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Root of "Rights"

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P0 isn't a goal, hairnet; it's the standard by which we evaluate all goals and desires of any sort.

That's how I interpret Objectivist ethics. If I'm mistaken then please let me know.

Hold one moment.

SL: The irony in your last post astounds me.

You've just dismissed any further inquiry by the exact reasoning I was working towards.

To deal with bad apples if and when you find them; isn't that how the criminal system works?

I'm only trying to lay out the explicit basis of the concepts it applies.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Well you did not state that "Life was the standard of value". You claimed that life is worth living, which from which I assumed that we were orienting the whole discussion on how specifically rights encourage life. 

 

This is the definition of trust I liked that I took from a social sciences article. This is the article although I can not say that I agree with everything in it. http://www.ldv.ei.tum.de/en/research/fidens/interpersonal-trust/ 

 

Interpersonal trust is an expectation about a future behavior of another person and an accompanying feeling of calmness, confidence, and security depending on the degree of trust and the extend of the associated risk. That other person shall behave as agreed, unagreed but loyal, or at least according to subjective expectations, although she/he has the freedom and choice to act differently, because it is impossible or voluntarily unwanted to control her/him. That other person may also be perceived as a representative of a certain group. (Freely translated from Kassebaum, 2004, p. 21)

 

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P0 isn't a goal, hairnet; it's the standard by which we evaluate all goals and desires of any sort.

That's how I interpret Objectivist ethics. If I'm mistaken then please let me know.

Hold one moment.

SL: The irony in your last post astounds me.

You've just dismissed any further inquiry by the exact reasoning I was working towards.

To deal with bad apples if and when you find them; isn't that how the criminal system works?

I'm only trying to lay out the explicit basis of the concepts it applies.

 

The context of your hypothetical involved an absence of knowledge of the particular nature of the people around whom Jim could choose to swerve. i.e. He was blind and ignorant to facts of reality (this is to be expected), how do you think he should act keeping in mind his lack of knowledge?

 

What exactly is astounding about my post? 

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...

Preliminary Premises:

 

0-  Life is good; in general the rewards outweigh the risks.

...

 

This seems a rather sweeping moral statement of life in general.  Have you proof that "in general" all lives are good simply because they exist?  As I read the following, the existence of a evil life can be inferred from actions that are NOT "self-sustaining and self-generated":

 

"There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence—and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If an organism fails in that action, it dies; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of 'Life' that makes the concept of 'Value' possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil." ~ ARL, Life

 

Is it possibe to distinguish good lives from evil lives, or are you asserting that all lives are good because a majority of them are... or that the process of self-sustaining and self-generated action is good?  Life = Good; Death = Evil??  Some clarity please?

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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I like the concrete. A second way to make it concrete is to imagine Jim really never had much choice about interacting with people, since they were all around him, for many hundreds of miles. Even if they did not raid his home, they did impact him. Even if he does not wish to trade with the kooky folk across the stream, he wants to reach an agreement over how they use the commons, and perhaps he even comes up with a concept of property.

Your concrete example highlights that rights come from the value-seeking behavior: trading value for value. This alternative concrete highlights that rights can also protect against the encroachment of "dis-value". In this role, they are not rules for trade, but rules that keep everyone out of everyone else's business.

 

If Jim doesn't want to trade with the kooky folk across the stream, isn't his primary concern self-defense?  How secure can an agreement be with "kooky folk"??

 

Edit:  Are you asserting that tradeless rights are essentially agreements to not interfere?  And if so, how reliable would this kind of agreement be with "kooky folk"*.

 

* I'm using your term with the understanding that "kooky folk" are by definition unreliable.  Please correct me if I've misrepresented your meaning...

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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If Jim doesn't want to trade with the kooky folk across the stream, isn't his primary concern self-defense?  How secure can an agreement be with "kooky folk"??

Thanks for asking me to clarify. I didn't mean people who're completely crazy. I just meant people who are not rational the way Jim is, and who may even believe things he considers kooky.

