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David Kelley's Moral Theory Contra Objectivism

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brandonk2009
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That is not fair to Kelley's argument. I could argue the same way about Peikoff because I think far more harm and danger comes from the opposite of Kelley's approach, which is: judge fast, judge now, forget waiting for all the facts, forget if you are right or wrong, ask questions later, if at all. Forget proportions (not one crumb), there are few errors in philosophy - so you are most likely evil, and you don't understand Objectivism unless you agree with me.

The question is: What gives one sufficient evidence of evasion or irrationality in someone's statements? And I submit that one can tell about someone's epistemology and psycho-epistemology from what they say and write. For example, the above is a very gross mis-characterization of Dr. Peikoff. It is especially clear now that he does not take that position if you listen to his podcasts where he goes through great lengths to explain his position on a wide variety of issues. Dr. Peikoff is actually very patient and takes into account someone's misunderstanding or their attempts at learning Objectivism. He does not come out and condemn anyone who disagrees with him. In other words, to hold that view of Dr.Peikoff is to be evasive and irrational -- i.e. you are not going by the facts and you are holding a grudge against the very best teacher of Objectivism, second only to Ayn Rand herself.

Yes, we must give the benefit of the doubt to those we are uncertain of regarding their irrationality or their error; until we know that it is not just error by such a gross mis-characterization that it has to be evasion.

And I submit that both Nathaniel Brandon and Barbara Brandon have shown in their later writings and words that they have betrayed objectivity regarding Ayn Rand and Objectivism to such a degree that they should not be given a moral sanction of praising their earlier works without taking into account that they have betrayed Objectivism and saying so and not having anything further to do with them. And yet, you continue to deal with them as if they have not betrayed Objectivism and the immense value of Ayn Rand. And you can only do that out of evasion.

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I believe in the debate between Peikoff and Kelley the concrete was that Kant was more evil than Stalin because he made Stalin possible. I believe it is moral to shoot a Stalin or a Hitler on sight. If Kant is just as evil as or even more evil than Stalin, would you assassinate Kant? Would you assassinate an academic marxist? If you do not think you should assassinate an academic marxist, then it seems that you agree with Kelley because while it is true they are both evil, it is in different respects. It is because of that difference in respects that you can engage in discussion with a marxist and not with Stalin.

What does assasination have to do with anything. I'd shoot a schitzofrenic hallucinating crack junkie on site if he tried to kill me, that doesnt mean i think he is more evil than Barack Obama. Do you actually think that there is an Objectivist principle "the more evil someone is, the more he deserves to be assasinated"?.

No, i would most definitely not assasinate an academic marxist if he doesnt initiate force, or Kant for that matter if he lived today. You dont use force unless force is used against you, thats why the Kant's and the marxists should be battled with the mind.

Consider this quote by Ayn Rand:

This just means that Rand thought anarchists are more dangerous than marxists. She doesnt say that you should deal with marxists to reach an understanding per se, she says that an understanding would be easier to reach with marxists than anarchists.

Just like i think that there is a greater chance of reaching an understanding with a christian than a nihilist, doesnt mean that i should go to a "God is great"-rally to speak to reach an understanding with them, especially without openly stating that i think they are evil.

Notice that Kelley states primarily, this does not mean that ideas cannot be judged by ethical standards.

Well, he later says that ideas should be judged as "true and false", and actions as "good and evil". True and false is not a moral judgement.

Kelley is also pointing to the different respects in which a person can be evil. Obviously you do not use force against people just because they believe in socialism or communism.

What does using force have to do with anything in this thread? Who says that you should use force against a marxist professsor?

I think his point here is to consider degree and measurement. Obviously, going to a party dressed inappropriately is a bad idea but I seriously doubt it warrants the label EVIL.

Could you explain how going to a party inappropriately dressed has anything to do with this discussion.

The reason why the sanction issue even came up between Kelley and Peikoff is because Kelley spoke to Libertarians about why you need a rational philosophy to support capitalism.

No, it was because he spoke to libertarians without explaining why Objectivism is incompatible with libertarianism, and without explaining what libertarianism leads to. If he had gone to a "Philosophy Debate", explained in his statements clearly why libertarianism is evil, nothing would have happened. What he did was go to a libertarian event, to promote Objectivism as just one way of being a libertarian.

"This is an insidious kind of intimidation: it equates a speaker’s views with

those of the discussion’s sponsors. A man of integrity is conscientiously precise about the

nature of his views on any subject. If his views are going to be judged, not by his own

statements, but by the views of those who invite him to speak... then his only alternative is to

accept no speaking engagements. If so, what happens to our freedom of speech?” “The

Disenfranchisement of the Right,” The Ayn Rand Letter I (Dec.20, 1971), p. 26.

Highlights mine.

As you can see from Kelleys speech to that muslim group, he did not promote objectivism, he appeased the muslims to find "common ground", thus not having any integrity.

If the KKK and David Duke hosted an "Against Affirmative Action" symposium, and asked you to speak, would you go? And if you would go, would you present Objectivism as just one way of opposing Affirmative Action. You do not think that you would be viewed as a supporter of the event, if you spoke there?

But that begs the question, how do you judge, how do you know who deserves tolerance, how much time should a person have to adapt, how much time should a person be allowed to learn, how much time does a person deserve?

