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Dormin111

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Dormin111 last won the day on March 11 2015

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  1. A few days before Halloween, the Dean of Yale University sent out an email to the student body cautioning students to not wear culturally disrespectful costumes, complete with a series of pictures of acceptable and unacceptable costumes, and the signatures of a eleven other high ranking Yale officials. Here is the full email (it's short and what you would expect): https://www.thefire.org/email-from-intercultural-affairs/ A few days later, Erica Christakis, the wife of another school admin sent a reply email which challenged the first email on the grounds of the generally harmful nature of "safe spaces," and more importantly, the danger of establishing de facto institutional speech codes in universities, as the previous email seemed to do. Her email is excellent, and I recommend reading it: https://www.thefire.org/email-from-erika-christakis-dressing-yourselves-email-to-silliman-college-yale-students-on-halloween-costumes/ Some key excerpts: "I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community. I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students". "As a former preschool teacher, for example, it is hard for me to give credence to a claim that there is something objectionably “appropriative” about a blonde­haired child’s wanting to be Mulan for a day. Pretend play is the foundation of most cognitive tasks, and it seems to me that we want to be in the business of encouraging the exercise of imagination, not constraining it. I suppose we could agree that there is a difference between fantasizing about an individual character vs. appropriating a culture, wholesale, the latter of which could be seen as (tacky)(offensive)(jejeune)(hurtful), take your pick. But, then, I wonder what is the statute of limitations on dreaming of dressing as Tiana the Frog Princess if you aren’t a black girl from New Orleans? Is it okay if you are eight, but not 18? I don’t know the answer to these questions; they seem unanswerable. Or at the least, they put us on slippery terrain that I, for one, prefer not to cross." "Even if we could agree on how to avoid offense – and I’ll note that no one around campus seems overly concerned about the offense taken by religiously conservative folks to skin­revealing costumes – I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience;increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people's capacity – in your capacity ­ to exercise self­censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you? We tend to view this shift from individual to institutional agency as a tradeoff between libertarian vs. liberal values (“liberal” in the American, not European sense of the word)." Within a few days of the second email, 740 students and faculty had signed a petition demanding the resignation of Christakis and a like-minded administrator for the email. Protests have sprung up across campus. To see what type of atmosphere has taken hold of Yale, check out this recording of a confrontation between a protester and an admin (the third of the four videos is the best, skipping to the end of this video automatically starts the next one): General Source: https://www.thefire.org/yale-students-demand-resignations-from-faculty-members-over-halloween-email/ How widespread is this insanity? How far will it go from here? Will colleges be fundamentally different in the future because of stuff like this?
  2. A big factor which prevents me from often publicly declaring myself to be an Objectivist is that the idea of a person having a non-religious personal philosophy, especially one attached to an individual, is pretty crazy to most people. Many people even associate all such adherence to cultish behavior. Consider the last time you ever heard someone say "I am an Aristotelian/Kantian/Hagelian" outside of maybe a philosophy department (though even that is pretty rare). The closest we get to that these days is "I'm a humanist" or "I'm a secular progressive," but these views tend to be vague, leftist, and politically oriented.
  3. I think it's both, but the larger force is the tarnished name of Objectivism. The vast majority of people I've spoken to about Objectivism who reject it, do not do so on the basis of a deep or even surface reading of the philosophy, they do it based on no reading because they've heard so many bad things about it. And yeah, I do think part of the reputation problem stems from Rand's own actions and those of her successors, but misrepresentation of her ideas and character is a bigger problem. The average intelligent person hears the philosophy and its creator's reputation and forms a negative association with it out of hand, so he or she never actually bothers to investigate. One interpretation of that process is simply that the current culture and/or the people within it are overwhelmingly corrupt. I'm not really sure that's true or how its possible to even measure something like that. People only have so much time to spend reading philosophy, and it makes sense to rely upon heuristics to figure out where to turn one's attention. Like it or not, Rand's opponents won the war for Rand's reputation. That's how I see it.
