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David Kelley's Moral Theory Contra Objectivism

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brandonk2009
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Can you point to ONE person who said this? Just one. (I haven't read through the whole thread.)

Easily. Anyone who supports fringe ideas that Rand held that now in 2010 have become uninformed. Examples: Homosexuality, her Nietzchean background, hyper-judgement, or even smoking. There are people, and you might be one of them, who deeply unable to say that Ayn Rand was occasionally wrong..and that's a problem. To me, that appears to be intrinsicist.

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Easily. Anyone who supports fringe ideas that Rand held that now in 2010 have become uninformed. Examples: Homosexuality, her Nietzchean background, hyper-judgement, or even smoking. There are people, and you might be one of them, who deeply unable to say that Ayn Rand was occasionally wrong..and that's a problem. To me, that appears to be intrinsicist.

So who believes any of this? What's it got to do with the content of Objectivism? None of those are philosophical positions, so are irrelevant to the open/closed debate.

Edited by Atlas51184
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  • 4 weeks later...

So here's a question for the closed-system advocate: What if Peikoff changed his mind, now, and agreed that objectivism is an open system. Would you then have to say that his work isn't objectivist?

No, it would simply show that he was wrong on that point. If he said that Jesus is Lord and Taxation is a Divine Commandment, that would be not Objectivist.
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No, it would simply show that he was wrong on that point. If he said that Jesus is Lord and Taxation is a Divine Commandment, that would be not Objectivist.

so why then do you think Kelley is wrong on many points? If his work is as consistent with objectivism (which it is) as Peikoff, but he think's it is an open system, why condemn him and subsequentially deprive yourself from all the benefits of his work?

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Unless you can pinpoint his exact source of error, how can you be certain that you are being motivated by reason as your only source of knowledge, and not by some latent emotionalism/evasion, as are indicated by your "seem to be" assertions. seems to be.

I am compelled to chime in with a strong suspicion that an ignorantium has been committed here. If the "seem to be" assertions do indicate evasion, say so. If not, it's ignorantium. How do any of us know we are motivated by what it seems we are motivated by, and not some hidden, evaded, dark, and despicable purposes? :(

-- Mindy

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Perhaps I can get away with not having read all 15 pages of this thread if I only express an opinion...

Objectivism is enough of a system of thought, enough of a complete philosophy that its overall character is set. To preserve that entity, the system must be regarded as closed. On the other hand, insofar as its being complete, it obviously isn't, the subject of epistemology being an example. A full Objectivist epistemology is yet to be expressed. Whatever is written and deserves that name will not overturn what does exist, but subsume it.

So it is "closed" in the sense that none of its principles may or ought to change. It isn't completely worked out, though So, it is closed but incomplete. It can be added to, but not modified. Peikoff has done a heroic job in preserving the system. Heroic.

-- Mindy

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So here's a question for the closed-system advocate: What if Peikoff changed his mind, now, and agreed that objectivism is an open system. Would you then have to say that his work isn't objectivist? I think the nature of objectivism by definition is anti-polycentric.

I haven't read this thread. I am simply replying to the above. What work? He actually already says his work isnt Oism as such.(His Inductive theory for example). Any work he would produce under said hypothetical "open" position would still not be Oism. Now whether it would be consistent with Rands theory is another question.

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I haven't read this thread. I am simply replying to the above. What work? He actually already says his work isnt Oism as such.(His Inductive theory for example). Any work he would produce under said hypothetical "open" position would still not be Oism. Now whether it would be consistent with Rands theory is another question.

So the main question is who can we call an objectivist philosopher? Why should that title only be given to those who claim that objectivism is a closed system? Why does someone need to cowtow to a peripheral tenet in order to be an objectivist? I think a strong case could be made that people who think objectivism is closed are actually less objectivist than those who think it is open.

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For starters, anyone who denies reality cannot be legitimately called an Objectivist.