In the case of an academic marxist, none. If you are not a subjectivist, which i hope you are not, you have to understand that it is impossible for anyone with a working non-retard human mind to honestly agree with marxism, especially after studying it in addition to history, economics, philosophy etc. without serious and completely intentional evasion. I can bet everything i have, that you will not "convert" a single academic marxist to an Objectivist or even something close to that, even if you spend your whole life trying. A person with little life experience and little expertise may call themselves marxists, and if they seem honest you can explain Objectivism to them. But the "cut off" point is waay waay before an academic marxist.

That is not fair to Kelley's argument. I could argue the same way about Peikoff because I think far more harm and danger comes from the opposite of Kelley's approach, which is: judge fast, judge now, forget waiting for all the facts, forget if you are right or wrong, ask questions later, if at all. Forget proportions (not one crumb), there are few errors in philosophy - so you are most likely evil, and you don't understand Objectivism unless you agree with me.

So first you say that someone isnt fair to Kelleys argument, but then give a total misrepresentation of Peikoff's?

Peikoff has stated many times that there are many good people who arent Objectivists, and that to be good, you dont have to understand Objectivism per se. But it is absurd to not judge a f-ing academic marxist on the spot, and to somehow think there still is a chance he is honest and not evading?!! I mean, tell me how a person can become an academic marxist without evading? What kind of freak circumstances need to happen that his every experience of life is so out of the realm of normal, that marxism makes sense without him shrugging off his mind? For a person to become an academic marxist honestly, would require a Truman Show type manipulation of his surroundings for his whole life.

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You really seem to be making a strawman here. No one is saying you shouldnt talk to people of all ages no matter what their philosophy.

Peikoff, in fact and value, mentions "groping teenagers" searching for truth.

Yes, sometimes people do that, but i haven't seen ARI or Peikoff do this all that much.

Peikoff once mentioned in a podcast that he liked a movie because the protagonist reminded him of Rand. !?. Maybe he's in love with her. I'm mostly joking, but there is a cultish element in some circles that's hypocritically collective.

It really seems you have some psychological problem of accepting perfection. Yes, she was human, she did mistakes, she did say things that aren't true, but her philosophy is perfect. And if it's not, show me where it's not. I don't understand youre "nobodys perfect" comment, if you dont offer any examples. As a blanket statement it's pretty similar to "the truth lies somewhere in between".

This is a point Kelly makes which I agree with. Objectivism, as it is, is not as well of a grounded philosophy as it could be and hopefully will be. There's work that needs to be done to make it a coherent, comprehensive philosophy. I'd totally agree that it's foundational principles/answers to the five basic branches of philosophy are perfect.

Yes, there are people who are interested in Objectivism because they have a wrong kind of hero worship, and they just like absolutes in general. This board has some, but you will not find those people at ARI.

When I say ARI, I'm more talking about the people we've already discussed. I think there are tons of great people there, so I don't want it to seem like I'm making a blanket statement about ARI.

First of all, Peikoff hasn't added anything to the philosophy, nor went against any of its core principles. Second of all, Ayn Rand herself accepted the Ominous Parallel's as Objectivist. But OPAR is just a clear introduction to what Objectivism is, and thus it is Objectivist. And as Peikoff has stated, if he ever gets that "DIM" book out, that it will not be part of Objectivist philosophy, just an application of it to explain history.

What Kelley does, is not only add to the philosophy, but go against one of its major principles, and that is very different from writing an introduction of Objectivism.

Where does he go against the major principles? Evidence please. I've already said that I agree that fact and valuable and inseparable..so Kelly might disagree with me on that. The case that Kelly makes that I particularly agree with is the case for degrees. Peikoff/his ilk seem to have almost no regard to degrees when it comes to evil, which is dangerous. I wonder if Peikoff even talks to people who aren't objectivist. He wouldn't want to sanction anyone, after all.

You really have not understood where the schism between ARI and the "open system" lies. It is not in talking to irrational people, and talking to them is not toleration. Talking to them without clearly stating that you think they are wrong/evil.

This might be true, like I say I'm arguing from a pretty cursory knowledge on the debate.

I do think that when Kelly talks to groups, he should make it clear upfront that he thinks they are evil/wrong. Perhaps he does, and we just don't hear about it because of who our reporters are.

Really, have you been really aware of what kind of person Kelley is, and what he thinks is applicable with Objectivism, or do you really respect him after reading this....

Like I said, I do think Kelly should definitely make it clear that he's not sanctioning them. About the respect issue...I value the philosophical work he's done. I value the philosophical work Branden did. Ayn Rand did as well, if you recall. But now ARI tries to pretend like she never did. Bah. ARI also doesn't list Kelly's work in their bookstore..which is a slap in the face of some solid work. If Peikoff/Schwartz had their way, they would never allow their disciples to read anything that wasn't written by someone from the ARI camp. Newton? He's a deist. Oh and he didn't smoke. He's evil. George Orwell? He's wasn't a radical for capitalism..he's evil. He thought Stalin was more evil than Kant. Burn his books. They never existed, actually (see Branden). Do you see what I'm getting at here? I'm being facetious, but there's truth in the bizarre judgments that Peikoff/his ilk makes.

It almost seems like it would have better if no offical groups had been formed. Ayn Rand herself was hesitant about the first official group. ARI doesn't seem like a place that smiles at individualism. It seems like a place where if you don't agree with what Peikoff thinks, you're gone. You never even existed. I don't like that. Do you?

