Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by icosahedron

  1. My thought problem is this: 1) Fred and Jane decide to divorce 2) Fred is employed in his personal business, which shows good potential, but makes very little income after expenses so far 3) Jane is recently unemployed, but has the capacity to earn a great deal of income if she chooses 4) Equitable distribution law applies, and is interpreted to mean that Fred should get alimony from Jane in an amount based on what Jane COULD MAKE, should she choose to work for someone else 5) But Jane is getting older and has some ideas for a business she wants to pursue (finally!), after slaving away for more than a decade working for other people's goals. So, Jane does not want to just take another high-paying but unsatisfying job. 6) Now, if Jane decides to follow her dream (which will eventually be quite lucrative, Jane is not an idiot and knows how to earn, can produce value for others that they would pay handsomely for), and for some time has not enough income to cover the alimony, what happens? 7) If Jane can be incarcerated or otherwise forced to work at a job not of her choice, is that not involuntary servitude? I claim that this example puts alimony laws on VERY SHAKY moral ground. What do you think? - ico
  2. I am trying to grasp the phrase "moral imagination". From dictionary.com, I picked the most appropriate definitions (you don't have to trust me, go to dictionary.com and choose for yourself). moral -- of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong imagination -- the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses. Now it's clear, and the only thing left is the question of motive. If Obama said these words sincerely to mean that we need to spend more time conceptualizing moral issues, in order to respect rights and work cooperatively to divide labor and share knowledge without hurting one another, great. If instead he means to get folk to compromise their moral principles in the service of his subjective programme, he can kiss it. But, the phrase itself is fine, IMHO. - ico
  3. I translate: If something happens, but there is no evidence that it happened, then did it happen? Well, yes. Duh. Just because I am not aware of something does not mean it doesn't exist. Unmasked, this "paradox" boils down to a fly-in-the-face challenge to the axiom of Existence. If it happened, it happened. Period. Primacy of Existence. No? - ico
  4. As usual, the model (by which one imagines the substrate to work) is a matter of choice. The implementation is not important per se; you can't see the inside of things anyhoo, so focus on the interface -- what does it do? If an entity acts volitionally by nature, it is worthy of respect so long as it respects me. Note: I am not omnipotent, and I am happy doing things that might seem quaint to a "higher" being. Similarly, I might be able to create an entity that acts with volition in a limited fashion. This could be quite useful for, say, a house-cleaning robot that had to decide how to wash certain delicates, or even which clothes were delicate. And as long as the entity were happy with its role and station, acting volitionally within its limitations and nature, then there is no moral issue here (except: I would not want to own such an entity, I would accord it the respect of asking it to work for me -- if its nature were to enjoy such work, like a dog pleasing a boy, then this is no problem. The key point in all this: note how you model (explicitly or not) uncertainty, and how the fact of change/uncertainty gives rise to your sense of time. It is as if my mind is processing an algorithm that is changing whilst being processed, evolving as it computes! Now, if one could learn how to create an analog of this "uncertainty processing", not attached to a human body, why it would be "transhuman" -- or would it? Rights of conceptual beings are not disputable among rational individuals. - ico
  5. Greetings. I am organizing the rational rights of individuals into a logical hierarchy. Self-determination, which is the ethical expression of volitional power, is the basis of awareness, and has two complementary aspects: 1) Responsibility: Decide for yourself 2) Respect: Don't decide for others Or, in one sentence: Own ALL of YOUR decisions -- and NO MORE. Under the Objectivist creed, crimes occur only when one person forces/coerces/fools another to take decisions they would otherwise not take. All legitimate crimes against rational rights are of the form of canceling/overwriting the otherwise natural decisions of one or more individual minds. If you can't act on your conclusions (or even make the conclusions in the first place), then you are not free, and don't even own your mind or body. Basic Objectivist perspective. So, here's my Declaration of Independence: I will neither take decisions for another, nor allow another to take decisions that are properly mine. And, my Bill of Rights: An individual may act freely so long as he/she does not violate the decision-making process of another. Finally, my definition of crime: any act which violates an individual decision-making process. Still huge complexity in applications, especially when it comes to meting punishments. So? No magic wand here -- except, it would make the rest of the legal structure so much simpler and cleaner if it was simple and deductive. Not magic, just good technology, i.e., a PROPER RULE OF OBJECTIVE LAW, rooted in what we can prove is the root -- decisions, decisions! Cheers! - ico
  6. Action requires a physical manifestation. There is no way to alter the momentum of one thing except by transferring momentum from another thing. If there is no momentum, there is no-thing. So I am back to claiming that God can be no more than a wholly passive observer, which is to say, irrelevant at most. You still haven't shown WHY the God "concept" is valuable, i.e., what is your motivation for asserting it? - ico
