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Why is it immoral to limit an individuals freedom?

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"To say that something is forbidden is not to say it is impossible.

It is to say that it will have consequences if ignored."

Dictionary definition of forbidden: "not allowed; prohibited" .

I wouldn't have a problem if the original quote in question stated that "nature discourages irrationality", or some such phrasing, which would then allow for the interpretation that you want, which is that an irrational act has undesirable consequences. I would qualify that further and say that it often, or usually, has undesirable consequences. My point is that it does not absolutely, always, and everywhere have an undesirable consequence for individuals, which is what saying that "nature forbids irrationality" implies. I'm not bending or stretching the meaning of words here -- this is a reasonable interpretation.

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"Okay, but you shouldn't have implied that the consequence is always death."

How else does nature prohibit anything? By eliminating individuals who exhibit self-destructive characteristics and behaviours from the gene pool, evolution proceeds.

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I think it's a mistake to read Rand literally, concretely or over-empirically. Her statements

are 'loaded' with layers of meaning that invite or provoke analysis and deeper thought.

Here, we have to consider "nature" as being partially man's own nature - ie, he is acting in

contradiction to himself. Nature 'punishes' a state of irrationality over time - not necessarily

one single act. Thieve once, with perhaps no obvious consequences; become a professional

thief, and live forever in mind-body dualism ("the insane") and eventually get stopped - jailed or shot ("the impossible").

And that's only one, very simple, explanation and example.

She was the master of word selection, as we know, and it fascinates me how she managed so often

to encompass the full range of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and rights, within a single statement.

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Just in case it doesn't stay up, there is a quote at page-bottom which is relevant to this discussion -

and one I don't believe I've ever seen- that is a case in point:

"The only real crime that one man can commit against another is the attempt to create, by his own

words or actions, an impression of the contradictory, the impossible, the irrational, and thus shake

the concept of rationality in his victim."

Anybody know the source?

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I'm not bending or stretching the meaning of words here -- this is a reasonable interpretation.

The point has been raised, but I guess you are ignoring it, that Rand would have agreed with you. Her quote was made in a context. Even without knowing that context, we know Rand, and can guess within boundaries what she would or would not have meant in any given quote.
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Claiming Rand thought nature would actively prevents humans from acting irrational, or smite them dead like some god(s)if they did, is as irrational as saying Rand claimed people should worship skyscrapers sense her heroes worship their magnificence. Rand took literary license with words to dramatize ideas and she certainly should have sense that is the definition of art. Art would be pretty damn boring if you treated it like a documentary.

Atlas Shrugged, where the quote originates, is not a philosophic treatise nor is it the concrete statement on Objectivism. It is art. Did the author take artistic license in making her points? Absolutely; because it is art. She did a brilliant job of concreting philosophic points in that art which is why it is the second most influential book today. But it is still art and one has to read it with a critical mind to abstract the ideas away from the author’s literary portrayal of her values.

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"Nature forbids man to be irrational with impunity-and this is a real meaning of the quote."

Collectively, yes -- but nature does not forbid all individuals from successfully acting in a way that Objectivists would consider irrational. I had tried to explain this in an earlier post, but that was apparently forbidden....

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"The irrational is the impossible; it is that which contradicts the facts of reality; facts cannot be altered by a wish, but they can destroy the wisher." -- Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Ethics

"If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational." -- Ayn Rand

So no -- nature doesn't "forbid" irrationality at all.

You've changed Miss Rand's meaning. She didn't say nature forbids irrationality, she said nature forbids the irrational. Meaning: there are no contradictions in reality. So for instance wishing to fly won't change the nature of gravity and jumping from a cliff without a parachute will kill you, nature forbids it. Just as nature forbids you from standing in front of a hungry lion while only praying that god save you -- nature will destroy you.

