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Leonid
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Even the killing of others by suicide bomber cannot be considered as immoral since the concept of morality is inapplicable to him. I think that this is a very serious contradiction which is a result of wrong premises that choice to value life is pre-moral.

It's only a contradiction if you think Objectivist morality is absolute, but it's not, it's objective. The difference is:

Absolute: an act has the same ethical status for everybody

Subjective: the agent gets to choose the ethical status

Objective: the agent does not get to choose the ethical status, but it is nevertheless agent relative.

So it's possible for an action to be amoral from the (rational) perspective of the person performing it (even though they probably aren't rational), but immoral from the perspective of others.

The reason objective morality must be agent-relative is that everyone has their own context of knowledge.

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There is only one objective morality which is based on objective standard of value-life.The only difference between objective and subjective choice is that objective choice pertains to this reality and subjective is not. One should disregard subjective morality as one disregards any arbitrary concept.There is no such a thing. Morality is a code of values accepted by choice and the basic choice is that of ultimate value. If one chooses death or any other standard which is not life as such a value, one still acts within the realm of morality because this is volitional, agent-related choice. But, since the choice is subjective, his actions objectively contradict his own life and the life of others and therefore wrong, objectively immoral to everybody involved. Suicide bomber's or Nazi's feelings that their actions are " the right thing to do" doesn't make them pre-or amoral.

Edited by Leonid
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The reason objective morality must be agent-relative is that everyone has their own context of knowledge.

Right. Put another way, each cognitive experience I have involves some part of me, and some part of "not me". I go out to meet reality, and what I grasp is as much mine as not mine -- the grasping is mine, the grasped is not, but the product of the process of grasping reality, which product I term "experience", is objective and discretely identifiable in space, time, and concept.

- ico

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There is only one objective morality which is based on objective standard of value-life.The only difference between objective and subjective choice is that objective choice pertains to this reality and subjective is not. One should disregard subjective morality as one disregards any arbitrary concept.There is no such a thing. Morality is a code of values accepted by choice and the basic choice is that of ultimate value. If one chooses death or any other standard which is not life as such a value, one still acts within the realm of morality because this is volitional, agent-related choice. But, since the choice is subjective, his actions objectively contradict his own life and the life of others and therefore wrong, objectively immoral to everybody involved. Suicide bomber's or Nazi's feelings that their actions are " the right thing to do" doesn't make them pre-or amoral.

All well and good as long as one realizes that Consciousness by nature is individually packaged and can't be gestaltified or smeared up to make a collective more than the individuals which constitute it. And, since every individual will rationally create a specific, individual value system, the assumption that there is a single code of morality that applies generically is doomed to lead to logical inconsistencies (you can't ignore such fundamental facts as the rational disparities among rational individuals without logical impairment).

Choices are individual actions based on individual moral evaluations of individual experiences. You can't sum across individuals, it's not a linear problem, so you can't just come to an "average" or "mean" behavior. There is no one standard of morality in experience; there is one generic standard, but you have to plug your own self into the frame to activate the standard: the standard is indeed Life -- and to you, that means YOUR Life. So, it is both common and specific -- common that we each will come to similar evaluations based on similar circumstances (law of identity); specific because in detail our "fingerprints" will differ. Viva la difference!

- ico

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But, since the choice is subjective, his actions objectively contradict his own life and the life of others and therefore wrong, objectively immoral to everybody involved.

Not necessarily. There is only one (rational) standard of value, but when using that standard to decide if something is a value or not, there is always a "to whom" and a "for what." The "to whom" can change the answer, not just the "for what."

But here is an analogy. Forget about morality for a minute, this is only rationality. Imagine if human beings were different in only one way: that our perceptions did not come automatically, that we had to choose it. If we do not choose to see/hear etc, then we spent our entire lives in darkness. Since reason is based on perception, it is inapplicable to this choice. So a person who chooses never to perceive, is choosing a-rationally not irrationally.

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Right. Put another way, each cognitive experience I have involves some part of me, and some part of "not me". I go out to meet reality, and what I grasp is as much mine as not mine -- the grasping is mine, the grasped is not, but the product of the process of grasping reality, which product I term "experience", is objective and discretely identifiable in space, time, and concept.

That's right, that's why the 3 axioms are existence, identity *and* consciousness. As an axiom, consciousness is there in all one's knowledge.

