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Is taxation irretrievably immoral?

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I am not disagreeing with anything you said, but I think it is important to point out if the person were in a truly emergency situation (say if we're in Soviet Russia), it would not necessarily be immoral to steal. Morality would not really apply in such a situation.

Yes but if you've been following, we've made a distinction between a totalitarian dictatorship and what he considered a proper redistribution scheme under a democracy. We're not talking about emergency ethics or a lifeboat scenario or life in Soviet Russia. He is talking about his need for medecine and his feeling of entitlement to it at someone else's expense. In this case, the fact that morality ends at the barrel of a gun is totally against his point.

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Survival is not a "pre-moral" question

I find that statement interesting, given that I acquired the idea of survival being a pre-moral choice... from Rand's own philosophy.

From http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethi...alStandard.html : "To every living thing, there is one primary choice, and that is to live or not -- to engage in the action required to further its own life or to engage in action that destroys its own life. The only other alternative is death. Choosing life as your standard of value is a pre-moral choice. It cannot be judged as right or wrong; but once chosen, it is the role of morality to help man to live the best life possible. "

From http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/morality.html : "Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course." -- “Causality Versus Duty,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 99

and: "It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality. The only man who desires to be moral is the man who desires to live." -- Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 123

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I find that statement interesting, given that I acquired the idea of survival being a pre-moral choice... from Rand's own philosophy.

And once you have chosen that you'd rather live than die, morality applies to how you go about doing that.

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'DataPacRat'
If you had to choose between stealing a loaf of bread or starving (with no wiggling about for third choices), is theft moral? That Gordian knot of a puzzle was solved by somebody who said that survival is a /pre-/moral choice. That is, that issues of survival are not questions of morality or ethics, but of how to define what one's moral/ethical system is in the first place.

... and there's that insight I was hoping for. Most Objectivists I've talked to treat health care as an issue about government funding, and thus about taxation, and thus about rights, and thus about politics, and thus about a subset of ethics... while I treat it as a survival issue, of making the difference between life and death, and thus a pre-moral issue.[/code] I see that you are treading a fine line here. It is in emergency situations - where human survival is impossible and where one's primary goal is to simply get past a disaster - that standard morality does not apply; but that does not cover the broad category of survival as you discuss it. E.g. stealing because you are hungry is not moral, simply because there are rational choices (like earn the bread).
[code]Yes, I believe that, to me, my life is more important than your rights. And that, to you, your life is more important than my rights. As long as the issue is of survival vs rights, survival trumps rights. (Things get a lot stickier when it's a question of one person's survival vs another's, or one's rights vs another's, but, again, that's a whole nother topic.)

The standard of value is life - all men's life; one is not more important than another. In virtually all cases in life, survival does not compete with rights.

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And once you have chosen that you'd rather live than die, morality applies to how you go about doing that.

Precisely. And, in my posts above, I have described the circumstances that are required for me to continue to live - and, outside of those particular circumstances, the way I choose to go about living, my morality, is very close to the Objectivist system. I'm all for reducing government, getting rid of what taxes are possible, and generally avoiding interfering in anyone else's life, and pretty much any other aspect of Objectivist philosophy you'd care to describe... /after/ my survival needs are met.

The main argument going on here seems to be different assumptions on what is required to survive. Outside of that specific area, I don't really have any serious arguments with any of the points that have been mentioned.

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'DataPacRat'
If you had to choose between stealing a loaf of bread or starving (with no wiggling about for third choices), is theft moral? That Gordian knot of a puzzle was solved by somebody who said that survival is a /pre-/moral choice. That is, that issues of survival are not questions of morality or ethics, but of how to define what one's moral/ethical system is in the first place.

... and there's that insight I was hoping for. Most Objectivists I've talked to treat health care as an issue about government funding, and thus about taxation, and thus about rights, and thus about politics, and thus about a subset of ethics... while I treat it as a survival issue, of making the difference between life and death, and thus a pre-moral issue.[/code] I see that you are treading a fine line here. Indeed. :)
It is in emergency situations - where human survival is impossible and where one's primary goal is to simply get past a disaster - that standard morality does not apply; but that does not cover the broad category of survival as you discuss it. E.g. stealing because you are hungry is not moral, simply because there are rational choices (like earn the bread).
That is why I added the caveat about wiggle room for that classic dilemma. When there /are/ third choices, in which it's possible to survive without violating anyone else's rights, then of course that would be the preferred option.
[code]Yes, I believe that, to me, my life is more important than your rights. And that, to you, your life is more important than my rights. As long as the issue is of survival vs rights, survival trumps rights. (Things get a lot stickier when it's a question of one person's survival vs another's, or one's rights vs another's, but, again, that's a whole nother topic.)

The standard of value is life - all men's life; one is not more important than another.

I believe some previous posters in this thread disagreed with the point about whether the standard is all lives, or one's own life, so I trust that you won't mind that I won't take your word on that issue being settled.

In virtually all cases in life, survival does not compete with rights.

I'm used to being called weird by ordinary folk; I find it amusing that I'm so far off the charts that even Objectivists (who, regardless of the merits of the philosophy, aren't exactly mainstream in present society) consider my situation to be an edge case.