Edited by James Bond
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Peikoff, in fact and value, mentions "groping teenagers" searching for truth.

No, he mentions "groping teenagers" as people who can be considered honest, in contrast to an academic marxist. It has nothing to do with talking. It's not that ARI is against debates are philosophical discussions. They take part in them themselves. Also, even if the schism started with the Kelley talking to libertarians thing, it is vastly overplayed here. It was his response, "A Question of Sanction", where he explicitly gave views that are totally non-compatible with Objectivism. It was not the talking with libertarians that broke the camels back, it was his views on moral evaluation of ideas that did it.

Peikoff once mentioned in a podcast that he liked a movie because the protagonist reminded him of Rand. !?. Maybe he's in love with her. I'm mostly joking, but there is a cultish element in some circles that's hypocritically collective.

What kind of argument is this?

This is a point Kelly makes which I agree with. Objectivism, as it is, is not as well of a grounded philosophy as it could be and hopefully will be. There's work that needs to be done to make it a coherent, comprehensive philosophy. I'd totally agree that it's foundational principles/answers to the five basic branches of philosophy are perfect.

Examples please...Also, note once again that Kelley did not "add" to Objectivism, he went against it.

Where does he go against the major principles? Evidence please. I've already said that I agree that fact and valuable and inseparable..so Kelly might disagree with me on that.

You just answered your own question.....

The case that Kelly makes that I particularly agree with is the case for degrees. Peikoff/his ilk seem to have almost no regard to degrees when it comes to evil, which is dangerous. I wonder if Peikoff even talks to people who aren't objectivist. He wouldn't want to sanction anyone, after all.

How many times do we have to go over this. Peikoff does agree that there are degrees of evil. But those degrees are irrelevant in the question of "toleration". Just like everyone admits that a mass murderer is more evil than a guy who slaps his wife around every now and then. That doesnt mean that we tolerate spousal abuse because it is not as bad as mass murder. It doesnt mean that we refrain from judging spousal abuse, because mass murder is worse. The degree of evil in the case of mass murder and spousal abuse is irrelevant in the question of who to tolerate. Neither should be tolerated.

This is what you have to understand. It is not that there arent degrees of evil, it is that they dont matter in terms of toleration.

I do think that when Kelly talks to groups, he should make it clear upfront that he thinks they are evil/wrong. Perhaps he does, and we just don't hear about it because of who our reporters are.

What do you mean with "who our reporters are". Is TOC's website a bad source. Your making it seem like ARI sends weekly newsletters summarizing what Kelley writes, and then giving out orders what to think of them.....

Like I said, I do think Kelly should definitely make it clear that he's not sanctioning them. About the respect issue...I value the philosophical work he's done. I value the philosophical work Branden did. Ayn Rand did as well, if you recall. But now ARI tries to pretend like she never did.

What value is there in what Kelley has done?

And to your other point. Would you like it if ARI promoted Alan Greenspan. You dont think that would be confusing considering hes not an Objectivist?

If Peikoff/Schwartz had their way, they would never allow their disciples to read anything that wasn't written by someone from the ARI camp. Newton? He's a deist. Oh and he didn't smoke. He's evil. George Orwell? He's wasn't a radical for capitalism..he's evil. He thought Stalin was more evil than Kant. Burn his books. They never existed, actually (see Branden). Do you see what I'm getting at here? I'm being facetious, but there's truth in the bizarre judgments that Peikoff/his ilk makes.

One question as you admit to being quite new to Objectivism. Have you ever read/heard Peikoff or Schwartz say that one shouldnt read Newton, Orwell etc. Have you ever read anything by Peikoff where he says that you should only hang around ARI approved Objectivists and that you should not socialize with other people. Have you ever even read anything by Peikoff? I suggest you go to http://peikoff.com/podcasts.html and download every podcast of his, because you are giving a COMPLETE misrepresentation of his views and his character, as if he was some grumpy old man who just yells and commands everyone. Really, listen to those podcasts and come back after that.

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Let me clarify something I wrote in the earlier reply with an analogy.

Let's say that Nathaniel Branden's earlier works were all that existed aside from what Ayn Rand herself wrote -- in other words there was no Dr. Peikoff philosopher who wrote OPAR, and Branden's earlier lectures were the best presentation of Objectivism as a philosophical system. If Branden then went out and said that Objectivism was psychologically damaging-- as he has said since then -- why this would be a very contradictory stance for him to make. If the most rational philosophy on earth leads to psychological damage, then why take the chance of studying it? I mean, you'd be better off remaining a Catholic or whatever, so that you could be psychologically healthy. And Likewise with Barbara Branden's portrayal of Ayn Rand in her book, which in my opinion was one large tract of ad hominem.

The analogy is this: Had Dr. Peikoff written OPAR, as insightful as it is, and then went about saying that Objectivism caused psychological damage and his wife went about saying how awful Ayn Rand was personally, then I wouldn't want to have anything personally to do with Dr. Peikoff either. I would not want to give him a personal moral sanction by trying to be friendly with him. I would buy OPAR and understand it and become an Objectivist (though I would be suspicious of it), but I would not want to have anything to do with Dr. Peikoff.

The claims to psychological damage are be a bold faced lie; while the personality of Ayn Rand is totally irrelevant to the philosophy.

