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Peaceful coexistence between scientists and theologians

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Ahhh...situational ethics. Relativism, in other words.

Yet another suggestion to go and read about the subject elsewhere. Can none of you here explain your philosophy and answer questions on your own?

Well, in this thread you've split your posts pretty evenly between derailing a discussion because you didn't read the material in the original post and misunderstood the question at hand, and goading the others on this forum ("deafening silence..."). Thus, might I suggest an alternate explanation: we're not convinced it's worth our time to explain it to you.

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Ahhh...situational ethics. Relativism, in other words.

The Context of Objectivist morality is the broad encompassing context of Man qua Man - it is not that of relativism.

Yet another suggestion to go and read about the subject elsewhere. Can none of you here explain your philosophy and answer questions on your own?

Why is your laziness our responsibility?

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Why is your laziness our responsibility?

That's an intelligent, thoughtful answer....not. You can choose to see it as "laziness" if you will (attacking the questioner; name-calling; these are the usual defenses of those who are evading an uncomfortable discussion). I choose to see it as your inability to explain or express the philosophy you adhere to. This is hardly uncommon, though it is regrettable.

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That's an intelligent, thoughtful answer....not. You can choose to see it as "laziness" if you will (attacking the questioner; name-calling; these are the usual defenses of those who are evading an uncomfortable discussion). I choose to see it as your inability to explain or express the philosophy you adhere to. This is hardly uncommon, though it is regrettable.

You ask for explanations. References where you can learn the answers on your own are given. You then imply that we are responsible to teach you when we have provided you with the means to do so on your own - and imply that we are incapable of explaining the philosophy. Then complain that *I* indulge in ad hominem?

You are bordering on outright hypocrisy now.

In point of fact, I *can* explain the philosophy - but to do so would require significant time and effort that would be saved on my part by you simply READING A BOOK. If you are unwilling to do so, I see no reason why I should reproduce the effective content of the book - why would you be willing to read my explanation when you're unwilling to read one much more completely written?

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References where you can learn the answers on your own are given.

Yes, but I am interested in hearing the philosophy, especially as it would apply to the hypothetical situations I cited, explained by YOU. A bok is unlikely to address those specific situations.

The claim was made here that all questions about human values can be answered scientifically. I am merely asking for someone here to support this using the examples I gave. If you don't want to spend the time -- that's fine. But understand that that refusal can reasonably be interpreted that you can't.

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Yes, but I am interested in hearing the philosophy, especially as it would apply to the hypothetical situations I cited, explained by YOU. A bok is unlikely to address those specific situations.

Knowledge is hierarchical. Until you have the foundational understanding necessary, specific answers may not make the sense they should. One cannot comprehend trigonometry if one doesn't first understand algebra.

But understand that that refusal can reasonably be interpreted that you can't.

Not when one responds with "you should read this for starters", no.

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But understand that that refusal can reasonably be interpreted that you can't.

Darned if the quotation cannot be located that this is reminisceint of, but it goes something like this:

The question is not whether to give a dime or not to a beggar, but whether you need to purchase your life back dime by dime from every passerby panhandler that asks.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Knowledge is hierarchical. Until you have the foundational understanding necessary, specific answers may not make the sense they should. One cannot comprehend trigonometry if one doesn't first understand algebra.

Granted, but this isn't trigonometry. It ought to be possible for someone, anyone, here to be able to support the assertion made, which was that all human values can be explained scientifically. I gave specific examples which I would like to see the scientific explanation, whether wrong or right, given. Someone, anyone here ought to be able to do this using plain English. Here's a hint: one could start by saying, for example, that "It is not wrong for the parents of an unwanted mentally retarded child to kill it because...." and give scientific reasons for that position (if that is indeed what Objectivist ethics would conclude). I'm not asking that much -- if assertions are made by posters here, I assume that means they possess the knowledge to back up those assertions.

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Ahhh...situational ethics. Relativism, in other words.

Yet another suggestion to go and read about the subject elsewhere. Can none of you here explain your philosophy and answer questions on your own?

I can only say one thing in response to the fact that you cannot tell the very stark difference between relativist ethics and Objectivist ethics: "I'm sorry."

