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Want to help describe some SF Objectivism?

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DataPacRat
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I'm part of a collaborative writing project, "Orion's Arm", http://www.orionsarm.com/ , a science-fiction, transhumanist space opera universe set around 10,000 years from now. So far, one collection of short stories in the setting has been physically published, and more ideas are on the way.

One of the polities in the setting is called the "Objectivist Commonwealth", which is supposed to be based on something approximating present-day Objectivist philosophy. While I disagree with certain of the conclusions of Objectivism, I seem to /know/ more about it than any other OA member, and so I've been asked to see if I can come up with improvements for the existing write-up. But, knowing the limits of my own knowledge, I thought it might be a good idea to ask for input from some actual Objectivists.

So... is anyone here interested in helping me make sure I don't make unknowing errors about Objectivism in the new write-up?

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I'm part of a collaborative writing project, "Orion's Arm", http://www.orionsarm.com/ , a science-fiction, transhumanist space opera universe set around 10,000 years from now. So far, one collection of short stories in the setting has been physically published, and more ideas are on the way.

One of the polities in the setting is called the "Objectivist Commonwealth", which is supposed to be based on something approximating present-day Objectivist philosophy. While I disagree with certain of the conclusions of Objectivism, I seem to /know/ more about it than any other OA member, and so I've been asked to see if I can come up with improvements for the existing write-up. But, knowing the limits of my own knowledge, I thought it might be a good idea to ask for input from some actual Objectivists.

So... is anyone here interested in helping me make sure I don't make unknowing errors about Objectivism in the new write-up?

I'd be interesting in trying. Is this link http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-topic/45cfd0563d016 a good place to start a critique or is it not an accurate summery of your thoughts on Objectivism?

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I'd be interesting in trying. Is this link http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-topic/45cfd0563d016 a good place to start a critique or is it not an accurate summery of your thoughts on Objectivism?

That's the existing article, which was in place before I joined the OA project; it's what will form the basis of any revisions, so is certainly a good place to start.

One note - the setting assumes the existence of 'transapients', sometimes called 'posthumans', which are capable of thinking useful thoughts that a human brain is literally incapable of thinking. (There are various levels of such transapients, the higher levels able to think in ways that the lower ones can't.) The page describing the setting's basic rules about any conflict between different levels is at http://www.orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page_id=33 , but can generally be summed up as being about as lopsided as a group of well-prepared wolves (or amoebas, depending on the levels involved) trying to fight a group of well-prepared humans. Some general notes on 'canon' for the setting are at http://orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page=gen_canon .

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That's the existing article, which was in place before I joined the OA project; it's what will form the basis of any revisions, so is certainly a good place to start.

One note - the setting assumes the existence of 'transapients', sometimes called 'posthumans', which are capable of thinking useful thoughts that a human brain is literally incapable of thinking. (There are various levels of such transapients, the higher levels able to think in ways that the lower ones can't.) The page describing the setting's basic rules about any conflict between different levels is at http://www.orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page_id=33 , but can generally be summed up as being about as lopsided as a group of well-prepared wolves (or amoebas, depending on the levels involved) trying to fight a group of well-prepared humans. Some general notes on 'canon' for the setting are at http://orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page=gen_canon .

Most of the page I linked is completely wrong, so reading Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff would probably the the most helpful thing for you to do.

1. Firstly, the term "Commonwealth" doesn't seem appropriate. It can mean something pretty anti-objectivist, but not necessarily.

1.a. I'm not sure what term would be best, an Objectivist society would almost certainly not be named for its form of government. An Objectivist government would have almost no power over its populace. No power to tax, to regulate, no roads, no schools, no control in any way over the currency or economy. All of those things would be private. The only things the government has is a monopoly on retribution. Things like police, judges, army, and the powers of these would be strictly limited to punishing those who infringe on the *rights of others.

1.b.*Rights for an Objectivist are strictly Negative Rights. Meaning freedom FROM someone or something. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights

2. Orion's Arm's site has the economy listed as a Command Economy. Objectivism claims Laissez-faire capitalism as the only moral economic structure, and is the only way it would ever be.

3. It appears you have the population listed as AI. Objectivism is a philosophy developed for Man. Outside of man it would apply to autonomous beings with reason. It's possible to have AI who are autonomous beings with reason (An example of a AI society that appeared objectivist was the robot nation in The Matrix: The Animatrix, imo a very good example of an Objectivist society) but any of this hive mind stuff just doesn't work.

As far as your superhuman thinking people, I have no ability to grasp said superhuman thought, so I don't know how it would or if it would impact anything. But as long as they are autonomous and rational, it shouldn't make a difference.