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Peikoff/his ilk seem to have almost no regard to degrees when it comes to evil, which is dangerous. I wonder if Peikoff even talks to people who aren't objectivist. He wouldn't want to sanction anyone, after all.
The first sentence is false, and the rest is ridiculous.
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I dont understand why this "degrees" question is still being debated as relates to Peikoff. Ive already posted a citation that states explicitly that virtue is NOT a matter of degrees!

Heres another from his induction lectures

Virtues do not come in degrees
Edited by Plasmatic
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I believe in the debate between Peikoff and Kelley the concrete was that Kant was more evil than Stalin because he made Stalin possible. I believe it is moral to shoot a Stalin or a Hitler on sight. If Kant is just as evil as or even more evil than Stalin, would you assassinate Kant? Would you assassinate an academic marxist? If you do not think you should assassinate an academic marxist, then it seems that you agree with Kelley because while it is true they are both evil, it is in different respects. It is because of that difference in respects that you can engage in discussion with a marxist and not with Stalin.

Political rights apply to all individuals, even evil ones. Force is only to be used in retaliation to an initiation of force. No academics deserve to be assassinated. It is ridiculous to move from that political conclusion to infer that the ideas they advocate and the professors themselves are therefore literally "beyond good and evil", which is an ethical statement. It is backwards reasoning violating the principle of hierarchy of knowledge, or in other words a stolen concept. It is a primitive and false conception of evil to think "evil people should be killed", or the flipped version that if one refrains from killing a particular person it must be because he has some good in him somewhere.

Initiating force is not the most evil thing possible; that only kills individuals. Persuading an entire civilization to willingly self-destruct is far more efficient, effective, and possible than killing all of its members therefore more evil. It is not a contradiction that the most evil person can be the least offensive, physically nonthreatening person because ideas really are more powerful than swords or guns or bombs.

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I dont understand why this "degrees" question is still being debated as relates to Peikoff. Ive already posted a citation that states explicitly that virtue is NOT a matter of degrees!

Heres another from his induction lectures

Ah! so it is you spreading this rumor! :P

I don't have the full context of that latest quote, but if you want to hear Peikoff talk about this subject (as opposed to gleaning things from short remarks elsewhere, I suggest his lecture "Judging, Feeling and not being Moralistic".

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This is a point Kelly makes which I agree with. Objectivism, as it is, is not as well of a grounded philosophy as it could be and hopefully will be. There's work that needs to be done to make it a coherent, comprehensive philosophy. I'd totally agree that it's foundational principles/answers to the five basic branches of philosophy are perfect.

.....................

Like I said, I do think Kelly should definitely make it clear that he's not sanctioning them. About the respect issue...I value the philosophical work he's done. I value the philosophical work Branden did. Ayn Rand did as well, if you recall. But now ARI tries to pretend like she never did. Bah. ARI also doesn't list Kelly's work in their bookstore..which is a slap in the face of some solid work. If Peikoff/Schwartz had their way, they would never allow their disciples to read anything that wasn't written by someone from the ARI camp. Newton? He's a deist. Oh and he didn't smoke. He's evil. George Orwell? He's wasn't a radical for capitalism..he's evil. He thought Stalin was more evil than Kant. Burn his books. They never existed, actually (see Branden). Do you see what I'm getting at here? I'm being facetious, but there's truth in the bizarre judgments that Peikoff/his ilk makes.

It almost seems like it would have better if no official groups had been formed. Ayn Rand herself was hesitant about the first official group. ARI doesn't seem like a place that smiles at individualism. It seems like a place where if you don't agree with what Peikoff thinks, you're gone. You never even existed. I don't like that. Do you?

James its now clear to me you are talking complete nonsense and have little regard for the need for facts before you speak.

Number one how about instead of repeating Kelly's statement about "groundedness"" you actually demonstrate what is missing in your own words. If you have a valid point Ill be the first to say so and then you wont be pointificating without given grounds.

The second quote is demonstrably false and evasive:

Where Have You Gone, Isaac Newton?

by David Harriman

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=3147

You are evading the fact that Rand and Peikoff have had personal reason to dissociate from Branden and Kelly etc.

Also I heard Peikoff on a lecture yesterday state that he thinks its OK to read opposing philosophies but with the critical active position "whats wrong with this".

You have no idea what your talking about.

Ah! so it is you spreading this rumor! :P

I don't have the full context of that latest quote, but if you want to hear Peikoff talk about this subject (as opposed to gleaning things from short remarks elsewhere, I suggest his lecture "Judging, Feeling and not being Moralistic".

Thanks for the link .Ill look into it. I will say though It is clear that he did at least at some point say that it was not a matter of degree.

Edited by Plasmatic
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Rand called Kant the "most evil man in mankind's history". (The Objectivist, 1971).

One might well argue whether she was right or wrong. However, one cannot claim that Rand thought that all evil people were equally evil. One does not hold such an "equally evil" view and still talk about some person being more evil or "most evil".

So, please, let's put that straw-man to bed.

Also, all evidence suggests that Peikoff agrees with Rand on this. In fact, he quotes her line in his fact/Value essay. Further, all evidence suggests that ARI agrees with this position as well. The notion that Rand or ARI is suggesting that one should not talk to some marxist professor (i.e. some abstract Marxist professor) is completely false. That's another strawman that should be put to bed.