Who, Kelley? I'm not quite sure what you're referring to. One point I'd like to make is that the idea that objectivism is an open or closed system is a not a primary tenet of objectivism. Kelley is a objectivist philosopher, because he rationally agrees with all of the tenets of objectivism. Peikoff is also, even though he thinks the system is closed.

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One point I'd like to make is that the idea that objectivism is an open or closed system is a not a primary tenet of objectivism.
No, it follows from two more basic facts. First, Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and second, Ayn Rand is dead and therefore incapable of changing her philosophy.
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No, it follows from two more basic facts. First, Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and second, Ayn Rand is dead and therefore incapable of changing her philosophy.

True, but Ayn Rand herself said "I'm glad you are not that acquainted with my philosophy, because if you were, you'd know I haven't nearly said everything yet. I do have a complete philosophical system, but the elaboration of a system is a job that no philosopher can finish in his lifetime. There is an awful lot of work yet to be done.

So objectivism, while a complete system, still needs elaboration. That elaboration is done by philosophers. You have to admit then there there are more objectivist philosophers than just Ayn Rand. Peikoff and Kelley are both objectivists, whether or not one thinks the system is closed. Despite being a fact, that tenet is a not an essential of objectivism.

Edited by James Bond
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True, but Ayn Rand herself said "I'm glad you are not that acquainted with my philosophy, because if you were, you'd know I haven't nearly said everything yet. I do have a complete philosophical system, but the elaboration of a system is a job that no philosopher can finish in his lifetime.
You do realise, don't you, that "complete" is not the same as "open"? If there is anything incomplete about Rand's philosophy (feel free to offer whatever lacunae you think of), then the resolution of that matter is not Objectivism. It may be inspired by or related to Rand's philosophy, but it isn't Objectivism.
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If Peikoff suddenly agreed that Oism is an open system, it wouldn't discredit OPAR. If Kelley shifted to thinking that Oism is a closed system, it wouldn't invalidate TLSO. I know you might say that TLSO differs from Oism, but have you actually read it? I don't say that to be insulting, but to raise the point that it's sad to see objectivists ignore a lots of good work just because Peikoff says it's a no-go.

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If Peikoff suddenly agreed that Oism is an open system, it wouldn't discredit OPAR. If Kelley shifted to thinking that Oism is a closed system, it wouldn't invalidate TLSO. I know you might say that TLSO differs from Oism, but have you actually read it? I don't say that to be insulting, but to raise the point that it's sad to see objectivists ignore a lots of good work just because Peikoff says it's a no-go.
I don't say this to be insulting, but you show an appalling lack of understanding of basic logic, and especially a lack of understanding of facts. I must assume that you are familiar with Harriman & Peikoff The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics; Tara Smith's Viable Values and Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics; Craig Biddle's "Objective Moral Virtues: Principled Actions"; Peikoff's "Why Should One Act on Principle?" and History of Philosophy; Binswanger's Abstraction from abstractions. If not, then I must raise the point that it's sad to see anyone who claims to have an interest in Objectivism ignore a huge volume of good work within Objectivism, just because it isn't written by or "authorized" by David Kelley or some similar deconstructionist of Objectivism.

I mentioned those particular titles since they have at least two things in common that set them apart from TLSO. First, they are written by supporters (not opponents) of ARI who have demonstrated their fidelity to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Second, they are actually published. It's really impossible to take Kelley's ideas serious if he won't make them available. Furthermore, there is no reason to take them seriously even if they do become public. The implication that Kelley has any claim on our attention is at best arbitrary, and in fact false in light of what he has made publicly available in his post-Objectivist phase.

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Speaking for myself (obviously!) , the question of 'open' or 'closed' is moot.

Objectivism is the philosophy of its creator, Ayn Rand.

The question that should be asked is this: do you, or I, as individuals, have the right to accept , question, or reject certain parts of Dr Kelley's AND Dr Peikoff's thinking (additions, embellishments, revisions, etc) and STILL CALL OURSELVES OBJECTIVISTS?

Well, yes, we certainly have the right to do so - but is it moral?