  7. All I am saying is that, before attempting to validate, one must be clear on the goal. In this case, if the definition of "determinism" is agreed, then sorting out whether or not it is valid is easy. I myself was surprised that the definition is what it is. I am wondering, is this yet another perfectly good concept that has been co-opted/smeared by the purveyors of unreality? I mean, if it means what dictionary.com says it does, then I don't see a conflict with Objectivism, as I say, it becomes a restatement of the Identity Axiom. I think we need to disambiguate the meaning, maybe by using another word, such as "mechanistic", meaning pre-determined down to the last iota, like a machine. Or we can agree that "determinism" is a synonym for "mechanistically unfolding future, without variation from pre-determined outcome". Under THAT definition, determinism is indeed contradictory to Objectivism. But the idea of causality without mechanistic unfolding is clearly correct, as that is exactly what corresponds to my experience and does not contradict Objectivism. So, lock-step mechanism, no. But I think the argument can be made that the traditional definition of determinism is not so wrong: even in the case of volition, once an action is chosen and executed, the consequences are determined to the extent that the action leads necessarily to the consequences. By this perspective, volition is deterministic, is the power to determine identities, even if the choices taken are uncertain they come to pass ... in retrospect, what has already happened had to be, could not be any other way, and is determined. What will happen is uncertain, but that uncertainty does not extend past the future decision points: at the time of decision, the uncertainty is ignored in favor of the decision to act, and at each act, the law of causality applies, and the outcomes become determined after they occur. I still think the distinction between determined and predetermined ought to be made clear; something that is in the past is determined, but did not have to be pre-determined in its past in order to be determined in its future. - ico
  8. Yet we must agree on some definitions, and there are two ideas here, by whatever names: lock-step execution of a predetermined path of execution, versus a causal mechanism that is not predetermined and allows choice of path. Lock-step evolution contradicts the facts of experience. The causal mechanism is not at odds with volition, or we could not exist. My mind, via concepts, gives me handles on historical and potential experiences (based on past proclivities and my integration of them), and allows me to treat them as if they had occurred for the purposes of predicting what will happen next and attempting to control my environment. This is a very definite, determined process at every step, yet is, overall, not wholly predictable in its outcomes, in terms of the consequent state of the mind and how one will choose to react to new information and changing context. - ico
  9. I think that, as per Locke, most of the disagreements here are a matter of semantics among rational beings with shaded attachment of meaning to words (as usual with time lags, uncertainty, and their consequences). The Given is that which is consistent with sensual awareness (evolutionary acquisition of patterns of sensations, leading to perceptions): each frame of sensual awareness consists of all the available sensations at that moment, plus summary references back to all prior sensations. The Man-made is predicated on sensual awareness of the substrate, because Existence exists, and Consciousness is awareness of that fact via direct, self-evident experience of Existence via integration into the sensual pattern memory bank as an evolving perceptual framework, via the methods of logic, which express the function identified by "A is A". But Man is not tantamount to the predicate on which he subsists. This is self-evident to any rational observer, because Man can change the substrate intentionally, in the direction of his desires. So there is more to Man than sensual awareness, more than a bunch of jiggling chemicals. This shows up in concepts above the level of perception (translation of sensual data into percepts, the fundamental "boot-strapping" process by which we obtain our first, implicit concepts at the perceptual basis level). These concepts relate groups of special-case experiences by their differences and similarities, just like higher order concepts. But, concepts are to percepts like object class types are to object instances, so once formed, are not bound to temporal evolution, can be abstracted and reused in the future. This is how principles evolve in one's mind. Man needs two holistically integrated functions: connection to reality (sensual awareness exercised), and the ability to relate sensual experiences into concepts, recursively. That is, action and thought, body and mind, working cooperatively, one harvesting sensual feedback, the other choosing subsequent action based on cognition of the relationships among this and prior sensual experiences. It is an inseparable whole. A Tao, if you like ... you can't separate mind from body without losing meaning. This is a general statement, and would apply to God. If God exists, God has a body that is contained within Existence; but God created Existence; so God created itself? That violates any rational scheduling algorithm. Game over. - ico The Man-made is not inevitable in any case, it did not have to be produced; the producer could have chosen not to produce it.