For instance, there may be a family that thinks the world is sitting on top of the back of a huge turtle; and, perhaps Jim finds no value in the things they produce. Nevertheless, the two sides can come to an agreement that they won't raid each other's cattle.

The point is that rights are a shield that marks out a sphere in which Jim can operate, regardless of whether or not he wants to gain value from other people. in this role, they are a protection from their dis-value. So, while rights arise in a social-context, it is not purely a trading context.

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...

The point is that rights are a shield that marks out a sphere in which Jim can operate, regardless of whether or not he wants to gain value from other people. in this role, they are a protection from their dis-value. So, while rights arise in a social-context, it is not purely a trading context.

 

I have to wonder the degree to which tacit agreements not to interfere require a social context.  For example, if Jim and his neighbors live on a frontier without political oversight, wouldn't simply avoiding coercion mark out the same kind of sphere you're referring to?  Specifically, does recognition of anothers autonomy imply a liberty right??

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Specifically, does recognition of anothers autonomy imply a liberty right??

Well a right is like an autonomous zone. So, in that sense they're just different names for the same thing. You could say that man inherently has some autonomous zones of action, and you could mean the same thing as saying that he inherently has some rights.

I'm not sure where all this is going. The point is that one important role of right (or autonomous zones) is to be a barriers against other people stopping you from doing what you will.

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Well a right is like an autonomous zone. So, in that sense they're just different names for the same thing. You could say that man inherently has some autonomous zones of action, and you could mean the same thing as saying that he inherently has some rights.

I'm not sure where all this is going. The point is that one important role of right (or autonomous zones) is to be a barriers against other people stopping you from doing what you will.

 

Yes, this makes sense to me, and thank you for the clarification.  I'm tempted to consider unsecured social rights as virtual rights, but I think that's unnecessary and possibly misleading.  A rose by any other name, or a unnamed rose is still identifiable for what it is.  Obviously I'm still working some things out in that other thread, but I don't want to pursue that here.

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In chronological order.

 

Hairnet:  That definition of "trust" suits the topic far better than the one I had conceived of; I would generally define trust as much closer to "faith" and hence one small distinction away from antirationality [irrationality-as-a-virtue].

The definition you've provided actually sounds more like "certainty" than anything else.

 

In which case it's the same referent I was alluding to in post # 23, with the issue of what we can generalize about 'all men' to further meaningful cooperation with people of unknown values.

 

How should Jim rationally achieve such trust in his fellow men?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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SL:  I apologize for that last post; one should not mix philosophical inquiries with rum.

 

As to how Jim should act, he should rationally act in accordance with p0, of course (which I'll elaborate on momentarily); the precise application of this is the question.

In the hypothetical he was blind to some facts of reality, which is precisely the point- but he wasn't blind to all.

 

Now, in a situation where some things are known for certain and others aren't, wouldn't the rational approach be to recognize that before forming any conclusions?

 

So if Jim were out driving when he saw some complete strangers crossing the road in front of him, he knows some things about them already [they are men] and not others [what sort of men they are]; whatever it is which we're attempting to deduce must be available from nothing more than that.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Not necessarily, Secondhander (but I believe very close to it).

 

By definition, to violate the rights of others lessens their productive capacity, but that may not necessarily have any meaningful impact on the aggressor.  For example, how much are all of our own lives diminished by the oppression in Iran and North Korea?  They certainly are by some amount, but is it one which we would or could ever notice?

 

That said, I think you just inadvertently mentioned another key component to this- could your love of your own life ever conceivably lead to a desire to hurt other people?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Devil's Advocate:

 

With premise zero, when I say that "life is good" I do not mean biological, animal or even human life, in general; I refer exclusively to my own life and my awareness of it.

My standard of "good" is the existence of my own consciousness and its activity.

To think is good, all material and productive benefits aside, primarily because thinking is the activity of my own consciousness; I conceive of it almost as the metabolic action of my mind.  So premise zero essentially means:

 

"I think therefore I am, and that is a good thing".

 

And though it may seem redundant to specify that, there is an alternative approach to morality.  If put into such terms it would consist of:

 

"I think therefore I am, and that is evil".

