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What does such minarchism truly entail?

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I just finished reading The Virtue of Selfishness, and despite the first chapter, I loved most of it. It begged a few questions, so I start with these:

A man, X, spots another man, Y, sadistically torturing a dog and realizes it has been going on for weeks straight. X initiates force against Y by pushing him out of the way and allowing the dog to run away.

Should Y be allowed to call the police to initiate force against X for violating his individual right? Was X behaving immorally (according to objectivism)?

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I just finished reading The Virtue of Selfishness, and despite the first chapter, I loved most of it. It begged a few questions, so I start with these:

A man, X, spots another man, Y, sadistically torturing a dog and realizes it has been going on for weeks straight. X initiates force against Y by pushing him out of the way and allowing the dog to run away.

Should Y be allowed to call the police to initiate force against X for violating his individual right? Was X behaving immorally (according to objectivism)?

It depends on who's property the dog is, and even if the answer is yes, that's not an example of begging the question. You on the other hand are committing the fallacy of appealing to emotion.

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It depends on who's property the dog is, and even if the answer is yes, that's not an example of begging the question. You on the other hand are committing the fallacy of appealing to emotion.

I didn't literally mean the fallacy of begging the question. I simply meant that it made me wonder that question. I admit I used the wrong word by accident, as I found out by checking here: http://begthequestion.info/

I admit that my desire to free a dog from torture is based on emotion, but a logical fallacy exists only when a person claims premises reflect the truth value of a conclusion. I never stated any conclusion based on emotion or claimed anything about any conclusion's truth value. If I like blue cars, it may be a preference based on emotion but it's not a fallacy.

Additionally, if we follow pure logic then Chapter 1 in that book collapses. Humans are animals. The way Ayn Rand spoke about consciousness as some sort of separate entity in humans reminded me of the way Descartes and Christians spoke of it, as a ghost in the machine (although hers was implicit).

Emotion is interesting. For example, the whim of free choice in a deterministic universe is one that I've seen existentialists and Rand-objectivists embrace. It seems that, just like socialists use the phrase "right to health" and ignore the infringement of rights, many objectivists also try to have their cake and eat it. That is, they maintain the position of compatibilism. I like how Richard Dawkins (I do not endorse his political views) admits the contradiction between how we behave as a human and what's technically, philosophically accurate.

If you approve of legalizing the merciless torture of animals (in and of itself, despite the property idea), why not leave all emotions out and be a nihilist?

When Nathaniel Branden talks about "pleasure," isn't he talking about the emotion of pleasure?

@DavidOdden:

Was "absolutely" a reply to both of my questions?

Thank you for your replies. (I'm purposely cherry picking the parts I disagree with rather than the majority of the book that I do agree with.)

Edited by determinist
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Absolutely.

The question of externalities comes into play at some point here.

While the person owning the dog may have the right to torture it the sadistic torturing does not take place in a vacuum.

X presumably accidentally comes upon Y doing this.

That would generally mean it is in a public place.

If the torture is truly sadistic it is safe to assume there would be howling, wailing, blood and other such unpleasantness that X could legitimately object to having done in a public spot.

So assuming that X has as much entitlement to be in said public space as Y and also has a right to reasonable enjoyment of the space this is a little more complicated.

One does have a right to do with their property as they see fit, but that doesn't mean they have the right to do it wherever they want.

So I would think that X has the right to call the police on Y for disturbing the peace but should not use force.

Personally, for myself though... I would try to help the dog. Wrong, immoral, irrational... I guess I'm just not perfect.

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Personally, for myself though... I would try to help the dog. Wrong, immoral, irrational... I guess I'm just not perfect.

So what, you're saying that morality (And logic) is irrelevant and that you are going to act on your emotions? Why are you even on an Objectivist forum if that's how you feel?

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So what, you're saying that morality (And logic) is irrelevant and that you are going to act on your emotions? Why are you even on an Objectivist forum if that's how you feel?

I would too. Nonetheless, I like to learn about Ayn Rand, read about capitalism and explore moral philosophies. Is it logical to think the only reason one would be on an objectivist forum is because a person is an objectivist?

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So what, you're saying that morality (And logic) is irrelevant and that you are going to act on your emotions? Why are you even on an Objectivist forum if that's how you feel?

