms, or inference rules such that not all the tautologies, theorems, valid inferences, and laws of classical or elementary logic still hold” (RL 41). Such is relevance logic (Mares 2004; Priest 2001) or paraconsistent logic (Priest 2006). The logics in rivalry with classical logic are contestants on the field of specifying which inferences, among our inferences in the vernacular, are valid. One inference certified in classical logic that many students find repugnant is the taking as valid any inference from false premises to a true conclusion. Paraconsistent logics and relevance logics are systematic formulations of logic in which such inferences come out as invalid. I should mention, too, that various informal fallacies of classical logic come to be formal fallacies within various nonclassical logics (RL 218). All systems of logic are systematic formulations of “the necessary relation of consequence” (RL 43). Examples from classical logic would be “if p and q, then p” and “if both (i) if p then q and (ii) p, then q” and “if both (i) if p then q and (ii) not-q, then not-p.” Hanna is proposing that behind all logical systems, whether classical or not, there must be a single set of schematic logical structures which determine what will count as a possible logical system; there is a single protologic epistemologically presupposed by every logical system. This protologic is used in justifying assertions about any classical or nonclassical logic; the protologic is constructively presupposed by every logical system (RL 44). In justifying claims about logic, we are invoking conscious logical beliefs about protologic. Having such a role, there is no way the protologic set of schematic structures could be revised. Moreover, they must be a priori. Kant took a priori to mean necessarily so (B3–4, B119–24, A87–92); true independently of all experience, not having its source in experience (B2, B117–19 A84–87, B163); but true of the experienced world and needed for any empirical cognition (B5–6, B121–27 A89–94, B163–65, B196–97 A157–58). (Further, see Robinson 1969 and Tait 1992.) For his own concept a priori, Hanna defines its cognitive facet as cognition not entirely determined by “inner, proprioceptive or outer sensory experiences even though it is always actually accompanied by such sensory experiences” (RL 273n25). He defines the semantic facet of the a priori as sentence meaning wherein the truth conditions of the sentence are not entirely determined by its verification conditions. He defines the epistemic facet of the a priori as belief wherein its justification is not entirely determined by sensory evidence. No system of logic rejects all of classical logic. Hanna conjectures that the metalogical principles in the protologic might consist of weak versions of four basic principles in classical logic. One would be that “an argument is valid if it is impossible for all of its premises to be true and its conclusion false” (RL 45). Another would be that “not every sentence is both true and false” (RL 45). Cognitive psychology can contribute to the further specification of principles such as these, principles a priori and not revisable, in our repertoire. Our faculty of language epistemologically presupposes our faculty of protologic. The protologic faculty of logic is sensitive to external experiential stimuli, but not entirely determined by such stimuli. It is an essential aspect of the mind of a rational animal, and it is an a priori aspect of such a mind. “It is not modally controlled by the empirical world, although it inevitably tracks the empirical world” (RL 83). “The logic faculty is a central and informationally promiscuous faculty of the human mind (and apparently the only one), whose role it is to mediate between the peripheral faculties and the central processes of theory-formation, judgment, belief, desire, and volition” (RL 109). That we have innate logical powers does not entail that we have any innate ideas (RL 135). Hanna is a realist about logic and logical necessity. Any explanation and justification of logic must presuppose logic. No explanatory reduction of logic to other things is possible. The thesis that we are endowed with a logical faculty offers not an explanatory reduction, but a connection for logic of a nonreductive, yet realist nature: “(i) logic is cognitively constructed by rational animals, and (ii) logic is objectively real via language, and consequently logical necessity is an objectively real property or fact in a world that objectively and really contains linguistic structures” (RL 158; also 80–81). Hanna argues that the innate logical faculty includes a capability for logical intuition. This is an act in which we grasp logical rules, and grasp them as justified and necessary, in a noninferential, a priori, yet fallible way (RL 167–82). To say that formal logic is normative is to say “humans ought to reason soundly or validly (more generally, cogently). Otherwise put, the normativity of logic consists in the fact . . . that the justification of human beliefs or intentional actions depends on our ability to reason cogently” (RL 203). Hanna maintains that logic is categorically normative, not hypothetically normative. Logic enjoins one to hold a certain belief or take a certain action under all circumstances and primarily because of logic alone. A view of logic as hypothetically normative would say that logic enjoins one to hold a certain belief or take a certain action because of logic, but only in certain circumstances and primarily because of something extralogical (RL 203). Mill held that logic is intrinsically normative (necessarily normative) and that logic is explanatorily reducible to empirical psychology. This implies that logic is intrinsically but hypothetically normative, not categorically normative. Then conditions from particular human interests or conditions from natural facts could constrain the scope of the applicability of logical obligation. Hanna maintains to the contrary that logical norms apply in all possible contexts. Hanna constructs a logical argument, which leans on elements of modal logic, to refute the thesis that logic is reducible to empirical psychology (RL 20–21, 27). That is not to say that there is no essential connection between the logical and the psychological. Hanna argues for such an essential connection: logic is cognitively constructed by rational animals who are essentially logical animals (RL 25). The logical in the phrase “essentially logical animals” is to be understood as primarily normative (RL 215–16). Although we obey the protologic perfectly whenever we reason, we shall adhere only imperfectly to normative mental principles that we construct from the protologic, and only imperfectly to formal logical norms we construct from the protologic (RL 149–53). Hanna elects the path of Kant, Boole, and Frege. “Logic is the universal, topic-neutral, a priori science of the necessary laws of truth, and also a pure normative science based directly on rationality itself” (RL 204). He calls this the moral science conception of logic. Logic is a moral science (RL 205). It is “an integral part of human morality, namely the part that consists in justifying moral judgments and decisions, including direct moral arguments and reflective equilibrium” (RL 206). Hanna rejects the idea, put forth by Otto Weininger of virtually identifying logic with ethics (RL 205–6). To the contrary, “moral wrongdoing is not necessarily or even usually connected with wrong logical reasoning; and on the other hand, wrong logical reasoning is not necessarily or even usually sinful” (RL 217). Weininger’s idea was that “logic and ethics are fundamentally the same, they are no more than duty to oneself” (1903). Hanna rejects the idea that morality is entirely a system of hypothetical imperatives. Kant’s categorical imperative of ethics is not “an all-purpose practical decision procedure or algorithm. . . . Negatively described, the categorical imperative is a filter for screening out bad maxims; positively described, it is a constructive protocol for correctly generating maxims, given the multifarious array of concrete input-materials to practical reasoning . . .” (RL 212). In parallel with the role of an ethical categorical imperative, Hanna alleges a logical categorical imperative. Specifically, that imperative would be: “Think only according to those processes of reasoning that satisfy the protologic” (RL 213). From this perspective, Hanna would have us see through the errors of radically conventionalist theories of logic (RL 210–11) and skeptical, even nihilistic, attacks on the objectivity of the norms of logic (RL 206, 223–30). Good for Robert Hanna. To Hanna’s logical imperative, I should add this prior one: think. And we should supplement Hanna’s theory with the circumstance that the choice to think is the choice to live, that the categorical demands of logic are vested by the categorical structure of existence and the hypothetical standing of human life.* *See also the review by Gila Sher, especially her criticisms 2 and 5. References Garson, J. W. 2006. Modal Logic for Philosophers. Cambridge. Hanna, R. 2006. Rationality and Logic. MIT. Kant, I. 1996 [1787]. Critique of Pure Reason. W. S. Pluhar, translator. Hackett. Mares, E. D. 2004. Relevant Logic: A Philosophic Interpretation. Oxford. Priest, G. 2001. An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic. Cambridge. ——. 2006. Doubt Truth to Be a Liar. Oxford. Robinson, R. 1969 [1958]. Necessary Propositions. In The First Critique. T. Penelhum and J. J. MacIntosh, editors. Wadsworth. Tait, W. W. 1992. Reflections on the Concept of A Priori Truth and Its Corruption by Kant. In Proof and Knowledge in Mathematics. Routledge.
  5. Thanks for the notice, Merlin. “Comte’s conception of altruism is also inconsistent with liberty, Rand’s focus.” No. That is not her focus. That is the focus of the author. Within his focus, is his focus on Comte, and absence of any attention to the likes of Augustine, who had it that a turning to God is a turning away from self. Rand’s focus is on the rightness, power, and glory of rational individual mind and life. Freedom or absence of force is a necessary condition, not the prize, and anyone who reads Rand without trying to sweep beyond their blinders-field what Rand writes against religious faith can see that plain as day. I rather doubt that motivation for the beneficent projects of the Rotary Club are only motivated by the kind of non-sacrificial generosity of a Howard Roark. The motto of the Club is “Service above Self”. And I rather think the influence on adoption of that motto was not Comte, but religious ethics bannering self-sacrifice. Scratch a socialist (e.g. Norman Thomas), and you’ll likely find a religionist, at least one transferring their youthful religious values to their adult political values. Rand was not writing at a time in which Comte’s ideas were live fires in people. The virtue of self-sacrifice (highest virtue, even only virtue, the very essence of virtue) in the special Randian referent for that term must be widely defeated, both virtue of self-sacrifice for other persons and self-sacrifice for God, for security of the prize. Rand was writing not only against total selflessness, as with Comte, but any degree of selflessness. No poison at all, not any. And health of mind directing a life is not only freedom from force. From American Heritage Dictionary (American usage): Altruism — Concern for the welfare of others, as opposed to egoism; selflessness. Selfless — Without concern for oneself; unselfish. One can look as well at common-usage meanings for selfish, self-interest, etc. However, at least since Socrates, philosophers answer a calling of stirring the head from these meanings to deeper conceptions underlying them and deepening meanings of words and their interrelations. Philosophers can give special, theoretical meanings to words already in use and having some overlap with the rather loose common meanings in order to bring out what is (or could become) in the depths of thought and action under thought. The special, more philosophical meanings, can be wrong if the system to which they belong is wrong. Still, they often get through to real insight. In my assessment, Rand’s may get some of the depths wrong—some definitions, essences, propositions; things omitted or other things not where they should be—but definitely she’s on to important original insights among those stirrings, including ones on values, altruism, and selfishness. (Merlin, I’ve been out of commission a week due to death of a sister. I’ll be back to serious work in a couple more days, and back to feedback on your work in progress.)