  10. From Dictionary.com: de·ter·min·ism –noun 1. the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws. 2. the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes. fa·tal·ism –noun 1. the acceptance of all things and events as inevitable; submission to fate: Her fatalism helped her to face death with stoic calm. 2. Philosophy . the doctrine that all events are subject to fate or inevitable predetermination. Determinism is more general than fatalism, as it only asserts causes, but not lock-step, reversible, path-independent evolution in time. According to THESE definitions, I think many mistake fatalism as the only model for determinism; true, pre-determined implies determined, but things can be determined without being pre-determined. Determinism is, effectively, a restatement of the Identity Axiom: as in, it is appropriate to be specific in determining the identities of the objects one considers -- or else risk logics based on quicksand. - ico
  11. In other words, by "determinism", you mean "fatalism". But they are not synonyms, fatalism is one form of determinism, i.e., determinism is the more general concept. And determinism is actually ESSENTIAL to volition (as I said, it's a restatement of the Identity Axiom) -- but fatalism is inconsistent with volition, I agree. The devil is in the detail of your definition of the term "natural laws". If your definition is objective and consistent, you will see that whilst natural laws do give rise to the given, they also give rise to our ability to perceive it and make choices. The culprit that must be apprehended is the good old mind-body dichotomy that divides as physical/spiritual, and then argues that one or the other is primary. Existence is not physical per se; it does always involve concrete informative patterns, and creating/replicating such patterns requires specific investments of time/energy according to specific directions. The line signal is not the content of the phone conversation. One is given, the other is an interpretation. Different observers can interpret the same stream of signals to mean different things. The same observer can interpret different streams of signals to mean different things. As for defining "natural laws", I say they are precisely the minimum set of mutually consistent principles logically necessary to account for my sum-total experience of Existence. In other words, they are the principles of my philosophy, if my philosophy is non-contradictory. - ico
  12. From dictionary.com: de·ter·min·ism –noun 1. the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws. 2. the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes. Determinism asserts that actions accord with the nature of the entity acting; a person is an entity that has volition, can decide to change course. Each decision is determined ... by the person deciding, at the moment the decision is made. Therefore, an individual's choices are determined ... by the individual chooser at the point the choice is made. But they are not PRE-determined: determinism should not be identified with fatalism, which is just one implementation of determinism via a reversible, i.e. path-independent, process. Volition is consistent with Determinism: this is a path-dependent, irreversible implementation of determinism; and is the only means to implement uncertainty (multiple available future paths) and (a perception of) change/time (consistency among past paths). Determinism, according to its definition, appears to re-assert the Identity Axiom with respect to entities and their natures. I don't see the beef. - ico
  13. Put the FDA under the DoJ where it belongs, and order it to stop making value judgments, thereby limiting its scope and cost to, properly, that of a special expert consulted in the enforcement of the law. We don't need specific laws or penalties for every industry, and a federal agency to manage it; "fraud is criminal" doesn't need adjectives. Subject matter experts will have to be kept on retainer for the DoJ to do its job; the FDA should be reduced to a subject matter expert, not a policy maker. - ico
  14. You seem to be imagining me saying or implying this, repeatedly. I have not. I don't even define "Naturalism", it is not a relevant concept to me AT ALL. There is the given, and the man-made. Once something is man-made, it becomes part of the given, but since the man-made did not have to be, it is also a matter of choice. The given; and the chosen. Intrinsicists take the given as all, ignoring volition. Subjectivists take the chosen as all, ignoring external facts. Neither position can be practiced consistently without leading to death of the individual in the short term. Determinists are a flavor of Intrinsicists; sounds like Naturalists in your definition are the same. But it is not this distinction that matters; these are just shades of grey. Objectivism rejects both intrinsicist and subjectivist, in any form. And, the notion of God is subjective at root, an invention of the imagination that acts as a bag holder of fantasies. - ico
