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Capitalism Forever

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Everything posted by Capitalism Forever

  1. Men and women have equal rights--there is no doubt about that. Other than that, Objectivism does not mandate any kind of equality between any two people or groups, as it would conflict with the right of every individual to his liberty. For example, employers may pay different wages to different people for doing the same job--their right to liberty means that they can choose the wages they pay based on whatever factors they like. Rational employers, however, will not see gender as a factor unless it is relevant for the job. As for choosing a carreer, rational people will prefer jobs that suit their natures well; for example, a very short man should not try to become a basketball player (and complain about "discrimination" when he fails) but rather choose a job where body height is not a factor (or better still, where being short is an advantage). The same is true for gender: there are jobs where masculine traits (physical strength, deeper/louder voice, etc.) are appreciated, and there are ones where feminine characteristics (beauty, kind voice, light body weight, and so on) are more advantageous.
  2. Of course we don't support everything that Israel does. Israel isn't the perfect Objectivist society--if it were, I would be an Israeli citizen. But if you ask me whether I support Israel or the "Palestinians," I will unhesitatingly and unequivocally answer "Israel."
  3. Oh, but I am predetermined not to believe your argument! Kidding aside, Here: Why would it? This is a non-sequitur. Once the entity has caused the action, the action has identity. When I decide to buy a vanilla ice cream, I begin performing a specific action, and my action has a perfectly well-defined identity: namely, it is the action of buying a vanilla ice cream. It is only until the entity has begun acting that the action has no identity (given that the action simply doesn't exist yet). BTW this is just as true for non-volitional actions as for volitional ones. How would you define "choice" ?
  4. Because they are fighting to defend their culture of reason, rights, and productivity against a culture of mysticism, fanaticism, poverty, jealousy, and terrorism.
  5. You can decide to donate the goods to him--but then of course you have to pay for them in his stead.
  6. My point was exactly that the players are distinct from the rules. The rules are devised by somebody, or they just develop over time, and then at the beginning of the game the players agree to follow the rules. At this point, the rules are fixed and known, but the outcome of the game isn't, as the rules don't specify a particular outcome but make it up to the players' choices. Thus, the outcome isn't predetermined by the rules. It is possible to play two games using the same set of rules and have two entirely different plots. The individual elements of the plot only become known over time, as the players perform their acts. So, here, the rules are one influence on the plot, and each of the players is another influence on the plot--whereas in a static book, the book's author is the only influence on the plot. In the one example, the plot is determined by a single authority, while in the other one, it is determined by the interaction of several authorities. This is what I wrote: It would have been more appropriate for me to write "determined" instead of "caused," so please read the sentence with that substitution. What I am describing here is two possible forms of a predetermined view of the universe, both of which I disagree with: a theistic one (which indeed puts consciousness before existence) and a materialistic one (which doesn't put consciousness anywhere). I disagree with both of them for the same reason: namely, that they posit a single ultimate source for all events in the universe. The theistic one posits an omnipotent God and views the rest of the universe as mere agents of God. The materialistic one posits a universe that is a single non-volitional entity, with all its components (including humans) being mere agents of that single entity. An analogy might help you understand what I mean when I say "agents of that single entity" : When you lift your finger, all the molecules in your finger move. The motion of each individual molecule is caused by that molecule--but the molecules cannot help moving, as their nature does not allow them to choose whether or not they will obey you. There is a force acting on them, and they are bound to react to that force in a particular way--so, once that force is present, the molecules' behavior is predetermined. The molecules of your finger are subentities of your finger, and their actions are merely reflections of your finger's actions. They do not act on their own initiative. Nor does your finger act on its own initiative; it is your agent. You are a composite entity made up of many parts and the actions of your parts are simply reflections of your actions. Since you determine your actions, your parts don't get to determine their own actions. The matierialistic view of a predetermined universe sees everything in the universe as a mere agent of the universe--including humans.
  7. Well, which is it now, are these things determined by him, or are they predetermined? If something is predetermined--if the choice has already been made--then it isn't up to me. Predetermination implies that all events in the universe are ultimately caused by a single authority (which some call "Ms. God" and others just say it's the properties of matter / the laws of nature). Volition means that the story of the universe is shaped by volitional beings (who make their choices as time passes) AS WELL AS the laws of nature (which are constant over time). A predetermined universe is like a book written by a single author, where all the characters do what the author wants them to. As a reader, you have no influence on the plot, as the plot is already fixed at the moment you start reading the book. On the other hand, a universe inhabited by volitional beings is like an interactive role game. There are a set of rules for playing the game, but the plot is not predetermined by the rules, as the rules allow the players to make their own decisions. Thus, the actual plot is determined both by the rules AND by the players.