For example, the vast majority of people who ever lived on this planet have beeen theists of one kind or another (and the vast majority still are today). This, according to Objectivism, is highly irrational, yet man has survived. If nature really did forbid the irrational, then the human race would have died out long ago. It might be considered irrational to hold that "might makes right", but history shows that quite a few brutal despots have died peaceful deaths. Now, it would be "collectively" irrational if everyone subscribed to the idea that "might makes right", as it would be hard for anyone to survive in such an environment, but clearly it works for some individuals. Likewise with theft and other criminal behaviors: this might be a rational method of survival for some individuals, though destructive if practiced collectively. So no -- nature doesn't "forbid" irrationality at all.

Unfortunately we are used to you defending religion but it is a nice change to hear you compare it to theft and tyranny no matter how wrong you are about irrationality being a rational method of survival.

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"To say that something is forbidden is not to say it is impossible.

It is to say that it will have consequences if ignored."

Dictionary definition of forbidden: "not allowed; prohibited" .

I wouldn't have a problem if the original quote in question stated that "nature discourages irrationality"

Again, you are proving my point.

To say something is not allowed is not to say it is impossible.

To say something is forbidden is not to say it is impossible.

People do things that are forbidden all the time.

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Again, you are proving my point.

To say something is not allowed is not to say it is impossible.

To say something is forbidden is not to say it is impossible.

I actually don't like the phrase "nature forbids" because usually, to forbid is a conscious action. You may be forbidden to trespass on another person's property, although you still can trespass if you are willing to accept the legal consequences. This is forbidden only because it's a law passed and established by people who made it that way. So, a legislature or other rule-maker does the forbidding. But with nature, there isn't anything which is a rule-maker to make being irrational forbidden. Another way to phrase that is I've really only seen "forbid" in a man-made way, rather than a metaphysical fact (of nature). It's a fact that being irrational will ultimately be harmful in normal circumstances, while there is no constellation in the sky to read which says "thou shalt not be irrational". Only consciousness can forbid.

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I actually don't like the phrase "nature forbids" because usually, to forbid is a conscious action. You may be forbidden to trespass on another person's property, although you still can trespass if you are willing to accept the legal consequences. This is forbidden only because it's a law passed and established by people who made it that way. So, a legislature or other rule-maker does the forbidding. But with nature, there isn't anything which is a rule-maker to make being irrational forbidden. Another way to phrase that is I've really only seen "forbid" in a man-made way, rather than a metaphysical fact (of nature). It's a fact that being irrational will ultimately be harmful in normal circumstances, while there is no constellation in the sky to read which says "thou shalt not be irrational". Only consciousness can forbid.

I think Hairnet's statement (post #25) explains the word choice well.

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"Unfortunately we are used to you defending religion but it is a nice change to hear you compare it to theft and tyranny no matter how wrong you are about irrationality being a rational method of survival."

I have neither defended religion in this thread or stated that irrationality is a rational method of survival (though I did state that it is not always and everywhere disastrous, as there are certainly individuals who have survived and thrived despite acting in a way that you and I would agree is not desirable -- Kim Jong il comes to mind: a brutal despot who died quietly and peacefully). But if you want to go and attack straw men of your own making (an irrational act), you go girl.

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-- Kim Jong il comes to mind: a brutal despot who died quietly and peacefully). But if you want to go and attack straw men of your own making (an irrational act), you go girl.

It doesn't help your defense of yourself to act like there are no implications to your posts beyond the things you explicitly say. We know you defend religion. And if you aren't condoning irrationality, what *are* you doing by drawing so much attention to this distinction you are trying to make?

You're trying pull a fast one again in this Kim Jong example. As if he died a peaceful and happy man!

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@Avila

If someone wants to have an extremely detailed explanation of the relationship between rationality and success in life I wouldn't look at Ayn Rand's short essays. A formal writing on those matters (to the standards of Academia) could probably occupy a bookshelf. Ayn Rand wrote a bunch of essays and a few books stating a world view that contradicted two and a half thousand years of philiosophy, I don't consider her works to be all encompassing explanations or proofs of her philosophy.