  6. Thanks for the information, William, and the link. There is a bit more here from the wife of Laurence Gould.
  7. 3/3/08 A Rejection of Egoism Concerning animals and plants, we correctly think that “whatever stunts their growth or threatens their lives is bad for them. They are the sorts of things that can be healthy or diseased, and it is good for them to the healthy, bad to be diseased, to be stunted, to die before they mature. To determine what is good for some living S, we need to know what sort of thing S is—whether it is a human being, a horse, or a tree. If there are things that are good for all human beings, their goodness must be grounded not only in the properties of those things, but also in the properties of human beings” (WGW 88). “Organic development, health, and proper physical functioning are . . . important components of human flourishing; but for us, faring well includes healthy psychological development and functioning as well” (WGW 5). “Truths about what is good, when they are made about human beings, are truths about what is good for us . . . and must therefore be grounded in facts about our physical and psychological functioning. A theory about what is good that is applicable to human life must rest on ideas about the healthy development and exercise of the human mind” (WGW 90; further, 92–94, 131–66). I have been quoting from Richard Kraut’s new book What Is Good and Why, subtitled The Ethics of Well-Being. It was issued by Harvard University Press in 2007. (Psssst—This is a very fine book.) The picture composed by those quotations will look familiar to readers who have studied Ayn Rand’s ethics. One more from Prof. Kraut: “When we do good, we do good for someone. And so, in addition to our deciding which things are good, we also must answer the question ‘Whose good should one promote?’ There are many simple formulas that propose an answer to that question. The two that are most prominent are egoism and utilitarianism. “Egoism holds that there is only one person whose good should be the direct object of one’s actions: oneself. It allows one to take an indirect interest in others, and to promote their well-being, but only to the extent that doing so is a means towards the maximization of what is good for oneself” (WGW 39). Before explaining Kraut’s reasons for rejecting egoism, I want to begin to review Rand’s arguments for her type of ethical egoism. Within the 1957 exposition of her ethics, Rand writes: “Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will destroy it. A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and goal of his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death. Such a being is a metaphysical monstrosity, struggling to oppose, negate and contradict the fact of its own existence, running blindly amuck on a trail of destruction, capable of nothing but pain” (AS 1014 [hb]). “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live” (AS 1014). “To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-Esteem . . . . These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues . . . : rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride” (AS 1018). “Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value . . .—that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character . . . —that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man . . . has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational man he is born able to create, but must create by choice—that the first precondition of self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself . . .” (AS 1020–21; see also 1056–58). In the 1964 Introduction to The Virtue of Selfishness, Rand observes that “the choice of the beneficiary of moral values . . . . has to be derived and validated by the fundamental premises of a moral system. / The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action . . .” (x). I discern three intertwined strands in Rand’s defense of ethical egoism. I will be focusing on her arguments that move from agent egoism to beneficiary egoism. It is only when the latter is joined to the former that the theory should be called ethical egoism. Strand One In Rand’s 1957 presentation, the first move to beneficiary egoism is in the first paragraph of her text that I quoted above. It is there asserted that if one does not hold one’s own life as the motive and goal of one’s actions, one is acting in a self-destructive way. In The Fountainhead Rand wrote that “[man’s] moral law is never to place his prime goal within the persons of others” (740 [hb]). One illustration of the self-destructive path set upon by doing otherwise is Peter Keating’s being dissuaded by his mother from marrying the woman he loves. It will be argued, however, that there are some moral choices in which one’s immediate motive is the good of others, yet that choice is not self-destructive. In ordinary circumstances, I tell people the truth. My immediate motive is often their self-interest, not mine; I don’t want them to be taking up falsehoods. Kraut articulates this apparent defect of egoism as follows: “When everything goes well for a child and he has all the emotional resources he needs to interact with his community in ways that are best for himself, he will have some direct interest in some members of that community—namely, those who have manifestly expressed their love for him in ways that benefit him. So no one whose early education is as good for him as it can be will emerge from childhood as a person who is inclined to act as egoism says he should act. So fortunate a young adult will gladly help others for their sake . . . . Egoism tells him to extirpate this desire” (WGW 40–41; further, 48–65, 211–14, 231, 238–43). I observe that when one chooses to tell the truth in ordinary circumstances or to render aid to others, one is engaged not only as an agent egoist. One is not only following one’s own judgment about what to do. One is also choosing in the particular occasion what is the good state of affairs for individuals in general. Help another “if such is your own desire based on your own selfish pleasure in the value of his person and his struggle. . . . Man’s fight against suffering” is a value (AS 1059–60). In this passage, Rand is commending acting on one’s pleasure in a value-operation not one’s own. It seems to me that this is an occasion of egoistic action that is not directly for one’s own sake, only indirectly so. One has the pleasure directly, but the object of one’s intelligence yielding the pleasure is a value-operation not one’s own and a value-operation whose aim is success (e.g., truth or relief from suffering) for one not oneself. Then, strictly speaking, Rand’s is an egoism that falls outside Kraut’s definition of egoism. Kraut’s definition is more narrow than the usual definition for ethical theory. It is surely correct to call Rand’s ethics an egoism, an integrated agent-beneficiary egoism. (Objectivist conceptions of egoism are usual. See N. Branden VOS 57; L. Peikoff Om. // 65, OPAR 230–31; T. Smith VV 154–55, ARNE 23–24.) Kraut opposes also this theory of ethics, which he takes to be less than full-fledged egoism. Rand holds that one should never sacrifice one’s own true interests to those of another. Kraut observes that “that thesis holds that one has a special normative relationship to oneself. It places the self ahead of others . . . .” (WGW 53). It gives priority always to striving for one’s own good, rather than striving for the good of others. Kraut rejects the ethics of uniform self-priority. “There is no reason always to place oneself first in situations of conflict, or always to refrain from making large sacrifices for the good of others” (WGW 54; further, 180–83, 191–96). Rand writes concerning sacrifice: “If you achieve the career you wanted, after years of struggle, it is not a sacrifice; if you renounce it for the sake of a rival, it is. If you own a bottle of milk and give it to your starving child, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it to your neighbor’s child and let your own die, it is” (AS 1028). “If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat” (AS 1029). As an example of self-sacrifice, Kraut poses the following: “Suppose a parent, to earn enough money to give his child an expensive education, gives up a job that makes full use of his talents and in its place accepts a post that is intellectually and emotionally deadening and physically dangerous, but provides a large and steady income” (WGW 181). Kraut counts this as an example of self-sacrifice. To any ethical theory that would count it as not sacrificial, Kraut poses a challenge. Suppose the child who receives the education is an ungrateful child, who says he owes his parent nothing in return, that the parent was satisfying the parent’s own hierarchy of values, so there was no real self-sacrifice in the parent letting go of the career that would have been better for the parent. It is possible that on Rand’s egoism, a parent who forfeited the better career for the purpose of a better education for the child would necessarily be making an inverted-value sacrifice, the forfeiture of what ought to be valued more in comparison to something that ought to be valued less, though highly. That is, the better career for the parent should necessarily be valued more highly by the parent than the better education for the child. Whether such a conclusion follows from Rand’s ethics, I will leave undetermined; thoughts from readers would be appreciated. What is clear is that a Randian should hold the child’s ungratefulness to be prima facie wrong for the child and a wrong against the parent because the value of what the parent forfeited for the child’s education was enormous, regardless of the possibility that the parent valued the latter over the former. I concluded above that Rand’s conception of holding one’s own life “as the motive and goal” of one’s actions and never placing “[one’s] prime goal within the persons of others” does not entail always taking one’s own interests as the direct object of one’s actions. This further undermines the ungrateful child’s rationale. The direct motive for the parent’s momentous choice could be the child’s well-being, even if that choice also serves the parent’s well-being. Strand Two The first strand in Rand’s move from agent egoism to beneficiary egoism was the thesis that if one does not hold ones own life as the motive and goal of one’s actions (at least indirectly), one is acting in a self-destructive way. The second strand, wound together with the first, is that if one does not hold one’s life as the motive and goal of one’s actions, one is acting in a disintegrated way, and integrated life is better life. All living organisms are engaged in continual integrated actions suited to their individual survival or the survival of their species. Deterioration of an organism’s ability to perform its integrated repertoire of actions is a loosening of the tight organization required for its continued life or the continuation of its species. Rand draws attention to the overarching value of the survival of the individual organism that is served by its integrated repertoire of actions suited to its kind. (She leaves out of the frame of attention the overarching value of the propagation of the species that is served by the repertoire of the individual organism.) Consider the repertoire of the marine snail Pleurobranchea. The nervous systems of these animals are much simpler than the mammalian central nervous system, but they are sufficiently complex to coordinate the behavioral sequences known as fixed action patterns. Those are inherited stereotypical patterns of behavior (such as egg-laying) consisting of several distinct steps that either together form a coordinated sequence or do not take place at all. It has been determined that the fixed action patterns characteristic of Pleurobranchea are organized neurologically into a definite hierarchy: feeding is dominant over righting, gill and siphon withdrawal, or mating; episodic egg-laying is dominant over feeding; escape swimming is dominant over all other behaviors. Humans have sensations of pleasure and pain. These are signs of the body’s welfare or injury. In addition to bodily pleasure-pain systems, we have emotional systems. Rand conceives joy and suffering as fundamental emotions that estimate whether something furthers one’s life or threatens it. Which particular things emotions will signal as good or as bad will be shaped by one’s unique past experience and value judgments. If one has taken up values opposing one’s self-interest—not only self-sacrifice as a value, but values contradictory, values impossible, or values sheltered from rational assessment—then suffering and destruction will be the results. On the other hand, if one chooses to value the full use of one’s rational mind, to value the possible, the productive, and the self-beneficial, then there is fair promise of life and happiness (AS 1020–22). Just as the organs and systems of the human body must act in a properly coordinated way if they are to effect the end-in-itself that is the life of the individual organism, so one’s consciously directed actions must be properly organized if one is to achieve well the end-in-itself that is the conscious life of the individual human being. Rand identified seven coordinated patterns of volitional actions necessary for one’s realistically best life. Those are her seven cardinal virtues I listed in the root post of this thread. (David Kelley has argued that an eighth cardinal virtue, sister to productivity, naturally issues from Rand’s ethics and conception of human existence. That virtue is benevolence. This addition is argued in his essay “Unrugged Individualism” [1996]). These virtues are defended as general principles, good guides for any individual. Ethical theory, on Rand’s account, tells one what are the main right values and virtues and their rationale. It tells one also who is rightly the primary beneficiary of one’s agency. Kraut argues that philosophy can help answer “What is good?” but it cannot help answer “Whose good should I be serving?” (WGW 39–65, 208–13, 255–57). He argues that there are many proper answers to that second question, so an ethical theory that purports a uniquely correct answer to it must have gone wrong. The answer that one should always promote one’s own good is incorrect by overgeneralization. He recognizes that there are circumstances in which there is no one’s good besides one’s own that one should promote, but those circumstances are not typical. Contrary to Kraut, I think, as in Strand One, that promotion of the good of other persons can be directly for their sake, yet one can be holding in an integrated way to the overarching good for oneself, the overarching primary good of one’s own life and happiness. One does stand in a special normative relation to oneself. Mature and healthy individuals are constituted—and Kraut also takes this for true—so as to love themselves, to take care of themselves, and to act for their own benefit. But Kraut allows for the possibility, when one has reached adulthood, of properly turning one’s life into a purely instrumental value serving the good of definite others (WGW 48–53). This extreme possibility is not cashed out in terms of a real-world circumstance in which it would be proper. I think, as Rand thought, that such an agent would not be self-harmonious, so, would not be flourishing. Kraut does think philosophy can help answer “What is good?” and I want to give at least a peek at the fruits of his labor. Recall that Kraut maintains that the good is the flourishing of living things. The salient components he finds constituting human flourishing are: autonomy (WGW 196–201), cognitive skills (164–66), affects expressing rational assessments (153–58), affectionate relationships (161–63), honesty (192–93, 257–61), and justice (194–96, 225–34). Strand Three Rand writes that “man’s life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose. If existence on earth is your goal, you must choose your actions and values by the standard of that which is proper to man—for the purpose of preserving, fulfilling, and enjoying the irreplaceable value which is your life” (AS 1014). If one aims to live and live well, then man’s life must be one’s standard of morality. Part of the nature of man’s life, in Rand’s conception, is that it is life of individuals in which each is organized to be an end in himself existing for his own sake. That is how human beings are outfitted by biological nature, and in the ways that are open to their choice, that is how they should organize themselves. Morality can be put to various purposes. The proper one, in Rand’s view, is to provide “a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life” (VOS 13). Kraut notes that the term moral is often used by way of contrast to terms like prudential, self-interested, and selfish. He allows that it is useful to have the term moral for distinguishing between behavior that benefits others in contrast to behavior that benefits oneself, but he observes that “this way of talking has the unfortunate effect of making self-interested actions and concern for one’s own good dishonorable, or in any case of secondary importance” (WGW 256). He takes both the moral and the prudential to be genres of the good. The good, in Kraut’s view, is the flourishing of the living. Rand stresses more than Kraut that organisms are organized so as to survive. She also stresses more than Kraut that individual human beings are by nature ends in themselves. Kraut makes the good point that by citing facts of nature—of plants and animals and the powers nature has given humans—he is not maintaining that “what is good for us is whatever is natural for us, and whatever we are born with must be used” (WGW 146). We might correctly conclude that some of our natural powers are bad for us. But it is not plausible that many or all of them are bad for us. “It would be foolish to begin with the assumption that whereas it is good for all other living things to flourish, it is not good for us to flourish. After all, flourishing consists in the growth and development of the capacities of a living thing: why should that be good for plants and animals, but not for us? . . . If a theory of goodness can fit its account of human well-being into a larger framework that applies to the entire natural [biological] world, that gives it an advantage over any theory that holds ‘G is good for S’ is one kind of relationship for human beings and a different kind for all other creatures” (GWG 147–48).That merit of Kraut’s theory holds for Rand’s as well. The third strand in the cord by which Rand ties beneficiary egoism to agency egoism is the stress she lays on the self-sufficiency of organisms in general and individual humans in particular. There is much to be said for this and against this. Not today.
