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Why do people disagree?

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I am thinking, if everyone perceives the same reality and are equally honest and conscientious shouldn't everyone come to the same conclusion about everything, like what is the best political system or best job to hold, including liking the same food, colour, movie etc? But this doesn't happen even between people who are very honest and conscientious. What am I missing here? Would this happen in an ideal world?

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Regarding things like political views, people disagree because reason is not automatic. It is a process that one must initiate continually, and with unfettered focus, in order to properly understand and integrate the facts of reality and determine the best choices for his/her life.

As far as things like the "best job to hold", or favorite color or movie, that really comes down to the unique characteristics of the individual, including not only their individual skills and abilities, but also their early memories and experiences in life.

While many may believe that a truly "objective" philosophy must reject all personal "subjective" preferences, and assign the same set of values and desires to all individuals, Objectivism rejects this mind/body dichotomy, and recognizes the effect that genetics and pre-rational experiences can have on defining an individual.

Also - welcome to the forum!

Edited by brian0918
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Happieness is the ultimate goal of live. Happieness comes from the use of you're mind to produce. That is the rational conclusion of pleasure. What people produce and what they like producing is personal prefrence, if we were all the same then we would lose our that which makes us unqie and without us being unique we are no better than animals.

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if we were all the same then we would lose our that which makes us unique and without us being unique we are no better than animals.

This doesn't get at the heart of the issue, and is just an ad hominem appeal to one's desire to be unique, or be better than an animal, rather than an appeal to one's reason.

There is a reason why people are unique in their personal preferences, and it is not because they actively want to be different from everyone else. Such a pursuit is also not consistent with Objectivism, as it is ultimately second handed - by taking others' personal preferences as the standard by which one determines one's own preferences.

Edited by brian0918
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People are made by the choices they make, it is their choice to build a railroad, their choice to construct a skysracper. I never said that you should base your personal prefrences on others, infact being the same and not being an individual is being a second hander. It is ones will that makes one different, it is their will which allows them to choose rationality over irationality. It is ones reason which makes them different.

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What is meant by "pre-rational experiences?". Does the influence of genetics mean that man is not born in a state of tabula rasa? If an individual likes something blue or sweet, does it mean that they are genetically wired to respond positively to such aspects of reality, such that these preferences are outside the individual's ability to make a choice about?

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What is meant by "pre-rational experiences?". Does the influence of genetics mean that man is not born in a state of tabula rasa? If an individual likes something blue or sweet, does it mean that they are genetically wired to respond positively to such aspects of reality, such that these preferences are outside the individual's ability to make a choice about?

Pre-rational experiences would be those that occur while you are still an infant or child. They may not simply be limited to certain events, but could also be environmental, or even affected by nutrition."Tabula rasa" is a term with a very specific meaning - we are born without any innate knowledge or values. That does not mean we are born without any tendencies or special abilities.Regarding your specific example of someone who likes blue/sweet - it may be partially genetic, and/or partially the result of past experiences (whether young or later). If someone's obsession with sweet foods leads him to become obese, he certainly has it in his power to change that, and unlearn his past temptation for sweet foods. But if it causing him no harm, there is little motivation on his part to change that. That doesn't mean it is beyond is ability to change it, though. Edited by brian0918
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Just in reply to your first post Gwen, it seems like you're assuming men are infallible. Even if all people were honest and conscientious about working to learn the truth of a given matter, that doesn't mean they will arrive at the truth. It takes an effort to think and to conform to reality precisely because failure is a real possibility.

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Just in reply to your first post Gwen, it seems like you're assuming men are infallible. Even if all people were honest and conscientious about working to learn the truth of a given matter, that doesn't mean they will arrive at the truth. It takes an effort to think and to conform to reality precisely because failure is a real possibility.

Even when we make errors in our reasoning, if we stay open to reality we would be alerted to our mistakes - unless we evade? I have met people who seem very decent and logical about day-to-day matters but believe in religion, communism and postmodernism and dismiss Objectivism. For me, while I may not be the best student of Objectivism, when I sorted things through I wondered how others could disagree with the basic tenets of Objectivism after studying it. I wonder if I made any mistake because these people seem very genuine and confident about their stand on religion and the like. If they are irrational, where do their confidence come from? I ask this because now I realise that in the past when I made mistakes, even when I did not know where I went wrong, i somehow felt really troubled and doubtful of myself. It is because of this that I wonder how some people can persist in their errors for long periods of time without any apparent repercussions to their conscience or self-esteem. My understanding of Objectivism so far has given me great peace and I wonder how anyone who disagrees with the basic tenets of Objectivism can be at peace or confident. I understand that perhaps I am demonstrating the need for help with some aspect of my psychology and may have digressed from the more philosophical issues. I hope I have not violated any rules in this forum. Thank you everyone for helping me understand this issue so far.