  4. "I like discussion, debate, and reasoned criticism. But a lot of arguments aren’t any of those things. They’re the style I describe as ethnic tension, where you try to associate something you don’t like with negative affect so that other people have an instinctive disgust reaction to it. There are endless sources of negative affect you can use. You can accuse them of being “arrogant”, “fanatical”, “hateful”, “cultish” or “refusing to tolerate alternative opinions”. You can accuse them of condoning terrorism, or bullying, or violence, or rape. You can call them racist or sexist, you can call them neckbeards or fanboys. You can accuse them of being pseudoscientific denialist crackpots. If you do this enough, the group gradually becomes disreputable. If you really do it enough, the group becomes so toxic that it becomes somewhere between a joke and a bogeyman. Their supporters will be banned on site from all decent online venues. News media will write hit pieces on them and refuse to ask for their side of the story because ‘we don’t want to give people like that a platform’. Their concerns will be turned into bingo cards for easy dismissal. People will make Facebook memes strawmanning them, and everyone will laugh in unison and say that yep, they’re totally like that. Anyone trying to correct the record will be met with an “Ew, gross, this place has gone so downhill that the [GROUP] is coming out of the woodwork!” and totally ignored." That's probably the meat of the article. Objectivism has been so tarnished by being associated with negative side effects (specifically, "cultish," "elitist," "anti-poor,"psychopathic," etc.) that is has passed what the author calls an "event horizon." Once passed that point, a movement is to toxic that is is typically dismissed out of hand by most people, even intelligent people who would otherwise be a perfect fit for it. Though before a movement hits the event horizon: "There’s a term in psychoanalysis, “projective identification”. It means accusing someone of being something, in a way that actually turns them into that thing. For example, if you keep accusing your (perfectly innocent) partner of always being angry and suspicious of you, eventually your partner’s going to get tired of this and become angry, and maybe suspicious that something is up. Declaring a group toxic has much the same effect. The average group has everyone from well-connected reasonable establishment members to average Joes to horrifying loonies. Once the group starts losing prestige, it’s the establishment members who are the first to bail; they need to protect their establishment credentials, and being part of a toxic group no longer fits that bill. The average Joes are now isolated, holding an opinion with no support among experts and trend-setters, so they slowly become uncomfortable and flake away as well. Now there are just the horrifying loonies, who, freed from the stabilizing influence of the upper orders, are able to up their game and be even loonier and more horrifying. Whatever accusation was leveled against the group to begin with is now almost certainly true." EDIT - I should note that neither I nor the author think this layer break down completely purges rational members from the group. I am not saying everyone on this website is a loon.
  5. I am really surprised by the reposes. The author is making descriptive claims, not prescriptive ones. He is not saying it is right that intellectuals avoid Objectivism because it's unpopular, he is saying that is an incentive which does in reality affect whether or not people ever take the time to learn or stick with the philosophy.
  6. I saw Locke recently, it's brilliant. I would describe the plot as "what if Howard Rourke made one huge mistake?"
  7. http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/08/15/my-id-on-defensiveness/ This post by Scott Alexander gives the best description of why Objectivism is unpopular I have ever seen. Though it is not specifically about Objectivism, he does mention it about three quarters of the way in. 'It is really easy for me to see the path where rationalists and effective altruists become a punch line and a punching bag. It starts with having a whole bunch of well-publicized widely shared posts calling them “crackpots” and “abusive” and “autistic white men” without anybody countering them, until finally we end up in about the same position as, say, Objectivism. Having all of those be wrong is no defense, unless somebody turns it into such. If no one makes it reputationally costly to lie, people will keep lying. The negative affect builds up more and more, and the people who always wanted to hate us anyway because we’re a little bit weird say “Oh, phew, we can hate them now”, and then I and all my friends get hated and dehumanized, the prestigious establishment people jump ship, and there’s no way to ever climb out of the pit. All you need for this to happen is one or two devoted detractors, and boy do we have them.'
  8. I read the first two books and watched the first movie. The premise for the series is actually fairly interesting as far as these things go. It asks the question: which virtue is the most important/moral in society? The five factions in the book base their work, families, friends, and pretty much all of their lives around adherence to the virtue they believe to be the most significant (bravery, selflessness, peace, thirst for knowledge, and honesty). The first book hooked me early on when the protagonist lives with "Abnegation," the faction which values selflessness, and describes a miserable existence in which she is forced to sacrifice everything for the less fortunate. She lives in a concrete block with only the bare essential amenities, she eats something like gruel or bread for every meal, and she isn't allowed to look in mirrors because doing so would be considered vain and selfish.
  9. It is interesting that in today's political climate, saying anything negative about poor people (ie. should spend money better, are historically and geographically extremely well off) is a level of taboo on par with that of racism and anti-democracy.
  10. Interesting question. "Human nature" is an ill-defined concept. By my best understanding, it can be thought of as a collection of psychological and physiological attributes of human beings which exist prior to any sort of social conditioning. The problem is that separating nature from conditioning is extremely difficult. Although I have little confidence in this answer, my first assertion is that human beings are naturally somewhat selfish in an Objectivist sense. We naturally seek out values which further our own existence at a basic biological level like nutrition, pleasure, and pain aversion. But at more abstract levels of thought and conceptualization, I have no idea how that would be determined. Are there any case studies of the beliefs and behaviors of human beings who have forever lived in social isolation?
  11. I'm not too familiar with Rand's biography, I was referring to 20 ' s claim that she stressed the importance of women's rights at certain time more than others. Women's rights doesn't have to refer to feminism. I suppose my use of "gender egalitarianism" was a bit vague and can be misconstrued.