  8. 2/16/08 Rand observes that “the choice of the beneficiary of moral values . . . . has to be derived and validated by the fundamental premises of a moral system” (VoS x). Rand offers arguments and a conception of morality in support of the conclusion that “the actor must [should] always be the beneficiary of his action” (VoS x). “Ethics is an objective, metaphysical necessity of man’s survival,” and this is the case “by the grace of reality and the nature of life” (VoS 23). “By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose” (AS 1017). Rand argues that “man’s actions and survival require the guidance of conceptual values derived from conceptual knowledge” (VoS 20); that conceptual thought is an activity of individual minds (AS 1017); that “thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness” (VoS 20); that “the act of focusing one’s consciousness is volitional” (20–21); that “the men who choose to think and to produce . . . . are pursuing a course of action proper to man” (23); “that just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself . . . and, therefore, that [each] man must [should] live for his own sake” (27). The individual’s own life “is the source, not only of all his values, but of his capacity to value. Therefore, the value he grants to others is only a consequence, an extension, a secondary projection of the primary value which is himself” (VoS 47). Furthermore: “Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will destroy it. A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and goal of his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death. Such a being is a metaphysical monstrosity, struggling to oppose, negate, and contradict the fact of its own existence . . .” (AS 1014 [hb], boldface added). As noted earlier in this thread, Robert Hartford contributed a paper last spring to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 8(2):291–303. The title of his paper is “Objectivity and the Proof of Egoism.” In this paper, he argues that “the foundation of an objectively verifiable ethical system is the [voluntary] acceptance and use of the principle of holding one’s own life as the motive and goal of one’s action” (302). Robert argues that if one rejects Rand’s principle of holding one’s own life as the motive and goal of one’s action, then one is contradicting a fact about the very mind rejecting the principle. That fact is the biological role that the mind has in human life. “The mind has unsurpassed power to select action that results in pursuit and achievement of values, pursuit and achievement of that which benefits one’s life” (300). If one selects an action that is known—known consciously or subconsciously—to be harmful to one’s life, then some aspect of one’s mind is implicitly acting in a way at odds with the fundamental role of the mind in human life. The mind is then in a contradictory state. It strives to achieve what benefits the life of the person whose mind it is while at the same time, in the particular choice, it strives to harm that person. Therefore, one should always select one’s action with one’s own life as the motive and goal of the action. I would say that the biological role of the mind is not only to enable the survival of the individual whose mind it is, but to enable the survival of other members of the human species. So I don’t think Robert’s proof works. The faulty premise in Robert’s argument is appealed to in the complex weave of Rand’s argument as well. How wide are the ramifications of this flaw in her argument? I wonder.
  9. ET, In the statement of Rand's I quoted and you again quoted, she is contrasting life to all things not living. Only living things can be ends in themselves and have value kinds of actions. (And I don't think it would matter whether the life was manmade in the lab or naturally occurring life.) I agree. “According to Objectivism . . . a philosophic view of man is not exhausted by metaphysics and epistemology, nor does it at every point follow deductively from them; fresh observations are required. . . . “If a fundamental difference is one which has enormous, pervasive manifestations, then the most fundamental difference among the entities we perceive is that between the animate and the inanimate. The starting point in the present enquiry, therefore, is the fact that man is a certain kind of living organism. What is an organism? More specifically, what is its essential, distinctive mode of action?” (pages 188-189 of Peikoff’s 1991 Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand). On your question of the point at which egoism comes into the picture in the account of the good, I'll post below two posts of mine from some years back. I encourage you to study, if you've not done so already, Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness and Peikoff' OPAR.
  10. Thanks for the correction, Dennis, and thanks for the question. In a few days, I shall have been working on the book material each morning for six years. Along the way, I’ve extended my target on up to ten years (I’d be seventy-five). However, to accomplish even that required that I leave off theory of value altogether. And the extended detailed comparisons of Rand’s philosophy and mine with major classical philosophies needed to be discontinued. Because I had completed the comparison on foundations between Descartes and Rand, which was no longer going to be appropriate for the way the book was developing, I submitted that to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and they published it last summer. By last fall, the metaphysics I had developed had become so sweeping, deep, and original, and had finally stabilized, that I had a big worry. The problem was that it would take another four years before all the ramifications of it could be worked out for epistemological areas, and I became worried it was all too possible that none of what I had already created would ever be seen by anyone else (none of it has been posted on the internet or will be) should I have a stroke or otherwise be incapable of completing the whole book (for which I’d still need to find a publisher at the end—I’m not for self-publishing on this). I thought of seeing if this sort of material would be appropriate for JARS as a series of major papers over time. I sent them the initial one that lays out the basics of the new metaphysics; they think it an appropriate kind of thing for their venue; it is under review; and if all goes well with that on both sides, it might appear about a year from now. This new metaphysics is more indebted to the metaphysics of Ayn Rand than to any other. Mine is a transfiguration of hers at the deepest level. The differences and commonalities with Rand’s fundamentals are explicated and argued. Her fundamentals and mine are set in their relations to others ancient to modern. Down the anticipated series of papers, ramifications of this new metaphysics for philosophy of logic, mathematics, and science will be drawn. So I’m doing the same work, only not for a book, and one will need to be a subscriber to JARS or have university access through JSTOR to see this, my highest creation.
  11. I wrote this and originally posted it online in 2010. Rand and the Greeks In the “The Objectivist Ethics” Rand stated: “Aristotle did not regard ethics as an exact science” (14). “He based his ethical system on observations of what the noble and wise men of his time chose to do, leaving unanswered the questions of: why they chose to do it and why he evaluated them as noble and wise” (OE 14). Insofar as Aristotle’s approach was indeed as described in the preceding quotation (see e.g. NE 1140a24–25), Rand stakes ethics in a dramatically different way. Rand aims to ground an ethics in something more firm, namely, in biology. In the soul, Aristotle marks three divisions: passions, faculties, and states. He argues that excellence, or nobility, cannot be a passion nor a faculty, and so must be a state. In particular excellence “will be the state which makes a man good and which makes him do his own work well” (NE 1106a22–23). More particularly still, excellence “is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it” (NE 1106b36–1107a2). A number of thinkers sympathetic to Rand’s rational, life-centered ethical egoism have argued that, in a variety of ways, her ethics is closer to Aristotle’s than she had expressly gauged it to be. One of the additions Rand made to the exposition of her ethics in “The Objectivist Ethics” beyond the exposition in “Galt’s Speech” was her introduction of the phrase ultimate value. Rand rejected the Aristotelian conception of vegetative and non-conscious animal activities as being due to some sort of “teleological principle operating in nature” (OE 16). Like the early moderns Descartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza, like we moderns today, Rand held the domain of Aristotle’s final causation to be confined “only to a conscious being.” Final causation in its only reality is “the process by which an end determines the means, i.e., the process of choosing a goal and taking the actions necessary to achieve it” (CvD 99). Taking that modern layout for understood, Rand wrote: “In a fundamental sense, stillness is the antithesis of life. Life can be kept in existence only by a constant process of self-sustaining action. The goal of that action, the ultimate value which, to be kept, must be gained through its every moment, is the organisms life. “An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are to be evaluated.” (OE 16–17) The only such ultimate value, the only end in itself, is the life of the individual organism, in Rand’s view. In the vegetative and appetitive organizations within the human animal, that end is supposed by Rand to be their healthy overarching one. Those systems run that way automatically. But the human individual is fundamentally free to choose how far he keeps his mind and actions set upon that same ultimate end, the preservation and fullness of his own life. There is a parallel here with Aristotle’s conception of the mature human ability to craft deliberate virtues upon natural virtues (see Lennox 1999). Then again there is the glaring difference that Rand would not have philosophical contemplation to be the overarching end driving a human life taken to be happiest of all other human lives (NE X, 7). In his 1975 work Human Rights and Human Liberties, Tibor Machan argued that “only if a specifically human goal can be identified—one shared by all people just in virtue of being the kind of thing they are—could an identifiable standard for moral valuation be found. If there is nothing on that order that human beings ought to achieve, no summum bonum, then the idea that they ought to achieve it could not be meaningful” (71). Rand had argued that “it only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible. Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself: a value gained and kept by a constant process of action. Epistemologically, the concept of ‘value’ is genetically dependent upon and derived from the antecedent concept of ‘life’” (OE 17; see also Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984a, 65–67). What goes for value goes as well for the Aristotelian coins excellence, success, and doing well. Life—the physical phenomenon of life—is their original and perpetual grounding context (cf. Kelley 1992, 58). Professor Machan went on to endorse an argument by function-explanation put forth by Eric Mack (1971) to the conclusion that “the end of the objective function” of an individual’s choices and actions “is the sustenance of his life” (72). Machan then linked Rand’s summum bonum, as defended by Mack, with Aristotle’s idea that “the proper goal of each person is his own success as a human being, his own happiness” (72). Tightening the link, Machan observes: “The happiness discussed by Aristotle is far broader than what people usually mean by the term ‘happiness’. It is closer to what Ayn Rand has characterized as ‘a noncontradictory state of joy’. The main feature of this state is not pleasure, fun, or excitement. Instead it is a self-acknowledgement of worth, a sense of being a successful living entity of the kind human beings are” (73; see further, Lawrence 2006). There is considerable difference, nonetheless, I should say, between what Aristotle and Rand conceived the human mind and life to be and between what they took as the source of ethical norms (see e.g. Long 2000). Aristotle argued for happiness as the unique final end; Rand found life as final end-giving end of happiness. Moreover, Rand conceived happiness, with its self-sufficient quality, to be integral with, not aloof from, the pleasure of human animal life (see Frede 2007, 264–67, on Aristotle; cf. Saint-André 1993, 152, 159–66, and Branden 1964, on Rand). Among others stressing the kinship of Rand’s ethics to Aristotle’s would be Jack Wheeler in his contribution “Rand and Aristotle: A Comparison of Objectivist and Aristotelian Ethics” (1984). Similarly, Peter Saint-André stresses that Rand’s project, and Aristotle’s too, is “at root metaphysical,” both projects dealing with “‘what is possible’ to the human individual” (1996, 209). He objects to Rand’s representation of Aristotle as only “sifting through what the noble and the wise say and do” to uncover norms. That may be what Aristotle sometimes says he does, but, Saint-André would have us look at Nicomachean Ethics I, 6–7, “wherein Aristotle investigates the ontological status of the Good and derives the nature of happiness from the ergon or ‘characteristic work’ of man quo man” (1996, 210). In his 2005 paper “Ayn Rand as Aristotelian: Values and Happiness,” Fred Miller observes that Aristotle’s presentation is open to interpretation among noted scholars. John Cooper, Terence Irwin, and David Reeve read Aristotle along the lines read by Machan, Den Uyl and Rasmussen, and others, which allows one to see Aristotle as near Rand in pattern of meta-ethical reasoning. Gabriel Richardson Lear reads Aristotle along those lines in her deep study (2004, 121–22, 145–46). Sarah Broadie dissents from the Grand End reading of Aristotle (1991), though she takes Aristotle as having practical reason discern right action, rather than constituting it (2006, 348). John McDowell finds Aristotle more like Rand found him: “Rather than giving a criterion that works from outside the ethic, [Aristotle] says that such things are as the virtuous person determines them to be” (1998, 35; quoted in Miller 2005). In any case, biological existence is not among the candidates for external ultimate criteria for ethical norms various scholars have drawn from Aristotle’s text. Professor