If you are honestly interested in fully understanding the stark differences I suggest you pick up Tara Smith's books, they are done in the academic style, so they should more than sate your thirst for inquiry.

However, I have not read the rest of this discussion yet, so I don't think it would be appropriate for me to give a more in-depth answer until I do so, that I may get a proper understanding of what is going on here.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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Granted, but this isn't trigonometry. It ought to be possible for someone, anyone, here to be able to support the assertion made, which was that all human values can be explained scientifically. I gave specific examples which I would like to see the scientific explanation, whether wrong or right, given. Someone, anyone here ought to be able to do this using plain English. Here's a hint: one could start by saying, for example, that "It is not wrong for the parents of an unwanted mentally retarded child to kill it because...." and give scientific reasons for that position (if that is indeed what Objectivist ethics would conclude). I'm not asking that much -- if assertions are made by posters here, I assume that means they possess the knowledge to back up those assertions.

Measurement is the identification of a relationship, established by means of some standard that serves as a unit. In dealing with value-judgments, we are not engaging in mathematical measurements (adding, subtracting, multiplying, etc.), we are dealing with teleological measurements, because there is no numerical unit involved. A moral code is a system of teleological measurement which grades the choices and actions open to man, according to the degree to which they achieve or frustrate a given code's standard of value. A rational code of values establishes a graded relationship of means to end, the end being man's life qua man. It is that objective moral standard (the requirements of a rational being for life and happiness) that the Objectivist ethics deals with as a means of measuring man's values. If you had actually read Rand on ethics, you would know this already, but since you have raised such an objection without even being familiar with what you are objecting to, you are likely just trolling.

Not everyone on this forum even knows everything about the Objectivist ethics, much less about the scientific relationships involved in certain behaviors and their biological and psychological effects on those acting individuals involved, especially since the examples you gave were sarcastic situations things that would obviously require specialized investigation. Your assertion that a rational ethics must be impossible because people on this forum can't or didn't want to (or didn't in the time frame you demanded of them) respond to your arrogant demands is an example of the informal logical fallacy of argument from ignorance.

That being said, now back to your questions:

I have merely asked for someone to give me testable, measurable proof of, for example, why it is or is not wrong for the parents of an unwanted mentally-retarded year-old child to kill it. Why or why not should we not make use of corpses, and either eat them or otherwise put them to profitable use. And so on...and no one has answered my questions. Please prove to me, in a measurable, verifiable manner, why or why not a father should have sexual intercourse with his daughter or step-daughter, if she is of age and she agrees to it.

No. Go read Rand.

Edited by 2046
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You asked questions. People came in here to point out answers to you assuming you wanted them. People did not come in here to post responses to you from what I could tell generally because they were looking for lessons. Most of us think we understand this topic well enough already I expect, so we aren't interested in going through the time and effort of reinventing this wheel again when 1) Many of us have already done so in our own words many times before and 2) There are very good answers out there already we can point somebody to, assuming an answer IS what somebody is actually after. If you want an answer, you've been pointed to it. If that isn't what you are after and instead your goal is to try to do some kind of Socratic teaching or something, first, say so, and second, understand that many people just may not be interested in spending their time and effort on your class right now instead of other things.

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If that isn't what you are after and instead your goal is to try to do some kind of Socratic teaching or something, first, say so, and second, understand that many people just may not be interested in spending their time and effort on your class right now instead of other things.

I think it's reaonable that people may not want to spend the time answering questions regarding specific situations -- I can accept that. No, I'm not engaged in some kind of Socratic teaching, but rather I am interested in what kind of world Objectivist ethics would lead to (since there's little likelihood they would ever be adopted on a any kind of large scale, in that sense my interest is admittedly academic), using specific examples. The initial discussion had to do with peaceful coexistence of science and theology. It became quite clear that the posters here, for the most part, thought this coexistence impossible or at least undesirable, as it was asserted that all questions of human value can be answered scientifically. My questions, then, were quite specific so that someone could, in giving me a reasoned response, show whether or not this is a valid assertion.

I can understand if some, or even the majority of people here do have better things to do with their time; that no one will answer my specific questions ("read this" is a cop-out, in my book) suggests that the posters here simply can't. That's OK -- it's been an interesting conversation nontheless, and it was comical to see how this progressed in such a predictable manner.