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Icosahedron said "Choices are individual actions based on individual moral evaluations of individual experiences"

That's true. But on what individual moral evaluations are based? How one can evaluate anything morally if one doesn't have a standard of value? Life is standard of value because it is a source of all values. The concept of value divorced from the concept of life is meaningless, and this is the only thing which one can learn from his or her own experience in this regard. Every human being learns that his existence and wellbeing is conditional but that of rocks is not. He knows that concepts of "bad" and "good" inapplicable to the non-living entities. No matter how different personal experiences may be, no one can escape such a knowledge of this metaphysically given fact of existence. If he chooses to substitute this knowledge by some arbitrary concept,such a choice is immoral.

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Philosopher

Imagine if human beings were different in only one way: that our perceptions did not come automatically, that we had to choose it.

No, I cannot imagine that, because here you entertain a stolen concept. A choice is volitional faculty of consciousness which depends on perception. That is-perception has to be antecedent to volitional choice. Without perception there wouldn't be any consciousness and any choice. Therefore perception cannot be volitional. This premise is obviously leads to contradiction-which is unconscious choice. Pre-moral or amoral choice is also a contradiction and for the same reason. A choice presupposes an antecedent existence of the standard of value.

Edited by Leonid
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Pre-moral or amoral choice is also a contradiction and for the same reason. A choice presupposes an antecedent existence of the standard of value.

This is incompatible with Rand's conception of a morality accepted by choice.

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This is incompatible with Rand's conception of a morality accepted by choice.

No. Morality is code of values accepted by choice. But how one discovers the concept of "value"?

Ayn Rand's positition is pretty clear.

"Now in what manner does a human being discover the concept of “value”? By what means does he first become aware of the issue of “good or evil” in its simplest form? By means of the physical sensations of pleasure or pain. Just as sensations are the first step of the development of a human consciousness in the realm of cognition, so they are its first step in the realm of evaluation.

The capacity to experience pleasure or pain is innate in a man’s body; it is part of his nature, part of the kind of entity he is. He has no choice about it, and he has no choice about the standard that determines what will make him experience the physical sensation of pleasure or of pain. What is that standard? His life." “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 17.

In other words man has no choice about his objective standard of value. He knows that this is his life. His only choice, therefore is to reject this objective standard and to substitute it with some other arbitrary standard. This choice is not an error of knowledge but moral breach and therefore immoral. Choice is an act of volition and volition, as Ayn Rand observed begins with the first syllogism. The only choice man has is to think and to recognize life as standard of value, or to avoid the effort and to accept arbitrary standard. The first choice is based on man's own experience and reason, it's rational and therefore moral. The second implicates rejection of reality and reason and thus immoral.

Edited by Leonid
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In other words man In other words man has no choice about his objective standard of value. .

The problem I have is that there is ample evidence to the contrary, at least so far as Rand defines "life". Yes, it is true that unless a man secures food and drink, he will perish. But Rand seems to posit an entirely subjective, though much more lauditory "standard" of life, which is where everything seems to bog down. Yes, man is a rational animal with volition, but in order for her "standard" to hold objectively true, individuals would necessarily die if they do not adhere to this standard. But countless millions do indeed physically survive though they do not live lives that would meet Rand's standards of "man qua man". If there was indeed such an objective mechanism, whereby those who were parasites; retarded; looters; etc., simply died, then that would constitute objective proof that "a man has no choice about his objective standard of value". But there is no evidence to suggest this. Frankly, if it did, this would indicate a severe reduction (at the very least...) of the concept of free will: if everyone died who did not live as Rand thinks they ought to, then free will has been curtailed.

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If there was indeed such an objective mechanism, whereby those who were parasites; retarded; looters; etc., simply died, then that would constitute objective proof that "a man has no choice about his objective standard of value". But there is no evidence to suggest this.

I will leave aside for now that you were responding to Leonid, and respond to what you're saying.