Miller draws attention to Rand’s remarks on Aristotle a couple of years after her critical remarks on Aristotle’s ethical theory. Rand approved of Aristotle’s conceptions of life and knowledge as naturalistic facts. She viewed Aristotle as giving “living entities, the phenomenon of life,” a central place in his philosophy (1963, 10). “Life—and its highest form, man’s life—is the central fact in Aristotle’s view of reality. The best way to describe it is to say that Aristotle’s philosophy is ‘biocentric’.” (The same can be said for Protagoras, who influenced the Cyrenaics and Epicurus, I should note.) Rand continues: “This is the source of Aristotle’s intense concern with the study of the enormously ‘pro-life’ attitude that dominates his thinking” (11). When it comes to his ethical writings, however, I do not find Aristotle bringing biology expressly to bear. I do not see he has any understanding that the physical phenomenon of life, and its continuous self-generated struggle for continuation, is the source of all value. Happiness is not ordered to life by Aristotle in the express and deep way it is ordered to life by Rand. “Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is an automatic indicator of his body’s welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death—so the emotional mechanism of man’s consciousness is geared to perform the same function, as a barometer that registers the same alternative by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering.” (OE 27) “The maintenance of life and the pursuit of happiness are not two separate issues. . . . When one experiences the kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself—the kind that makes one think: ‘This is worth living for’—what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the metaphysical fact that life is an end in itself.” (OE 29) Aristotle recognized that there is no desire, no valued thing, where there is no life (EE 1281a26–27). That is short of seeing that and how the concept value, or goodness, presupposes the concept life. Aristotle observed that pleasures complete competent activities “as an end which supervenes as the bloom of youth does on those in the flower of their age” (NE 1174b31–33). Life is desirable, and pleasure completes the activity that is human life (NE 1175a10–21). Moreover, the life of the virtuous is pleasant, and its pleasures are harmonious because they are pleasures taken in things that are by nature pleasant (NE 1099a6–14). But Aristotle does not proceed expressly from pleasure to joy to happiness, and on the steps life, life, life. Aristotle held that eudaimonia is a complete thing, an end in itself (NE 1097a30–35; 1176a36–1176b5; EE 1219a24–39; see further, Richardson Lear 2004, 69–71). He held it to be something of a self-generated achievement (NE 1114b30–1115a3; EE 1215a15–19). One barrier to Aristotle fully seeing happiness as emblematic servant of life itself, morality’s true ground, is perhaps this: Although he recognized the self-generated dimension of life, he “did not clearly identify that a living organism’s existence depends on this activity” (Smith 2000, 119n11). Born nine years after Aristotle and living five decades beyond him was Epicurus. He promoted a form of eudaimonistic hedonism, directed by the reins of physical life, which life dwells in a world devoid of Aristotelian natural teleology. That Epicurus keeps ethics close to biology is fast upon his view that “the soul is a body [made up of] fine parts distributed throughout the entire aggregate, and most closely resembling breath with a certain admixture of heat . . . . All of this is revealed by the abilities of the soul, its feelings, its ease of motion, its thought processes, and the things whose removal leads to our death” (Ltr. To Herodotus 63). Human nature “was taught a large number of different lessons just by the facts themselves, and compelled [by them]; . . . reasoning later made more precise what was handed over to it [by nature] and made additional discoveries” (H 75). Good and bad arise only within sense experience. So death cannot be the root of that which is bad (Ltr to Menoeceus 124–25). “The wise man neither rejects life nor fears death” (M 126). Among natural desires, “some are necessary for happiness and some for freeing the body from troubles and some for life itself” (M 127). As for the first two, Epicurus writes: “The cry of the flesh: not to be hungry, not to be thirsty, not to be cold. For if someone has these things and is confident of having them in the future, he might contend even with [Zeus] for happiness” (Vatican Collection 33). Epicurus held to a conceptual primacy of pain over pleasure—the latter is only the absence of the former—although plenty of harmonious pleasure is possible in life if one keeps ones desires limited to what is necessary for a modest style of life (M 128–32; Principal Doctrines III–V). “One must not force nature but persuade her. And we will persuade her by fulfilling the necessary desires” and the natural but unnecessary ones, provided they are not harmful (VC 21). Epicurus anchors happiness to absence of bodily pains and harms. This suggests he takes physical life to be the basis of right desires. In addition, as seen in the paragraph before last, some right desires are necessary “for life itself,” in the view of Epicurus. I do not find in Epicurus the insight that it is the concept of life, with its fundamental perpetual alternative, that makes the concept of right desire possible. Still, it should be clear that on the relation of moral values to life itself, there are precursors of Rand’s pages in the writings of both Epicurus and Aristotle. (See further, Shelton 1995, 1996, and Saint-André 1996.) (Coming in a few weeks: Salmeiri 2020.) References Aristotle 1984. The Complete Works of Aristotle, volume 2. J. Barnes, editor. Princeton. Branden, N. 1964. The Psychology of Pleasure. In Rand 1964. Broadie, S. 1991. Ethics with Aristotle. Oxford. ——. 2006. Aristotle and Contemporary Ethics. In Kraut 2006. Den Uyl, D. J., and D. B. Rasmussen 1984a. Life, Teleology, and Eudaimonia in the Ethics of Ayn Rand. In 1984b. Den Uyl, D. J., and D. B. Rasmussen, editors. 1984b. The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand. University of Illinois. Epicurus 1994. The Epicurus Reader. B. Inwood and L. P. Gerson, translators and editors. Hackett. Frede, D. 2006. Pleasure and Pain in Aristotle’s Ethics. In Kraut 2006. Kelley, D. 1992. Post-Randian Aristotelianism. Liberty (July). Kraut, R., editor. 2006. The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Blackwell. Lawrence, G. 2006. Human Good and Human Function. In Kraut 2006. Lennox, J. G. 1999. Aristotle on the Biological Roots of Virtue: The Natural History of Natural Virtue. In Biology and the Foundation of Ethics. J. Maienschein and M. Ruse, editors. Cambridge. Long, R. T. 2000. Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand. Objectivist Studies. No. 3. The Objectivist Center. Machan, T. R. 1975. Human Rights and Human Liberties. Nelson Hall. Mack, E. 1971. How to Derive Ethical Egoism. The Personalist (Autumn):736–43. McDowell, J. 1998. Some Issues in Aristotle’s Moral Psychology. In Mind, Value, and Reality. Cambridge. Rand, A. 1961. The Objectivist Ethics. In Rand 1964. ——. 1963. Review of Randall’s Aristotle. In The Voice of Reason. 1990. Meridian. ——. 1964. The Virtue of Selfishness. 1964. Signet. ——. 1974. Causality versus Duty. In Philosophy: Who Needs It. 1982. Signet. Richardson Lear, G. 2004. Happy Lives and the Highest Good. Princeton. Saint-André, J. P. 1993. A Philosophy for Living on Earth. Objectivity 1(6):137–73. ——. 1996. Epicurean Pleasure and the Objectivist Good. Objectivity 2(4):205–11. Shelton, R. 1995. Epicurus and Rand. Objectivity 2(3)1–47. ——. 1996. Parallel Metaethics. Objectivity 2(4):213–25. Smith, T. 2000. Viable Values. Rowman & Littlefield. Wheeler, J. 1984. Rand and Aristotle: A Comparison of Objectivist and Aristotelian Ethics. In Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984b.
  12. Rand took it that we can and do recognize that others are ends in themselves. The fact that they are ends in themselves entails certain ways one should not treat them. Adhering to those ways—respecting their rights against force or fraud in their person and their property—is morally right, is what one ought to do. Moreover, in Rand’s view, it is what one would normally, naturally want to do. Furthermore, in Rand’s view, respecting rights of others—making the fact that they are ends in themselves operative in one’s set of values—is in one’s best interest in a social context (and is irrelevant in a non-social context). Nice related work: “Selfish Regard for the Rights of Others” by Gregory Salmieri, in Foundations of a Free Society (Pittsburgh 2019). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - to SL: You will find the term "intrinsic" used in the chapter just cited, and not in Rand's special sense for it when thinking about the ontology of value. That is because Salmieri is (i) engaging with criticisms of Rand's ethical egoism and her theory of rights coming from contemporary philosophers from other schools of thought and (ii) the term is common in talking about constitutive values and their interplay with instrumental values.
  13. SL, I don't think Rand took "end in himself" to mean anything but "end in itself" applied to a person. However, by the special way SHE was using "intrinsic" (introduced in the essay "What is Capitalism?"), we wouldn't rightly say that intrinsic value means end-in-itself in the way SHE meant the latter term. I agree with how she used the latter term; my use of it means what she meant: only a character of living things (focally, individual organisms) and only an overall character composed of subsidiary instrumental, functional value-actions). So when Nozick turns to "organic unity" as more generic (and to be found not only in living things, but art or inanimate natural organizations), I'd say that those organic unities not life are just semblances (fainter to fainter) of life. In using the term "intrinsic" we apparently best say which way we mean it: in its more usual way that Nozick was using it (which had SOME overlap with Rand's specially carved meaning) or in Rand's special, theoretical definition and usage. (My American Heritage Dictionary has for "intrinsic" the following: Pertaining to the essential nature of a thing; inherent.) "It is only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible. Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself: a value gained and kept by a constant process of action" (OE 17).
  14. ET, What would you say about someone who has attempted suicide, is unconscious, and you happen upon them? Wouldn’t you think they still have the quality of intrinsic value (= [inherent value] = [potential and actual end-in-itself value]) and so go ahead and call 911? Wouldn’t you be not indifferent to their possibility of coming round to choosing life, being productive, and pursuing happiness? Choosing to live comes up directly in the Hamlet question (in various sorts of situation), but also implicitly every day for humans with the normal capacity to end their life or to stop doing the things necessary to live. And every initiative of thought and work is implicitly a choice to live and be a human being. Do you agree? Rand thought one should treat others and oneself as ends-in-themselves. Her reason was because they are ends-in-themselves, and one ought to treat things as the kinds of things they are. I agree. “Do you ask what moral obligation I owe to my fellow men? None—except the obligation I owe to myself, to material objects and to all of existence: rationality. I deal with men as my nature and theirs demands: by means of reason” (1957, 1022). “Every act of man’s life has to be willed; the mere act of obtaining or eating his food implies that the person he preserves is worthy of being preserved” (1056). “By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself” (1014).
  15. PS A note about Rand’s development on this in her writings: In We the Living, she has value and authentic aliveness as requiring human awareness of and embrace of one’s wants and joys. Value as the valuable for its own sake (and as distinct from the mere ‘satisfaction’ had by her later character Toohey) does in WL not exist until the human awareness and embrace of it. The valuable-in-itself does not exist prior to the higher humans bringing it into the world, and it is something that most likely could not exist in beings not having distinctively human capabilities. As you know, that layout is revised and the revised account greatly elaborated in her 1957.
  16. SL and ET and Tony, I doubt I’ve changed in the view I’d come to in this essay of 1984. The way in which Nozick was using ‘intrinsic’ was as I stated therein. This is a different meaning of the term in Rand’s use of that same term, in which it means value existing without there being some valuer of the value (and all value being in fact rooted in life, there being value independently of any purposive agent). Still, when I talk of becoming value, as did Nozick 1981, it can seem as becoming value that exists without the existence of any valuer of it. I meant only that in making life-values squarely operational in oneself, which one can do through explicit conceptual awareness, one can strengthen and magnify the life-value that is oneself and one’s life. I don’t know if Nozick would have been open to the way I latched his intrinsic value necessarily to life. He might have gone on to say of his intrinsic value that not only does it have a sense not talked about by Rand, but additionally the sense she squarely opposed. That is, additionally, his intrinsic value (not mine) might be a realm floating on its own whether or not living things (or God) exist and connect with it. He took there to be an objective basis of intrinsic value. That basis is not life, but organic unity, which includes life but is something more general. Because there are degrees of organic unity, he has a way to roughly rank various intrinsic values in relation to each other. So, for example, a human life could be ranked higher than a redwood or a painting due to the greater organic unity of a human being and its life (its making a life, as Nozick would say). One of my favorite closing passages among novels I got to read in high school is the one recited in the clip I link below. It speaks great truth, though from my perspective, the element of saying memory is not necessary for love is incorrect and the idea that love continues even were everyone to die is incorrect. Thank you all for your thoughts on issues in this essay.