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Precisely. And, in my posts above, I have described the circumstances that are required for me to continue to live - and, outside of those particular circumstances, the way I choose to go about living, my morality, is very close to the Objectivist system.

No, no. The *choice* to live or die is outside the province of morality. HOW you continue living is exactly what morality is FOR. It's not like, ok I'm alive now and have enough food for the next week, so now I can choose to be moral for a while. The purpose of morality, according to Objectivism, is to serve as a guide for living ... including where and how you're going to get your food, shelter, or medical care.

The distinction is that if you decide not to care whether you live or die or that you'd prefer to die, then morality can't help you. There's no right or wrong way to commit suicide.

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I'm used to being called weird by ordinary folk; I find it amusing that I'm so far off the charts that even Objectivists (who, regardless of the merits of the philosophy, aren't exactly mainstream in present society) consider my situation to be an edge case.

I think what's being said is that you're lying. Clearly, if you can type, you can make a living. We* just don't believe your insistence that you can't possibly provide for your own needs without stealing from others (via taxation).

Edit: speaking for myself, not assuming everyone agrees.

Edited by bluey
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'DataPacRat' 

That is why I added the caveat about wiggle room for that classic dilemma. When there /are/ third choices, in which it's possible to survive without violating anyone else's rights, then of course that would be the preferred option.[/code] There is no real "wiggle room": an emergency is obvious. But all subjectivists who do not understand principles tend to re-define terms to create such WR by evading their options.
[code]I believe some previous posters in this thread disagreed with the point about whether the standard is all lives, or one's own life, so I trust that you won't mind that I won't take your word on that issue being settled.
SO take Rand's word for it - it's true. Think about how you would define right from wrong if we subjectively compared the value of different lives and rights.
I'm used to being called weird by ordinary folk; I find it amusing that I'm so far off the charts that even Objectivists (who, regardless of the merits of the philosophy, aren't exactly mainstream in present society) consider my situation to be an edge case.

Once you are comfortable with all Obj. principles, you will be comfortable with how you lead your life. Presented properly to others, you will be admired for what you stand for even if others can't agree with you.

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I think what's being said is that you're lying. Clearly, if you can type, you can make a living. We* just don't believe your insistence that you can't possibly provide for your own needs without stealing from others (via taxation).

Edit: speaking for myself, not assuming everyone agrees.

I'm aware of that belief. And, as long as I maintain my privacy by not publicizing certain details about my situation, you will continue to lack the evidence that would change your mind, and so it will be quite reasonable for you to disbelieve me on that point.

However, consider this: I am the one and only DataPacRat in the world, and so my posts here under that name are tied to my whole online identity. I consider the benefits of having a reputation for never trying to deceive another to be worth a great deal, and so I do my best to never lie, and, whenever I discover I am mistaken about something, to immediately and publicly own up to my error. I am, to the best extent that I am able to be so, an Honest Rat. If there were ever a single demonstrable example of my having deliberately deceived anyone, then that reputation for honesty would disappear in a heartbeat... and I would be considered no better than any other despicable liar you care to think of.

Hopefully, as I spend some time here, I will continue to demonstrate my honesty sufficiently that you will be willing to accept my claims at face value... even in the case where I choose not to provide evidence for those claims for privacy purposes. Or, perhaps you will continue to believe me a liar, in which case nothing I can do would persuade you otherwise.

Edited by DataPacRat
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I find that statement interesting, given that I acquired the idea of survival being a pre-moral choice... from Rand's own philosophy.

From http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethi...alStandard.html : "To every living thing, there is one primary choice, and that is to live or not -- to engage in the action required to further its own life or to engage in action that destroys its own life. The only other alternative is death. Choosing life as your standard of value is a pre-moral choice. It cannot be judged as right or wrong; but once chosen, it is the role of morality to help man to live the best life possible. "

From http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/morality.html : "Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course." -- “Causality Versus Duty,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 99

and: "It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality. The only man who desires to be moral is the man who desires to live." -- Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 123

Those quotes directly contradict 100% of what you're saying. The basic choice that is pre-moral is whether or not you chose life as your standard of value, ie., whether you choose to live or not. If you choose to live, how you go about achieving your life requires morality, and in this case, your choice to support a system that initiates force and enables you to take the unearned is immoral.

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Those quotes directly contradict 100% of what you're saying. The basic choice that is pre-moral is whether or not you chose life as your standard of value, ie., whether you choose to live or not. If you choose to live, how you go about achieving your life requires morality, and in this case, your choice to support a system that initiates force and enables you to take the unearned is immoral.

It appears that we've reached the point where we're simply going to start repeating our assertions at each other, possibly interspersed with "Sez you" level sniping at the other's claims. As I said just above, either you accept my claim that I require medical care beyond that which I can afford to pay for in order to simply stay alive, or you don't. If you do accept that, then the rest of my argument follows. If you don't, if you believe that I'm lying about my medical needs, then ask yourself this: what possible benefit could I get from making such a lie? And, even moreso, could any possible such benefit outweigh the costs of abandoning my attempt at maintaining a reputation for honesty?