Of course, given that the Objectivist position is that some people can be more evil or less evil than others, it's fair game to debate what standards apply, how, why etc. But, let's not misrepresent the Objectivist position.

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So first you say that someone isnt fair to Kelleys argument, but then give a total misrepresentation of Peikoff's?

The point is, a person can be just as unfair to Peikoff's position as anyone here can and has been that opposes Kelley. Not that I believe that Peikoff is totally guilty of moralizing, and injustice.

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I want to make something clear here. I am in no way denying Rand thought Kant was the most evil man ,or that Peikoff has made similar statements. I am now in the process of figuring out how to reconcile/integrate this with his statements on there being no degrees of virtue. Full stop.

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Political rights apply to all individuals, even evil ones. Force is only to be used in retaliation to an initiation of force. No academics deserve to be assassinated. It is ridiculous to move from that political conclusion to infer that the ideas they advocate and the professors themselves are therefore literally "beyond good and evil", which is an ethical statement. It is backwards reasoning violating the principle of hierarchy of knowledge, or in other words a stolen concept. It is a primitive and false conception of evil to think "evil people should be killed", or the flipped version that if one refrains from killing a particular person it must be because he has some good in him somewhere.

Initiating force is not the most evil thing possible; that only kills individuals. Persuading an entire civilization to willingly self-destruct is far more efficient, effective, and possible than killing all of its members therefore more evil. It is not a contradiction that the most evil person can be the least offensive, physically nonthreatening person because ideas really are more powerful than swords or guns or bombs.

That is a good answer, but politics is the application of your ethical theories of philosophy. It seems to me that it is problematic to use the word evil as it is being used. You say that initiating force is the most evil thing possible, but then say that persuading people to self-destruct is more evil. Well, which is it? Which one is more evil? If words and thoughts are more dangerous than actions, then why not eliminate such a threat, if it is so clear that it will cause destruction? I thought that actions speak louder than words? Perhaps book burning is a good place to start? Also, who has the ultimate responsibility for their actions? The persuaded or the persuader? There is an element of determinism in the idea that by writing a book, that people will necessarily take to the ideas and implement them. It has taken thousands of years for a great mind to appear and make the discoveries that Ayn Rand did, but I do not think that her achievements were just a matter of being the most honest person that ever lived, I think she was a genius. I believe that Peikoff and I agree on that point, that she was not just honest but a genius.

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Yes, we must give the benefit of the doubt to those we are uncertain of regarding their irrationality or their error; until we know that it is not just error by such a gross mis-characterization that it has to be evasion.

Kelley applies toleration mainly to the realm of ideas and benevolence mainly to actions. I believe that this is a helpful differentiation. You act with benevolence when you see that someone is suffering and you have little evidence that it is out of justice. With ideas, you can see that a person has accepted some false premises, or is confused, but you can and probably should give a person the benefit of the doubt before you judge their character on the whole. One often needs more evidence before you can know that someone is acting with malice intentions. And even when and if you do find that a person has been willfully evasive, and there are degrees of evasion. People can change and make amends for their evils. A moral judgment should fit the crime. Relationships between men are built on trust, past experiences and mutual investment. The more you have invested in a person, the more you are likely to offer toleration. This is most evident when it comes to how we judge family members and life long friends who do not share all of our values or ideas.

I want to make something clear here. I am in no way denying Rand thought Kant was the most evil man ,or that Peikoff has made similar statements. I am now in the process of figuring out how to reconcile/integrate this with his statements on there being no degrees of virtue. Full stop.

Not all evasions are equal. The degree of evasion constitutes the degree of evil. The greater the mind the longer the range, the greater their virtue. I hold that there can be degrees of virtue just as there are degrees of vice. It is quite obvious with the virtue of productiveness that some people can be more productive than others.

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No, he mentions "groping teenagers" as people who can be considered honest, in contrast to an academic marxist. It has nothing to do with talking. It's not that ARI is against debates are philosophical discussions. They take part in them themselves. Also, even if the schism started with the Kelley talking to libertarians thing, it is vastly overplayed here. It was his response, "A Question of Sanction", where he explicitly gave views that are totally non-compatible with Objectivism. It was not the talking with libertarians that broke the camels back, it was his views on moral evaluation of ideas that did it.

That's my point. I think that people, young or old, can have honest error. Peikoff puts an emphasis on the young.

What kind of argument is this?

It's not one. But Peikoff admires Ayn Rand so much that I fear he falls into the category of "Ayn Rand can do no wrong, and never has."

Examples please...Also, note once again that Kelley did not "add" to Objectivism, he went against it.

In what way(s) do think Kelley contradicts objectivism, beyond the fact/value split?

You just answered your own question.....

I said 'might' because I'm debating whether he's really contra-objectivism in the first place.

How many times do we have to go over this. Peikoff does agree that there are degrees of evil. But those degrees are irrelevant in the question of "toleration". Just like everyone admits that a mass murderer is more evil than a guy who slaps his wife around every now and then. That doesnt mean that we tolerate spousal abuse because it is not as bad as mass murder. It doesnt mean that we refrain from judging spousal abuse, because mass murder is worse. The degree of evil in the case of mass murder and spousal abuse is irrelevant in the question of who to tolerate. Neither should be tolerated.

Good point.

This is what you have to understand. It is not that there arent degrees of evil, it is that they dont matter in terms of toleration.