  17. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Conventionalism VIII “I have never asserted that it is inconceivable that water isn’t H2O, but only that it is impossible that it isn’t H2O.” —H. Putnam In the nineteenth century, Weber & Kohlbrausch, Maxwell, and Hertz established that light is electromagnetic radiation (within a certain range of frequencies). This was established by measurements and by mathematical representation of relationships between various physical, electromagnetic properties in media and in the vacuum. They established as well that radiant heat was electromagnetic radiation. Heat and light from the sun, for example, are electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation (of some range of frequencies) is the light allowing the wheat to grow. For short, light = EM rad, where ‘=‘ is here ‘identically the same as’. At least one, probably more, of the characteristics of the single thing that is light/EM rad is an essential characteristic of it. But light and EM radiation being the same thing is nothing essential about that thing. Rather, this being-the-same is total identity of the object investigated in optics and an object investigated in EM science. A is not a characteristic of A, though A is A. In her 2017 paper on Kripkean necessity of identity, García-Encinas argues the identity discovered (my example) by Weber & Kohlbrausch, Maxwell, and Hertz subtly exhibits “how identity belongs to the inner and to the most profound structure of cognition and language” (52). That much having been argued, she suggests: “Despite the general tendency to the contrary, it could be the case that even logical truths, or truths that are usually believed to be necessary but devoid of metaphysical content, like x = x are finally grounded in metaphysics (and aesthetics). x = x could be a logical form of our intuition of Identity” (68). The indefinite article of “a logical form” would be the right choice of article in Rand’s lights, since “x is identically x” as the identity added to first-order predicate calculus with quantification (see Quine 1982, chapter 43) is only a proper part of the full A is A of logic employed in the discovery of the light/EM rad identity. The single self-same thing light/EM rad exhibits wave-particle duality; has a wavelength inversely proportional to its momentum; has a definite role not only in electrodynamics, but in general kinematics of modern mechanics; has no rest-mass of its particle, the photon; has polarization character; and shows universal characteristic atomic and molecular spectra from matter throughout the observed universe. Whether any one or more of these characteristics is essential to light/EM rad being what it is, Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology takes them all as being necessary to what it is. They have a necessity transcending the necessity of an essential characteristic. This transcending necessity is a necessity merely denying cognitive validity of imagination-criteria for whether something is “contingent.” That I can imagine, without manifest contradiction, that the atoms and molecules naturally present here in the solar system are nonexistent elsewhere in the galaxy or that light and electromagnetic radiation are not (in any range of frequencies) the same thing is no insight into metaphysical or physical character. Such imaginings, since Descartes and until this day, so beloved by many philosophers (e.g. Sidelle 2002), are valuable only for entertainment, and they exhibit only what playfulness I can have over past ignorance and inquiry (cf. Peikoff 1967, 114–16). Necessities in a posteriori truths as well as all logical necessities whatever are not the offspring of linguistic convention in stipulative definitions. That much, many contemporary philosophers have concluded. Those necessities are the offspring of existence in its identities, an assertion that needs to be fleshed out (see Long 2005, 213, on that need). I should like to add (my own original connection) that the insusceptibility to trisection of angles in complete generality by straight-edge and compass constructions alone is not shown to be an absolutely necessary insusceptibility by stipulative definitions joined with their contradiction upon supposition of such trisection. The absolute necessity of that insusceptibility was shown by creative discovery of whole new areas of mathematics and their connection to Euclidean geometry (within which workers had failed repeatedly to produce general angle trisection using only straight-edge construction together with compass construction, and within which could not prove its absolute impossibility). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In his 2016, Greg Salmieri notes that it is curious that Peikoff 1967 does not mention Quine’s “Two Dogmas.” Salmeiri points out some ways the Rand-Peikoff diagnoses of and remedies for the errors in analytic-versus-synthetic doctrines differ from Quine’s. Salmieri understands the later challenge of AvS from Kripke and Putnam to have more in common with the Objectivist challenge, though Putnam differs importantly from Rand on definitions and essences, which looms large in the Objectivist challenge (2016, 304n34, 311n87). Salmieri points to the book-review article, in JARS in 2005, by Roderick Long for thoughts on some relations between Randian theory of meaning and those of Kripke and Putnam. Long’s 2005 review of Greg Browne’s book Necessary Factual Truth was followed a year later by a substantial reply from Browne and rejoinder by Long (JARS V7N1). From May to September of 2007, Prof. Browne engaged in a very generous exchange (his own words coming to about 19,000) in a thread at Objectivist Living defending the rejection by Peikoff of AvS and defending his own kindred rejection of AvS. Browne had in his arsenal the Kripke-Putnam developments that had been savaging AvS in the years since Peikoff 1967. Browne vigorously countered, in that thread, devotees of Logical Empiricism (and of Popper) who criticized (and poorly understood the revolution afoot, such as in) Peikoff 1967. Late in that thread, Robert Campbell entered it only to ask Browne if he had any thoughts on why Peikoff had not addressed the famous Quine paper in his Peikoff’s dissertation, which Campbell had lately acquired. Browne had not seen the dissertation and had not much to conjecture on that peculiarity. (Remember, Peikoff 1964 is not written as a champion of Ayn Rand’s philosophic views, but, in an even-handed way, by an author acknowledging his background preference for some rehabilitated sort of logical ontologism and pointing near the end of the dissertation to some of that rehabilitation, such as fresh thinking on the nature of definitions and essence; distance between Quine’s views on logic and on AvS and Randian Peikoff views would not be the reason for no Quine in Peikoff 1964.) I should suggest that Quine, Carnap, Russell, and Wittgenstein raise such a briar patch of technicalities that it was better (and enough for deserving a Ph.D.) to stick with the more accessible and manageable Ayer, Nagel, Dewey, and Lewis to get the dissertation (already more than an armful in history assimilated) finally completed. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Near the close of “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” after saying once more that he rejects the distinction between the analytic and the synthetic, Quine enters a footnote directing the reader to a paper by Morton White “for an effective expression of further misgivings over this distinction” (1953, 46). That paper is “The Analytic and the Synthetic: An Untenable Dualism” (UD).[1] It appeared originally in Hook 1950, then again, in Linsky 1952. My page references are from the latter. Morton White noted two kinds of statements that had lately been regarded as analytic. The first are purely formal logical truths such as “A is A” and “A or not-A.” The second are cases of “what is traditionally known as essential predication” (UD 318). He ponders especially the example “All men are rational animals.” That statement is logically the same as “Any man is a rational animal” or “A man is a rational animal.” This last expression of the proposition is one of Leonard Peikoff’s examples of a purportedly analytic statement in “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” ([A-S] 1967, 90). White did not pursue in this paper whether it is correct to characterize logical truths as analytic (UD 318–19). It will be recalled that Peikoff held forth Rand’s conception of logical truth against that of A. J. Ayer, who had maintained: “The principles of logic and mathematics are true universally simply because we never allow them to be anything else. . . . In other words, the truths of logic and mathematics are analytic propositions or tautologies” (1946, 77; Branden 1963, 7; A-S 94, 101, 111–18). As with Quine’s “Two Dogmas,” White undermined the distinction between the analytic and the synthetic by finding fault with various explications of what analyticity amount to. They concluded there is no durable articulate way of classifying propositions and truths as analytic in sharp contrast to synthetic. One way of conceiving an analytic statement is as expressing a proposition deducible from a logical truth by substitution of a synonym of one of its terms. (i) Every A is A. Therefore, (ii) Every man is a man. With rational animal as synonym for man, we obtain (iii) Every man is a rational animal (UD 319). Thence analyticity is explicated in terms of logical truth and synonymy. White rejects the view that whether man and rational animal are synonymous is a matter of arbitrarily selected convention. Similarly, that man and featherless biped are not synonymous is not a matter of arbitrarily selected convention. Natural language is not like an artificial logical language in which meanings of terms are set entirely by stipulation (UD 321–24). White allows we certainly have some sort of working distinction between propositions such as, on the one hand, “Man is an animal” and “Man is a rational animal” and, on the other hand, “Man is a featherless biped” and “Man has two eyes” (Peikoff’s example, A-S 90). White concludes that distinction between those two classes of statement is not that statements in the first class are analytic, the latter not, where the analytic is defined as consequence of a logical truth under substitution of a synonym and we are given no objective criterion for synonymy (UD 318–24). Could analytic statements be defined instead as those whose denials are self-contradictory? White queries how it is that “Man is not a rational animal” leads to “Man is not man,” yet “Man is a quadruped” does not lead to “Man is not man.” He again notes that appealing to synonymies in the language is not illuminating in the absence of objective criteria for synonymy (UD 324). If it is said that one’s sense of wrongness in “Man is not a rational animal” differs from one’s sense of wrongness in “Man is a quadruped,” White replies that that is surely only a matter of degree, not a sharp difference in kind. Between one’s response to contradiction of “Man is a rational animal” and contradiction of “Man is a biped,” there is not a sharp difference in kind. If self-contradiction upon denial of a proposition is the criterion for analyticity of the proposition, then there is no sharp divide between the analytic and the synthetic (UD 325–26). Suppose we adopt the following criterion for analyticity. Were we to come across an animal we determine to be not a rational animal, we would dismiss it instantly as being a man. By contrast, were we to come across an animal we see is not a featherless biped (it is, say, a quadruped), but whose rationality is not yet confirmed or disconfirmed, we hesitate over whether this animal is a man. We know that we might give up the proposition “All men are featherless bipeds” if we learn this animal is rational (UD 326–28). White responds: “Now I suspect that this criterion will be workable but it will not allow us to distinguish what we think in advance are the analytic equivalences. It will result in our finding that many firmly believed ‘synthetic’ equivalences are analytic on this criterion” (UD 328). White gives no example, but I think his point is illustrated by an analytic-synthetic pair of judgments, favorites with Kant: “All bodies are extended” (analytic) and “All bodies have weight” (synthetic). By the latter, given his knowledge of Newtonian physics, I think Kant rightly understands “All bodies not in gravitational orbit have weight.” Be that as it may, Kant and his contemporaneous intellectuals would dismiss as body just as quickly an entity lacking weight (in the appropriate setting) as they would dismiss as body an entity lacking extension.[2] The criterion of speed of dismissal upon counterfactual encounter fails to always sort what is taken for analytic from what is taken for synthetic. White observes that the obscurity of proposed criteria for distinguishing analytic from synthetic statements, propositions, and judgments, is not fixed by incorporating the sound Millian point that what is synonymous with man, for example, varies with discursive context. In a biological discourse, “mammiferous animal having two hands” (Mill’s example) might be synonym for man. It remains that analyticity is not illuminated by proposing logical truth and synonymy as its base, not illuminated so as to yield a sharp divide, rather than a gradual divide, between the analytic and the synthetic. The arguments run against such an explication of the analyticity of “Man is a rational animal” will rerun for “Man is a mammiferous animal with two hands” (UD 329–30). White saw the myth of a sharp divide between the analytic and the synthetic as affiliate of an older mythically sharp division: the Aristotelian division between essential and accidental predication (UD 319, 325, 330). This kinship was also recognized in Peikoff 1967 (A-S 95). (To be continued.) Notes 1. Nelson Goodman writes in a 1953 footnote: “Perhaps I should explain for the sake of some unusually sheltered reader that the notion of a necessary connection of ideas, or of an absolutely analytic statement, is no longer sacrosanct. Some, like Quine and White, have forthrightly attacked the notion; others, like myself, have simply discarded it; and still others have begun to feel acutely uncomfortable about it” (60). 2. Notice also that in modern physics of elementary particles, we take electrons and the other leptons to be bodies (matter) because they have weight (because of nonzero rest mass), yet they have no extension. The feature Kant took for analytic, we eventually took as dispensable, whereas the feature he took for synthetic, we have retained. References Ayer, A. J. 1946. Language, Truth and Logic. Dover. Branden, N. 1963. Review of Brand Blanshard’s Reason and Analysis. The Objectivist Newsletter 2(2):7–8. Browne, G. M. 2001. Necessary Factual Truth. Lanham: University Press of America. García-Encinas, M. J. 2017. The Discovery that Phosphorus is Hesperus: A Follow-Up to Kripke on the Necessity of Identity. Analysis and Metaphysics 16:52–69. Gendler, T. S., and J. Hawthorne, editors, 2002. Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford. Goodman, N. 1953. The New Riddle of Induction. In Fact, Fiction, and Forecast. 4th edition. 1983. Harvard. Gotthelf, A. and G. Salmieri, editors, 2016. A Companion to Ayn Rand. Wiley Blackwell. Hook, S., editor, 1950. John Dewey: Philosopher of Science and Freedom. Dial. Linsky, L., editor, 1952. Semantics and the Philosophy of Language. Illinois. Peikoff, L. 1967. The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy. In Rand 1990. Long, R. T. 2005. Reference and Necessity: A Rand-Kripke Synthesis? —Review of Brown 2001. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 7(1):209–28. Quine, W. V. O. 1951. Two Dogmas of Empiricism. In From a Logical Point of View. 1953. Harvard. ——. 1982. Methods of Logic. 4th ed. Harvard. Rand, A. 1990 [1966–67]. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd edition. Meridian. Salmieri, G. 2016. The Objectivist Epistemology. In Gotthelf and Salmieri 2016. Sidelle, A. 2002. On the Metaphysical Contingency of Laws of Nature. In Gendler and Hawthorne 2002.
