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Intrinsic Value

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If reason does not apply to the choice to live then Objectivism is moral subjectivism. We know all about values and right and wrong- given this one blind whim that everything else stands on.

For the choice to live to be a-rational means that there is no good reason to live at all.

That doesn't seem quite right.

 

"Moral subjectivism" is a concept which presupposes a standard of morality, and it's being subjective or influenced by the subjective.

 

Objectivism holds that there IS only one standard of morality, and that is life.  Life of the individual, who is the sole beneficiary of morality.  If a person rejects life, he rejects morality because he makes it impossible.

 

Objectivism is not subjective... it is objective.

 

 

What you may be struggling with is whether a man can technically be labeled "immoral" prior to his adopting a morality.  Certainly he is the sole beneficiary of morality (were he to adopt one) and he would see that his own life was the standard if he chose/discovered a rational and objective morality.  Certainly from his first  person view he is NOT being immoral prior to adopting a morality because he is completely ignorant of what morality is: hence he is, by first person standards, being amoral.  Insofar as a man who has chosen death is dangerous to you, you must of course judge him (and his amorality) appropriately as regards your life, which is your standard of value.  As such the immoral and the amoral, out there, in individuals should be seen as just as "evil" in that both can be a disvalue to you.  Moreover, you know that actions by this amoral being are against his own life, so you know, Objectively, that his choices are immoral.

 

The worst case is where a person, through no fault or virtue on their part, has come to know, rationally, what morality is, i.e. that the only possible standard is life, and all the possibilities for his capacity to live, love, laugh, achieve, etc. and yet, to make the irrational choice of death, (when life is still possible to him). 

 

Such a being who would make such a choice is an evil to YOUR life, whether you call it amoral, a-rational, or immoral or irrational.  It really does not matter.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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Goodness is a concept that denotes a certain type of relationship. This would be meaningless where there was only the one thing (say an apple) and nothing else to relate it to (say the earth, or an in

This leads to massive contradictions. Fresh water is good (for some fish) and bad (for others), and vice versa with salt water. Goodness is a relationship between two things, and "intrinsic" means tha

What about goodness? When can that be bad?

Such a being who would make such a choice is an evil to YOUR life, whether you call it amoral, a-rational, or immoral or irrational.

Such a person is objectively dangerous in the same way that a hurricane or an epidemic is; yes. And if a man can act outside of morality itself (which seems to be what the choice to die amounts to) he isn't really good or evil, nor endowed with certain inalienable rights; just a pile of synapses that could've been.

And I have no issue with looking at it that way. Not only is it internally consistent, there's also a certain elegance to it. It does contradict every time that an Objectivist philosopher has called death-ers "evil" but I don't think that really matters, in the grand scheme of things; whether "evil" or not, they are unequivocably some sort of bad.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Objectivism is not subjective... it is objective.

Exactly.

Right now, where I'm sitting, I can hear a bird singing. I don't know what kind it is but I've always loved its song; it reminds me of Spring and sunrise.

I can imagine losing the will to live and struggling to keep it; to rediscover that spark that I could no longer feel. Many of us have experienced that before. And I think that in that situation, although there may not be any abstract argument in the world that could help, something as simple as that bird's song COULD. It would almost serve as something like evidence.

While it may not be a moral or epistemological sort of evaluation, I think that choosing to live is an evaluation; it's not just an arbitrary leap of faith.

Isn't every good thing in the world one small reason for us to live; simply to enjoy it?

Is our own enjoyment (of anything) inherently valuable, for no reason other than that we enjoy it? Is it self-evidently valuable, without any reference to anything else?

Doesn't that make your own happiness an intrinsic value to you?

Edit:

By "intrinsic to you" I mean, more precisely, intrinsic to your awareness; that our own happiness is inherently valuable, in and of itself, and that we know this directly (sort of axiomatically) in every waking moment we will ever have.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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If reason does not apply to the choice to live then Objectivism is moral subjectivism. We know all about values and right and wrong- given this one blind whim that everything else stands on.

There is no reason to choose to live. At least, using reason in a normative way requires that you already chose to live. So, yes, life is chosen on a whim based on anything you want. Or if you attempt to use reason to justify your choice to live, you end up with paradoxes, undermining principles of reason, or denying that reason is normative. The reason to say morality isn't subjective is because the only alternative to life is non-existence, your death - there are facts regarding what allows you to live regardless of your whim. Morality refers to those facts. In that way, Objectivism takes it that there are moral facts, and those facts are know-able. Moral subjectivism would take it that there is no such thing as a moral fact, thus there is not even a foundation to morality of any sort.

Edited by Eiuol
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Or if you attempt to use reason to justify your choice to live, you end up with paradoxes, undermining principles of reason, or denying that reason is normative.

Why?

If someone chooses to live because they enjoy it and because they hold joy as an end-in-itself, for example, I don't see any paradoxes or contradictions that would spring from that.

What do you mean by "reason is normative"?

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Why?

If someone chooses to live because they enjoy it and because they hold joy as an end-in-itself, for example, I don't see any paradoxes or contradictions that would spring from that.

What do you mean by "reason is normative"?