Also, you are deliberately misrepresenting what I said.

I didn't say reason was irrelevent. If you chose to read my post you would see that I admitted it might be irrational. This admission is the opposite of claiming it is irrelevent.

However, in ignoring what I actually said, and chosing to spin it to your liking it is you who seems to be acting on emotion in this moment. Here, now, in reality, not in some hypothetical moment that does not truly exist.

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Was "absolutely" a reply to both of my questions?
Totally. To answer the question you didn't ask -- "Was Y behaving immorally?" -- absolutely.
X presumably accidentally comes upon Y doing this.

That would generally mean it is in a public place.

If the torture is truly sadistic it is safe to assume there would be howling, wailing, blood and other such unpleasantness that X could legitimately object to having done in a public spot.

If you want to stipulate a "but what if it's in a public place" complication, you can. It's just not a reasonable "it generally means" conclusion.
So assuming that X has as much entitlement to be in said public space as Y and also has a right to reasonable enjoyment of the space this is a little more complicated.
Which is to say, none. If someone does something that you don't like and does it in public, you can't claim a "right to untarnished enjoyment" which is being violated, allowing you to invoke self defense.
I would try to help the dog. Wrong, immoral, irrational
Well, at least you recognize the nature of your predicted conduct.
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Totally. To answer the question you didn't ask -- "Was Y behaving immorally?" -- absolutely.If you want to stipulate a "but what if it's in a public place" complication, you can. It's just not a reasonable "it generally means" conclusion.Which is to say, none. If someone does something that you don't like and does it in public, you can't claim a "right to untarnished enjoyment" which is being violated, allowing you to invoke self defense.Well, at least you recognize the nature of your predicted conduct.

You deliberately changed the wording.

I did not state "untarnished enjoyment" that is a completely different thing than "reasonable enjoyment".

Also, it is not unreasonable to assume it is a public space. If X happened to "come upon" Y torturing a dog in Ys own home then X is trespassing. If Y is torturing the dog in Xs's home then X has a right to use force because Y doesn't belong in X's home.

To presume it isn't in a public space is actually kind of silly.

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You deliberately changed the wording.

I did not state "untarnished enjoyment" that is a completely different thing than "reasonable enjoyment".

Also, it is not unreasonable to assume it is a public space. If X happened to "come upon" Y torturing a dog in Ys own home then X is trespassing. If Y is torturing the dog in Xs's home then X has a right to use force because Y doesn't belong in X's home.

To presume it isn't in a public space is actually kind of silly.

If it's in a public space why presume it's the man's dog at all? For all you know he could be torturing someone else's dog that accidentally got under the fence.

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Feel free to assume Y worked for money and handed his money to another man who called the dog his "property," and there was mutual consent. The question I'm wondering is whether Objectivism contains any clearly-stated content in opposition to a man physically torturing a dog for sadistic pleasure for weeks (and not based on any principles of property, rather, somehow related to the torture of the dog itself).

Edited by determinist
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To prevent any further odd for an Objectivist site knee jerk reactions let me clarify my statements here

The question of externalities comes into play at some point here.

While the person owning the dog may have the right to torture it the sadistic torturing does not take place in a vacuum.

X presumably accidentally comes upon Y doing this.

That would generally mean it is in a public place.

I explained aove why it is safe to assume this is in a public place. If it isn't in a public place then someone is trespassing and whoever is the trespasser is in the wrong. Trespass on my property and start flaying dogs alive you are likely to get shot. Case closed.

If the torture is truly sadistic it is safe to assume there would be howling, wailing, blood and other such unpleasantness that X could legitimately object to having done in a public spot.

One does have a right to do with their property as they see fit, but that doesn't mean they have the right to do it wherever they want.

This is where externalities come in. Are we speaking of a perfect, Objectivist world or are we talking about the one we live in? Can you do whatever you want with something just because you own the thing regardless of its implications to others? For example... can I point a videocamera into someone's bathroom while they are undressing...the camera is after all mine. Can I point floodlights at all your windows, the lights being on my property...I own the source of electricity as well as the lights. Can I stand with a blaring high decibel boom box under you apartment window (so long as directly under your bedroom window is public property- say a city apartment building.