You would have better luck looking at books like Tara Smith's "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics".

I have already explained earlier that the word "Forbidden" is a personification of nature, which is a metaphor for a collection of known scientific and ethical principles. It is entirely figurative speach and thinking otherwise is uncharitable (which means generally interpereting people's words in the worse way you can think of).

If you want to talk about the "Prudent Predator" problem/argument then you should just go out and do so. So just go start a post with this instead - "Some people do in fact gain values through what are considered to be immoral means, how do we reconcile this with the principle that it is not in our best interests to live a life of exploitation and violence?".

or you could keep going with this "How do people with irrational beliefs live if Ayn Rand says that REALITY kills people who believe wrong things?"

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I have neither defended religion in this thread or stated that irrationality is a rational method of survival

You have defended religion previously but actually I was congratulating your apparently enlightened attitude in comparing religion to theft and tyranny. But really your opening post is just a jumble of self-contradictions, and that is what I was trying to highlight.

Here is where you defend religion:

For example, the vast majority of people who ever lived on this planet have beeen theists of one kind or another (and the vast majority still are today). This, according to Objectivism, is highly irrational, yet man has survived. If nature really did forbid the irrational, then the human race would have died out long ago.

The implication being that religion has some survival value. Of course the correlation you use to make this conclusion is as good as saying that the rooster crowing causes the sun to rise.

Here is where you state that irrationality is a rational method of survival:

Likewise with theft and other criminal behaviors: this might be a rational method of survival for some individuals,

which of course is self-contradictory.

Here is another of your self-contradictions:

Kim Jong il comes to mind: a brutal despot who died quietly and peacefully

A brute is peaceful? Is english your first language?

But if you want to go and attack straw men of your own making (an irrational act), you go girl.

As far as straw men are concerned, I pointed out your construction of one in my previous post: you changed Ayn Rand's words and then attacked the change. Have you no integrity? Will you not now apologize for your fallacious argument? If not then please hold the insults as they only further demonstrate your impotent small-mindedness.

Edited by Marc K.
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"The implication being that religion has some survival value. Of course the correlation you use to make this conclusion is as good as saying that the rooster crowing causes the sun to rise."

Being an ex-atheist, of course I'll defend some religions if they are being mis-characterized or historical errors are being promoted. That is not, however, the point of my posts here, which was in reaction to someone stating that "nature forbids him (man) the irrational". It's been a while since I've read "Atlas Shrugged" and so I did not know that that was from Rand via Galt. I accept the explanation that this is artistic hyperbole, but have still responded to posters who apparently do not take it as hyperbole.

Pointing out that virtually all cultures have been religious to some extent (Greeks, Romans, etc.) is NOT the same thing as saying, as you claim that I am, that religion has some survival value. That is YOUR extrapolation, not mine. Religion could be entirely neutral, making no real impact on a person or culture's survivability.

"likewise with theft and other criminal behaviors: this might be a rational method of survival for some individuals"

"which of course is self-contradictory."

Here we disagree. If a young boy growing up in the slums of Calcutta is faced with the prospect of starving or stealing food when he can (when no other avenue is open to him) to keep himself alive, then stealing is rational though undesirable.

"A brute is peaceful? Is english your first language?"

"Peaceful" in this case refers to his death, not his person (if you knew English well, you would recognise sentence structure and know which adjectives refer to what). Peaceful as in non-violent -- he died of natural causes. It would strengthen the idea of "nature forbidding irrationality" if all despots died violent deaths at the hands of others, thus showing the result of irrationally brutalizing others to get and maintain power, but unfortunately it doesn't always work that way.

"you changed Ayn Rand's words and then attacked the change."

I didn't know they were Rand's words in the first place -- I thought they were the words of a poster (which has since been removed, by the way). The poster did not ascribe them to Rand. So no, I could hardly have been guilty of changing Rand's words when I didn't know they were hers.

