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Parts of objectivism you disagree with

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I'm a student of Objectivism and a layperson when it comes to philosophy. I don't disagree with Objectivism but then I don't know a lot about it in depth or the counter-theories which exist. Some questions I have for when I come to read ITOE and OPAR are whether Oism is in harmony with scientific knowledge and whether voluntary taxation would work, and a few other things.

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Guest Erik Martinsen
Are there any parts of objectivism that you disagree with?

Or, perhaps more essentially, what things do you disagree with Ayn Rand on? The lady was tremendous, no doubt..but not omniscient/perfect.

I'm not 100 % on the ethics yet, though to be fair I still have a lot left to study. Say I've made $100.000 at the stock market, and decide to donate 25 % of it to a children's hospital out of a sense of good will. If that action is deemed immoral or "outside of morality" according to Objectivism, I may have a problem with it. I certainly believe that man is an end in himself, and has every right to exist without making such contributions, however.

Also, I'm not convinced that the government shouldn't impose certain moderate environmental regulations on heavily polluting factories, as pollution is a violation of property rights to some extent. For instance, many people would love to live in the relatively laissez-faire Hong Kong, but refrain from doing so due to the extreme pollution (Jim Rogers is one of them). It doesn't seem wise for the government there to lean back and just hope that conditions improve over time.

Those are the only two issues I have with Objectivism, as I understand it, so far.

Edited by Erik Martinsen
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Are there any parts of [O]bjectivism that you disagree with?

Nope.

Or, perhaps more essentially, what things do you disagree with Ayn Rand on?

I'd say only the women president thing although I can see the merits of her argument on it. Suffice to say, I definitely agree with her on the the big one. The homosexual issue.

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I'm not 100 % on the ethics yet, though to be fair I still have a lot left to study. Say I've made $100.000 at the stock market, and decide to donate 25 % of it to a children's hospital out of a sense of good will. If that action is deemed immoral or "outside of morality" according to Objectivism, I may have a problem with it. I certainly believe that man is an end in himself, and has every right to exist without making such contributions, however.

It would absolutely not be outside of morality or immoral. Not sure how you'd arrive at that. If it's your money, it's yours to do with as you please. If you want to donate to a children's hospital out of benevolence and because it furthers your values, it is the moral thing for you to do. And I have to say, donating to a children's hospital seems to me one of the most obviously rational things to donate to.

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I'm not 100 % on the ethics yet, though to be fair I still have a lot left to study. Say I've made $100.000 at the stock market, and decide to donate 25 % of it to a children's hospital out of a sense of good will. If that action is deemed immoral or "outside of morality" according to Objectivism, I may have a problem with it.

If for some reason you value this hospital it is completely moral. It would only be immoral if you did not value it and donated your money out of some feeling of sacrificial duty.

Also, I'm not convinced that the government shouldn't impose certain moderate environmental regulations on heavily polluting factories, as pollution is a violation of property rights to some extent. For instance, many people would love to live in the relatively laissez-faire Hong Kong, but refrain from doing so due to the extreme pollution (Jim Rogers is one of them). It doesn't seem wise for the government there to lean back and just hope that conditions improve over time.
[italics mine]

Your own statement answers your objection. Some people upon doing a personal evaluation of what, may or may not be, in their own best interest, made a decision based on all the data they possess within their own personal context and using their own reason and volition. It's not the government's job to act as an agency that acts to improve emmigration numbers (or anything else), but to protect the rights of it's citizens.

This is all off topic, so sorry for hijacking the thread.

Edited by EC
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I agree with all of the philosophy of Obejctivism. There may be things that Rand said at some point that I disagree with, but I haven't read all of her writings so I can't say what those might be. So far I haven't encountered anything of substance.

Also, I'm not convinced that the government shouldn't impose certain moderate environmental regulations on heavily polluting factories, as pollution is a violation of property rights to some extent. For instance, many people would love to live in the relatively laissez-faire Hong Kong, but refrain from doing so due to the extreme pollution (Jim Rogers is one of them). It doesn't seem wise for the government there to lean back and just hope that conditions improve over time.

There are ways to solve the problem of pollution through property rights (which the government should defend, of course), but that's really a discussion for another thread.

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I am not sure whether I am disagreeing with Rand's POV on particular things or Objectivism proper, but my differences with Rand's canon basically boil down to three broad areas - the environment, sex/sexual identity, and foreign policy. In general though I overwhelmingly agree with the philosophy, especially with regards to ethics and epistemology (though I have some questions about the epistemology and how it relates to scientific understanding of brain function). Sometimes I wrestle with some of the metaphysical issues, namely that I do not think of man as a heroic being, though certain individuals are undoubtedly heroic and I'm glad they are. Mostly in my own mind it comes down to a matter of constantly reevaluating philosophy to make sure that it is completely consistent with physical reality. I do absolutely agree with Rand that reality is always the final arbiter and that we can either know it, or know why we can't in a particular instance (don't have the equipment, evidence didn't survive over time, etc).