I am not being absurd here. This is a valid argument about where your right to use of your property affects others.

Note I did not address in my previous response whether the torturing of the dog was my business really apart from the fact it is public and has effects on others.

A case of "your right to punch ends where my nose begins".

So, because I am thinking as I would think in the situation there are only two places I would likely encounter such a thing.

Directly outside my home. Directly outside my work. (I am at my business all my waking hours, when not there I am at home to sleep)

If you are doing it outside my home and I am trying to rest and instead am hearing your dog screaming bloody murder because you are flaying it alive while pouring gasoline on it. I have a problem- caused directly by your actions

If you are doing it outside my business we REALLY have a problem as my entire front is a window and I can see having a dog being evicerated in front of my diners causing a cash flow issue for the day. Again, I have a problem directly caused by your actions.

Personally, for myself though... I would try to help the dog.

Here is where your arguments really fall into illogic.

Why is trying to help irrational or immoral?

I did not state or imply the use of force.

Trying to talk to the person and find out what's going on could help.

Calling the police if the person happens to be breaking any laws or ordinances during said torture could help.

You are also ignoring the fact that a person "sadisticly torturing" a living thing is mentally ill.

You can argue with me on that if you want but through my own reading on the matter and conversations with my wife (a licensed clinician) find this to be a fact.You can argue the point if you want. But most research and evidence points to sadistic torture=psychotic.

Heck, you could be doing the person a favor by intervening.

And last but not least..... the dog may not even belong to the person in question.

If someone stole MY dog (and I have had my dogs stolen from my gated properties TWICE-neither were ever recovered) and they were torturing it on the public streets I like to think that someone at least would look into the matter.

In conclusion. In all probability this is happening somewhere in public. That is simple logic barring home intrusion on someone's part.

Simple logic also dictates that sadistic torturing in public is extremely deviant behavior that merits at least some looking into.

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Feel free to assume Y worked for money and handed his money to another man who called the dog his "property," and there was mutual consent. The question I'm wondering is whether Objectivism contains any clearly-stated content in opposition to a man physically torturing a dog for sadistic pleasure for weeks (and not based on any principles of property, rather, somehow related to the torture of the dog itself).

Torturing a dog for sadistic pleasure for weeks would be utterly depraved. What possible value could that be to a virtuous man? Dogs, however, do not have rights and the only question that remains is whose property the dog is. If the other guy wants to try to convince the torturer, buy the dog, or protest the dog-hater, or call an animal protection company to come to see if they can reason with him and take the dog, or publish his information and anyone who cares about the torture of animals can blacklist the guy and refuse to deal with him. You can't, however, assault him or invade his property in any manner.

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I didn't literally mean the fallacy of begging the question. I simply meant that it made me wonder that question. I admit I used the wrong word by accident, as I found out by checking here: http://begthequestion.info/

I admit that my desire to free a dog from torture is based on emotion, but a logical fallacy exists only when a person claims premises reflect the truth value of a conclusion. I never stated any conclusion based on emotion or claimed anything about any conclusion's truth value. If I like blue cars, it may be a preference based on emotion but it's not a fallacy.

Ok, I jumped to conclusion there. Very sorry. Dogs are property, and a person may do with them what he wishes (on his own property, of course).

Additionally, if we follow pure logic then Chapter 1 in that book collapses. Humans are animals. The way Ayn Rand spoke about consciousness as some sort of separate entity in humans

Did she say consciousness is an entity separate from the person? I really doubt that, but if you can prove it with a quote...

Emotion is interesting. For example, the whim of free choice in a deterministic universe is one that I've seen existentialists and Rand-objectivists embrace. It seems that, just like socialists use the phrase "right to health" and ignore the infringement of rights, many objectivists also try to have their cake and eat it. That is, they maintain the position of compatibilism. I like how Richard Dawkins (I do not endorse his political views) admits the contradiction between how we behave as a human and what's technically, philosophically accurate.

If you approve of legalizing the merciless torture of animals (in and of itself, despite the property idea), why not leave all emotions out and be a nihilist?