I find the subject interesting -- what does nature forbid the individual? What does nature forbid the population as a whole, but allow the individual? (Like Eiuol, I don't like the use of the word "forbid" here because it implies a consciousness, but for the sake of brevity, I'll continue to use it as the original poster did). I'm interested in the reality of how that plays out. Perhaps the problem here is that you are subscribing to a simplistic theory and not noting the complexity of reality.

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Pointing out that virtually all cultures have been religious to some extent (Greeks, Romans, etc.) is NOT the same thing as saying, as you claim that I am, that religion has some survival value. That is YOUR extrapolation, not mine. Religion could be entirely neutral, making no real impact on a person or culture's survivability.

Typically one supports their argument with evidence so I sincerely doubt this is what you meant when you originally posted:

"If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational."

The problem is that I don't see nature forbidding any such thing. For example, the vast majority of people who ever lived on this planet have beeen theists of one kind or another (and the vast majority still are today). This, according to Objectivism, is highly irrational, yet man has survived. If nature really did forbid the irrational, then the human race would have died out long ago.

There is no other way to read what you wrote here. You were arguing that nature does not forbid the irrational and using the fact that most people on earth believe irrationally in a god and yet we survive as a species as evidence. If what you meant was that such belief was neutral to survival that wouldn't support your point.

Besides, let's be honest, you don't actually believe that religion is neutral anyway right? You believe that it is beneficial, otherwise why would you practice it? Unless you have changed your convictions, which is possible since you have compared religion to theft and other criminal behaviors in this thread. Have you converted back to atheism? If so, congratulations.

{Avila:} "likewise with theft and other criminal behaviors: this might be a rational method of survival for some individuals"

{Marc:} "which of course is self-contradictory."

Here we disagree. If a young boy growing up in the slums of Calcutta is faced with the prospect of starving or stealing food when he can (when no other avenue is open to him) to keep himself alive, then stealing is rational though undesirable.

Hold on, we were talking about a method, a RATIONAL METHOD. That means (from Dictionary.com):

1. a procedure, technique, or way of doing something,especially in accordance with a definite plan

2. a manner or mode of procedure, especially an orderly,logical, or systematic way of instruction, inquiry,investigation, presentation, etc.: the empiricalmethod of inquiry.

3. order or system in doing anything: to work with method.

4. orderly or systematic arrangement, sequence, or the like.

Stealing is not a rational plan or method.

{Marc:} "A brute is peaceful?"

"Peaceful" in this case refers to his death, not his person [...]. Peaceful as in non-violent -- he died of natural causes. It would strengthen the idea of "nature forbidding irrationality" if all despots died violent deaths at the hands of others, thus showing the result of irrationally brutalizing others to get and maintain power, but unfortunately it doesn't always work that way.

Again, this is not what is typically meant by "peaceful death". Why would it matter whether a despot died a violent or non-violent death, as long as he died? The way it does work is that brutes and despots do NOT have peaceful minds and do NOT die peaceful deaths.

"you changed Ayn Rand's words and then attacked the change."

I didn't know they were Rand's words in the first place -- I thought they were the words of a poster (which has since been removed, by the way). The poster did not ascribe them to Rand. So no, I could hardly have been guilty of changing Rand's words when I didn't know they were hers.

The post is still up, it is the very first post and I see that he didn't attribute the quote, which is a no-no. But that doesn't absolve you AT ALL. You changed the words of the OP and then attacked the change. Will you now admit to your fallacious argumentation?

Clearly, as evidenced by the quote I provided earlier, there is a difference between "irrationality" and "the irrational".

(Like Eiuol, I don't like the use of the word "forbid" here because it implies a consciousness, but for the sake of brevity, I'll continue to use it as the original poster did).

I find nothing wrong with Miss Rand's usage. All she is saying is that the laws of nature forbids you from jumping to the moon and that you are forbidden from having your cake and eating it too.