Would it involve any rationalization, or evasion?

Each person, ultimately, can only rigorously check his or her premises, and arrive at their own conclusion.

This is a philosophy of individualism and reason, not of authoritarianism, I don't need to add.

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Speaking for myself (obviously!) , the question of 'open' or 'closed' is moot.

Objectivism is the philosophy of its creator, Ayn Rand.

The question that should be asked is this: do you, or I, as individuals, have the right to accept , question, or reject certain parts of Dr Kelley's AND Dr Peikoff's thinking (additions, embellishments, revisions, etc) and STILL CALL OURSELVES OBJECTIVISTS?

Well, yes, we certainly have the right to do so - but is it moral?

Would it involve any rationalization, or evasion?

Each person, ultimately, can only rigorously check his or her premises, and arrive at their own conclusion.

This is a philosophy of individualism and reason, not of authoritarianism, I don't need to add.

Tell me, if someone wrote a complete "Objectivist" epistemology, what would you call it?

-- Mindy

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Tell me, if someone wrote a complete "Objectivist" epistemology, what would you call it?

-- Mindy

Not sure I understand your question, but to answer with another question : whose philosophy is this anyway?

To try to clarify my position. It took a beautiful mind to construct the epistemology (and metaphysics, and ethics) of O'ism, which is a beautiful and efficacious philosophy.

But Rand did not just conjure it out of thin air - it was there for the taking, in the sense that it is only, and all, about reality. The reality of the Universe, and the Nature of Man.

All it needed was someone to identify, and bring it together.

Anyone could have done the same ...given two or three life-times of intense reasoning. (Ha!)

There is no way that her epistemology, metaphysics and ethics can be deconstructed, such is the strength of the inter-locking parts; it is an all-or-nothing choice.

This is where it is a closed system.

However, the application of it - particularly of its ethics - is where I don't agree, and I see other O'ists differ - on occasions. Because it is such an applicable-to-life philosophy, this is important.

It might not be entirely resolved, but, at the end of the day, it is our individual choices and independence that must be honored. This, the application and practice, is where I see it as an open system.

So what the essentially minor differences in Objectivism, even when concerning its theory?

If we honor the basic integrity and independence - and overwhelming agreement - that we all share, these are a mere bagatelle.

IMO, the alternative is split after split, and (sadly) losing several good people from our ranks through frustration.

(Pardon the lecture - it wasn't meant to be. Probably:) my own frustration . )

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There is no way that her epistemology, metaphysics and ethics can be deconstructed, such is the strength of the inter-locking parts; it is an all-or-nothing choice.

This is where it is a closed system.

But its Politics is optional and open to interpretation and potentially, if someone could come up with a good enough argument, then presumably a socialistic welfare state could be supported by Objectivism? I doubt you hold this position but you see the point of me asking right? When you say no, no, no, then you are saying that the Objectivist Politics has to be something specific and I submit that Miss Rand figured out what that was and her entire system has to be taken as a whole. Even her ethics is derived from Metaphysics and Epistemology, an application if you will.

But Rand did not just conjure it out of thin air - it was there for the taking, in the sense that it is only, and all, about reality. The reality of the Universe, and the Nature of Man.

All it needed was someone to identify, and bring it together.

Anyone could have done the same ...given two or three life-times of intense reasoning. (Ha!) [emphasis added]

You have praised Ayn Rand and I thank you for that so I'm sure you don't intend to insult her but I think the part I emphasized is an insult. It is along the same lines as those who say "anyone could have developed the theory of evolution, or discovered penicillin, or been a Thomas Edison". Genius minds are rare and it takes more than time to develop one.

And if "anyone" could have done it, and Ayn Rand has done the heavy lifting already, then why do we have such descension? Someone is wrong, right?

So what the essentially minor differences in Objectivism, even when concerning its theory?

I submit that the idea of moral toleration is a major, major issue. It speaks to the integrity of the entire system and is a crucial life and death matter.

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