Well, nihilists don't leave emotions out, they leave morality out. The reason why it is wrong to torture animals for the sake of pleasure is morality, not emotions. A person guided by emotions is someone who has relinquished control of his life to whatever happens to be the source of his emotions (usually random outside influence).

And the reason why being pro Laissez-faire Capitalism doesn't make me a nihilist is simple: because I believe that the State has no business legislating morality, not that there is no morality. I also want prostitution, drug use, and many other immoral things legalized, all because of the same reason. That doesn't make me a nihilist, it makes me an individualist. (a person who believes a prerequisite to being moral is the freedom to choose one's ethical code with his own mind, rationally, instead of it being imposed by someone else, through force)

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Dogs are property, and a person may do with them what he wishes (on his own property, of course).

So, according to objectivism, man has a right to torture a dog? Interesting. According to objectivism, man has the right for himself not to even be pushed, yet the right to mercilessly torture an animal as he pleases, so long as it's declared as his "property?"

If you claim rational faculty as the difference between man and a chimpanzee, then what purely logical, unemotional grounds can you declare it morally unacceptable (according to objectivism) for a retarded, 2-year-old orphan to be owned as property? Any?

Edited by determinist
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So, according to objectivism, man has a right to torture a dog? Interesting. According to objectivism, man has the right for himself not to even be pushed, yet the right to mercilessly torture an animal as he pleases, so long as it's declared as his "property?"

If you claim rational faculty as the difference between man and a chimpanzee, then what purely logical, unemotional grounds can you declare it morally unacceptable (according to objectivism) for a retarded, 2-year-old orphan to be owned as property? Any?

First - On the dog

I'd like to ask about meat prodcution. Is the raising and slaughter of cows for food immoral? I'd argue that it is not. Life is not some transcendant value, there is a reason why it is meaningful. One purpose of a cow is to be eaten by people, just like it is to be eaten by a lion or bear or whatever. Humans are fortunate to have had the smarts to kill most everything that would eat them.

Why cannot I do with what I please a man, and not a cow? A man's value depends on his capacity to reason. He has to choose and want, and then act, to produce values for me to take from him. If I exploit the man, I am depending on his existential ignorance. Even if I tortured him, I still depend on it. John Galt is a great example of this - he was tortured, yet he chose not to give what was his alone, and his for the purpose of his life. A cow needs no reason or volition to live. It goes were its nose takes it, or it is handled by man. Man may choose to exploit from the cow whatever he wishes, without contradicting the nature of the cow. This leads to the question - where do you draw the line. Consider that a baby human will crawl over a glass surface, but a fawn will avoid what appears to be a hole. I don't know where exactly to draw the line metaphysically - but that humans use reason intrisically to live as humans, and no other animal does, the line of 'human' is good enough for now. Laws I don't think can be finely enough crafted to differentiate further than that (thus baby humans are fully human)

And, might I mention in the context of this thread - despite the virulence of some Objectivists - unborn children with the capacity to live outside the womb are fully human too. Killing them while they are still in there is just a clever excuse for murder. Once a fetus has reached the stage of unborn child - let those who would be willing to adopt and provide do so - the mother has procrastinated her decision long enough. If only a legislature could make this clear - without having to subject our poor court to unnecessary political struggles. By the way, prospective parents have a claim on their prospective child - rights to it - and thus leaving your viable baby in a dumpster before they had a chance to adopt it could be considered a crime, under some variation.

But in any event, that very controversial discussion aside, I think that torture itself has no relationship to rights (beyond basic rules about harm between humans). Otherwise, whacking a cow on the head to kill it, or keeping it locked in a barn - these could constitute instances of torture that could be legislated. Furthermore, there is no right to happiness. The avoidance of hedonistic dissonance is not something the government has any place guaranteeing. While it may be horrible to see a dog suffer, the government acting in its favor means that comfort as an end in itself trumps the rights of a man. Must the government take animals into shelters and feed and provide for them? Should money be seized in this effort, from citizens? If not, then the government has no place allowing you to forcibly stop a man from molesting an animal.