  18. Quine’s “Two Dogmas” It was Quine's essay "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" (TD), published in 1951, that brought his debate with Carnap over the analytic-synthetic distinction to widespread attention among philosophers. In this essay, Quine argues against the validity of the distinction. Carnap wanted to maintain a sharp distinction between analytic statements depending entirely on the meanings being used and synthetic statements making assertions about the empirical world. Quine's alternative view had it that all statements face the world as part of a corporate body of statements. On this view, experience bears the same kind of evidential relation to the theoretical parts of natural science as it does to mathematics and logic (see also Quine 1954). One of Quine’s aims in “Two Dogmas” is to argue that no sharp distinction can be drawn between analytic statements and synthetic statements. Analytic statements are ones alleged to be “true by virtue of meaning and independently of fact” (TD 21). Truths grounded in fact are known as synthetic truths; statements of such truths are called synthetic statements. Quine reminds the reader that meaning “is not to be identified with naming” (TD 21). My height and my stature (under one of its definitions) name the same thing and mean the same thing. Likewise for three and drei. In general, however, concepts with different meanings can name the same thing, as my right hand and my writing hand. Quine writes of terms, but these are terms working in a certain way, terms employed in statements admitting of truth or falsity. Quine’s “terms in statements” would seem not far from “concepts in propositions” which is the technical vocabulary adopted by Rand. Turning to general terms like right hand, Quine observes that we must distinguish between the meaning of the term and the extension (the referents) of the term. Think of the essence of right hands. Instead of thinking of the essence in the Aristotelian way—as inhering in those hands (actual and possible)—let it inhere in the term. That thought is the meaning of a general term, and, like Aristotelian essence, it is not one and the same as the thing signified (TD 21–22). I better hit the gavel for Rand at this point. We speak of the meanings of words, but words are only markers for concepts, “and the meaning of a concept consists of its units.” We define concepts “by specifying their referents.” Concepts and definitions are certain ways of specifying referents (ITOE 44). I look up the word derelict in my dictionary and find one of its meanings: abandoned property; especially, a ship abandoned at sea. Knowing how to apply the latter term (grammatically, a phrase), I might now use this sense of the word derelict. The word being defined and its definition have the same meaning. They are cognitively synonymous. Quine thought that the useful conceptions of meanings come down to (i) giving synonyms or (ii) making significant utterances (1948, 11). Rand held that when we make significant utterances that engage concepts, or general terms, those concepts have definitions specifying their referents. (Prior to being able to state propositions in which concepts figure, a concept like ball is [marked by a word and] nested in image and action schemata [ITOE 13, 20, 43]. Presumably, this rudimentary mentation, alternative to explicit propositions and definitions, informs them.) Quine notices that there are definitions of a sort that are not simply the giving of synonyms, and he calls these sorts of definitions explications. “In explication the purpose is not merely to paraphrase the definiendum [the term being defined] into an outright synonym, but actually to improve upon the definiendum by refining or supplementing its meaning. But even explication, though not merely reporting a preexisting synonymy between definiendum and definiens [the definition], does rest nevertheless on other preexisting synonymies. . . . Any word worth explicating has some contexts which, as wholes, are clear and precise enough to be useful; and the purpose of explication is to preserve the usage of these favored contexts while sharpening the usage of other contexts. In order that a given definition be suitable for purposes of explication, therefore, what is required is not that the definiendum in its antecedent usage be synonymous with the definiens, but just that each of these favored contexts of the definiendum, taken as a whole in its antecedent usage, be synonymous with the corresponding context of the definiens. “Two alternative definientia may be equally appropriate for the purposes of a given task of explication and yet not be synonymous with each other; for they may serve interchangeably within the favored contexts but diverge elsewhere. By cleaving to one of these definientia rather than the other, a definition of explicative kind generates, by fiat, a relation of synonymy between definiendum and definiens which did not hold before. But such a definition still owes its explicative function, as seen, to preexisting synonymies.” (TD 25) When philosophers lay out theories of good definition, they are theories of an explicative kind of definition (see Kelley 1988, chapter 3). Consider Rand’s definition of reason as the faculty that identifies and integrates the evidence of the senses. In my dictionary, I find reason defined as the capacity for rational thought, rational inference, or rational discrimination. The terms rational and thought go to already familiar synonymies with reason. The differentia within the rational, in this dictionary definition, are the discriminatory and the inferential. Rand’s definition stays close to the common usage reflected by the dictionary, but it replaces discrimination and inference by their kin identification and integration, it eliminates the non-explicative rational, and it adds a base for the activities of reason, specifically, deliverances of the senses. Rand’s definition is explanatory of the common usage found in the dictionary, and it is tailored to tie neatly to a particular wider philosophical view. Quine could say this is a fine explicative type of definition. Rand has given the term reason a new synonymy. The various contexts in which reason under the dictionary definition is properly used remain contexts in which reason under the new, explicative definition is properly used. The new definition covers the processes of drawing distinctions and making inferences. The new definition also applies to the wider processes of identification and integration of sensory evidence, processes in which the narrower processes are embedded. Quine would stress that, nonetheless, “such a definition still owes its explicative function . . . to preexisting synonymies” (TD 25). Quine is being too short here. Quine’s argument against the idea that there are clearly statements true purely by virtue of meanings, and true independently of fact, hangs on his conception of meaning. We have joined Quine in saying that meaning is distinct from reference. We have not allowed that meaning can be independent of reference. The meanings of my right hand and my writing hand differ, but both meanings are specifications of a referent. Similarly, the meanings of right hand and writing hand differ, but both are specifications of the extensions (the referents) under those concepts. Quine’s conception of meaning is shriveled into “synonymy of linguistic forms” (TD 22). He allows that a logical truth such as “Every tall man is a man” has a guarantee of truth that rests on more than one’s experiences of facts about men. He realizes that logical truths are sometimes called analytic, but his target is other statements taken for analytic: statements reducible to logical truths by synonymies, statements reducible to logical truths by meaning. Quine shares with defenders of analyticities the conviction that logical truths are true, and true regardless of particular facts to which they are applied. If there are statements reducible to logical truths by virtue of meaning and independently of fact, then their truth would be guaranteed by virtue of meaning and independently of fact. A candidate analytic statement from Kant would be “Bodies have location.” (A contrasting synthetic statement would be “Orbiting bodies are weightless.”) One who has the concept body knows that having location is part of the meaning of the concept. Substituting “Things having location (and . . .)” for body yields the logical truth “Things having location (and . . .) have location.” Now, we know “Necessarily, things having location (and . . .) have location.” Does only that sense of necessity attach when we claim “Necessarily, bodies have location”? Quine disputes the idea that purported analyticity of a statement can be adequately explained by cognitive synonymies and logical truth (TD 29–31). Analyticity cannot be explained by a sensible conception of meaning joined with logical truth. An adequate way of distinguishing analytic from synthetic statements has not been produced. Quine uncovered a narrow, but serious, problem for the analytic-synthetic distinction. It would seem that there are wider problems for the distinction that he passes over because of his cramped conceptions of meaning, definition, and essential characteristics. References Kelley, D. 1988. The Art of Reasoning. W. W. Norton. Rand, A. 1990 [1966–67]. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd edition. Meridian. Quine, W. V. O. 1948. On What There Is. In Quine 1953. ——. 1951. Two Dogmas of Empiricism. In Quine 1953. ——. 1953. From a Logical Point of View. Harvard. ——. 1954. Carnap and Logical Truth. In The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays. 2nd edition. 1976. Harvard.
  19. ~Revised Titles~ Ayn Rand and Aristotle: Axioms and Their Validation James G. Lennox January 10, 2020, Ayn Rand Society APA Eastern Division Meeting, Philadelphia Commentator: Michail Peramatzis, Oxford University Aristotle and Rand on the Standard of Value Greg Salmieri February 27, 2020, Ayn Rand Society APA Central Division Meeting, Chicago Commentator: Joseph Karbowski, Ludwig Maximilian University ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I plan to attend both sessions. These papers will be among those appearing in the coming fourth book in the series of the Ayn Rand Society (University of Pittsburgh Press). The books published in the series so far are: Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue (2011) Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge (2013) Foundations of a Free Society (2019)
  20. I learned only today of a book out in 2018 on Kant's thinking about logic. It is titled Kant and the Science of Logic: A Historical and Philosophical Reconstruction. The author is Huaping Lu-Adler, and the press is Oxford. I've ordered this book for myself, I don't expect to say more about it online. I want however to share a very good window into the book at the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews here.
  21. 946, Isn't it easy and an everyday thing for people to choose reason to a great degree? Surely one was choosing reason and learning what it is, even without the later concept of it, by one's desire and efforts to acquire language in early childhood. People seem enmeshed in their reason, and that applies to my religious friends too, even the ones stuck in the more ignorant, feeling-dominated sects. Of those last, I notice we have fine economic commerce with each other, and we enjoy each other in our practical, rational activities. I wanted to add to your accumulation, in an earlier post, of Rand's dark-future-outlooks and highly deterministic personal developments: Rand 1957 was projecting a future. It was pretty dark, and I think not only for the purpose of making the light lighter. Outside the USA, there were to be only Peoples States, it seems. In the USA were to be great economic regulation and growing political tyranny. Happily, since 1957, though Peoples States are still around, such as in Venezuela and Cuba, such States are far from gripping the whole world outside the USA. Inside the USA, nothing getting close to the controls in The Moratorium on Brains happened. Brash interventions such as Nixon's wage-and-price controls have become just eyeball-rollers today. During the big contraction and financial crisis of 2008, some banks and other companies were bailed out by the government (by us), but the Obama administration didn't nationalize the banks, which in earlier times would have been a serious option on the table, and for the fictional Pres. Thompson would have been a no-brainer. As Rearden is carrying the young government man Tony in his arms, where Tony dies, Rearden thinks of this young man as having been made by schooling and the wider culture. It's not entirely deterministic, of course, because Tony's time with the productive enterprise had brought him round to reach for fresh right and to protect the mills. Rand later expanded greatly on what she had given to Rearden's thoughts there. That was in her essay called "The Comprachicos" which is included in the book The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. It is a very dark and heavily deterministic picture she paints there of the US educational system. The picture is entirely foreign to any of my experience with the system here, public grade and high and State university (for first degree) at that very era she was writing about. But the relevant point here is how rare and hard she thought it was for a student to become an independent and rational individual given such type of formal education.
