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Everything posted by Dormin111

  1. I do not think that racial inequality is a systemic or structural problem in the American judicial system. Ostensibly, laws in the US have no racial bias. That is, there is no racicism written into the legal code. That battle has been won. There is probably some racism at the margin amongst individual judges and juries, but I think this is largely a reaction to the problems in black culture and communities rather than some ingrained hatred of blacks in America. The common arguments I've heard used to claim the existence of racial inequality are: 1. There are far more minorities (especially blacks) in prisons. 2. Crimes which are perpetrated by minorites (again, usually blacks) are more heavily targetted by police. 3. Racial profiling is still used regularly, sometimes explicitly. All of these arguments are true, accept that they identify symptoms of greater problems within the minority population rather than actual racisim. There are more minorities in prison largely due to the drug war and welfarism, which are certainly terrible government programs, but minority cultrues should still be condemned for their acceptance of them. "Minority crimes" are targetted more than white crimes because they are more abundant, and also probably easier to catch. An example I have heard is that the police and courts are far harder on crack users than powder cocaine users. Finally. racial profiling is a perfectly acceptable tactic, and not fundamentally different from using any characteristic to identify suspects and criminals.
  2. It is not possibe for a person to be devoid of an ideology or a philosophy; at the very least, all people have an implicit guidance system which determines which values they pursue. I don't think very many people are inherhent brutes biologically predisposed to violence. The closest we have, aside from people with glandular disorders, would probably be the thugs and warlord who populate African hellholes and violent inner cities. But even these people, with their extremely high rates of violence, are influenced by the philosophies of nihilism and desruction which they embody.
  3. Secondhander, thank you for two fantastic posts. You have perfectly summed up everything I feel about dating and relationships but have been unable to adequately express. Great work.
  4. I can just see this becoming the next anti-Rand straw man. "Did you know she praised a serial killer and hypocritically took social security? Oh, and she didn't believe in evolution!"
  5. Life is also a prerequisite for happiness, so putting happiness ahead of life makes no sense. Here is an essay by Robert Bidionotto where he attempts to reconcile the twp points: http://mol.redbarn.org/objectivism/Writing/RobertBidinotto/SurviveOrFlourish.html He argues that Rand herself was sometimes unclear on the "survival vs. happiness" debate. In later discussion, Leonard Peikoff has been on the survival side while David Kelly has supported flourishing. He proposes a synthesis of the two which declares "life as man" to be the standard of value. This is neither pure survival nor deontological happiness, but rather human existence in its natural form.
  6. If anyone is looking for a fiction book with good themes, check out Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth. The protagonist is Wang Lung, a man living in China in the early 20th century who is sort of a peasant Hank Rearden. Throughout the novel, Wang rises from a subsistence farmer to a wealthy landholder through hard work and careful planning. He and his wife are extremely industrious and consistently choose to save their occasional surpluses rather than splurge it on silk, opium, or concubines like other peasants. They encounter various obstacles like a thuggish uncle and a lecherous concubine but always manage to succeed in achieving their goals. Later we see Wang's sons grow up with varying commitments to his philosophy. Although Wang is not perfect, he is a very good example of a heroic protagonist whose greatest virtues are productivity and value attainment.
  7. I can praise some parts of an individual's work and philosophy while condemning others. Despite the ostensibly altruistic outlooks of Gates and Jobs, both men were Hank Reardens when at work by all accounts.
  8. I am inclined to agree with Garshasp but I am not sure how to phrase my view. There is no doubt in my mind that soldiers receive too much praise in America. They are unconditionally worshiped as heroes despite their motivations for and actions in service (except for extreme cases of misconduct). The average solider joins the American military for the pay and/or some vague sense of patriotism which likely has little to no connection to proper values. Not that there is anything wrong with joining the military for the pay, it may indeed be the best career path for many poor Americans. But I wouldn't consider fighting for money to be anymore heroic than any other job.
  9. As conscious beings, most animals (above a certain level of biological complexity) do act with intention, so I would say yes. I am not an expert on the subject, but animals can choose to engage in predatory action; think of a trained lion which doesn't murder and eat his master.