Torturing an animal is immoral - for a selfish reason. Whatever value a man could possibly get by subsisting - when there is some other means possible - off of an animal's explicit suffering is a contradiction against his values as a (rational) animal. More profanely: consider what torture does to your soul. Knowingly selling an animal to a torturer could do the same. In fact, an unofficial blacklist against dog fighters etc. etc. could form - and Petsmart could require you to register your pet with the humane society in order to sell you dog food. This would not guarantee that no animal would suffer, but in a civilized Objective society, much can be done outside of using force - this being a very insufficient, but hopefully enlightening example. That's the whole beauty of man's nature. Productivity is tied directly to values. Consider Michael Vick's career if there was no jail time. He has artificially 'paid his dues' to society, fine, but notice how hard it was for him to continue in his career. I wouldn't expect to catch him torturing animals anymore.

Second -

I've practically answered this, but concerning man's nature and free will: consider the tabula rasa argument as an interesting controversy. Ayn Rand's blanket acceptance of the concept is, at first glance, objectively wrong. But I've started to see how man's rational capacity in particular is tabula rasa. That is, man is perhaps more than his rational capacity, that there's no 'homunculus' in there. But nevertheless, man's nature is that his values and his pursuit of them depend entirely on his rational capacity - irrespective of what other forces contribute to them. That is man's unique nature, as a rational animal. If you accept that premise, from the context of the capacity to reason intrinsic to his identity (not his overall identity), then all that Ayn Rand says is perfectly applicable.

I too struggled to accept her broad and unsupported definitions of man's and animals' natures. She took them as nearly axiomatic, it seems by her tone, but there is enormous controversy surrounding them. The way I've argued it, if you've understood me properly, is what I believe she was getting at - and it is axiomatic. Where choice is concerned, choice rules, by definition, if you understand what I mean. Her work is really breakthough - and one of its best virtues is its absoluteness. The fact that she had no interest in waffling is one strength of her formulations. They're more valuable to you that way than any other. She was also very smart. When you face a problem with her logic, as it is said, check your premises.

Edited by ZSorenson
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According to objectivism's proposition for government, would it be illegal to torture a retarded, 2-year-old orphan in the privacy of one's own home? Does a retarded, 2-year-old orphan have rational faculty?

A retarded 2 year old orphan is a human being with rights, and that's all that matters, so no.

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Was X behaving immorally (according to objectivism)?

I find the fact that you started a thread to discuss the morality of some action to be hilariously ironic.

You are a DETERMINIST!!! Right??? :confused:

Morality deals with the choices humans make. You don't believe in choice. You think we are just like animals:

Humans are animals.

You aren't actually going to judge some torturer's actions are you? He had no choice in the matter. He had to torture that dog, right? You don't propose to punish him for something he had no control over do you? That would be like punishing someone because of the sunrise. Could he have chosen not to torture the dog? Not according to a true determinist.

So maybe you are not a determinist, you do seem to believe that we have a choice:

(I'm purposely cherry picking the parts I disagree with rather than the majority of the book that I do agree with.)

I mean if you have the ability to cherry pick, then you are choosing to focus on some things and not others.

And I don't understand how you can agree with some parts and disagree with others? How? Did you make some judgement about some parts of the book? No, that can't be, you didn't actually evaluate the book, you had to agree with the parts you agree with and you had to disagree with the parts you disagree with, you had no choice in the matter. So then why would we care to know whether you disagree or not? It makes no difference one way or the other, it had to be that way. You aren't saying that some parts are true and others false, right? Is there such a thing as truth? How do you know? What does "truth" mean? How does one discover the truth? By what process? Is it possible to be wrong?

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So, according to objectivism, man has a right to torture a dog? Interesting. According to objectivism, man has the right for himself not to even be pushed, yet the right to mercilessly torture an animal as he pleases, so long as it's declared as his "property?"

You don't seem to understand what the reason for rights is.

If you claim rational faculty as the difference between man and a chimpanzee, then what purely logical, unemotional grounds can you declare it morally unacceptable (according to objectivism) for a retarded, 2-year-old orphan to be owned as property? Any?

On the grounds that the latter is a man, while the former isn't. Do you really think that that statement relies on emotion? Which emotion?

According to objectivism's proposition for government, would it be illegal to torture a retarded, 2-year-old orphan in the privacy of one's own home? Does a retarded, 2-year-old orphan have rational faculty?

No, and of course.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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