  22. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Conventionalism VII From Gillian Russell’s entry LOGICAL PLURALISM (2019) in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “There are several issues that someone who wanted to defend Carnap’s [1937] position today would need to address. A first concern about the view is that while we are working within the various languages we invent, we could be missing the ‘correct’ rules—the ones that were out there, in effect, before we invented anything. In the words of Paul Boghossian, “‘Are we really to suppose that, prior to our stipulating a meaning for the sentence ‘Either snow is white or it isn’t,’ it wasn’t the case that either snow was white or it wasn’t? Isn’t it overwhelmingly obvious that this claim was true before such an act of meaning, and that it would have been true even if no one had thought about it, or chosen it to be expressed by one of our sentences?’ (Boghossian 1996) “Carnap would perhaps not have taken this objection seriously, since, like the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus (e.g., §4.26, 4.641–4.465), he does not believe that logical truths and rules are ‘out there’, waiting to be discovered: “‘The so-called “real” sentences, constitute the core of the science; the mathematico-logical sentences are analytic, with no real content, and are merely formal auxiliaries’. (Carnap 1937, xiv) “Nonetheless, such a ‘conventionalist’ view of logical truth (and along with it, analytic truth) has been argued against by, for example, Quine, Sober, Yablo and Boghossian, and it no longer enjoys the popularity that it had in Carnap’s time (Quine 1936; Yablo 1992; Boghossian 1996; Sober 2000).” One of the most noted essays of the twentieth century is Quine’s 1951 “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” which argues the distinction between analytic and synthetic truths, so dear in logical empiricism, is untenable. Necessary truths we have in logic and mathematics cannot receive their necessity of being true merely in virtue of meaning, which is to say, by being analytic truths. Furthermore, for analytic there is no noncircular and enduring rule establishing its extension. A logical truth such as A is identically A, in Quine’s view, need not get its truth only by our say-so meaning of is identically, but could as well get its truth by its capture of the way the world is (Quine 1954, 113). In a 1963 lecture “Necessary Truth” which Quine delivered on Voice of America (the lecture was published by that organization the following year as a pamphlet), he concluded: “In principle . . . I see no higher or more austere necessity than natural necessity; and in natural necessity, or our attributions of it, I see only Hume’s regularities, culminating here and there in what passes for an explanatory trait or the promise of it” (76). With that last clause, Quine rather takes back the ribbon he had just given Hume. Moreover, earlier in the lecture, Quine had augmented bare regularity with generality-within-a-domain (71, 74). When I say “Necessarily, were Little Bo Peep’s sheep to come home of their own accord, they will be wagging their tails behind them” (here I abjure Standley’s wild thought they might come home walking in reverse), I speak in the essential form of natural necessity, according to Quine 1963. My necessity-sentence is a subjunctive resting on the nature of sheep. Quine’s view that logical and mathematical necessity are only wide-domain natural necessities acknowledged in subjunctive statements seem right to me. “Necessarily, were not both p and q true, and p were true, then q would be false.” The Randian 1957 necessities concerning leaf/stone, freeze/burn, and red/green can be put into that p/q form with ease. Where q is simply not-p (very wide domain), we have the bare PNC. In 1967, four years after Quine’s “Necessary Truth,” Leonard Peikoff’s “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” appeared in The Objectivist. Roderick Long once remarked, relying on Quine 1951: “Rather than defending the existence of necessary factual truth, Quine had in effect denied that any truths were necessary, even the laws of logic” (2005, 226n3). No, not really. To say “necessarily, not both p and not-p” under a blank condition that its wide domain of application might in the future be shown to be not the widest domain, is not to in effect deny there are necessary truths, only to deny knowing that the presently known widest domain is not but part of a wider domain in which those necessary truths do not everywhere apply. I disagree with Quine—we do know the application of PNC is to the widest possible domain—but that does not alter the value of Quine’s insight that formal necessities (however broad, broad their purview) are natural necessities. Peikoff 1967 attacks contemporary conventionalism concerning necessary truths, though not along the Quinean lines of attack. Rather, Peikoff attacks by attacking the old distinction, from Plato-Aristotle to the early moderns, that there is a distinction, a knowable distinction, between contingent facts and necessary truths. He takes contemporary conventionalism to merely replace metaphysical bases for necessary truths with “subjective choices.” “Their ‘contribution’ is merely to interpret [the traditional position] in an avowedly subjectivist manner” (1967, 108). (Again I stress that a conventionalism concerning logical truth that is not wholly arbitrary in its conventions and their combinations is not wholly effective in freeing logical truth from facts of the world and of our logical facility with those facts.) Peikoff 1967 rightly attacks the traditional distinction, with its supernatural prop. He then takes on the embrace of the concept contingent facts by (many among) contemporary analytic philosophers. He would have it, rather, that all natural facts are necessary, and only man-made facts are contingent (106–11). Various divisions of all that is have arisen across the centuries under the same words necessary/contingent. Quine does not conceive of natural necessity, thence logical necessity as applying to everything not man-made. Quine’s necessity does not apply, save elliptically, to particular events or states; it applies properly only to whole conditional connections—“Necessarily, if p then q.” “We must not suppose that a man is entitled to apply ‘necessarily’ to an assertion so long merely as he thinks there is some general truth that subsumes it” (Quine 1963, 70). Suppose the raccoon Rocky is climbing the tree to reach the bird feeder. Then we can say of every raccoon x without exception that if x is Rocky, then x is climbing the tree to reach the bird feeder. Quine restricts necessity in his intended sense to disallow that because we got Rocky’s deed into that form, in a true report of what is afoot, we may straightly say in Quine’s sense “Necessarily, Rocky being indeed Rocky, he’s climbing the tree to reach the bird feeder.” “This line would allow us to attribute necessity to anything, however casual, that we are prepared to affirm at all” (1963, 71). The relation of Quine’s sense of necessity and the one in play in Peikoff 1967 remains work not yet done by anyone, I gather. In his Introduction to the collection The Age of Alternative Logics (2009), editor Johan van Benthem writes: “Modern logic shows a wide variety of perspectives, application areas, and formal systems which often go under the heading ‘alternative logics’. . . . Actually, terms like ‘alternative’ or ‘non-classical’ logic can easily be misunderstood . . . . To us, the diversity of logical systems today . . . signals a natural and respectable process of growth of the discipline, not of replacement or competition.” (1) It is a mistake to suppose that because there are alternative logics, such as intuitionist logic or relevance logic, that the choice of their domain of application is unconstrained, in fact arbitrary. We have noticed that Peikoff 1964 used “conventionalism” concerning fundamental logical principles somewhat broadly. The label was meant to encompass the stances of pragmatist and logical empiricist philosophers in the first half of the twentieth century. Peikoff rightly did not try to sweep Kant’s view of logic into the conventionalist bin. The term “conventionalism” in Sidelle 1989 is far too inclusive. He used conventionalism to mean any view of necessary truth that does not take that necessity to reside in the mind-independent world. A major innovation in analytic philosophy had occurred by the time of Sidelle's book: Kripke 1972. Without resort to Kant’s proposition-type or truth-type synthetic a priori, Kripke had upheld, from logical analysis of language, credible candidates for necessarily true statements not a priori and not analytic. Sidelle attempts to counter the common understanding that Kripke succeeded in putting some necessary truth into the mind-independent world. (To be continued.) References Boghossian, P. A. 1996. Analyticity Reconsidered. Noûs 30(3):360–91. Browne, G. M. 2001. Necessary Factual Truth. Lanham: University Press of America. Carnap, R. 1937. The Logical Syntax of Language. London: Kegan Paul. Kripke, S. A. 1972. Naming and Necessity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Long, R. T. Reference and Necessity: A Rand-Kripke Synthesis? – Review of Brown 2001. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 7(1):209–28. Peikoff, Leonard 1964. The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Ontologism. Ph.D. dissertation, New York University. ——. 1967. The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy. In Rand 1966–67, 88–121. Quine, W. V. O. 1936. Truth by Convention. In Quine 1976. ——. 1951. Two Dogmas of Empiricism. In Quine 1980. ——. 1954. Carnap and Logical Truth. In Quine 1976. ——. 1963. Necessary Truth. In Quine 1976. ——. 1976. The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ——. 1980. From a Logical Point of View. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Rand, A. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House. ——. 1966–67. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd edition. 1990. New York: Meridian. Sidelle, A. 1989. Necessity, Essence, and Individuation – A Defense of Conventionalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Sober, E. 2008. Quine. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society LXXIV:237–80. Standley, J. 1952. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aExUGQOnI0 Van Benthem, J., Heinzmann, G., Rebuschi, M., and H. Visser, editors, 2009. The Age of Alternative Logics – Assessing Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics Today. Dordrecht: Springer. Wittgenstein, L. 1922 [1918]. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. C. K. Ogden, translator. New York: Routledge. Yablo, S. 1992. Review of Necessity, Essence, and Individuation: A Defense of Conventionalism by Alan Sidelle. The Philosophical Review 101(4):878–81.
  23. Calling President Trump, calling Mr. Trump: Suspend the 500 million dollars in annual aid to Zambia until the prisoners are freed. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-50901537
  24. 946, America and the world are not going to ever adopt full freedom according with Rand's theory of individual rights and proper, limited function of government; or full freedom as drafted under any other libertarian, limited government theory. It will not matter how far people become rational (apparently, in the last 500 years in the West, they have become more rational on average) or how much they are manipulated by freedom lovers by irrational appeals. Such an understanding and care for freedom that Objectivists have will not be happening. In America we are going to have a mixed economy, Social Security, and Medicare even through the lives of our grandchildren. I discourage young people from becoming consumed with political or other social causes. The present American situation is no excuse for not successfully making a good life for yourself. Just shed the grip of public affairs, and get on with making a pile of money, seeing the world, or accumulating and reading a private library with the size and heft of mine. No social excuses. Rand has helped many to their personal liberation, and how many others can be helped to that liberation of reason is secondary even when focus is simply on the other's own personal well-being. When the focus is on influencing politics or culture, the proper attitude is suspicion that one is losing one's focus on what should matter most.
  25. I recently eliminated all of those essay-threads that I had created for the Boydstun Corner at OBJECTIVIST LIVING because the advertising at that site has made it no longer appropriate for sustained serious compositions and reading thereof. I've been making some of those old studies available at OBJECTIVISM ONLINE, and I think this one fits well in this sector. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas S. Kuhn I. Searching In Thomas Kuhn's view, observation and experiment are essential to scientific understanding of the world (1990 [S], 42), but observation and experiment, in an established science, are guided and made sense of by one or another paradigm (S 109). Under the notion paradigm, Kuhn means to include theories, theoretical definitions, natural laws, particular models, and preeminently, concrete problem-solutions that exemplify theory and law, giving them empirical content (S 182–89). Scientific concepts, laws, and theories are presented and comprehended not in the abstract alone; but with applications to some concrete range of phenomena, purely natural, such as freely falling bodies, or natural-within-contrivance, such as pendulums (S 46–47, 187–91). Normal science undertakes ever more exact and subtle experimental and observational investigation of "facts that the paradigm has shown to be particularly revealing of the nature of things" (S 25), determination of facts that "can be compared directly with predictions from the paradigm theory" (S 26), and articulation of the paradigm theory (S 27–29). These are roles of observation in science, I should say, even if we should reject Kuhn's distinction between normal and revolutionary periods of science as too sharply drawn. One illustration of normal science would be the ongoing investigation of neutrinos. The existence of neutrinos is a fact established in 1956 (they were then detected) within the theoretical framework of quantum mechanics and detail conservation of energy. The characteristics of neutrinos are facts particularly revealing of the nature of elementary-particle interactions. The further, more refined determination of neutrino characteristics bears on the correctness and further refinement of a number of interconnected paradigms. Elaborate observations of solar neutrinos the past few decades provide quantitative constraints on models of nuclear reactions in the sun's core and on models of the sun's magnetic fields. And they provide constraints on the fundamental theory of neutrinos and of the electronuclear forces of nature (Bahcall 1990). Elaborate observations of cosmic neutrinos, these past few years [1], to ascertain whether they change flavors, hence whether they possess nonzero mass, inform efforts toward a Grand Unified Theory that may eventually supercede or subsume the Standard Model for elementary particles and their forces (Kearns, Kajita, and Totsuka 1999; Feldman and Steinberger 1991; Weinberg 1999). And they bear on current cosmology, under purview of general relativity. Other normal-science investigations framed under the paradigm of general relativity are these: The finding of pulsar binary neutron stars has yielded, as hoped, empirical data for comparison with predictions from general relativity in the context of strong gravitational fields, predictions such as the rate of the orbital precession of the major axis of the stars' elliptical orbit and red-shifting of the pulse-clock (Piran 1995). Observation of quasi-periodic X-ray emissions from neutron stars pulling in matter from gaseous companion stars are yielding data indicating that, as predicted by general relativity (contrary the prediction from Newtonian