Generally here "life" refers to flourishing. This much you seem to understand, but I don't see you think that's positing an entirely subject "standard" of life. There are certain things needed for a tree to live in an optimal condition. There are certain things needed for a building to be maintained in an optimal condition, without cracks and decay. Same for dogs. Same for people. People do survive for a PERIOD of time by being parasites and looters. But such people do not live optimally. In order to survive long-term, and even live in an optimal condition, requires use of reason. Compromising on that might not bring instant death, but you would be existing in a condition that will eventually lead to your destruction. Interestingly, I think this can be verified by people who maintain healthy psychological well-being. It's not done by being dependent on others, by being dishonest, by ignoring facts, by rejecting pride, by not working towards productive goals. Doing those things may lead to psychological disorder (although that isn't to claim that ALL psychological disorder is caused ONLY by these things). Maybe some people don't reach a level of disorder, but they at least live on basic and simplistic levels, essentially slowly dying rather than moving towards life. One important point Rand makes is that any choice fundamentally leads to either death OR life. There is no in between.

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...in order for her "standard" to hold objectively true, individuals would necessarily die if they do not adhere to this standard. But countless millions do indeed physically survive though they do not live lives that would meet Rand's standards of "man qua man". If there was indeed such an objective mechanism, whereby those who were parasites; retarded; looters; etc., simply died, then that would constitute objective proof that "a man has no choice about his objective standard of value".

This topic is addressed quite well in Tara Smith's Viable Values, if you are interested in an in-depth counter to your argument.

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No, I cannot imagine that, because here you entertain a stolen concept. A choice is volitional faculty of consciousness which depends on perception. That is-perception has to be antecedent to volitional choice. Without perception there wouldn't be any consciousness and any choice. Therefore perception cannot be volitional. This premise is obviously leads to contradiction-which is unconscious choice. Pre-moral or amoral choice is also a contradiction and for the same reason. A choice presupposes an antecedent existence of the standard of value.

I disagree. Value presupposes a standard of value, but choice doesn't. The comment you quoted from Ayn Rand a few posts after this is about temporal discovery order of concepts, not about conceptual dependency as required to cause concept stealing. To grasp the idea of "choose" you need to grasp that you exist and the world exists and that you have actions and that you are in control of them, and in some sense be able to project multiple futures, but you need not understand the idea of measuring objects against some standard in order to guide your choice.

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Generally here "life" refers to flourishing. This much you seem to understand, but I don't see you think that's positing an entirely subject "standard" of life.

People do survive for a PERIOD of time by being parasites and looters. But such people do not live optimally. In order to survive long-term, and even live in an optimal condition, requires use of reason.

Thank you for your response. However, people do indeed survive -- and not just for a period of time, but for the same life-span as others -- despite being on welfare; merely carried along the cultural stream; living a life of ease off the labors of others; etc. "Optimal" would appear, then, to be subjective: it is Rand's idea of optimal, not one that scientific evidence supports. Not that her idea of a flourishing life doesn't constitute a good standard -- I believe it does -- but it is subjective. I'm sure, with even a very little thought, most here can think of examples around them.

Obviously there are activities that science can show have a life-shortening effect for most people: heavy smoking, heavy drinking, promiscuity, over-eating.

This topic is addressed quite well in Tara Smith's Viable Values, if you are interested in an in-depth counter to your argument.

As I mentioned elsewhere on this forum, I have learned, as a teacher, that a person cannot be sure of just how well they have absorbed information or a body of knowledge until they have attempted to teach it or explain it to others. YOU need to provide an "in-depth counter" to my argument; do not fall back on "read this book".

Edited by dakota
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As I mentioned elsewhere on this forum, I have learned, as a teacher, that a person cannot be sure of just how well they have absorbed information or a body of knowledge until they have attempted to teach it or explain it to others. YOU need to provide an "in-depth counter" to my argument; do not fall back on "read this book".

Just so you know, this isn't a debate forum specifically. People suggest reading material because it's a great way to learn, not because it's a fall-back argument.

Rand doesn't specifically say much more than that consistent use of reason makes for an optimal and flourishing life. Reason necessarily implies honesty, pride, productivity, and a few others. That's about it. There isn't a rule set from on high that heavy smoking is immoral, for instance. There isn't even a rule that incest is wrong. Point is, supporters of Objectivism generally try to figure out the optimal and best way to live their own lives. There's a lot of individual context involved, but everyone needs to use reason to survive.

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Just so you know, this isn't a debate forum specifically. People suggest reading material because it's a great way to learn, not because it's a fall-back argument.

Thank you for the clarification. However, the assertion was made here that "man has no choice about his objective standard of value" -- that's quite a claim, really. I don't think it is unreasonable to ask for scientific evidence for such a support.

Reason necessarily implies honesty, pride, productivity, and a few others.