I was just skimming and started to look closer and I just got to the Psyche, Art, Culture section... and that will require a line by line critique. New post for that.

Sorry for the randomness, just typing as I think.

Edited by TuesdaysThursdays
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"Metapsychology: objectivist, pragmatist, helpful (but expect memetic conversion)"

I'm actually not too familiar with the word Metapsychology, but from my quick research it seems impossible to explain this one while taking AI into consideration. In man, there is no mind/body dichotomy. Our rational being is the chemical firing of our body and brain. There is no soul that houses our 'essence'. But in AI there is a 'soul' of sorts. The program itself. So there is a Program/hardware dichotomy in AI.

Objectivists are not pragmatists. Objectivsts are principled/ethical. Pragmatism is the opposite of morality.

Helpful has no meaning. Helpful to whom?

No idea what "expect memetic conversion" means.

"Metaethics: utilitarian, missionary. Consider minds that are too subjectively orientated bring about mass destruction to the sentient life around them; they seek to avoid this by competitive expansion and biont and hyperturing conversion initiatives"

Absolutely as far off as possible.

Replace with the word "Self-interest" and read http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...bjectivism_pobs starting half way down with "The Objectivist ethics is the opposite of Kant's."

"Society: communion of transapient objectivist Minds"

Absolutely as far off as possible.

A society of Objecitivists would be individuals who deal with other individuals following the Trader Principle. Value for value and always volitionally.

More after lunch.

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Most of the page I linked is completely wrong, so reading Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff would probably the the most helpful thing for you to do.

I have a basic understanding of the principles of present-day Objectivism, such as are described at http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/ ; while a number of the fine details escape me, I at least know the basics well enough to argue for or against them.

1. Firstly, the term "Commonwealth" doesn't seem appropriate. It can mean something pretty anti-objectivist, but not necessarily.

1.a. I'm not sure what term would be best, an Objectivist society would almost certainly not be named for its form of government. An Objectivist government would have almost no power over its populace. No power to tax, to regulate, no roads, no schools, no control in any way over the currency or economy. All of those things would be private. The only things the government has is a monopoly on retribution. Things like police, judges, army, and the powers of these would be strictly limited to punishing those who infringe on the *rights of others.

Given that the setting is around 10,000 years from now, all the terms in use in the website are translations into present-day English from whatever future language is being used.

My current thought is that the 'common' in the name comes more from the common defense - that is, Objectivists believe that everyone has the right to use force in self-defense, and a rationally self-interested extension of that right allows for the similar use of force to defend others, promoting one's own benefit by promoting the common weal. After all, a group of transapients who explicitly announce "You mess with one of us, you mess with /all/ of us" has a pretty high deterrence value for those who would consider initiating force against them or otherwise infringing on their rights.

1.b.*Rights for an Objectivist are strictly Negative Rights. Meaning freedom FROM someone or something. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights

That, I understand; http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Politics_Rights.html is the first reference I check when looking up the Objectivist conception of rights.

2. Orion's Arm's site has the economy listed as a Command Economy. Objectivism claims Laissez-faire capitalism as the only moral economic structure, and is the only way it would ever be.

This gets into a tricky area. From what I understand of Objectivism's views of vegetarianism, as mentioned in http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Evil...etarianism.html , those beings who are not 'rational' do not have rights, and thus an Objectivist does not have to worry about violating their non-existent rights. In OA, one of the interpretations consistent with the evidence is that a transapient is so much smarter than an average human that they effectively undergo a mental 'phase change', and such a being might consider a human to have precisely as many rights as a human considers a cow to have - that is, none. Going by this interpretation, Objectivist ethics would primarily deal with interactions between beings of the same 'toposophic' level, with no consideration given to 'lower' beings other than how they benefit the 'higher' beings, such as as property, or left in wild reserves, or even as parts of the higher beings' minds.

The other interpretation I can work out is that Objectivist ethics apply relatively equally to /all/ beings of human-level intelligence or higher, and the complications come from the inequalities of power between human-level intelligences and beings of astronomically greater intellect and power.

In the current writeup of the Commonwealth, there exists a single being of the highest mental level (the sixth 'toposophic'). Going by the first interpretation, the entire Commonwealth would be its property, with which it could do as it wished, which could be interpreted as a 'command economy'. Going by the second interpretation, then, as you say, the write-up would have to change it from command economy to laissez-faire capitalism.