gravitation), there is, just outside the neutron star, an innermost circular orbit for captured gas (Cowen 1998). Black holes are entities conceived and cultured solely by general relativity. Astronomical search for black holes and their distinctive features may yield an overwhelming vindication of general relativity (Lasota 1999). There are three points made by Kuhn concerning the role of observation in science with which I should take some issue. One is his claim that "no part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena" (S 24). "Even the [normal-science] program whose goal is paradigm articulation does not aim at the unexpected novelty" (S 35). "Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none" (S 52). But scientists will be human, chronically so, hoping to catch something unexpected and momentous in their instruments, not only expected and readily comprehended phenomena. X-ray astronomer Bruno Rossi writes: "The initial motivation of the experiment which led to this discovery . . . was a subconscious trust of mine in the inexhaustible wealth of nature, a wealth that goes far beyond the imagination of man. This meant that, whenever technical progress opened up a new window into the surrounding world, I felt the urge to look through this window hoping to see something unexpected" (1977, 39). Kuhn does say that "without the special apparatus that is constructed mainly for anticipated functions, the results that lead ultimately to novelty could not occur" (S 65, emphasis added). So I should productively construe the statements of his that I have quoted in the preceding paragraph as delineation of the strain that he calls normal science which in truth is found within a broader, richer actual practice of science. Kuhn errs secondly, though only slightly, in his contention that "the act of judgment that leads scientists to reject a previously accepted theory is always based upon more than a comparison of that theory with the world. The decision to reject one paradigm is always simultaneously the decision to accept another, and the judgment leading to that decision involves the comparison of both paradigms with nature and with each other" (S 77, further, 147). Not always so. We continue to test empirically whether any mass-energy can be transported faster than vacuum c (Alväger, Farley, Kjellman and Wallin 1964; Brecher 1977; Chiao, Kwait, and Steinberg 1993). Some of these experiments, in the last two decades, have helped to articulate more finely the light-speed postulate of relativistic kinematics. But it is perfectly possible that such tests in the future could dispositively contradict the postulate. That would be the demise of special relativity regardless of the existence of competitor theories. Without viable alternative kinematics already on the stage or in the wings, what should we do if the light-speed postulate were empirically refuted? We should take our cues from the particulars of the failure and from our old, very successful special-relativity kinematics, and then develop a new and better kinematics. Again, we continue to test a principle of general relativity, the principle of the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass. These tests are not simply tests that help us articulate the paradigm, as when we search the heavens for evidence bearing on whether Einstein's field equations should include a nonzero cosmological constant (Krauss 1999; Cowen 2000). No, tests of the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass cut to the quick of general relativity (Wald 1984, 8, 66–67; Ciufolini and Wheeler 1995, 13–18, 90–116). As I understand it, if gravitational and inertial mass are not precisely equivalent, then gravity cannot rightly be made geometric. And we have no viable alternative (nongeometric) to general relativity waiting in the wings. Were gravitational and inertial mass shown inequivalent by experiment or observation, then theoretical physicists would scramble to construct a replacement theory. We need not already have a competing theory to prefer over general relativity in order to reject the latter on experimental or observational grounds [2]. II. Seeing Kuhn errs thirdly, and most seriously, in his (inconstant) denial that in our scientific observations we can always separate and adequately express what we literally perceive and what we take those percepts to indicate. Having learned prevailing scientific concepts, theories, and natural laws under exemplifying concrete observational applications, one is not able to see the phenomena in those applications entirely freely of the prevailing conceptual apparatus (S 46–47, 111–12, 186–89). Scientific observational phenomena are to some extent inextricably structured by the scientific, theoretical paradigm under which one is operating (S 111–35, 147–50). "Looking at a bubble-chamber photograph, the student sees confused and broken lines, the physicist a record of familiar subnuclear events" (S 111). To enter the physicist's scientific observational world, the student undergoes "transformations of vision," like coming "to see a new gestalt." Hardly. Throughout the student's entry into the observational world of physics, all participants easily, routinely, and expressly distinguish between what of the physicist's observational world is commonsense perception and what is scientific interpretation, however automatic the latter may become (cf. S 196–98). A bubble-chamber photograph provides detailed records of particle events "in a form that experienced physicists can interpret at a glance" (Breuker et al. 1991, 61). The photographs from bubble, cloud, or spark-streamer chambers never do yield a strictly perceptual particle-interaction gestalt in the way, say, that an X-ray photograph of a hand yields a strictly perceptual hand-skeleton gestalt. In the hand X-ray, given our ontogeny and our ordinary visual experience with hands, we are required to see the hand-in-the-image. We can tell ourselves, truly, that what is before us when we see the hand-in-the-image is only the trace of a hand, shadows of hand preserved on film, but we cannot avoid seeing the hand-in-the-image all the same. That is our perceptual constitution. Gestalt shifts too, such as in the Necker cube, are mandated by our primate perceptual constitution. We can tell ourselves that before us are only lines on paper, but we are required to see one cube or the other, with alternations every few seconds (Logothetis 1999). Contemporary elementary-particle tracking is mediated by vast electronic and computer processing systems, embodying painstaking deliberate interpretations. What is perceptually obligatory in the resulting computer-image displays are things like colors, lines, and 3D perspectives; all of these, self-conscious visual aids to scientific, interpretive observation. Kuhn writes: "Since remote antiquity most people have seen one or another heavy body swinging back and forth on a string or chain until it finally comes to rest. To the Aristotelians, who believed that a heavy body is moved by its own nature from a higher position to a state of natural rest at a lower one, the swinging body was simply falling with difficulty. Constrained by the chain, it could achieve rest at its low point only after a tortuous motion and a considerable time. Galileo, on the other hand, looking at the swinging body, saw a pendulum, a body that almost succeeded in repeating the same motion over and over again ad infinitum." (S 118–19) To be sure, Kuhn was "acutely aware of the difficulties created by saying that when Aristotle and Galileo looked at swinging stones, the first saw constrained fall, the second a pendulum" (S 121). Yet Kuhn will not let go his continual equivocation on see and its cognates (S 196–97). He maintains that an embracer of the new paradigm of mechanics—such was Galileo—is not an interpreter of swinging stones as pendulums, but "is like a man wearing inverted lenses," like a man who's vision has adapted to those lenses (S 122). "Galileo interpreted observations on the pendulum, Aristotle observations on [constrained] falling stones" (ibid.). That is inaccurate, I should say. Rather, Galileo and we interpret swinging stones as pendulums, on which we then make further interpretative observations. Similarly, one may interpret the swinging stone as in Aristotelian mechanics, as a constrained body working its way to the lowest feasible point. We can deliberately, with training, switch our interpretative perspectives: Aristotelian, Galilean, Newtonian, Lagrangian. Kuhn suggests that the contemporary scientist "who looks at a swinging stone can have no experience that is in principle more elementary than seeing a pendulum. The alternative is not some hypothetical 'fixed' vision, but vision through another paradigm, one which makes the swinging stone something else" (S 128). I suggest, to the contrary, that developmentally, epistemologically, and evidentially, it is a swinging stone that is most elementary for everyone. It is with respect to analysis that we "see" (take) the pendulum as most elementary. I do not mean to contradict Kuhn's thesis that scientists do not come to reject scientific theories on account of uninterpreted observations (e.g. S 77). We can recognize that and assimilate that without conflating what we literally perceive and what we make of those percepts in thought. III. Saying According to Kuhn, "there can be no scientifically or empirically neutral system of language or concepts" (S 146). Moreover, since we have no rudimentary paradigm-neutral observation language, the pendulum and constrained fall must be simply different perceptions, rather than "different interpretations of the unequivocal data provided by observation of a swinging stone" (S 126). Kuhn has in mind "a generally applicable language of pure percepts," where, by the term percepts, he apparently thinks not of swinging stones, but of more primitive constituents that compose our perceptions of swinging stones. Attempts to construct such a language of pure percepts have not fully succeeded, and anyway, all such projects "presuppose a paradigm, taken either from current scientific theory or from some fraction of everyday discourse, . . . . [thereby yielding] a language that—like those employed in the sciences—embodies a host of expectations about nature and fails to function the moment these expectations are violated" (S 127). I should say, with Willard Quine, that we do indeed have a trustworthy scientifically neutral system of observation language appropriate and necessary for the physical sciences. This is not a rarified, fully reductive language of "pure percepts," but a natural language of posited objects and events (1969 [EN], 74–79; 1995a [N], 252, 254; 1995b [SS], 10–21, 27–29, 35–42; cf. 1951, 293–98). Swinging body and pendulum are both legitimate expressions of things observed[3], the former providing a fallback in cases of dispute over the latter. "What counts as an observation sentence varies with the width of community considered. But we can always get an absolute standard by taking in all speakers of the language, or most" (EN 88; also N 255; SS 22, 42–45). Pendulum, damped harmonic oscillator, and electron-positron track may be rightly spoken of as observed in the narrower, scientific community. But when necessary, scientists can shift gears and recognize those items as interpretations of more widely accepted and developmentally prior observed items. Our broadest and most rudimentary observation language is our language of everyday experience, in which we report "it is raining" or "the iron is on" and in which we generalize "swinging suspended bodies return to rest" or "if it is snowing, then it is cold" (N 252, 254–55; SS 22–26). That last ordinary observation sentence is an example of what Quine calls an observation categorical, which is an empirically testable hypothesis, standing (as Popper would have it) as not yet shown false. Quine supposes, reasonably I think, that an empirically testable scientific hypothesis can be cashed out as an elementary observation categorical (N 255; SS 43–47). The detection of cosmic background microwave radiation, for example, cashes to visible records of activities in an antenna (which antenna cashes to . . . ). Quine realizes, of course, that scientists do not trace all the links from their hypothesis to observational categorical. "Still, the deduction and checking of observation categoricals is the essence, surely, of the experimental method, . . . . [and it remains] that prediction of observable events is the ultimate test of scientific theory" (N 256). Quine recognizes that some hypotheses thus far not testable are accepted, rationally, even in the hard sciences. They may be accepted because "they fit in smoothly by analogy, or they symmetrize and simplify the overall design. . . . Moreover, such acceptations are not idle fancy; their proliferation generates, every here and there, a hypothesis that can indeed be tested. Surely this is the major source of testable hypotheses and the growth of science" (N 256; also SS 49). Can we test whether spacetime is curved? Well, yes, indirectly, more and more, we can. Kuhn overrated the difficulties of vocabulary translations between alternative paradigms (S 149, 201). He did seem to allow that eventually translation can be effected (S 201–3). Such has been effected between Newtonian gravitational theory and general relativity, and gradually physics has attained more and more tests between those deep and grand theories, tests such as that for an innermost circular orbit about a neutron star. Notes 1. This study was composed in 2000. 2. Hilary Putnam points out that Kuhn exaggerates in asserting that a paradigm can never be overthrown in the absence of a competitor paradigm. But Putnam then deflates the demerit of the exaggeration by posing as a hypothetical counterexample to Kuhn's universal claim only a Goodmanesque scenario: the world simply starts to behave radically differently. Barring such an implausible scenario, Putnam then expressly affirms the Kuhnian generalization at issue (Putnam 1974, 69–70). My counterexample scenarios (failure of light-speed postulate or failure of principle of equivalence) are intended to be entirely, mundanely realistic. 3. Rudolf Carnap (1966) likewise recognized that what in one context of inquiry should be taken as inferred from what was observed could in another context be rightly taken as simply observed (Suppe 1977, 47). References Alväger, T., Farley, F.J.M., Kjellman, J., and I. Wallin 1964. Test of the Second Postulate of Special Relativity in the Gev Region. Physics Letters 12:260. Bahcall, J.N. 1990. The Solar-Neutrino Problem. Sci. Amer. (May):54–61. Brecher, K. 1977. Is the Speed of Light Independent of the Velocity of the Source? Phy. Rev. Ltrs. 39(17):1051–54. Breuker, H., Drevermann, H., Grab, C., Rademakers, A.A., and H. Stone 1991. Tracking and Imaging Elementary Particles. Sci. Amer. (Aug):58–63. Chiao, R.Y., Kwait, P.G., and A.M. Steinberg 1993. Faster than Light? Sci. Amer. (Aug):52–60. Ciufolini, I., and J.A. Wheeler 1995. Gravitation and Inertia. Princeton: University Press. Cowan, R. 1998. All in the Timing. Sci. News 154:318–19. ——. 2000. Revved-Up Universe. Sci. News 157:106–8. Feldman, G.J., and J. Steinberger 1991. The Number of Families of Matter [= Three]. Sci. Amer. (Feb):70–75. Kearns, E., Kajita, T., and V. Totsuka 1999. Detecting Massive Neutrinos. Sci. Amer. (Aug):64–71. Krauss, L.M. 1999. Cosmological Antigravity. Sci. Amer. (Jan):52–59. Kuhn, T.S. 1990 [1970, 1962]. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd ed. Chicago: Univerity Press. Lasota, J-P. 1999. Unmasking Black Holes. Sci. Amer. (May):40–47. Logothetis, N.K. 1999. Vision: A Window on Consciousness. Sci. Amer. (Nov):69–75. Piran, T. 1995. Binary Neutron Stars. Sci. Amer. (May):53–61. Putnam, H. 1974. The "Corroboration" of Theories. In Scientific Revolutions. I. Hacking, editor. 1981. New York: Oxford University Press. Quine, W.V.O. 1951. Two Dogmas of Empiricism. In Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues. M. Curd and J.A. 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