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I think it's totally reasonable to wonder if you've made a mistake when others appear outwardly genuine and confident. All you can really do about that is reason out the consequences of certain premises, or investigate all the sort of requirements out of a person as they explain it. Leaving value judgments aside while investigating, you may see a person that gains their confidence because god helps to indicate a plan for your life, or perhaps following norms of society makes it easier to achieve your goals in life. Where people get their confidence is a psychological topic of discussion (which is a great discussion to have in this forum; philosophy is not the exclusive thing to talk about around here), but what we can say about irrationality here is about what extent a person is striving for their values, and to what extent any knowledge goes against what they know about reality. Even if a person is religious, they may have not even had the encounters of information that will indicate any problems in their reasoning. In other words, experience is why people disagree. Sometimes a person is willfully ignoring a fact, other times a person has *never* learned a certain fact. And even when you hear new information, you have to apply reason, which is a skill in itself. I can listen to a lecture on Existentialist philosophy, but unless I compare it to what I know, and consider the new ideas, it will simply be a mass of words.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don't forget also that everyone has a different context. We are all in the same reality but you haven't seen everything I have seen, and vice versa. We will form our inductions based, ultimately, on what we perceive (or we are being rationalists of some sort), and with enough differences in the subset of reality we have been exposed to, we will come to different conclusions.

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Over the years I've begun to see people's values as the primary determining factor in their beliefs - not reason. This, I think, is why reason and logic are so ineffective in changing someone's mind on a topic. Argue with well reasoned and logical arguments until you're blue in the face and if you cannot change their values you'll gain no ground.

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Well, some people could both be perfectly rational and have same experiences and still disagree. That is because their core values. For example take an objectivist and a communist/socialist. An objectivist's core value is his own happiness and therefore capitalism and selfishness are only true and just systems and virtues.

For a communist/socialist, the benefit of his commune/country/religion/species/everyintelligentlifeformthereis is his core "value", and he could benefit his commune more for example by being altruistic rather than selfish.

Find a way to rationalize on core values and then people could get to have more productive debates.

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Well, some people could both be perfectly rational and have same experiences and still disagree. ... For example take an objectivist and a communist/socialist. ...

For a communist/socialist, the benefit of his commune/country/religion/species/everyintelligentlifeformthereis is his core "value", and he could benefit his commune more for example by being altruistic rather than selfish.

You're equivocating on "rational". The communist/socialist is not being "perfectly rational". He may have rationale that he uses to justify his conclusions in his own mind, and he may even claim to be acting rationally, but he is not.

Edited by brian0918
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Certainly not. If a communist/socialist came to me and claimed he was acting rationally, and explained his logic, I would show why his logic is flawed, and how his philosophy is ill-founded. I would never ask him to accept my conclusion on faith.

And what measure would you use to determine what is rational? If you value liberty then capitalism is certainly rational. But, if you value self-sacrifice than communism is "rational".

EDIT:

Actually, better yet. Go ahead and let's pretend that I am a socialist and explain, without using any value statements to make your case, why I'm not acting rationally.

Edited by DoxaPar
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But, if you value self-sacrifice

Then your value is irrational.

Actually, better yet. Go ahead and let's pretend that I am a socialist and explain, without using any value statements to make your case, why I'm not acting rationally.

If you would like to state specific rationale for why you're a socialist, I would be willing to respond to that. However it would be quite epic to attempt a broad, catch-all response in a forum post - you are essentially asking me to dictate Rand's entire philosophy to you.

I will simply state generally that man has a specific nature, with certain requirements for living as a human being, and the statist nature of communism runs contrary to man's life as a human being. Obviously that's not particularly convincing for you, but that's not my problem. I would recommend Rand's Objectivist Ethics and Man's Rights as an introduction.

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Actually, better yet. Go ahead and let's pretend that I am a socialist and explain, without using any value statements to make your case, why I'm not acting rationally.

Back in post 10, I really thought I gave a good answer to why the socialist in question *may* be totally rational. By rational, we don't simply mean what is a logical way to achieve some value (which is what you are referring to by saying rational), but actions which are consistent with an objective approach to knowledge and pursuing one's life. Of course, a person could still be wrong. Evasion is what is considered to be irrational, not "being wrong".