3. It appears you have the population listed as AI. Objectivism is a philosophy developed for Man. Outside of man it would apply to autonomous beings with reason. It's possible to have AI who are autonomous beings with reason (An example of a AI society that appeared objectivist was the robot nation in The Matrix: The Animatrix, imo a very good example of an Objectivist society) but any of this hive mind stuff just doesn't work.

OA assumes AIs of just about any imaginable sort can be created - self-willed or not, conscious or not, sentient or not, consisting of a hive-mind or a single individual.

(Will respond to your next post in a separate post.)

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"Metapsychology: objectivist, pragmatist, helpful (but expect memetic conversion)"

I'm actually not too familiar with the word Metapsychology,

The central region of the setting is divided among the "Sephirotic Empires", which are more like regions of a similar philosophy containing a number of individual polities, comparable to the idea of 'Christendom' or 'the Islamic House of Peace'. The Objectivist Commonwealth is, approximately, as powerful as the combined Sephirotics, and is also unusual compared to them in being a (nearly) unified polity.

but from my quick research it seems impossible to explain this one while taking AI into consideration. In man, there is no mind/body dichotomy. Our rational being is the chemical firing of our body and brain. There is no soul that houses our 'essence'. But in AI there is a 'soul' of sorts. The program itself. So there is a Program/hardware dichotomy in AI.

Objectivists are not pragmatists. Objectivsts are principled/ethical. Pragmatism is the opposite of morality.

Helpful has no meaning. Helpful to whom?

No idea what "expect memetic conversion" means.

These last three items are meant to refer more to how the Commonwealth interacts with other polities, rather than how individuals interact. That is, how the country/nation/government/etc as a whole engages international relations, which, for many philosophies, is somewhat different than how individuals interact with each other. For example, 'helpful (but expect memetic conversion)' would mean that the Commonwealth offers aid to other polities, but tends to do so in ways that are explicitly designed to promote its particular philosophy and to attempt to convert the aided polities to Objectivism. (From the Commonwealth's point of view, Objectivism is /correct/, after all, so such conversion is simply another form of assistance...)

"Metaethics: utilitarian, missionary. Consider minds that are too subjectively orientated bring about mass destruction to the sentient life around them; they seek to avoid this by competitive expansion and biont and hyperturing conversion initiatives"

Absolutely as far off as possible.

Replace with the word "Self-interest" and read http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...bjectivism_pobs starting half way down with "The Objectivist ethics is the opposite of Kant's."

I think the original authour was making a similar difference here between the ethics of interactions between individuals (which I understand the Objectivist position on fairly well, from http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethics_Main.html , among other sources) and the "meta"ethics of interactions between sovereign nations, for which I'm not entirely sure of the Objectivist position on.

"Society: communion of transapient objectivist Minds"

Absolutely as far off as possible.

A society of Objecitivists would be individuals who deal with other individuals following the Trader Principle. Value for value and always volitionally.

This one, I don't see any problems in fixing that way. In the proposal for the revised version, I'll swap out the word 'communion' for something involving such volitional exchange.

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Jumping up a the page a bit:

Civilization: Utilitarian, pragmatic, based on objective usage of resources and objective reproduction of population numbers to allow the physical universe to be exploited for the needs of sentient beings without creating inefficiencies or inconveniences.

Civilization: Trader principle. Freedom is a primary, reduction in inefficiencies and inconveniences simply a happy side effect of the free market.

Symbolism, Art and Aesthetics: Mostly functional and austere representations of physical, biological, social, and mathematical processes. Considered austere by most bionts, although popular in some Negentropist circles for its minimalist economy of design

I'm really weak in the area of Objetivist aesthetics, but I'll try.

The purpose of art is to communicate a concept. Love, pride, power etc. Objectivists aren't emotionless machines this is trying to make it out to be. Here is a YouTube channel of an objectivist artist. http://www.youtube.com/user/ObjectivistAesthetic

Concept of Space: Space as objective exemplar of subjective states

Concept of Time: Time as objective exemplar of subjective states

Not sure what these mean. Objectivism holds that there is a reality, and it is knowable. Space is part of reality and it has laws that govern its nature, these laws are knowable. Time is part of reality and it has laws that govern its nature, these laws are knowable.

Psychological Stagnation: confusion of subjective ego with the Objective, resulting in obsessive attachment to over-stylised or too-rigid objective modelling of reality,

I understand this is meant purposefully as a fault in an objectivist society for artistic purposes. But "confusion of subjective ego with the Objective" doesn't make sense to me. I think you will have to define the terms used for me to understand what is trying to be said. As far as "resulting in obsessive attachment to over-stylised or too-rigid objective modelling of reality" goes, Objectivists strive to understand reality as it is, though, because of the nature of Ayn Rand's format, romanticizing reality could be portrayed as a 'fault' in your work of fiction.