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I am not sure whether I am disagreeing with Rand's POV on particular things or Objectivism proper, but my differences with Rand's canon basically boil down to three broad areas - the environment, sex/sexual identity, and foreign policy.

It is important to grasp the difference between a principle of Objectivism and the application of that principle to a concrete case. Take foreign policy as an example. The general principles that govern foreign policy questions are those of individual rights and government's role as their defender. The concretes are questions like "Does this action by a foreign government violate or threaten to violate the rights of US citizens?" "What is the best way to address this threat?" Etc. People can agree with the principles while disagreeing strongly over how they should be applied to specific cases.

Many of the specific foreign policy cases to which Rand applied her principles are less important today than when she was writing. The Vietnam War is over. The Soviet Union has fallen. And so on. We need to judge for ourselves what government policies will best defend our rights in the face of the new dangers we face today.

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You say "More essential"...I don't consider Rand's beliefs on things that didn't deal with philosophy to be of essential importance, though. Other philosophers are not judged on their personal life, or at least not as much as Rand has been.

I disagree with her views on sexuality in general, which I think she explained as a matter of psychology, and it's impact on what people ought to do. There could be legitimate griping with some specific things Rand considered immoral like homosexuality when you view ethics as much more based in observation than other branches of philosophy. You can only say a certain action is wrong if you know what that action's consequences imply.

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You say "More essential"...I don't consider Rand's beliefs on things that didn't deal with philosophy to be of essential importance, though. Other philosophers are not judged on their personal life, or at least not as much as Rand has been.

I disagree with her views on sexuality in general, which I think she explained as a matter of psychology, and it's impact on what people ought to do. There could be legitimate griping with some specific things Rand considered immoral like homosexuality when you view ethics as much more based in observation than other branches of philosophy. You can only say a certain action is wrong if you know what that action's consequences imply.

I also disagree with some things...but only applications of the philosophy, not the philosophy itself, as far as I understand it. I think Rand was wrong on the woman president issue, as well as homesexual issue. However, I think had she lived longer, she may have changed her view on homosexuality. I also don't agree with her definition of feminity, as I do not believe - and have never seen any real evidence for - her view that in order to be femine you have to have a man to worship.

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Politics: I agree with more or less all of the politics, as I can discern them from Rand's actual writings. I disagree strongly with the ideas suggested by many people on this board...including foreign policy that sometimes sounds nothing less than aggressive. I also support limited environmental restrictions, mainly regarding air and water, since there is no way to pollute water or air without it also affecting other people.

Morality: I'm a strong supporter of individual rights, but don't buy the argument that altruism is "evil," since altruism is an individual choice. Preaching to others that they should also practice altruism is definitely evil, however. I also don't buy the sexual ethcis.

Lastly, with respect to morality, I don't agree with the way she reached her conclusions. While my ultimate conclusions are more or less the same as Rand's, I don't think you can prove her moral system to be correct by starting with A=A. Whereas math can be proved because it describe relationships of things that actually exist in nature, I don't think that morals exist in nature. We derive them from our perception of what is good: happiness. I start with the assumption that happiness is good and pain is bad. I suppose it's logically possible that the opposite is true but, if it is, then I want nothing to do with morality. I suspect most people would agree that that is a good assumption on which to base morality. From there, I get to individual rights by way of noting that only individuals feel pain or happiness, not groups.

Metaphysics: No disagreements.

Epistemology: I don't believe in absolute certainty about anything but logic. I think that there comes a point where it is ridiculous to doubt certain things, but I think we should always admit the possibility that we are mistaken.

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Politics: I agree with more or less all of the politics, as I can discern them from Rand's actual writings. I disagree strongly with the ideas suggested by many people on this board...including foreign policy that sometimes sounds nothing less than aggressive. I also support limited environmental restrictions, mainly regarding air and water, since there is no way to pollute water or air without it also affecting other people.

Morality: I'm a strong supporter of individual rights, but don't buy the argument that altruism is "evil," since altruism is an individual choice. Preaching to others that they should also practice altruism is definitely evil, however. I also don't buy the sexual ethcis.

Lastly, with respect to morality, I don't agree with the way she reached her conclusions. While my ultimate conclusions are more or less the same as Rand's, I don't think you can prove her moral system to be correct by starting with A=A. Whereas math can be proved because it describe relationships of things that actually exist in nature, I don't think that morals exist in nature. We derive them from our perception of what is good: happiness. I start with the assumption that happiness is good and pain is bad. I suppose it's logically possible that the opposite is true but, if it is, then I want nothing to do with morality. I suspect most people would agree that that is a good assumption on which to base morality. From there, I get to individual rights by way of noting that only individuals feel pain or happiness, not groups.