  10. I agree. I agree with Harrison. By theoretically successful coercion, I mean the typical Objectivist standard of flourishing qua man. In the case of predatory animals, they do flourish with their maximum potential through coercion because that is in there nature. There are some humans who can survive long term through thuggery but not at their highest (or even minor level of) potential. Not exactly. My understanding of pragmatism is that it specifically refers to utilitarianism without principles. In practice, this becomes short term selfishness with no regards for the long term (accept possibly at some arbitrary times). Pragmatists claim the "consequentialist" side of the consequentialist/ethical dichotomy and therefore don't believe in any guiding principles for achieving long term value. Instead they choose "whatever works" and run with it until it stops working. Even if a pragmatist specifically focused on the long run, he would never achieve it because he would fail to recognize the objectivity of ethics and reality.
  11. I think you are begging the question, or perhaps being deontological. Why is the initiation of coercion a subhuman action? Because it is a short term mode of living which achieves momentary gain with brute force at the cost of long term gain with reason. If, theoretically, initiating coercion to achieve one's ends was a successful strategy for living (as it is with many animals), then it would not be immoral. In this case, all of nature would be different and Rand's ethics would have to be rewritten past the very first stage of "life being the standard of value." However, in our reality, initiating coercion is a demonstrably counterproductive action. I am not sure if this reasoning is consequentialist or even when that term applies. Man's ethics should rightfully be based on the consequences of his action. Rand was one of the few to recognize that there is no dichotomy between "good consequences" and "doing the right thing." Neither side of the equation comes first, but rather they are both always one in the same. But Rand also recognized that moral principles exist, and therefore the best consequences are not achieved by pragmatism.
  12. "But, it's not like coercion is only bad when it backfires, no?" Yes, coercion is only bad when it backfires. There isn't anything intrinsically wrong with controlling people. We have no problem with using retaliatory coercion against legitimate threats because we know coercion is an effective tool for restraining aggressors, even if it means temporarily or permanently taking away their independence. But if we try to use coercion against individuals for ethical, but peaceful goals, it will nearly always backfire for reasons already listed.
  13. As thenelli said, the control element is not the primary harm. Perhaps "control" is just a less precise way to imply "prevention" in the sense that shoving someone to the ground prevents the victim from acting according to his own judgements by removing his control over his own body. Either way, I think "prevention" is a more apt description since it focuses on the losses of the victim rather than the gains of the assailant. If the biggest effect of coercion was control, then it may well be proper to coerce people into making moral choices (on all ethical levels, not just legal). But as we all know, setting up a totalitarian, Objectivist police state would not make the world a better place. This is because as much as we might try to force people to live properly, the control will always have its limits and more often then not, end up backfiring.
  14. If a parent purposefully chooses not to treat their HIV-infected child, then no, it is not neglect. It is abusive, but not neglectful. I agree with you in that I cannot imagine a judge deciding that such a treatment could ever be considered proper. That being said, this is an extreme case, and there are certainly less extreme cases in which I wouldn't want the state or a "panel of experts" making narrow medical recommendations.
  15. Would it be possible for the state to declare a zone of "acceptable scientific disagreement" on an issue like this? If parents starve their child, I think we would all agree that it would qualify as abuse and the child should be taken away. But on an issue like this, we aren't dealing without outright neglect or abuse, but a difference of opinion on scientific matters. On the extreme end, the government should stop parents from administering obviously harmful medical treatment (bleeding, ingesting toxins, etc). But should the state determine what should qualify as proper treatment with all ailments? Probably not. It makes more sense for the state to make a broad range of acceptable medicines and then allow (not the best word) parents to choose medicine from within those perameters. Meanwhile, scientific inquiry and debate could shift the perameters over time.
  16. The harm of coercion is not control but prevention. Coercion prevents an individual from living his life as he sees fit according to his own judgements. When I think about it, I think the "control" explanation is a rather statist concept. Isn't the entire premise of big government based on controling people for their own good? Of course implicit in such an assumption are huge errors as Harrison pointed out. Even beyond the problems of hindering independent will, individuals will naturally resist coercive control whenever possible, even to the point of being conditioned against the intended aims of the controler.
  17. *** Mod's note: merged with earlier topic. - sN *** A facebook "debate" (a bunch of anti-objectivists insulting a youtube video) cropped up on my newsfeed today over the following video: I have not watched the video yet and will be unable to for a while but in it David Harriman claims that Quantam Physics is mystical and invalid. Being someone who knows next to nothing about quantum physics and only slightly more about physics, can someone succinctly summarize on Harriman's arguments and elaborate if necesary. The general response from the FB crowd was to appeal to authority (ie. how can these philosophers challenge hard science) but I did not know enough on the subject to formulate a proper response.