Distinguish between "I have a reason" from "I used reason". These are different concepts. A reason to choose X doesn't necessarily mean you used reason to come up with your choice. "It feels good" is a reason to choose life, but if you arrived at it without reason and instead used whim or feelings, then reason/logic/etc wasn't there. But there's no way to say a person ought to live when all your oughts are based on life as it is in Objectivism. Some opt for duty ethics, or utilitarianism, or some other theory, but those theories don't use life as the -foundation- to ethics even if they all take life to be important.

Let's say that you arrive at the choice to live and say "I know this the proper choice, I determined this by reason". But what in that process of reason made it so you -should- choose life? You'd have to say "because life is the standard". Then you'd need to use life to justify life! It's circular. That leads to paradox for life-as-the-standard. If your use of reason has an ought, before you have the foundation for oughts, it's both true AND false like a vase-face illusion.

Easy solution: completely reformulate reason to allow for contradictions or acting against your principles while maintaining them (akrasia). But that is pretty subjective and/or goes way too far.

Better solution: reason is only non-normative and need not function to serve any purpose other than itself. That violates life as the standard - reason only works on its own terms this way. It waves the problem away, and we loose all sense of normative reasoning.

So, "reason is normative" means that reason serves a specific end. Improper reason violates the standard of those norms. In Objectivism, reason and ethics are closely linked, especially when reason is a tool of survival. It's not a problem that needs solving. It's fine to pick life on a whim, and fits pretty well with Rand's own thinking about "sense of life". Whim doesn't apply well either, so you can say "arational".

You can justify continuing to live, by using reason, but it's different than choosing life to begin with. More or less, life is maybe chosen by perceptual-like processes. The "why" becomes a question about non-conceptual thought.

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Not biological "life" but pleasure; yep.

 

Careful.  Your understanding or use of the term "intrinsic" is likely reality based and individual-contextual. 

 

Intrinsic DOES not rely, imply, or has a basis in those.  From a standard philosophic point of view "intrinsic value" as intrinsicists conceive of it, means value independent of a valuer, having value independent of to whom: a non-relational characteristic for which there is no reason.  So rocks could be "bad"... in themselves.  Not to you, for any particular reason, not because it is bad to liquids nor to light waves.  It is divorced from all reality, it simply has some value which reason cannot address. 

 

What then IS value if not value for something, if not based on anything in reality or reason? 

 

It is like a property of reality, it simply is intrinsic in things, to more or less of a degree, except of course such a thing is a mystical construct, like the platonic forms.  

 

Technically speaking "intrinsic value" is a mystical fallacy.

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Craig24,

I believe that's a tautology.

 

How is life a value intrinsically if the concept value refers to what you like or love (men can and do commit suicide.)??  You are operating with a wrong definition of the term value (at least according to Rand).  

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How is life a value intrinsically if the concept value refers to what you like or love (men can and do commit suicide.)??  You are operating with a wrong definition of the term value (at least according to Rand).  

Jon isn't arguing for intrinsic value.

The tautology is "you have to value anything, including life, for it to be a value", it looks like you said "if you value something, it is a value". Well, yeah, but intrinsicism isn't that no one values. That a person sees it as a value to them doesn't deny that the value in question is intrinsically valuable - always a value for its own sake. Your response doesn't mean all values must serve an end. You're not wrong, but it's not a good argument.

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A reason to choose X doesn't necessarily mean you used reason to come up with your choice. "It feels good" is a reason to choose life, but if you arrived at it without reason and instead used whim or feelings, then reason/logic/etc wasn't there.

True. Thank you for catching that equivocation.

I think it is rational to choose to live because it's absolutely necessary to be happy; because corpses can't value anything. The implicit premise there is that happiness/pleasure/goodness is worth pursuing, which seems self-evident (or at least implicit in the concept of a "good"), and worth more than escaping from pain. On that point . . .

The "why" becomes a question about non-conceptual thought.

I think you're right.
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Technically speaking "intrinsic value" is a mystical fallacy.

Yes, that's a slightly abusive way to use the term, but what if something was intrinsically valuable TO the valuer; valuable in every conceivable context that they could encounter it in?

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What are the arguments for intrinsic value? You don't prove a negative. You disprove the positive arguments for a proposition.

 

Value is objective. It's neither in the thing itself nor in the eye of the beholder. It's both. It's the objective nature of the thing being valued in relation to the objective nature of the living thing that values it for its survival.

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Yes, that's a slightly abusive way to use the term, but what if something was intrinsically valuable TO the valuer; valuable in every conceivable context that they could encounter it in?

 

"valuable in all contexts" is not equivalent to "intrinsically valuable TO the valuer"

 

When you accept that all values (real ones) are outside the concept and definition of "intrinsic" you cannot simply revert to using that concept as an adverb.  You thereby consign the value once again to the realm of a mystic anticoncept.  Nothing is "intrinsically valuable"... it is either valuable or not.

 

 

If something is valuable in "all contexts" or the thing that makes "all other values possible", you have defined an ultimate (foundational) value, not an intrinsic value.  Remind you of anything?

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When you accept that all values (real ones) are outside the concept and definition of "intrinsic" you cannot simply revert to using that concept as an adverb.

Why not? The original meaning was broken.

If something is valuable in "all contexts" or the thing that makes "all other values possible", you have defined an ultimate (foundational) value, not an intrinsic value. Remind you of anything?

Yes. :thumbsup: Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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