Metaphysics: No disagreements.

Epistemology: I don't believe in absolute certainty about anything but logic. I think that there comes a point where it is ridiculous to doubt certain things, but I think we should always admit the possibility that we are mistaken.

Wow. Didn't expect a post here that i would agree with so much. Can't tell much about Metaphysics yet though.

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I, along with most people here, disagree with her position on a woman president.

I've heard "the homosexual issue" mentioned a few times. Sorry to say, but I can't recall what that was. Can someone remind me?

Rand personally believed homosexuality to be based on psychological errors and premises and found it to be disgusting. However she did not advocate any sort of government intervention in the sex lives of consenting adults, and affirmed that homosexuals should be left alone by the law. Also it is not evident that she bore personal animosity towards homosexuals, as one of her best friends was most likely gay (her brother-in-law, Nick O'Connor). She clearly did not agree with homosexuality but it was probably a matter of personal taste more than anything. I also know she had an intense hatred of lesbian feminism but that probably had more to do with the feminism than the lesbianism.

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The Wrath:

I suppose you are entitled to your opinion, and I haven't followed your history here, but I would have expected much more from someone with over 2000 posts. You have learned nothing while you were here. You realize that your last post is a rejection of Objectivism in its entirety. I mean, you say you have no disagreements with Miss Rand on metaphysics but I'm sure we can come up with something. After all, if you can't be certain about anything, then how can you be certain about metaphysics?

Just some notes:

Politics: I also support limited environmental restrictions, mainly regarding air and water, since there is no way to pollute water or air without it also affecting other people. [emphasis added]

This means that you reject property rights. Also, I agree with your assertion in bold if you mean that on the aggregate the pollution in the air and water has affected people in a positive way. Obviously, this is not what you meant and so you have no evidence to back-up your assertion.

Morality: I'm a strong supporter of individual rights, but don't buy the argument that altruism is "evil," since altruism is an individual choice. Preaching to others that they should also practice altruism is definitely evil, however. I also don't buy the sexual ethcis.

What do you mean by: "since altruism is an individual choice"? This is exactly what morality deals with: choice. In an objective ethics we want to know: if I choose to live, is there a way, in accordance with my nature, to consistently choose to do what is good for me? Is the "good" objectively definable and how do I act to achieve it?

The second sentence along with the end of the first is a fundamental rejection of Ayn Rand's ethics. There must be something bad about altruism since you say it is evil to preach it to others and yet you allow that it can be OK for you yourself to live by it. What kind of double standard is that? You have defined what is good according to how it affects others -- this is altruism, something Ayn Rand rejects categorically.

Lastly, with respect to morality, I don't agree with the way she reached her conclusions. While my ultimate conclusions are more or less the same as Rand's, I don't think you can prove her moral system to be correct by starting with A=A.

Ayn Rand used reason, employing logic inductively first and then deductively to arrive at the truth. The above describes rationalism which is detached from reality and was definitely not Ayn Rand's method, so it is clear that you don't know how she "reached her conclusions". Also, it is clear from the previous quote that you haven't reached the same conclusions as she.

Whereas math can be proved because it describe relationships of things that actually exist in nature,

Math is a very wide abstraction omitting measurement of all attributes except one: amount. Just so you realize that, when doing math, you see very little of what actually exists in nature, you are focusing on one simple attribute. But that doesn't negate the possibility of proving other more complex relationships, like Newtonian mechanics, Darwinian evolution or even the very abstract principles of philosophy like Ayn Rand's Ethics.

I don't think that morals exist in nature.

Morals are man-made but values most certainly do exist in nature and only one type entity pursues them. Which values man should pursue is the question of morality and that question can be answered objectively.

We derive them from our perception of what is good: happiness.

If you want to be objective, then you derive them not from your perception of what is good but from what is actually good. What is valuable (or good) is definable by looking at reality.

I start with the assumption that happiness is good and pain is bad.

You start with an assumption and you disagree with Ayn Rand's method? Maybe you should try hers again, no assumptions.

By this logic if taking heroin makes you happy then you should do it and setting a broken leg or taking unpleasant medicine or amputating a gangrenous leg would all be bad.

I suppose it's logically possible that the opposite is true but, if it is, then I want nothing to do with morality.

This is evasion.

Epistemology: I don't believe in absolute certainty about anything but logic.

This is a statement of faith. Are you absolutely certain about that?

Epistemology: I don't believe in absolute certainty about anything but logic. I think that there comes a point where it is ridiculous to doubt certain things, but I think we should always admit the possibility that we are mistaken.

Again this is a complete rejection of reason on principle. A rejection of the efficacy of man's mind.