Enjoy the evening, folks.

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I have.

I find it interesting that no one here can answer the questions I raised.

What works of hers have you read? I am sorry if you feel you have had your questions evaded. Let me know if you have any specific questions once you sort through what I have posted below and I will do my best to assist you in your understanding.

The barometer here is the use of force. People can believe what they wish, people can support the causes they wish and so on. It is when force is used, rather than voluntary agreement and association, that the "sword of justice" enters the fray.

If you are looking for ethics, there are two essays, The Objectivist Ethics found here: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ari_ayn_rand_the_objectivist_ethics and her essay on Ethics of Emergencies, that are particularly relevant. If you go to the Ayn Rand Institute website, if you look on the left hand side there is a place you can register. If you register there you will have access to the registered members page. If you look on the right hand side of the registered members page there are a number of graphic boxes that are links to other pages.

These pages have lots of material on them. One in particular has I think about 30 hour long recorded audio's of Ayn Rand herself, as well as some other big Oist players explaining all kinds of things. One of these is Ayn Rand herself giving an hour long presentation on Ethics, and I believe there is an hour long Q&A audio recording with that. There is also, on the main registered members page, an old radio podcast by Leonard Peikoff on why people should act in a principled manner. There is also peikoff.com where he answers all sorts of questions related to Objectivism (note that sometimes his application may differ from Rand's, but not in most cases).

There is also a place you can go, arc-tv.com which has pretty much all of the Objectivist related video that comes out over time. There is also one or two of Ayn Rand on there. There are interviews on youtube of Rand, etc.

If you want a nice overview of Objectivism, there is Leonard Peikoff's OPAR. There is also Tara Smith's academic-format books on just the ethics.

You can gain a great deal of understanding on specific subjects by going to the Ayn Rand lexicon here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/

This alone is quite a great deal of information.

I also have a good, summarized rundown of things on my blog:

http://paintyourbrain.squarespace.com/objectivism-explained/

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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"Read this" is not a cop-out if you really want an answer. Ignoring a source of an answer doesn't mean one doesn't exist. As for the "peaceful coexistence" thing, a better way to put things here is to look at it as if one believes reason and faith can and should coexist without causing problems. Reason and faith are pretty much antithetical to each other. Reason is characterized by examining reality and oneself in it and acting accordingly. Faith is characterized by disregarding these things, and just accepting things on little examined or even entirely unexamined feelings alone. Guiding ones life on faith at all is detrimental as compared to utilizing reason instead, since reality will not bend in response to your hopes and fears. Guiding yourself by faith puts oneself in a contest against reality, and that is a position one CANNOT win with. At best, you get in a long battle of just trying not to get wiped out of reality by limiting how much faith you use versus how much reason you use, in order to try to use enough reason to keep you hanging in there. Even if you manage to hang in there for a long time though, that's what you're doing. You're not winning at life and against reality, faith is not helping you, you're just sticking around merely to the extent that you do NOT act on faith and DO act on reason and live according to the requirements of reality and your nature as a particular human being in reality. Real success lies in accepting, learning, and cooperating with reality, not trying to pit yourself against it.

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The initial discussion had to do with peaceful coexistence of science and theology. It became quite clear that the posters here, for the most part, thought this coexistence impossible or at least undesirable, as it was asserted that all questions of human value can be answered scientifically. My questions, then, were quite specific so that someone could, in giving me a reasoned response, show whether or not this is a valid assertion.

As I pointed out already, it is unreasonable for you to expect every general question about ethics to have a clear-cut yes/no answer simply because we claim that ethics is scientifically discovered. To present an analogy, presumably we both agree that all questions about physical human health can be answered scientifically. Yet if I were to ask a health professional, "Is drinking milk healthy?" they would be crazy to give a simple yes/no answer without first discovering more of my context. For example, am I lactose intolerant? Am I already drinking three times the daily recommended serving of diary products? Simply making the statement that human health can be explored through science does not commit one to having a simple answer to every complex question about health.

