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Answer to Atheist Experience TV Show #567: Objecting to Objectivism

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Ivan Raszl
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pVvpv2Peu4

After watching this show I must say I'm pretty surprised by the shallow arguments against objectivism presented by these otherwise intelligent folks. On this show they demonstrate lack of knowledge about objectivism because they ask quite basic questions about it. And this lack of knowledge is the source of their arguments. To me the way they patronisingly joke around as if they had superior knowledge makes them look a bit silly.

Let me address the arguments one by one and please correct me wherever I'm wrong.

1. - 2. They agree on these points.

3. Russell reads a statement about "man being an end in himself..." then he complains that he mainly have a problem with the way this is presented. He objects that this idea is put forward as a basic undeniable fact. He then concludes that most of stuff that people value are in our heads and it is not part of objective reality. Matt says that the whole statement is not true at all and goes on to defend his argument by making a parallel between Christian doctrines and Objectivist statements both presented as unquestionable truths. Russell takes over and says the his problem is that Ayn Rand's statements about what man must do and what not do are mixing in values into objective reality. Matt takes over saying this almost dogmatic assertion is a huge flaw. Also, they point out a supposed logical contradiction saying what if an objectivist wants to sacrifice himself. They go on complaining and chuckling about who is Ayn Rand to tell people what to do.

The argument is very hard to make out, but I think what they are basically saying is that Ayn Rand should not tell other people what to do and she should not be so certain about her values. I think they don't understand that her statement is a protection against the very thing they are afraid of. Ayn Rand with her statement says that each man should have the right to pursue his own self interests whatever they may be. She doesn't force her ideas on anyone, quite the contrary.

Self interests can include self sacrifice if somebody decides so. She didn't assert that a man can not self sacrifice himself, she said he doesn't have to if he doesn't want to be sacrificed. There is no logical contradiction to chuckle about, but only lack of understanding from Russell's and Matt's part.

4. Russell reads a statement about "capitalism being the ideal system..." Here he again objects that this is asserted as absolute fact. And questions who is this system ideal for? They make extreme examples saying somebody could equally well state that communism or monarchy is the ideal system depending whose perspective we're taking and what the goal is. And they also argue that the goal should be discussed way before what is the ideal system is. Then they say there is no proof for capitalism being the best system because there is no control group or demonstration. Then Russell chuckles that Ayn Rand could only provide a fictional demonstration in support of capitalism. Matt brings up that Ayn Rand ignores the necessity of a cooperative and structured society and the benefits to the individual and the group that come from this.

They seem to act as if there was no support to substantiate the statement about capitalism being the ideal system. In fact Ayn Rand explains it in detail why is it the ideal system. I won't reiterate it here as it would be too long. They obviously ignorant about this and thus bring it up as an argument against the statement.

It is true other people could state that monarchy is the best, but they would not be able to substantiate it. In case of capitalism it can done without any logical fallacies and all based in reality. That's what makes it a valid claim and not a revelation Ayn Rand had from somewhere that we must accept as they assert.

Regarding the goals not being discussed, it's untrue. The goals are stated in point 3 and point 4 is the means to achieve them.

Finally I want to address the part of Ayn Rand not having experimental evidence. Well of course not, she's a philosopher. How do they expect her to prove her theories on a country wide level? It's stupid to bring this up as an argument against the idea regardless if we have or have no experimental evidence. But in fact we do have very good experiments. Most notable are East and West Germany or North and South Korea. In both cases collectivism and capitalism is tested on the same type of people and after several decades we can see the collectivists going down in quality of life, while the capitalists steadily growing. It must be said that true capitalism has not yet been tried anywhere in the world, but even partial capitalism proved to be more efficient in making individuals happy within the society.
Edited by Ivan Raszl
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  • 3 weeks later...
even partial capitalism proved to be more efficient in making individuals happy within the society.

...and that is all that was proven. Partial capitalism being more efficient does not at all prove or even suggest that "true capitalism" as you call it, would be. And in fact I believe given a real test you would find true capitalism to be just as bad as true collectivism.

Edited by brian0918
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... "true capitalism" as you call it, ...
The term "capitalism" is used to denote different concepts. Objectivism uses the term capitalism to describe a system where the government's primary role is to protection of individual rights. You might be familiar enough with Rand's writings to already know that, but I think it is best to have the concept clear, so that two people aren't using the term to mean different things.
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