Yeah, I see what you're saying. So let's say some libertarians move in next door, who by your lights, are evil. By my lights, they're slightly evil. Would you, JJJJ, refuse to be friends with them, so as to not sanction their evasion? Or would you be friends with them since you would have some common ground?

What do you mean with "who our reporters are". Is TOC's website a bad source. Your making it seem like ARI sends weekly newsletters summarizing what Kelley writes, and then giving out orders what to think of them.....

Maybe I should stop assuming people can read between the lines. Everything I've read from ARI about Kelley discusses how evil he is and why he should be excommunicated. How do you justify ARI not sancting Kelley's work, but sanctioning Brandens? Do you think Branden was good once and then turned evil?

And to your other point. Would you like it if ARI promoted Alan Greenspan. You dont think that would be confusing considering hes not an Objectivist?

Greenspan is definitely not an objectivist. ARI should promote objectivism. That means they shouldn't play the game of supporting only the scholars who Peikoff likes this week.

I am bitter.

One question as you admit to being quite new to Objectivism. Have you ever read/heard Peikoff or Schwartz say that one shouldnt read Newton, Orwell etc. Have you ever read anything by Peikoff where he says that you should only hang around ARI approved Objectivists and that you should not socialize with other people. Have you ever even read anything by Peikoff? I suggest you go to http://peikoff.com/podcasts.html and download every podcast of his, because you are giving a COMPLETE misrepresentation of his views and his character, as if he was some grumpy old man who just yells and commands everyone. Really, listen to those podcasts and come back after that.

Again, I guess I need to stop assuming you can read between the lines.

But I do plan on listening to all of his podcasts, I've listened to a few so far. Like I said, I have a loads of respect for Peikoff and for all the good he's done for objectivism. But I think he can better. I think Kelley can do better.

Edited by James Bond
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James its now clear to me you are talking complete nonsense and have little regard for the need for facts before you speak.

Wonderful. Yes, my points are all nonsense and therefore you should leave this board immediately because otherwise you'll be sanctioning my evil. Go ahead.

You have no idea what your talking about.

Good argument here.

Also I heard Peikoff on a lecture yesterday state that he thinks its OK to read opposing philosophies but with the critical active position "whats wrong with this".

Oh good, thanks Peikoff! I'm now allowed to read books again. Oh boy.

Give me a break.

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Kelley applies toleration mainly to the realm of ideas and benevolence mainly to actions. I believe that this is a helpful differentiation. You act with benevolence when you see that someone is suffering and you have little evidence that it is out of justice. With ideas, you can see that a person has accepted some false premises, or is confused, but you can and probably should give a person the benefit of the doubt before you judge their character on the whole.

You write that, "Kelly applies toleration mainly to the realm of ideas and benevolence mainly to actions." This only emphasizes the mind-body dichotomy implicit in his moral theory. It is this mind-body dichotomy which constitutes the root of his divergence with core Objectivist principles. Objectivism embraces a total integration of mind and body—you understand why. When it comes to ethics, the integration of mind and body is even more important. By rejecting the mind-body dichotomy, Objectivism avoids the traditional philosophical problem of "motives vs. consequences". Yet Kelley asserts otherwise.

First, he accepts the mind-body dichotomy implicit in the "motives vs. consequences" debate, and then writes in Truth and Toleration "In judging an action, therefore, we are concerned not only with its consequences, measured by the standard of life, but also with its source in the person’s motives, as measured by the standard of rationality. The question is how to integrate these two factors into a single judgment. Philosophers have long wrestled with this question; they have proposed various theories about the proper weight to assign to consequences on the one hand and motives on the other. The Objectivist ethics, unfortunately, has yet to address this question in any depth." (T&T pg 22).

Objectivism rejects the notion that the debate is even valid, so why address something that is already false to begin with?. He ignores this. He fully embraces the motives vs. consequences debate throughout his entire discussion of moral judgment. He assigns the standard of rationality to motives and the standard of life to consequences. And then asks how one assigns the proper weight to each when moral judgment is necessary. Much later the dichotomy becomes only more obvious when he assigns evil as pertaining primarily to actions and only derivatively to ideas. (T&T pg 39).

Here I would like to insert a relevant quote of Ayn Rand's:

For instance: what fact of reality gave rise to the concept "justice"? The fact that man must draw conclusions about the things, people and events around him, i.e., must judge and evaluate them. Is his judgment automatically right? No. What causes his judgment to be wrong? The lack of sufficient evidence, or his evasion of the evidence, or his inclusion of considerations other than the facts of the case. How, then, is he to arrive at the right judgment? By basing it exclusively on the factual evidence and by considering all the relevant evidence available. But isn't this a description of "objectivity"? Yes, "objective judgment" is one of the wider categories to which the concept "justice" belongs. What distinguishes "justice" from other instances of objective judgment? When one evaluates the nature or actions of inanimate objects, the criterion of judgment is determined by the particular purpose for which one evaluates them. But how does one determine a criterion for evaluating the character and actions of men, in view of the fact that men possess the faculty of volition? What science can provide an objective criterion of evaluation in regard to volitional matters? Ethics. Now, do I need a concept to designate the act of judging a man's character and/or actions exclusively on the basis of all the factual evidence available, and of evaluating it by means of an objective moral criterion? Yes. That concept is "justice" (IOE 51).