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either you accept my claim that I require medical care beyond that which I can afford to pay for in order to simply stay alive, or you don't.

That wasn't your claim. Your claim was that you have a condition which limits you in a way analogous to having an "off" biological clock, which doesn't allow you to pursue work in a "regular" way, and that therefor you can make enough to feed, clothe and shelter yourself but NO MORE, certainly not enough for health insurance. That's the claim that is unbelievable. If you had said "I have an expensive medical condition and I consider myself fortunate that I don't have to pay for it all by myself thanks to a socialized medical system", that would be a different claim, and you would have a different question. Are you changing your story or are you too "honest" for that?

Beyond that, it's irrelevant. It doesn't matter if you "need" medical care. Your need doesn't give you the right to force anyone else to pay your way. Your contention is that it does. You've been told where you can find complete arguments to the contrary, and you're saying "no, I don't feel like doing that, if no one can explain it in posts on a forum then I don't care to know". You don't have to. But all you managed to do here is create a 5-page thread that goes nowhere and concludes nothing. And you're probably going to leave thinking you learned something about Objectivism.

Edited by bluey
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It appears that we've reached the point where we're simply going to start repeating our assertions at each other, possibly interspersed with "Sez you" level sniping at the other's claims. As I said just above, either you accept my claim that I require medical care beyond that which I can afford to pay for in order to simply stay alive, or you don't. If you do accept that, then the rest of my argument follows. If you don't, if you believe that I'm lying about my medical needs, then ask yourself this: what possible benefit could I get from making such a lie? And, even moreso, could any possible such benefit outweigh the costs of abandoning my attempt at maintaining a reputation for honesty?

No, it's irrelevant whether you require such medication, that has nothing to do with you having free-will to choose to be conscious or not. The basic choice to live or not pertains to your choice to exercise your free-will or not. It has nothing to do with how much resources you need to stay alive. I need resources to stay alive too, believe it or not. Every man alive needs material resources to stay alive. Do you want a "needs material objects to stay alive" award? Your need of medicine is not a pre-moral situation for you, morality, and specifically the Objectivist ethics of rational egoism applies to how you obtain your medicine, and nowhere will you find that it is moral for you to support the Canadian government to take it from a Canadian citizen by force.

Edited by 2046
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In justifying his position DataPacRat has used the 'needs-wants' distinction. Prof. Tara Smith's book Viable Values spends several pages covering that topic. Viable Values is a modestly priced softcover, but fortunately for DataPacRat most of its text, including the whole of the discussion of the needs-wants distinction, is available for free at google books.

Viable Values pg. 133

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That wasn't your claim. Your claim was that you have a condition which limits you in a way analogous to having an "off" biological clock, which doesn't allow you to pursue work in a "regular" way, and that therefor you can make enough to feed, clothe and shelter yourself but NO MORE, certainly not enough for health insurance. That's the claim that is unbelievable. If you had said "I have an expensive medical condition and I consider myself fortunate that I don't have to pay for it all by myself thanks to a socialized medical system", that would be a different claim, and you would have a different question. Are you changing your story or are you too "honest" for that?

I apologize that in my desire to maintain my privacy, I have allowed myself to be so unclear that I have failed to communicate very well, allowing for this misinterpretation. I will now try to clarify. I have what I suppose we can call my Chronic Condition, which is what limits my earning potential to its present level. In addition to that, I have had several, and expect to have more, Acute Episodes, requiring modern hospital care for my life to continue. The former is what limits my income to its present level; the latter is what, if I had to directly pay my own medical bills, would have required treatment so expensive as to be unaffordable, leading to my demise outside of a society with government-funded health care.

Beyond that, it's irrelevant. It doesn't matter if you "need" medical care. Your need doesn't give you the right to force anyone else to pay your way. Your contention is that it does. You've been told where you can find complete arguments to the contrary, and you're saying "no, I don't feel like doing that, if no one can explain it in posts on a forum then I don't care to know".

"Sure, you can learn the secrets of the universe. All you have to do is climb these hundred flights of stairs." "I'm in a wheelchair." "You just don't feel like it. If you really /wanted/ to learn, you could do it. And no cheating by using the elevator."

Please do not mistake disagreement for lack of understanding. I believe that I have learned the basics of the argument you mention; I simply disagree with some of the premises of that argument, based on the slightly differing set of axioms used by myself and the Objectivists here. Remember the difference between the axioms of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry? Each system of axioms creates propositions that are correct within its own framework - and while some of those propositions are the same or similar to propositions in the other framework, some are entirely incorrect according to the other system's axioms. Learning about both systems can provide useful insights, regardless of which system is assumed to be the correct one at any time.

You don't have to. But all you managed to do here is create a 5-page thread that goes nowhere and concludes nothing. And you're probably going to leave thinking you learned something about Objectivism.

I am sorry that you feel this thread has been so useless. I have found it quite enlightening so far, both about myself, and, if not necessarily about Objectivism, then at least about Objectivists.

Grames - thank you for that reference, I'll go give it a read now.

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