 

The perpetrators of such an ethical base include everyone who, by any of their various methods, attempts to exist without thought.  That is incidentally the fundamental error in every statist/collectivist ideology which has ever or will ever exist; the desire to escape from awareness.

 

Now, when I say that the "rewards outweigh the risks" I mean precisely that; some states of awareness are pleasant and some are not.  Sometimes the truth hurts.  Sometimes people give the absolutely best attempt they can and still fail miserably.

But the rewards outweigh the risks in that no matter what pain or sorrow anyone ends up enduring for their goals, it is never worth it to invert premise zero and (figuratively) sell their soul.

 

So I'm not making any sort of sweeping generalization at all, there; I'm explicitly mentioning a fundamental choice which every human being has made (sometimes even reversed, multiple times) and which sets the terms for everything else.

Ayn Rand called it "love of life" which is what I'm continuing, because this is an Objectivist website, but personally I think the "love of consciousness" is more appropriate (though certainly not as catchy).

 

p0-  Life is good; the rewards are worth the risks

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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SL:  I apologize for that last post; one should not mix philosophical inquiries with rum.

 

As to how Jim should act, he should rationally act in accordance with p0, of course (which I'll elaborate on momentarily); the precise application of this is the question.

In the hypothetical he was blind to some facts of reality, which is precisely the point- but he wasn't blind to all.

 

Now, in a situation where some things are known for certain and others aren't, wouldn't the rational approach be to recognize that before forming any conclusions?

 

So if Jim were out driving when he saw some complete strangers crossing the road in front of him, he knows some things about them already [they are men] and not others [what sort of men they are]; whatever it is which we're attempting to deduce must be available from nothing more than that.

 

Yes.

 

Now given the risks involved, and the fact that Jim will not have the kind of knowledge which would enable him to kill people and know it was the right decision, he takes a prudent approach, a risk adjusted, average return on "choices" analysis... we do this all the time... its called making good decisions based on good judgment.  We have limited knowledge, and a risk adjusted return is the sort of consideration we subconsciously use to get an indication of which choice is maximal. 

 

It's like something you do in economics.  Here, risk is applicable because he lacks knowledge.  These are risks inherent in reality that he does not know.  risk also exists because of the future, it is contingent upon a great many things.  So, choice A has associated with it probabilities and associated possible benefits and possible disadvantages to his life over the long run, Choice B has a different set of probabilities and associated different possible benefits and possible disadvantages to his life in the long run.  Jim should choose on his best judgment which of choice A or B "on average" given all the risks is most beneficial to his life.

 

We have already discussed the incredible value, generally of men to other men.  If on average men were a disvalue, (which is not the case) we should NOT form societies, we should storm off into the blue yonder as far from each other as possible.  I as well as most Objectivists take the other viewpoint.  A rational entity can benefit from other rational entities and to the extent they all see that the greater the benefit to all.

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@ Harrison Danneskjold,

 

OK so, "Life is good" refers to your life/consciousness.  Doesn't this assert a moral conclusion prior to evaluating any evidence?  Perhaps not, if you mean that life was good the last time you thought about it, and remains good this time around...  It still seems to assert a positive, the strength of which remains conditional at best, i.e., life is good unless it's not so good.

 

It seems a bit unstable as a foundation for everything that follows...

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On the contrary, DA; it's the only stable foundation available (and intimately related to cost-benefit analysis, SL).

Every mental process we ever have or will engage in is based on the implicit evaluation of its worth. For instance, I'm drawn to any challenging problem because I learned early on the pride I stand to gain from solving it; I cannot bring myself to analyze football or shoes for that precise reason (there's no challenge to it).

That's one hell of an evaluation and it seems to precede even the earliest memories I have, and underlie every thought I've ever had.

That's key to grasping how someone loses the will to think (which is prerequisite to any profound evil). So I think it's a crucial variable to isolate.

Listening to Ayn Rand's lecture now; will return afterwards.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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A right is an exclusively social principle.

A social context is one in which other minds are present.