  15. The logic so far is pristine. However, have you considered the fact that "Existent A is composed of Existent A", i.e., "A is A", is consistent with "Existent X is composed of something that exists? In other words, the sequence may begin to repeat after some focal depth. Heisenberg bites you in the behind at some level of resolution, so whether or not it is true, it indeed IS true at any given point in history that the sequence is finite for any given conscious individual, or collection of individuals -- even if they extend their forbears' knowledge as efficiently as possible (and so on with each successive generation -- the sum total of knowledge is still finite). What is true and undeniable is that changes keep occurring around us, and our grasp of those changes is necessarily in the form of discrete sensory inputs, which, however woven, cannot produce continuous percepts, nor continuous concepts (as opposed to concepts of continuity, which are the basis of judgment of concepts as discretely hierarchical, like a type graph in Java). Nonetheless, there is a "ticking", something that doesn't stop functioning, moving, changing around us in ways not wholly within our grasp, yet. Time causes all things to be bred, including innovations in thinking that lead to better grasp of Existence in all its forms. So, it is fair to note that the ticking doesn't stop, i.e., change is eternal (time is the essential dimension by which we account change ... or is it the other way around?). But, eternal and infinite are two different concepts. That's why we have different words for them. Eternal is a perfectly good concept: "change occurs eternally" is not something that can be argued with whilst living and breathing and thinking. However, "infinity" is an invalid concept, because you cannot represent it in your mind with respect to existents in any consistent way. Even more fundamentally, this is where your induction got disconnected: You pointed out the process of iterative mental reduction (a form of induction), and then attempted to use it as a synonym for infinity. You can never visualize whatever it is that infinity means via an iterative method, because you only have a finite amount of time to work with, and each iteration takes effort. Eternal process of change, fine. Infinity, bogus. Cheers. - ico
  16. Take the food stamps; then vote out the people who support the program, and make sure that people around you are aware of your position, and why you have chosen to take the stamps, i.e., be political on this issue to the extent it doesn't hurt you. If you want to get technical (not sure if it worth the effort in this case, but a useful exercise if you want to understand the morality of the situation), decide how much you have paid into the system (this may not be precisely determinable, but ought to be approximately so), and when; then assume a reasonable interest rate path, maybe the risk-free historical Treasury rates, and apply those rates to make the various contributions commensurable today; then only take that much value in food stamps. If you know how to use Excel, and can estimate the payments you have made, then this should be cakey. Taking any more is stealing, isn't it? - ico
  17. (editorial that appears quite rational with respect to analyzing smoking and lung cancer) http://www.journaloftheoretics.com/Editorials/Vol-1/e1-4.htm (yea, wikipedia, but the stats are from WHO, so who am I to question? -- stats on causes of death, lung cancer not a top "vote" getter) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_causes_of_death_by_rate Bottom line: Lung cancer appears responsible for ~2% of deaths based on the measured statistics. And, lung cancer can be caused by many things, with cigarettes being only one (asbestos and other pollutants are examples of others). If you are interested, check out the asthma rates in major US cities, as a trend; and compare to smoking rates. The latter are going down, but the asthma rates ... not so much. If you live in or near a big, stinky city or other highly industrialized place with lots of air pollution, such as a truck stop or airport, the pollution from hydrocarbon exhaust is going to be more important, on average, than smoking, as a causative of lung cancer. Hydrocarbon combustion effluents are orders of magnitude more carcinogenic than cigarette smoke. - ico