Objectivism approaches morality as a tool for living a full, complete, flourishing life. As such, there are many parallels to the health example. There are some general moral principles which apply to everyone (it is this type of principle that is generally elucidated in any exposition of the Objectivist ethics), and there are some statements which are more particular and require more context. Likewise, some questions about health have answers which are universal to all humans, by virtue of our being human (Is consuming calories necessary to maintaining one's health?). However, some vary from individual to individual (e.g. Is short-term exposure to sunlight harmful? Usually the answer is no, but to someone with xeroderma pigmentosa, the answer is definitely yes).

Under the Objectivist ethics, your question about cannibalism, for example, is equivalent to asking, "Does it further an individual's life to engage in cannibalism?" There is not a general, true-in-all-contexts answer to this question. In order to discover the answer in a particular case, you would have to trace out the long-term physical and psychological effects of the action. With the proper framework, you could figure it out.

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I did not deny it. I observed that, for many scientists, they hold their religious beliefs to be consistent or at least not in conflict with science. This could be for a number of reasons, of which I gave two and another poster gave one.

Belief is a bad habit that leads only to nescience, if mixed with science. Just as, mixing poison with food always seems to yield poison. Or: parasites don't have the best interests of their hosts at heart.

The definition of "peaceful" needs to be pinned down. "Theology" does not deserve the ending "-logy", which refers to science; there can be no "Science of Religion", because where belief starts, Science ends -- you can't predict the future by flipping coins! -- no matter how much you pray, irrational models of reality don't work. And no self-respecting scientist, however religious, would allow religious doctrine to become the basis of his scientific models.

Science deals with measurable, verifiable facts -- philosophy (theology being a sub-set) deals with morality and ethics, among other subjects. Science unconnected from morality and ethics can be quite destructive. The application of ethics may indeed properly intrude upon the applications of science -- do you deny that?

Science in general is the consistent application of the Law of Causality (Law of Identity in Action) to understanding how things work. Good Science means proper application of the methods Objectivist Epistemology to a specific field of study, i.e., of accumulating reliable, verifiable information and organizing it into reusable concepts/knowledge. Science is the Sword of Epistemology, if you can stand some poesy.

Science is PRIOR TO Ethics, and must be used to create a proper Ethics and/or Politics and/or Aesthetics. Epistemology is logically prior to Ethics, and so Science must not itself be restricted by Ethics. However, where people CHOOSE to spend their time, in the pursuit of science, is open to ethical interpretation ... and you need not assist others in their pursuits if you consider them incorrect. I am suspicious of what it might mean, "The application of ethics may indeed properly intrude upon the applications of science". Sounds like the jack-booted thugs can shut down my laboratory if they consider my work subversive to their ethical programme. No?

- ico

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Science is PRIOR TO Ethics, and must be used to create a proper Ethics and/or Politics and/or Aesthetics.

I think the problem here is a misunderstanding of what objectivity means. Objectivist ethics only involves how choices can affect the well-being of the chooser, and that's as scientific as it gets. Law of causality as you are saying. Now there comes a need of course to what standard allows one to say if some choice is bad FOR someone, which is the reason for this discussion to somewhat shift to the "life as the standard of value" thread, which is incidentally similar to a thread I made months ago asking why life isn't intrinsically valuable.

Ethics pretty much is a science a science, though, since it is an application of the law of causality to a specific type of entity, i.e. humans. Of course, that's a bit simplified, but the point is that the same type of thinking is required of ethics as physics.

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Yes, Ethics is a proper Science -- the Science of Virtue, i.e., of making proper choices as an individual. It results from application of the means of Science, which is inductive logic, to the subject of human choice.

Ethics IS NOT the province of religion, nor the State, despite traditional appearances. The emperor isn't wearing anything.

- ico

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Ahh.. defeaning silence from dakota. I find it intresting that (s)he can not respond to Dante.

Though she does have a point about "Read this" being an inadequate response. When your response is nothing more than a deferment to someone else, it implies that you are a layman. I liked Dante's response, and he managed to put into words what was on my mind.

Edited by Black Wolf
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Ahh.. defeaning silence from dakota. I find it intresting that (s)he can not respond to Dante.