Which word would you have her use? Prohibit, prevent, preclude? They all have the same flavor.

Perhaps the problem here is that you are subscribing to a simplistic theory and not noting the complexity of reality.

It depends on which theory you are talking about but in this case reality is very simple: contradictions do not exist in reality. I know you want to hold out hope that reality is more complex than that since that is the only way a god could exist but you are wrong.

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"There is no other way to read what you wrote here."

Yes, there is, for the mind that has not been closed by dogma. Here's just a few possibilties that come to mind:

1. - Nature doesn't "forbid" irrationality;

2.- Religious belief is not irrational (perhaps non-rational as opposed to irrational?); 3. - Religious belief is beneficial (this is what you ascribe to me);

4. - Religious belief within cultures is too varied to be generalized, and so every belief system within a given culture needs to be judged on its own; 5. - Religious belief is a neutral factor, having neither positive or negative effects;

or 6. - Religious belief has both positive and negative features, which cancel each other out, rendering its effect nuetral.

Wow -- there's six possibilities that spring instantly to my mind, though you can only see one. What an intellectually engaging person you are, to be sure!

"Again, this is not what is typically meant by "peaceful death".

Really? According to whom? Common usage sez otherwise: a peaceful death is one that is not occasioned by violence, traumatic accident, suicide, ora death marked by great physical pain (pain being medically managed in the case of illness). Now your dear Kim Jong il died quite peacefully, with his creepy son by his side....very peaceful.

"Why would it matter whether a despot died a violent or non-violent death, as long as he died? The way it does work is that brutes and despots do NOT have peaceful minds and do NOT die peaceful deaths."

If one maintains that all despots and other brutes do not die "peaceful" deaths, then of course it matters how any despot dies -- if, as in the case of Kim Jong il, a despot dies peacefully, then you don't really have a leg to stand on regarding your theories about what "nature forbids", do you? Your theory falls apart. As for any despot's "peace of mind" -- aww, really -- are you going to seriously try to tell me that you know for a fact that despots like Kim Jong il didn't have "peace of mind" when they died?? Are you a mind-reader? You don't know ANYTHING about Kim Jong il's mind, as I suspect you can't even figure out your own. Human beings are more complex than you make them out to be.

"You changed the words of the OP and then attacked the change."

I wasn't responding, I don't recall, to the OP at all but to a subsequent poster. So no, I didn't change the words of the OP. At any rate, I seriously doubt that I changed any meaning in any significant way, or attacked a straw man of my own making. You're just grasping at straws...that's OK, I understand that you have nothing of substance in response, and so it's just easier to make up stuff. You go, girl.

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{Marc}: "There is no other way to read what you wrote here."

Yes, there is, for the mind that has not been closed by dogma. Here's just a few possibilties that come to mind:

1. [...] 6.

You are right, I should have said: There is no other rational way to read what you wrote.

This is a complete non-response to what I wrote. I guess I should not be surprised that the irrationality of belief in a god has infected your thinking. Since belief in a god requires no evidence nor do your arguments. The rules of logic and argumentation are nullified in a reality ruled by "the irrational".

Nice comic relief though: dogma denounced by a religionist!?!? (You can't make this stuff up).

Now your dear Kim Jong il died quite peacefully, with his creepy son by his side....very peaceful.

[...] As for any despot's "peace of mind" -- aww, really -- are you going to seriously try to tell me that you know for a fact that despots like Kim Jong il didn't have "peace of mind" when they died?? Are you a mind-reader? You don't know ANYTHING about Kim Jong il's mind, as I suspect you can't even figure out your own. Human beings are more complex than you make them out to be.

You have no idea how Kim Jong Il died. What evidence do you have that he died peacefully? The words of a lying totalitarian regime? Oh, I forgot, you need no evidence. You have as much evidence about Kim's death as you have for the existence of a god, which is none.