  18. (seems to be a rational presentation of facts/myths of pot use) http://www.drugpolicy.org/marijuana/factsmyths/
  19. No, I'm saying that any equivocation of the trader principle is morally wrong, whether or not brokered by an agency (government) or not. Money doesn't grow on trees; it must be made or stolen. When the government makes value judgments and bases actions to redistribute wealth on such basis, it is acting outside its purvey, and that is a slippery, mixed-economy slope. - ico
  20. Actually, concepts don't subdivide; my process of thought subdivides to create new, lower-order concepts (which are structural constituents of the original). But clearly we agree conceptually, if not on all the terms: concepts can be integrated with other concepts to form more embracing concepts, or subdivided into less embracing related concepts. And, if people would understand the recursive nature of conceptuality, they would be more prone to accept Objectivism. It is often the search for a "single key", the attempt to find an irreducible primary other than Existence on which to build; in effect, some want to only exercise the power of conception in the outward direction from a fundamental building block that cannot be scrutinized or subdivided. This is not the nature of the process, and is like trying to see with one eye: without the triangulation, you don't see the depth (i.e., many seem to ignore/evade the "z-level" of conceptual reality in the "down-in-scale" direction). - ico
  21. Well, yes. The logical conclusion you make follows directly from the fact that "government" stands for that set of individuals operating cohesively to enforce the rule of agreed laws. The purvey of government ought to be restricted to this enforcement, as government's proper purpose. But that is a political argument; the argument around assistance is essentially ethical, and then, when the government is considered, it becomes clear that, as a group, the government cannot make moral/economic judgments without conflict of interest (enforcement is not compatible with making value judgments -- the only judgment that the government "robot" needs to make is whether the laws are violated, and how to prevent/punish violations -- no economic judgments should be made by those with the political right to pull the trigger). And so, I anchor my argument where it belongs: in the ethical/moral sphere of individual right to make decisions. This clearly rejects any power of government to make such decisions for me or you, and so, operationally, would clearly draw the line between individual and government rights (the two must be hierarchically related, with the former primary, eh?). - ico
  22. This you obviously wrote without engaging your conceptual faculty. Have you EVER experienced ANYTHING that was totally isolated from everything else? Wait, I'll answer for you: NO. Have you EVER experienced ANYTHING that cannot be broken into smaller pieces? I can answer that for you, too: Nope. Concepts integrate lower order concepts, are hierarchical STRUCTURES built on their REFERENTS as identifiable basis objects that are related to form the concept (the concept is the relation in question). That's why definitions require genus and species: because concepts form containment hierarchies with their relatives up and down the scale of conceptual order. Our sense organs are bifurcate, our experiences have duration and are extended in space (physical and mental space, the latter is no more unlimited than the former). Unity is plural and at minimum two -- this includes perception and conceptualization, because in order to create concepts, we must compare and contrast, and the unit of comparison is two separate identifiables. Please don't be so quick to reject when the statement is foreign to you. - ico
  23. And as with all concepts, self is a discrete structure composed of discrete elements. The real line is finite, but not conceptualizable, even given that the process of subdivision is conceptualizable. It is discrete as a whole, but not composed of discrete parts, so not a structure nor conceptual. - ico
  24. Arrested Development is a classic, with notable displays of the absurdity of altruist positions.
  25. Action is by individuals, not groups. The government is a group of individuals, and "assistance" is not a bottomless bucket, so if the government assists one individual, then that is at the expense of another individual. As long as the assisting individual(s) are each satisfied that the cost of assistance is worth the benefit, I'm good. - ico
  • Create New...