[Emphasis Mine]

Notice what she does not do. She does not separate motive from consequence, mind from body. She focuses instead, on the moral judgment of everything that is within man's power of volitional choice: ideas and actions.

I will finally address your discussion on the degree of evasion, of evil, of irrationality: To what degree someone evades reality, or is evil, or displays irrationality is irrelevant. Reread "How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society" and "The Cult of Moral Grayness", two very important essays in The Virtue of Selfishness. I place much emphasis on the latter. I will not address you again until you take the initiative to read, understand, and reflect on these two essays. Perhaps after, our discussions can continue.

Edited by brandonk2009
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You write that, "Kelly applies toleration mainly to the realm of ideas and benevolence mainly to actions." This only emphasizes the mind-body dichotomy implicit in his moral theory.

This is not an example of the mind-body dichotomy. As I have stated before, people can be disintegrated, meaning they do not have to act in accordance with their stated convictions. This is implicit in the fact that people have freewill. Aside from disintegration, to recognize that a person has a mind and a body and that they are not the same, which is why we have two different words for the concepts does not mean I or David Kelley regard the mind as in conflict with the body. The point you are trying to make here has no validity in my opinion. You could drop the word tolerance and instead call it benevolence when dealing with a person's ideas. A person can have conscious convictions that contradict their subconscious evaluations. You would benefit from listening to Edwin Locke's lecture on Reason and Emotion.

First, he accepts the mind-body dichotomy implicit in the "motives vs. consequences" debate, and then writes in Truth and Toleration "In judging an action, therefore, we are concerned not only with its consequences, measured by the standard of life, but also with its source in the person’s motives, as measured by the standard of rationality. The question is how to integrate these two factors into a single judgment. Philosophers have long wrestled with this question; they have proposed various theories about the proper weight to assign to consequences on the one hand and motives on the other. The Objectivist ethics, unfortunately, has yet to address this question in any depth." (T&T pg 22).

I have already dealt with this. When motives are not consistent with consequences, this is called an accident. An accident can be good, it can be bad, it might even be neutral. I'm sure everyone here has done something they did not intend to do. You do not deserve praise or condemnation for an accident, but you may be legally responsible depending on the context.

Objectivism rejects the notion that the debate is even valid, so why address something that is already false to begin with?. He ignores this. He fully embraces the motives vs. consequences debate throughout his entire discussion of moral judgment. He assigns the standard of rationality to motives and the standard of life to consequences. And then asks how one assigns the proper weight to each when moral judgment is necessary. Much later the dichotomy becomes only more obvious when he assigns evil as pertaining primarily to actions and only derivatively to ideas. (T&T pg 39).

I agree with Kelley on this point. A person's motives should be judged by the standard of rationality, just as virtues are all variants of rationality. The metaphysical results of actions are appropriately evaluated by the standard of life.

Notice what she does not do. She does not separate motive from consequence, mind from body. She focuses instead, on the moral judgment of everything that is within man's power of volitional choice: ideas and actions.

I do not see anything here that is worth commenting on.

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In what way(s) do think Kelley contradicts objectivism, beyond the fact/value split?

In the exact way you just said.

I said 'might' because I'm debating whether he's really contra-objectivism in the first place.

It has been shown here multiple times already how the separation of ideas from actions is contra-objectivism.

Yeah, I see what you're saying. So let's say some libertarians move in next door, who by your lights, are evil. By my lights, they're slightly evil. Would you, JJJJ, refuse to be friends with them, so as to not sanction their evasion? Or would you be friends with them since you would have some common ground?

You really have gotten this whole debate wrong. Noone says that you cant be friends with libertarians, christians, collectivists etc., not even anyone at ARI and especially not Peikoff, which would be abundantly clear if actually read and listened to what the man actually says. There are probably loads of people on this board who are married with non-objectivists, and probably at ARI too, so its not about befriending or socializing with libertarians thats the issue. Peikoff isnt promoting becoming a hermit, which you seem to suggest.

However, as you brought up the friendship thing: If you are friends with a democrat, and you both share a love of baseball or science fiction, it's totally in your interests to go to ball games and sci-fi conventions with him/her. Your not sanctioning anything at this point. However, and this is a huge however, your friend tells you that "man, rich people should be taxed more, they are ripping off the working man" or "man, i can't believe what a selfish bastard that guy was who stole my wallet at the Mets game", and you do not clearly state that you do not agree, and instead leave the impression that you agree with him, then you are sacrificing your values. You dont have to argue with him if he's not interested in your opinions, but if your friendship starts revolving around your differences in philosophy, there probably isnt much value in the friendship. If you simply keep your friendship about the Mets or Star Trek, then go for it.

Its not you duty to convert as many people as possible to Objectivism, and seclude yourself from society when people dont agree with you 100%. If you find "common ground" with a person in sports, movies, beer, sense of life, trainspotting, architecture etc. that has a different philosophy than you, then great, you have found a new friend. What Kelley is proposing is not this, but instead to find "common ground" IN philosophy with people who disagree with Objectivism.

Maybe I should stop assuming people can read between the lines. Everything I've read from ARI about Kelley discusses how evil he is and why he should be excommunicated. How do you justify ARI not sancting Kelley's work, but sanctioning Brandens? Do you think Branden was good once and then turned evil?