He may have been killed by his son and brother to grab power, which wouldn't be unusual. You don't have to be a mind reader: He had his food tasted for poison; He starved millions of people; He murdered many others; He thought himself a god. These are not the actions of a peaceful mind and if somehow he wasn't bothered by any of this, then he was delusional, which also isn't a peaceful state of mind. Actions and words have implications, oh, I forgot, you don't consider implications.

If one maintains that all despots and other brutes do not die "peaceful" deaths, then of course it matters how any despot dies -- if, as in the case of Kim Jong il, a despot dies peacefully, then you don't really have a leg to stand on regarding your theories about what "nature forbids", do you? Your theory falls apart.

I haven't presented my "theory", I have only shot down yours.

My position is the same as Ayn Rand's: contradictions do not exist in reality. I know this is not your position, no surprise then that a logically consistent, rational argument is not forthcoming from you.

It is clear to me that when Ayn Rand says "nature forbids him the irrational" she is talking about nature as apart from man. This is confirmed by the other quote I provided about what "the irrational" is: "The irrational is the impossible; it is that which contradicts the facts of reality; facts cannot be altered by a wish, but they can destroy the wisher." -- Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Ethics

"The irrational" is the impossible so clearly it does not refer to the machinations of an irrational mind, to which everything is possible, even possibilities that contradict the nature of reality. Use yourself as evidence of the truth of that statement.

{Marc}: "You changed the words of the OP and then attacked the change."

I wasn't responding, I don't recall, to the OP at all but to a subsequent poster. So no, I didn't change the words of the OP. At any rate, I seriously doubt that I changed any meaning in any significant way, or attacked a straw man of my own making. You're just grasping at straws...that's OK, I understand that you have nothing of substance in response, and so it's just easier to make up stuff. You go, girl.

Which is it? You weren't responding to the OP or you don't recall? I doubt you "seriously doubt that you changed any meaning". If you thought you hadn't changed the meaning, then you would have said "I didn't change the meaning". As it is, this is an admission that you did change the words and you just don't know whether you changed the meaning or not. Maybe you should find out.

You "don't recall" to whom or what you were responding? If you don't remember what you wrote, you can always go back and read it. It doesn't matter whether you "recall", in your first post you quote someone using the words "the irrational" and you then go on to argue against "irrationality".

You are putting a lot of energy into defending irrationality. You had to change contexts from nature apart from man where "the irrational" doesn't exist, to a volitional mind where contradictions can exist. You argue in favor of the latter in order to preserve the former -- could that have something to do with your irrational beliefs?

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You are putting a lot of energy into defending irrationality. You had to change contexts from nature apart from man where "the irrational" doesn't exist, to a volitional mind where contradictions can exist. You argue in favor of the latter in order to preserve the former -- could that have something to do with your irrational beliefs?

Sorry, that last sentence should read: You argue in favor of the latter in order to NULLIFY the former -- could that have something to do with your irrational beliefs?

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Getting back to the original post... The initial question was "why is it immoral to limit an individual's freedom". I'm not convinced it is. (the question itself is posed with a bit of petitio principii too ;) ) First of all may I ask what you define "freedom" as?

Usually when people talk about freedom in the absolute sense, it's freedom to do whatever one pleases. Well if that's the case, in the most general sense then reality itself naturally limits an individuals freedom. I wouldn't consider reality particularly immoral.

But that's of course not what you meant. Probably you were looking to ask if it is moral for a person through action to limit the "freedom" of another to do as they choose? I would answer there are definitely situations in which that is perfectly moral. It's probably unavoidable by the fact that we live in a world with others sometimes with no intent at all through action we will limit the freedom of others to act in certain ways.

This is all really kind of self evident I'd think so you must mean something more specific. Can you exactly state what the freedoms are which you believe are inviolate under any circumstances and would be immoral for anyone to ever deny or curb anothers?

So essentially what specific freedoms are we talking about here, can you name them?

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