But there's the rub: there's ample evidence that people can and do thrive and live long lives despite being dishonest and unproductive. I don't think one has to strain to find such as examples. A few from my own experience come easily to mind: a deceased uncle of mine inherited the money his father worked long and hard for. This man gradually squandered it all in the living of an elaborate lifestyle for himself and his family. He was a pompous ass, but nevertheless the money lasted until his death, providing a lavish lifestyle and college educations for his children. He produced NOTHING, but enjoyed the life his father sacrificed to leave him. Another example is of a gal I know (daughter of a friend) who embraced Objectivism completely. She was active in Objectivist circles in New York. She is now planning on becoming a welfare mom, because she wants to have children. Though she is already now on the public dole, she is happy and delighted -- and considers herself an Objectivist still.

Point is, supporters of Objectivism generally try to figure out the optimal and best way to live their own lives. There's a lot of individual context involved, but everyone needs to use reason to survive.

Yes, I understand that and have no problem with it. What I do not understand is how it can be asserted that this is not subjective. "Reason" suggests, to the Objectivist girl I mentioned, that the New York welfare system will make it possible to get what she wants: to be be a stay-at-home mother. And she's correct.

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But there's the rub: there's ample evidence that people can and do thrive and live long lives despite being dishonest and unproductive.

What do you mean by thrive?

For your uncle: Would he have described himself as happy? Did he ENJOY his life? You say enjoy, but there's so many questions to ask, and people often lie about how they really feel. Or sometimes people lie to themselves and pretend they feel fine.

For the daughter of a friend: I would suspect she'll feel miserable perhaps even 20 years down the line. She may be happy now, but what will be the case later on? New York welfare system may absolutely allow her to be a stay-at-home welfare mother, but the next question would be why she even wants that? And so on.

Edited by Eiuol
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What do you mean by thrive?

Being happy, enjoying the details of one's life, great and small. Being able to get what one wants in life...

For your uncle: Would he have described himself as happy? Did he ENJOY his life?

Yes, he was happy, and he enjoyed his life.

You say enjoy, but there's so many questions to ask, and people often lie about how they really feel. Or sometimes people lie to themselves and pretend they feel fine.

And until you can prove to the contrary scientifically, you can't make the assertion (as someone did here) that, "People do survive for a PERIOD of time by being parasites and looters. But such people do not live optimally. In order to survive long-term, and even live in an optimal condition, requires use of reason." Again, I have no problem whatsover with the standard that you posit as the ideal way to live -- I simply don't see that it is anything but subjective. Great -- but subjective.

For the daughter of a friend: I would suspect she'll feel miserable perhaps even 20 years down the line.

You might very well be right, but you can't PROVE that she'll feel miserable. It might very well be that she ends up happy and content with her lifestyle choice.

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Yes, he was happy, and he enjoyed his life.

Unfortunately, I don't know much about him, nor anything about his psychology, so the point is not any useful.

Again, I have no problem whatsover with the standard that you posit as the ideal way to live -- I simply don't see that it is anything but subjective. Great -- but subjective.

I don't understand what's subjective about that. I mean, I say that that is good standard based upon what is needed for one's existence.

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"Dakota:"But countless millions do indeed physically survive though they do not live lives that would meet Rand's standards of "man qua man"."

They survive qua parasites thanks to the morality of Altruism and sanction of the victims they loot. But, as Rand observed, every looter eventually runs out of victims.

Edited by Leonid
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I disagree. Value presupposes a standard of value, but choice doesn't. The comment you quoted from Ayn Rand a few posts after this is about temporal discovery order of concepts, not about conceptual dependency as required to cause concept stealing. To grasp the idea of "choose" you need to grasp that you exist and the world exists and that you have actions and that you are in control of them, and in some sense be able to project multiple futures, but you need not understand the idea of measuring objects against some standard in order to guide your choice.

In such a case what guides one's choices? If there is no standard, then any choice is as good or bad as any other. Without standard man will be in the position of Buridan's ass http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buridan's_ass, completely paralyzed, unable to make any choices and to act at all.

Luckily, this is not a case. As Ayn Rand observed, man implicitly discovers that his life is standard of value not by choice but via pain-pleasure mechanism. This is ostensive first hand knowledge. The rejection of this self-evident fact of reality and substitution of it by some arbitrary concept is a result of the failure to employ one rational faculty and, therefore a breach of morality.

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