Brandens pre-split work is valuable, because he was an objectivist->then openly and clearly changed his views. Kelley on the other hand doesnt seem like he changed his mind at any point, he seems to have always been a non-objectivist. And please tell us, which of Kelley's pre-Truth and Toleration work is valuable to Objectivism?

But I do plan on listening to all of his podcasts, I've listened to a few so far. Like I said, I have a loads of respect for Peikoff and for all the good he's done for objectivism. But I think he can better. I think Kelley can do better.

How much of Kelley's work have you read, beacuse it should be pretty clear when reading his op-eds and articles that he has nothing to add to objectivism, no matter what you think of Peikoff.

Edited by JJJJ
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Also James, could you stop being so facetious. You said:

If Peikoff/Schwartz had their way, they would never allow their disciples to read anything that wasn't written by someone from the ARI camp. Newton? He's a deist. Oh and he didn't smoke. He's evil. George Orwell? He's wasn't a radical for capitalism..he's evil. He thought Stalin was more evil than Kant. Burn his books. They never existed, actually (see Branden). Do you see what I'm getting at here? I'm being facetious, but there's truth in the bizarre judgments that Peikoff/his ilk makes.

then Plasmatic answers to that exact statement directly by:

Also I heard Peikoff on a lecture yesterday state that he thinks its OK to read opposing philosophies but with the critical active position "whats wrong with this".

And you answer with:

Oh good, thanks Peikoff! I'm now allowed to read books again. Oh boy.

Give me a break.

Its like me saying: If Ayn Rand had her way, philosophy would not exist. She and here cultists thought that philosophy is irrelevant, and that it has no value, and she said that everyone should burn libraries that have books about philosphy.

Then someone answers: Thats wrong. Rand clearly did not think philosophy was irrelevant, she thought the exact opposite. She wrote a book called:"Philosophy, Who Needs It?" and clearly stated that everyone needs philosophy. Your statement about burning libraries absurd, she said no such thing.

And you answer: Oh good, thanks Rand! Im now allowed to read philosophy again. Oh boy. Give me a break.

What is it that you are trying to accomplish with these ridiculous statements, and not acknowledging when your statements are being shown to be false. Could you please try to just concentrate on the topic at hand, and not go on your sarcasm-ridden tirades without any evidence about "pope Peikoff" and how he thinks everyone should be hermits and noone should talk without first asking him permission.

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You say that initiating force is the most evil thing possible, but then say that persuading people to self-destruct is more evil. Well, which is it?

Ahh, so this is the root of your many confusions. When you read you skim quickly and excitedly, skipping keys words such as negations. I can't help you with that.

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To Skaiscala: I will definitely check those out. I still have a lot of learning and thinking to do. I don't idolize Peikoff or Kelly. I respect both of them. I certainly don't agree with Peikoff/Kelly's/Rand's views 100%. I almost do though, which gives me the right to call myself an objectivist.

First of all, I'm not Skaiscala.

Second, I've been reading your messages and I'm sorry, but to me it seems that the issue is emotional: You obviously like David Kelley quite a bit, almost to the point of letting your emotions take primacy over whatever else may be the argument. The way you use your language shows you think the world of David Kelley, and dislike "Pope Peikoff." The conversation is pointless because no matter what people say (and many have said quite a bit), nothing's going to change for now.

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I agree with Kelley on this point. A person's motives should be judged by the standard of rationality, just as virtues are all variants of rationality. The metaphysical results of actions are appropriately evaluated by the standard of life.

Here's the curious thing. I don't know if I would characterize it as a mind / body dichotomy, but it is some sort of dichotomy, because to be rational means to have man's life as the standard. If you do not have man's life as the standard for morality, then you are not being rational. And morality is in the province of rationality -- to have some other standard than man's life is not to be moral in the rational sense of the word. Having man's life as the rational standard for morality was one of Miss Rand's greatest accomplishments. It is this connection and integration of rationality and man's life as the standard that makes the Objectivist ethics rational. So, by implication at least, to say rationality versus man's life as the standard is to throw out Miss Rand's integration of rationality and morality, which means to throw out the Objectivist ethics, which is certainly contradictory to Objectivism qua philosophy.

In other words, using The Bible as the moral standard is not rational, and neither is any sort of collectivism type of morality -- i.e. communism or Marxism. Having a standard that is not man's life in morality is not rational; it is irrational. Christianity and Marxism are based upon fantasies, not facts.

Now, it is true that some people can be rationalistic; that is they can have some sort of consistent standard for judging morality, but having some sort of consistent standard is not the basis of a rational ethics. Only man's life as the standard is rational.

So, I would say this dichotomy is more than a mind / body dichotomy, it is a rational / factual dichotomy. In other words, going by some standard that is not based upon a fact of man is not rational. It is not as if, say, The Bible is one factual standard, and Marxism is some other factual standard, and the Objectivist ethics is another factual standard. The point is that without man's life as the standard then one is not having a fact based standard for morality. It's not like having, say, the meter for one standard of length and the foot for another standard of length that can then be translated into one another because both have the commensurate characteristics of length. Augustinian Christianity and Marxism do not have facts as part of their "standard" for morality at all.

To fail to grasp this is to fail to grasp the revolutionary aspects of the Objectivist ethics and that it is the first explicit morality to be fact based. And if Kelley is going to consider himself to be an Objectivist philosopher, this failure leaves him out of that aspiration. And is one reason he is considered an anti-Objectivist.

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