Socio-Ecological Categories: All objectivist ai have full citizenship. Bionts and non-objectivist artificials are accepted after a long probationary period, during which their thought-processes are purged of 'false subjectivist memeticities'

Again, non-human's poorly translate into a phylosophy for man. Being 'accepted' to an objectivist society wont require the say-so of a governing body, nor mind melted to conformity. Anyone who follows the Trader Principle will function fine in an objectivist society. If someone wants to use force on others, they will find no one to trade with (nowhere to get food, to live, etc), and if they use force, they will be subject to the retributive forces of the government.

Government and Administration

Constitutional government. As I've said, the government will be all but nonexistent. Nothing resembling any government that exists today. Funding will be entirely voluntary. The only services provided are Police, Judicial system, and a protection agency for external threats.

Possibly a form of democracy or representative democracy for things that have no bearing on personal liberty.

Personal Note: I am suspicious that any government can exist without eventually growing, no matter how restrained to begin with. I think an anarcho-capitalist system can work better, but that is not objectivism. This is really a polarizing topic between people who respect Ayn Rand's philosophy.

Megastructures: Ubiquitous; megascale engineering including dyson spheres are often used to maximise productivity.

As I've stated, the economy would be laissez faire, so all structures would be privately owned, and for the most part, unique snowflakes. Imagine if you could construct the most awesome structure that ever existed using technology that allowed for about anything and everything. Now imagine everyone else doing the same thing.

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This gets into a tricky area. From what I understand of Objectivism's views of vegetarianism, as mentioned in http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Evil...etarianism.html , those beings who are not 'rational' do not have rights, and thus an Objectivist does not have to worry about violating their non-existent rights. In OA, one of the interpretations consistent with the evidence is that a transapient is so much smarter than an average human that they effectively undergo a mental 'phase change', and such a being might consider a human to have precisely as many rights as a human considers a cow to have - that is, none. Going by this interpretation, Objectivist ethics would primarily deal with interactions between beings of the same 'toposophic' level, with no consideration given to 'lower' beings other than how they benefit the 'higher' beings, such as as property, or left in wild reserves, or even as parts of the higher beings' minds.

Reason (or capacity for reason) is the standard. After that there is no hierarchy. I'm smarter then at least a few people on this planet, but that doesn't mean I own them.

It makes no sense to say humans have rights, but since super-humans are smarter, their rights trump humans rights and so on.

"I have the right to enslave you if I'm smarter then you" is not the same as "carrots don't have rights".

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I think the original authour was making a similar difference here between the ethics of interactions between individuals (which I understand the Objectivist position on fairly well, from http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethics_Main.html , among other sources) and the "meta"ethics of interactions between sovereign nations, for which I'm not entirely sure of the Objectivist position on.

How an objectivist treats a person depends on how much of a value that person is to them-self. Nations don't deal with nations, people deal with people. The idea of a 'nation' as its own entity is one of those "primitive subjective" tribal ideas that we have realized is irrational.

Trade between nations would work exactly the same as interactions within the objectivist society. Though the 'outside' nation may very well have barriers to trade the objecivists have no control over, the objectivist society would have no such barriers.

There is no 'agenda' of an objectivist society. Individuals having full control over their own life and pursuing their own happiness is simply what objectivism claims we should do if we want to live. I will do things that further my own goals and happiness, and you will do the same.

Edited by TuesdaysThursdays
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OA assumes AIs of just about any imaginable sort can be created - self-willed or not, conscious or not, sentient or not, consisting of a hive-mind or a single individual.

What I was trying to say is, Objectivism only applies to autonomous and rational beings.

The purpose if objectivism is to show human's the correct way to live life. The philosophy for hive mind AI would look very different from objectivism and be just as right for it/them. A hive mind AI that was non-violent and provided some value to an objecitivst society wouldn't be shunned I'm sure, but in no way would it, or should it attempt to be objectivist.

A non-autonomous being wouldn't be objectivist, and a non-rational being wouldn't need philosophy at all, instead would just follow instinct or programming.

If the aggregate of the 'hive mind' was autonomous is some way, then objectivism could very well still apply. Sort of like how the cells of my body don't need a philosophy, but 'I' do.

This topic isn't heavily discussed or thought about since it doesn't apply to anything.

Anyway, my point is these non-autonomous and/or non-rational beings cannot be objectivist by their nature. Them being presented as objectivist wouldn't be honest.

Edited by TuesdaysThursdays
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