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I hope it is ok for me to answer "in defens" of wrath since i state that my oppinion is close to his.

Just some notes:

This means that you reject property rights. Also, I agree with your assertion in bold if you mean that on the aggregate the pollution in the air and water has affected people in a positive way. Obviously, this is not what you meant and so you have no evidence to back-up your assertion.

It is a practical conclusion. I don't see any practical way to make everything in nature property. How do you do it with air or the ocean?

How do you solve it with the moon or the sun?

Ayn Rand used reason, employing logic inductively first and then deductively to arrive at the truth. The above describes rationalism which is detached from reality and was definitely not Ayn Rand's method, so it is clear that you don't know how she "reached her conclusions". Also, it is clear from the previous quote that you haven't reached the same conclusions as she.

I think by now I can say, that i disagree with the way she formulates the axioms. Maybe that is what he meant. Personally I'm not 100% sure on that one yet.

Math is a very wide abstraction omitting measurement of all attributes except one: amount. Just so you realize that, when doing math, you see very little of what actually exists in nature, you are focusing on one simple attribute. But that doesn't negate the possibility of proving other more complex relationships, like Newtonian mechanics, Darwinian evolution or even the very abstract principles of philosophy like Ayn Rand's Ethics.

Math is the most accurate language we have to discribe reality. "Translating" it into words is usually the problem.. as it is right now with QM. If there is something that can't be described accurately with math, then we have no way to describe it accurately.

If you want to be objective, then you derive them not from your perception of what is good but from what is actually good. What is valuable (or good) is definable by looking at reality.

My disagreement here again stems from the way she formulated the axioms.

You start with an assumption and you disagree with Ayn Rand's method? Maybe you should try hers again, no assumptions.

Well. "starting with an assumption" would be an axiom in a way. Also the rules on how to formulate axioms are somewhat assumptions as well.

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Math is the most accurate language we have to discribe reality. "Translating" it into words is usually the problem.. as it is right now with QM. If there is something that can't be described accurately with math, then we have no way to describe it accurately.

Oh? Can you translate "The quick, brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" into math? Or maybe "I bought potato chips at the grocery store yesterday"? It should be easy.

Of course Mathematics is not a language, but rather a set of tools that describe various physical relationships between objects, as in "the kinetic energy in an object is equal to half its mass multiplied by the square of its velocity" or Ek=1/2mv^2 (BTW I found no difficulty putting that "math" into words, funny...)

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Math is the most accurate language we have to discribe reality. "Translating" it into words is usually the problem.. as it is right now with QM. If there is something that can't be described accurately with math, then we have no way to describe it accurately.
What is "math"? What does it mean to "describe" something with math, and what constitutes being "accurate"? What is "language", and what is the difference between "math" and words? If you're going to make generalizations like that, you ought to think about your primaries. Edited by DavidOdden
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Math is the most accurate language we have to discribe reality. "Translating" it into words is usually the problem.. as it is right now with QM. If there is something that can't be described accurately with math, then we have no way to describe it accurately.

Nothing can be accurately described with math. Describe a cat using math. Describe anything using math except relationships between quantities.

And what do you mean by language? Isn't that something people use to communicate with each other? How would you communicate your post using math, and if math is the most accurate language, why did you instead use English there?

It is a practical conclusion. I don't see any practical way to make everything in nature property. How do you do it with air or the ocean?

How do you solve it with the moon or the sun?

Straw man. Ayn Rand advocates for individual rights (in the context of human interaction), not making the sun into property.

And the Wrath's point on this appears to be a strawman too: he seems to claim that the government being limited to enforcing individual rights would somehow allow people to poison a river others are using downstream, or burn tires under a neighbour's window. That is not true.

The problem is that environmental restrictions are not meant to protect individual rights, they are meant to protect "nature" for the sake of "nature". (and by "nature" I mean nature without humans) If you support that, you are rejecting Rand's humanist philosophy as a whole. (property rights too don't get me wrong)

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Are there any parts of objectivism that you disagree with?

Or, perhaps more essentially, what things do you disagree with Ayn Rand on? The lady was tremendous, no doubt..but not omniscient/perfect.

I disagree with her theory of male metaphysical dominance over females.

I disagree with her contention that all but the first to invent something are leeches to want the rights to the fruits of their labor.

I disagree with some other notions as well. Luckily most of these things are at the end of the branches of philosophy and do disagreeing with them, while inconsistent with Objectivism, does not make the rest of the knowledge false.

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My words were wrong i think. Math is indeed more of a tool that combined with physics is our most accurate way to describe reaility.

Translating these describtions in words is the problem.. thats why there are so many interpretations of QM.

About the property thing:

I don't understand the objection. Why can't nobody own the sun or the moon? (my intention is to think about if yes, if it was ok to destroy the moon or alter it in a way that would affect people on earth)

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