  12. Acceptable by the standards of lying within the boundaries of Objectivism.
  13. I admit I loled at Nicky ' s comment, but 20 ' post raises some really interesting questions. To what extent is there an acceptable level of variance in the motivation for a given rational position? All Objectivist agree on probably 99% of political policies. I'm not talking about the 1% we disagree on but how much variance there is in the 99%. For instance, in the libertarian movement, which is far broader than Objectivism, there is generally a right and left wing dichotomy. Both sides support free markets and for most of the same reasons but for with differences in the impirtance of various reasons. Right wingers tend to stress how the government limits growth with regulations and taxes, how entrepreneurs are hindered, and how government dominated industries are inefficient. Meanwhile left wingers stress that private forces collude with the state to exploit the masses and that the poor will be best helped by private forces. To clarify, right wingers thing the poor will be best helped by private forces and left wingers think the post office is inefficient, but these factors are not the primary motivators for their views. Can or should the same thing happen within the purview of Objectivism? 2046 is suggesting that it can and should. He is pointing out that at certain times in Rand's career, she purposefully stressed leftist goals like gender egalitarianism while still maintaining an Objectivist framework. I'm not sure how far these boundaries can be pushed but I'm interested to hear what others think.
  14. Relevant - http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/25/race-and-justice-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/ This is an extensive meta-analysis of data on racial discrimination in the US judicial system. The author's conclusions: "There seems to be a strong racial bias in capital punishment and a moderate racial bias in sentence length and decision to jail. There is ambiguity over the level of racial bias, depending on whose studies you want to believe and how strictly you define “racial bias”, in police stops, police shootings in certain jurisdictions, and arrests for minor drug offenses. There seems to be little or no racial bias in arrests for serious violent crime, police shootings in most jurisdictions, prosecutions, or convictions. Overall I disagree with the City Journal claim that there is no evidence of racial bias in the justice system. But I also disagree with the people who say things like “Every part of America’s criminal justice is systemically racist by design” or “White people can get away with murder but black people are constantly persecuted for any minor infraction,” or “Every black person has to live in fear of the police all the time in a way no white person can possibly understand”. The actual level of bias is limited and detectable only through statistical aggregation of hundreds or thousands of cases, is only unambiguously present in sentencing, and there only at a level of 10-20%, and that only if you believe the most damning studies."
  15. There is a fascinating conflict in the Mass Effect series which concerns numerous philosophical concepts, including: just war, interspecies rights, the rights of primitive cultures, nature vs. nurture, collateral damage, and biological warfare. I'll give as brief a summary as I possibly can of the conflict, though if people need clarifications or expansions, I can provide them. Key Players and Terms: · Turians – Human-like alien species with advanced conventional military technology. Used the Genophage on the Krogans. · Krogans – Uncivilized alien species with extreme physical fitness but no interstellar technology. Subject to the Genophage. · Rachni – Intelligent insect alien species. Fought Turians and defeated by Krogan. · Genophage - Biological agent manufactured by the Salarians which alters the genetic code of Krogan. Renders 99.9% of Krogan females infertile. Short Summary: In the Mass Effect universe, numerous alien species have interstellar technologies and are capable of colonizing unoccupied planets. Two such alien species, the civilized Turians and the insectoid Rachni come into conflict over land disputes. Despite their conventional military prowess, the Turians rapidly lose the war. Their fortunes turn after offering to grant modern technology to an uncivilized, but intelligent species known as the Krogan, in exchange for military assistance. The Krogan are extremely physically strong and make mighty warriors. Prior to recieving technology from the Turians, they spent much of their existence fighting each other and their planets fauna in brutal tribal warfare. With advanced technology, they are able to defeat the Rachni. After the Rachni war, the Krogan become members of the galactic community. However, with their normal biological constraints lifted by new technology, they reproduce at an enormously fast rate and quickly overpopulate their home planet. After a brief period of peaceful foreign colonization, the Krogan declare war on the Turians and attempt to expand onto their planets via genocidal means. The Turians technological edge can't match the Krogan's strength and numbers, so they resort to deploying the genophage. The genophage permanently renders 99.9% of current and future female Krogans infertile. Under peaceful conditions, this should have lead to a flat population growth, but due to internal war, Krogan numbers continue to decline after the war. The few remaining fertile females became prized commodities in Krogan society and tribes reformed around warlords who could caputre fertile females and mate with them. The Krogan, though crippled by internal fighting and population decay, became embittered and obsessed with avenging the Turians. At the start of the Mass Effect games, it is assumed the Krogans will die out in a few generations. Issues: - How can we deal with alien species which possess rationality, but differ in other ways biologically? Could these biological differences make peaceful coexistence possible? Is the Krogan's reproductive and aggressive nature incompatible with peaceful coexistence? - Were the Turians morally justified in using uncivilized Krogan soldiers in a conflict they didn't understand? Under what circumstances is it proper to give uncivilized people advanced technology? - Were the Turians morally justified in using the genophage? Is it morally permissible to harm innocent bystanders in current and future generations over a present conflict? - If a cure for the genophage were discovered, what would be rational terms and conditions for using the the genophage cure on the Krogan population.
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