Hardly. Just hadn't looked at this thread in a while, having decided that it was pointless to engage in it anymore. But, just for you, I will respond to Dante:

Under the Objectivist ethics, your question about cannibalism, for example, is equivalent to asking, "Does it further an individual's life to engage in cannibalism?" There is not a general, true-in-all-contexts answer to this question. In order to discover the answer in a particular case, you would have to trace out the long-term physical and psychological effects of the action. With the proper framework, you could figure it out.

And this is what I see wrong with Objectivist ethics. It appears to be simply a fancy name for "situational ethics" or moral relativism. I did not ask, "does it further an individual's life to engage in cannibalism?", but rather, is it morally right, or morally wrong, to eat the dead or otherwise make use of corpses, perhaps even commercially? If not, why not? I did not ask, "Does it further an individual's life to engage in consensual incest", I asked if it were morally right, or morally wrong? If you maintain that the only question that matters is "does it further my life as an individual", then it is indeed subjective. This thread has been useful, I suppose, in clarifying that for me.

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And this is what I see wrong with Objectivist ethics. It appears to be simply a fancy name for "situational ethics" or moral relativism.

"Objective" doesn't mean true in all cases absent of context. Morality in the Objective sense is essentially synonymous with "whatever furthers and individual's life." That isn't subjective because some things absolutely DON'T further an individual's life. Not all individuals are the same either, but insofar as they are human, there are certain things needed to exist. Given that religion is NOT about objectivity but rather morality apart from context (intrinsicism) and scientific discover is NOT in that process, theology and religion can only cause harm in the long run. There is no moral relativism here, because moral relativism is about there being no standard, and whatever standard you want is just as good as another. It seems the biggest problem here is a misunderstanding of what objectivity means.

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And this is what I see wrong with Objectivist ethics. It appears to be simply a fancy name for "situational ethics" or moral relativism.

From what I can find about situational ethics from a quick search, it bears certain similarities to the Objectivist ethics. As a Christian ethical theory, it sets a single end-goal as the ultimate ethical law (love) and all other principles are general guidelines towards this end. The Objectivist ethics also posits a single ultimate end around which to organize a hierarchy of moral principles, but that is about where the similarities end.

As for moral relativism, that is a position which is in complete opposition to Objectivist ethical theory. Moral principles, for Objectivism, are objective and absolute within the context where they are formed. They represent objective ethical truths about the type of actions that are proper to human beings. That these principles must be applied to concrete contexts does not make them relative. It simply means that any quest for an absolute list of commandments that can always be applied everywhere no matter what is a futile and misguided one.

I did not ask, "does it further an individual's life to engage in cannibalism?", but rather, is it morally right, or morally wrong, to eat the dead or otherwise make use of corpses, perhaps even commercially? If not, why not? I did not ask, "Does it further an individual's life to engage in consensual incest", I asked if it were morally right, or morally wrong?

Well in the Objectivist approach to ethics, questions of morality and questions of human flourishing (or man's life qua man as Rand would term it) are one and the same, and this is a forum about Objectivism. If you do not wish for your ethical questions to be answered from within this framework, I'm sure there are plenty of other places online where you can discuss alternate approaches to morality.

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Well in the Objectivist approach to ethics, questions of morality and questions of human flourishing (or man's life qua man as Rand would term it) are one and the same, and this is a forum about Objectivism. If you do not wish for your ethical questions to be answered from within this framework, I'm sure there are plenty of other places online where you can discuss alternate approaches to morality.

The questions I've asked have given no indication that I wished to discuss "alternate approaches to morality". Far from it. I am clarifying, by asking questions of Objectivists, just what their ethics "look like" on the ground as opposed to a neat theory on paper. That I mention it appears to be situational ethics does not indicate that I wish to discuss situational ethics. I mention it because it appears that Objectivism might simply be a newer/alternate name for something else. It has been a useful conversation.

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The questions I've asked have given no indication that I wished to discuss "alternate approaches to morality". Far from it. I am clarifying, by asking questions of Objectivists, just what their ethics "look like" on the ground as opposed to a neat theory on paper. That I mention it appears to be situational ethics does not indicate that I wish to discuss situational ethics. I mention it because it appears that Objectivism might simply be a newer/alternate name for something else. It has been a useful conversation.

I disagree. I think you talked past everyone until most people decided to just ignore you. Then you chose to pretend that meant we don't have answers for your questions.

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