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First, let me back up a bit and try to draw out the specific reason I presented the question and one of the main issues I have with the presuppositions that support a lot of the arguments on these forums. That is, the belief or expectation that man should be or can be or is expected to be perfectly rational. And that, man's failure to act rationally is the basis for disagreement (and a slew of other issues).

If our expectation is that man act rationally then, I believe, this is an expectation that man act against his nature and insist that "A should not be A". In other words, it insists on a reality that is not reality. It insists that man act contrary to his nature. This underlining presupposition, ironically, impairs our (the commentators here) ability to act (and argue) rationally. If we believe that man act rationally, or is capable of consistently perfect rational thought then every argument ends as you ended this one "your value is irrational".

Rational thought deals with reality and works with the facts of reality. If we consider and expect man to act according to his nature, according to reality, then it is a denial of reality to imply that man's decisions are based on (people disagree) reason, and never value statements.

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I might suggest saving the "you're denying reality if you don't agree with me" lectures until after you figure out what exactly is the conception of reason presupposed in a lot of the arguments on these forums (i.e. Objectivist epistemology.) Hint: it doesn't at all claim anything resembling what you're arguing against.

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I might suggest saving the "you're denying reality if you don't agree with me" lectures until after you figure out what exactly is the conception of reason presupposed in a lot of the arguments on these forums (i.e. Objectivist epistemology.) Hint: it doesn't at all claim anything resembling what you're arguing against.

I apologize if my remarks came off like that. It wasn't the intent (or sentiments) of my comment.

Please, correct my conception then because I'm not unwilling to hear your explanation.

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Well, I mean, I just don't recognize any of the Objectivist conceptions of reason in your posts. Objectivists don't claim that all men's decisions are based on reason, or deny that decisions are based on value-judgments, or claim that man's failure to act perfectly rational is the basis of all disagreement.

It seems we are throwing around a lot of terms without having defined them, and being unaware of Rand's understanding of the functioning of thought, emotions, and values. So let's start by a basic understanding of what we mean by reason. There are different ways we can even use the terms "reason" and "rational." We can mean the overall faculty of thought, including all its capabilities (i.e. including the capabilities and means of error.) We can distinguish between a "rational person" (i.e. a normal healthy functioning person) or an "irrational person (i.e. a person with impaired brain.) Or we can use it in a more narrow sense of the employment of those specific rules of right-thinking that result in the grasp of facts of reality. (It is in this sense that we also refer to objectivity, and to values derived by employing this method as proper values, or rational values, or the values that man should adopt.) Even in this sense, one can employ the right method and err, if one lacks some information, or makes a mistake of logic, and Objectivism would not consider this as "irrationality" in the sense of "failure to be perfectly rational [or be omniscient?]" or evidence of immorality.

Consequently, we can think of "irrational" in three senses: (1) in the sense of not having the overall rational faculty (i.e. of being mentally impaired in some way), (2) of making an error of application of reason, or lacking access to some information, or (3) of evading some logical conclusion, or refusing to consider some information, or refusing to question or even think about something. It is in this last sense only that "being irrational" means being immoral. (I don't know if that's what we're disagreeing on entirely, but I threw that in there anyway.)

As Euiol tried to explain that reason, under Rand's non-skeptical conception, is not simply applications of means to irreducibly chosen ends, but one can (and should) also question ultimate ends themselves. In Rand's epistemology and psychology, there is no necessary disharmony between reason and value-judgments (or between reason and emotion either.) They are all three working in conjunction in the mind, and can be harmonized by right-thinking, or can clash as a result of error or evasion. A person's value-judgments are mental appraisals that can be the result of applying the method of reason, or not. A person's emotions are automatic responses to given value-judgments, and so themselves can be products of rational values, or not.

Secondly, even if two people apply the same method and don't make mistakes in reasoning, it doesn't guarantee they come to the same conclusion, as Locke has pointed out in the 17th century. Each person accesses a wide array of varying information, start from varying contexts, have accumulated various previous knowledge underlying their conclusions. Given this, added with the ability of each person to separately direct the objects of their own thought (or free will), not even two people applying the same method, or starting with the grasp of the same facts will necessarily reach the same conclusion in all cases. If the conclusion is further away from the perceptual level, the required amount of abstracting from abstractions increases, and thus along with it, the likelihood of disagreement (since higher level abstractions don't provide you with any self-evident observations, but only the abstracting from experience that you have performed and reduced yourself will be able to be integrated.)

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Thank you 2046.

That is helpful, clarifying and also provokes more questions. In light of paragraph four, why is socialism or communism automatically "irrational" then?

Or, to put it another way, if a person values socialism and works towards those ends why is it regarded as "irrational"?

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