  8. Well, I don't know whom you got your definition of free will from, but the inability to predict one's actions is certainly not what Objectivists call free will. A bottle of water cannot predict its own actions, but that doesn't mean it has free will. Free will (and this is my definition) is when a conscious, intelligent entity defines certain aspects of its own nature independently, on its own initiative. In other words, when an entity acts not as a mere agent of the rules of physics, but on its own behalf. Note that both versions of this definition require you to abandon your (I take it) materialist view of the world. You have to think about the meaning of words like "conscious," "intelligent," "define," "independently," "initiative," as well as the ones I mentioned earlier on this thread: "power," "control," and "can." These words do not make sense in a materialistic, physics-only world. In fact, in a purely material world, you wouldn't even be conscious of my writing these things to you, because the very definition of the spiritual is "that which is related to consciousness." But yet, people do use these words and they do seem to have definite meanings which everyone apparently understands. Why is that? (As an aside, may I ask if you are a feminist?) Fine, then I'll just clone you and kill you. I'll give the clone twenty bucks for your letting me do this. Is that a deal? (Before you make your decision, talk to some identical twins.)
  9. What I do support is not a mind-body dichotomy, but a dichotomy between what you have control over and what you don't. A dichotomy between you and the rest of the world. Your genes, for example, belong to the "rest of the world" in this respect. So does the culture you were born into, your family, the weather, etc. All of these things have an influence on the attributes you will possess, and therefore on your actions. But they are not all the influence on them. You can influence your attributes and actions too. So what I am saying is that there is an entity called "you" that is distinct from the rest of the world. This entity is conscious and has the power to determine some of its attributes, and thus, indirectly, many of its actions. The fact that it is conscious and has a will means that it has spiritual aspects, i.e. it is not purely material. But it has material aspects too, and it performs its actions on other entities via these material aspects (i.e. your body). Yes, it is the sum of its attributes at any given time, but it can influence the way these attributes develop over time. Again, the meaning of "can" in this sentence is something you will only understand if you grasp the concept of volition. Inanimate objects don't "can" ; they just "do."
  10. Oops, I think I pressed the wrong button. I was going to vote "other/combined." My dad's parents are Catholics, my mom's parents are Baptist, and my mom and dad are both atheists.
  11. Correct. The subpoenas were linked to an investigation of trespassing onto military grounds and have actually been dropped by now: http://www.theiowachannel.com/education/2833197/detail.html
  12. Was this in response to my comment "If you say that you hate the United States and love terrorists, you shouldn't be surprised if you are suspected of treason" ? If it was, you were not paying attention to me. I didn't say I supported throwing anyone in jail for saying such things. What I did say was that it makes it reasonable to suspect you of collaborating with terrorists. suspect != convict.
  13. Hmm, so we're blowing out of proportion an appearance of EXTREME hostility caused by minor presentational details ? RE, it appears to me that either you drank too much whiskey or I drank too little coffee this morning. Each of us has his personal style and AFAIAC I love RadCap's one because of its radiant clarity. Of course, if you get something wrong, it's rather disappointing to be confronted with your wrongness in such a lucid way; you might even perceive it as a form of hostility. But you shouldn't. One of the major tests in life for a person who wants to be rational is the test of whether you are offended when you are proven wrong or whether you accept and embrace the truth.
  14. I agree with RadCap: It is not valid to say that monoplies "cause" "problems" or "economic harm." A monopolist still trades value for value with you. If he offers a product you like at a price you are willing to pay for it, you are BETTER OFF with the monopoly than you would be in the absence of it. The only thing the monopoly has "caused" is an economic BENEFIT, both for you and for its owner, and for the makers of all those products the owner will spend his money on, etc. etc. Sure, if the monopolist had some competition, he would likely offer you an even better deal. But as it happens, he DOESN'T have any competition, so you don't get an awesome deal, just a good one. If you call this a "problem"--well, it is the only kind of problem I would ever like to have!
  15. (emphasis mine) Yes. But you say it's all and we say it's most. You say that our genes, our memories, our sense perceptions etc. fully determine the outcome of the "choice." We (or at least I) say that these things--let's call them outside influences--combine to determine the state of your consciousness, but then it is up to you to choose your reaction to them. "Up to you," "choose," "will," "initiative," and "power" are all ways to express an idea that is a primary concept only to be found in humans and not elsewhere, so it isn't possible to find even an analogy for it in the natural world. It is the premise that humans are just like everything else, only in different shapes, that makes you unable to "model" the process of volition in your mind. There was a time when a man who said the Earth was spherical would get the response "Excuse me, but that's just silly." Why? Because people found it difficult or even impossible to imagine the Earth being anything other than flat, so they would assume that someone who came up with such a proposition must be deranged. But it happened to turn out that the idea of the Earth being flat contradicts reality, while the idea of the Earth being similar to a sphere is consistent with reality. The proper measure for judging a proposition is its relation to reality, not its relation to the pre-existing models of reality in your mind.