 

Other peoples' minds can be of immense value or immense detriment to Jim, depending on their own treatment of p0.

 

Among others who also affirm p0, Jim can gain immense value by respecting their "rights" or trusting [by Hairnet's definition] them to make their own autonomous choices.

Among others who affirm p0, Jim can gain nothing by inadvertently infringing on their rights (like accidentally running them over, etc) and stands to lose immense value from it, which makes it moral for him to pay sufficient time and attention to prevent such.

Among others who affirm p0, if Jim feels the desire to deliberately harm them, the only moral action for him to take is to check his own premises and identify the malfunction.  If he indulges in such a desire he will be consciously negating someone's love of life and it's doubtful any shred of his soul would survive.

 

So, among rational people, the only moral course of action is for Jim to respect certain requirements of theirs- out of respect for the joy of being conscious, in general.

 

Among those who negate p0, who do not enjoy nor wish to go on being conscious, Jim has nothing to gain from interacting with them at all (neither respecting nor infringing on their rights), and much he stands to lose.

Among those of unknown premises, the p0 demands that he mitigate that uncertainty by allowing them the autonomy to live freely if they wish, while denying them the capacity to enslave him if they wish; maximized rewards and minimized risk.

 

And at that point, I think the application of such optimization is equivalent to "neither sacrificing myself to them nor demanding they sacrifice themselves to me."

---

 

Thank you for your participation, everyone; you've helped me immensely.  :thumbsup:

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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In chronological order.

 

Hairnet:  That definition of "trust" suits the topic far better than the one I had conceived of; I would generally define trust as much closer to "faith" and hence one small distinction away from antirationality [irrationality-as-a-virtue].

The definition you've provided actually sounds more like "certainty" than anything else.

 

 

 

I realize since English is your second language I should start posting definitions for you. Trust does involve some subjectivity, because people on the whole will form incorrect opinions. However trust is not subjective in its entirety, it is a form of reputation. This is a conversation from Game of Thrones where a lord explains to his son the difference between opinions and reputation. 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47MazYDnmaU 

 

In which case it's the same referent I was alluding to in post # 23, with the issue of what we can generalize about 'all men' to further meaningful cooperation with people of unknown values.

 

How should Jim rationally achieve such trust in his fellow men?

 

 

It depends. If Jim is just a normal dude living in a modern social democracy he should promote virtue among the people because society is ultimately controlled by the masses (even if they relinquish it to elites). Acts of injustice of any kind will ruin trust in you specifically and others in general, so they must be avoided. Standing up to acts of injustice when possible should also be done as that is the best way to promote trust.  

 

If Jim lives in a place without a decent justice system he should consult Machiavelli or Robert Greene. Broken societies involve constant politicking, betrayal,guerrilla warfare, and eventually outright war. There isn't justice in war, the only thing you need to do is win it and establish a free society as soon as possible. 

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On the contrary, DA; it's the only stable foundation available (and intimately related to cost-benefit analysis, SL).

Every mental process we ever have or will engage in is based on the implicit evaluation of its worth. For instance, I'm drawn to any challenging problem because I learned early on the pride I stand to gain from solving it; I cannot bring myself to analyze football or shoes for that precise reason (there's no challenge to it).

That's one hell of an evaluation and it seems to precede even the earliest memories I have, and underlie every thought I've ever had.

That's key to grasping how someone loses the will to think (which is prerequisite to any profound evil). So I think it's a crucial variable to isolate.

Listening to Ayn Rand's lecture now; will return afterwards.

 

I believe P0 should read, "Choice is good" because that's the actual starting point for everthing that follows.  Choice presumes a living agent capable of intentional actions that generate desirable consequences, i.e., it's the means by which a rationally selfish individual claims ownership of their life in order to pursue happiness.  Choice also implies a moral agent whose actions can be evaluated and judged objectively to be good or evil...

 

... but this is your thread to weave :thumbsup:

 

Edit:  "A right is an exclusively social principle. A social context is one in which other minds are present." ~ Harrison Danneskjold

I like these, and suggest making them P1 and P2...

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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