  18. Rand talked a lot about "value" in an ethical context. But she never mentioned or addressed "anti-value," or something which actively destroys your life. From her readings, it seems like an individual can either collect value and flourish or fail to collect value and suffer. Is anti-value inferred in this analysis?
  19. This is not what happens in the Matrix, or at least you are leaving out a lot of context in between. For the full story, check out the Wachowskis's animated shorts in Animatrix (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328832/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1). The short of it is that the humans immediately reacted badly against the machines and it was only after an enormous amount of appeasement and compromise that the machines decided the humans needed to be permanently dealt with.
  20. In addition to what has been said, bomb making isn't always a bad thing. It can be a recreational activity or even a defense tool against governmental and non-governmental thugs.
  21. How can logic be implicit before it is perceptually noticed in the external world? Wouldn't that mean that babies are born with "apriori" logic as Kant suggests?
  22. I have read Peikoff's refutation of the ASD, but I think there is one case in which the ASD applies. Logic is a concept which man deduces from the world. It does not exist within him apriori or through any supernatural injection. The way man discovers logic is through perceptual observation. From a tabula rasa mental state, man perceives the world around him and deduces the laws of logic by noticing that there are no contradictions and that every entity acts according to its nature. Given that man did not know about logic before this perceptual observation, that means that the fact of logic's existence (as a property of metaphysical existence) is empirically true, but not rationally true. This means that the existence of logic is the only "fact" which the ASD actually applies to. Is my line of reasoning correct?
  23. I agree with Nicky but I caution him not to oversell his point. There is nothing wrong with seeking moral guidance from like minded individuals. As long as you can maintain your phychological independence, asking others for ethical help can be a great benefit to your life.
  24. Thomas, I take your point on the "ten minute case." I suppose it is similar to the notion of any other type of producer making a lot of a valuable product and then not selling the produce in time to make a profit off of it. As for time limitations, I am not on the same page as you. The usual Austro-libertarian critique of the Objectivist position on IP, is that it is not a legitimate form of property but rather an artificial government grant of privileges. Regardless of the underlying justification for IP, it is difficult not to see why they reach that conclusion based on Rand's and your own explanations. I still don't see any objective principle upon which patent lengths should be based, only a grouping of considerations left up to the discretion of state officials (patent clerks, judges?). Furthermore, as far as I can tell, you seem to be using a utilitarian approach to patent lengths wherein the power of patents is determined by how much a patent will discourage future innovation. I mentioned previously that patents have these odd provisions which other property rights don't have, and this is a prime example. From a standard of individual rights, why should the inventor of an object not get a patent on the product for eternity (which he can transfer through inheritance and regular trade)? Why is it the inventor's problem if innovation is stifled in the creation of rival products? Sure, a restrictive, eternal patent wouldn't be good for the general economy, yet neither would an incompetent land manager who squanders precious resources on his property. Yet in the latter case, assuming the land was properly owned, I assume you would not suggest the state should put time limits on valuable property claims or confiscate valuable property if it isn't being used efficiently. The problem gets more mucky when we try to discern where the true "source of value" is. To take your example, let's say a man invents the radio and then someone else invents an upgraded antennae for the radio. In the case of the antennae, who created the object's true source of value? The original radio inventor, without which the antennae would be useless? The new inventor? Both? Finally, I can see pretty clear public choice problems with this set up. Assuming there is no iron-clad method of determining patent lengths, patent lengths and power will be left up to the judgement of some state apparatus. Considering the enormous potential power of patents, this leaves the whole process up to the sway of public interests on top of bureaucratic incompetence.
  25. Nicky, I see my error on Rand's definition of IP, but I still have trouble reconciling the perimeters of this property right. You say - "Punishment implies that an objective value has been taken from someone. But, in fact, there is no objective value to reinventing something a second time." Is that always so? Is it the case for the guy who got to the patent clerk's office 10 minutes before the "original inventor." Or what about the case of an inventor accidentally inventing an existing product in a market where the original invention does not yet exist? And second, why do patents have time expirations? I found Rand's proposal for patent lengths to be uncharacteristically arbitrary
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