  16. isaac, given your comments on "becoming an android," the following might help: An inanimate object's actions at a given point in time--A(t)--are a function of the influences it has received from other objects up to that time--i(t): A(t) = f ( i(t) ) Here, f embodies the object's nature. As you can see, the object is simply reacting to outside influences. In the case of a human, f has an additional input, which is the human's volitional "attitude" at the given point in time, i.e. to focus or not to focus: A(t) = f ( v(t), i(t) ) f is still the human's nature, but in this case, f is such that f and i(t) are not enough to determine the human's action. One more variable is needed, and f "obtains" the value of that variable by consulting the human's volitional consciousness. We know that this is true because we can observe our nature "asking" us what to do all the time. So in the end it is f and v(t) that determine the human's reaction to i(t), and indirectly the human's future nature. If v(t) has the wrong value, f might become such that A(t) = f ( i(t) ) which means that the human has died. And that is what we--i.e. those of us who have the right v(t)--want to avoid, so our A(t) is to seek some philosophical i(t) that will hopefully keep it from happening. But I agree with GCS that we should follow Aristotle's example of paying attention to the relevant facts rather than play silly word-games. The above should serve as a way for an "android-minded" person to satisfy himself that what we are doing is indeed exact science, but for Earthlings, it makes more sense to simply just recognize the fact that we are constantly making choices--and pursue philosophy so we can make the best possible choices.
  17. Sigh. Exhibit A: a man's body. Exhibit B: a woman's body. Compare exhibit A with Exhibit B. I could get into the details and write a scientific essay on the matter, but this forum is on philosophy, not biology, and besides I don't consider it very productive to explain the obvious. Sigh. I don't consider it very productive to repeat myself. Please read my posts on this thread.
  18. isaac, your position may be summed up as "deterministic free will," and is in fact a denial of the Objectivist notion of volition. You posit a single input that determines all occurrences in the entire Universe at all time; this would mean that we have a predetermined destiny and can do nothing to change it. This diametrically contradicts the idea of free will, as the latter means that we can add our own inputs to the story of the Universe--that we do not have a predetermined destiny but take part in determining it as we live our lives. I suppose the reason many people have a difficulty grasping this idea is that all things non-human behave deterministically, i.e. their actions are a function on the actions performed on them, i.e. they are powerless agents that only react but do not act on their own initiative. Humans are different from this, and humans are the only things in the known universe that are different from this. This fact--the fact that humans are something very special--is what I think many people find hard to accept. But the fact that we are conscious already sets apart from the rest of the world, and it is difficult to deny that we are conscious. Once we have accepted our exceptional nature, we might as well accept another obvious fact: namely, that we have a will.
  19. A redundancy--unless you take "rational" to mean "one who thinks the way I do," in which case it is a contradiction.
  20. Aha, so if Rosie O'Donnell writes a book she supposes is a major work on Objectivism, will it be a required lecture for Objectivists?
  21. Nice to meet you, Nick! When did your grandfather emigrate?
  22. I've always found this slogan a bit altruistic... Objectivism recognizes only four rights: the right to life, and the three rights derived therefrom: the rights to liberty, property, and the pursuit of one's own happiness. A right to free speech exists only inasmuch as it is inherent in the right to liberty, and it should not be misconstrued as allowing you to say anything without any consequences. If you say that you promise something, for example, then you shouldn't be surprised if the promise is enforced. If you say that you hate the United States and love terrorists, you shouldn't be surprised if you are suspected of treason.
  23. I'd be interested in your opinions about the following story: http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/.../020704353.html
  24. You needn't look for a historical example. It happens every day. Your girlfriend wants to go swimming with you, you want to go skating with her--so do you pull a gun and force her to go with you to the ice rink? Does she threaten to blow herself up unless you accompany her to the pool? Or do you just talk about it and one of you persuades the other? Of course, your terrorist-supporting discussion mate will reply that relationships between nations are different from relationships between people. Not because he actually thinks so, but because it is a convenient way to counter your argument. Irrational people are just like that: they don't care about the truth, they just care about upholding their pet fallacies. It's a waste of time to argue with them.
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