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VECT
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This just occurred to me:

 

The whole of Objectivism Ethics is based on the ultimate conditional: "If one wants to achieve happiness".

 

-If one wants to achieve happiness

-Then one must hold life as his/her ultimate value

-To preserve/further one's life, an organism must utilize its proper means of survival as defined by its nature (in the case human, reason)

-....etc.

 

(correct me if I'm mistaken somewhere in my above logic)

 

No where does it say that an individual should choose the pursuit of happiness as his/her ultimate goal.

 

So with this line of thought, while what an individual should do to achieve happiness in this world is objective and can only be discovered through reason.

 

But wouldn't the choosing of the ultimate goal, happiness (or some Duty), be a subjective choice impermeable to reason?

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There is no "reason" to choose life, as reasons depend on a standard. But the fact remains that life is implicitly chosen all the time based on many developmental reasons. Yes, a duty would be subjective essentially - that's why Rand boils it down to essential alternatives, i.e. existence or non-existence. Why should you choose life? There is no process of deliberation to say. It's not a problem though, as ethics is supposed to answer how to live well for Objectivism. Choosing non-existence requires no code at all. You may have reasons to continue living, though.

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Vect, your logic is partly flawed and is not entirely consistent with Objectivism.

"If one wants to achieve happiness

-Then one must hold life as his/her ultimate value"

This does not follow. An Islamic extremist will want to seek happiness through death, martydom in the belief of an afterlife. Happiness is not the standard of value.

For Objectivists, life is the standard of value. Given that you want to live, you will value x, y and z. Happiness is a result of achieving your values. The choice to live is not deliberative as Eiuol points out, but it is in our nature to make that choice.

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@Jon

 

Excuse me if I don't trust your logic/integrity at the moment given our last exchange (and your latest attempts at promoting Georgian economic rent in other threads despite failing to justify it's existence in your own thread).

 

While I consider myself knowledgeable with politics/rights, I'm far less so in ethics. This here is an important topic that I'd like to get sorted out for myself. I am not interested in a debate with you like last time if you don't mind.

 

 

@Eiuol

 

I was reading this when the thought occurred to me:

https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2011-fall/ayn-rand-theory-rights/

 

Specifically the parts around, ["Happiness,” observed Rand, “can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard."]

 

Can you define the "life" you used in your post? Are we talking about "physically-not-dead" or something else?

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I disagree.

 

I disagree that you disagree.

 

See? I can do it too.

 

Seriously, if you have no intention of correcting what I wrote and giving critical feedbacks to what I could be entirely wrong about (which is the very reason why I made this thread). Why post?

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After some thought, the other way I can see it is:

 

-If one wants to achieve happiness

-If one wants to live

-To preserve/further one's life, a volitional organism must choose to utilize its proper means of survival as defined by its nature (in the case of human, reason)

 

In which case pursuit of happiness wouldn't enter the equation. If it just so happens the psychological mechanism that triggers happiness is tripped upon an individual pursuing/achieving rational values that furthers it's life, great.

 

Would this line of thought be more correct?

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VECT you can find detailed analysis of this in lecture 8 of the 1976 lectures. I have listened to this very lecture 6 or so times in the last week. I took notice of this very "standard" comment. The point surrounds the differentiation of rational self interest from hedonism. It is mentioned that even harmful activities can cause pleasure for a while but cannot lead to happiness- "the state of consciousness that comes from the achievement of ones values", and the "enduring state of non-contradictory joy". The fact that on can fail to achieve ones values while pursuing them rationally is essential to understanding the point that happiness is not the standard.

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VECT you can find detailed analysis of this in lecture 8 of the 1976 lectures. I have listened to this very lecture 6 or so times in the last week. I took notice of this very "standard" comment. The point surrounds the differentiation of rational self interest from hedonism. It is mentioned that even harmful activities can cause pleasure for a while but cannot lead to happiness- "the state of consciousness that comes from the achievement of ones values", and the "enduring state of non-contradictory joy". The fact that on can fail to achieve ones values while pursuing them rationally is essential to understanding the point that happiness is not the standard.

 

Thanks, I'll try finding the lectures. You got a link in the mean time?

 

It's not so much as I think happiness have to be the ultimate goal (I just so happen thought it was, but was mistaken, as you just pointed out). It's that something have to be the ultimate goal/purpose/standard/value/objective. While reason comes into play with judging whether or not lesser objectives/values actually contributes toward that ultimate goal, how do you judge, by what standard do you judge, what ultimate goal you should choose?

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Can you define the "life" you used in your post? Are we talking about "physically-not-dead" or something else?

Life, as in being alive. Self-sustaining action. Survival is not necessarily self-sustaining if sustaining is longer than a few moments. Basically what Jon said.

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Life, as in being alive. Self-sustaining action. Survival is not necessarily self-sustaining if sustaining is longer than a few moments.

 

So, an independent and indefinite sustainable lifestyle?

 

But why shouldn't someone choose an dependent and/or non-sustainable lifestyle?

 

That's the hurdle I'm tripping on right now. Because while lesser values can be judged objectively as moral/immoral by whether or not they contribute to an ultimate goal, how do an individual judge what ultimate goal to choose? At the moment it seems the choosing of the ultimate goal is purely subjective to me.

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I disagree that you disagree.

 

See? I can do it too.

 

Seriously, if you have no intention of correcting what I wrote and giving critical feedbacks to what I could be entirely wrong about (which is the very reason why I made this thread). Why post?

Because I was hoping that politely pointing out your false premise would make you go back and check if your arbitrary assertion about Objectivism is really true.

 

Since it didn't work, I suppose some critical feedback might be needed. Here it is: your error is in failing to realize that you have no idea what Oist Ethics is based on. Instead of talking out of your ass, you should spend some time learning about it. 

 

And that's probably the most help you'll get this whole thread. Everyone else is just confirming your delusion that you can argue and message board post your way into understanding philosophy.

Edited by Nicky
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That's the hurdle I'm tripping on right now. Because while lesser values can be judged objectively as moral/immoral by whether or not they contribute to an ultimate goal, how do an individual judge what ultimate goal to choose? At the moment it seems the choosing of the ultimate goal is purely subjective to me.

There is no reason, there is no "shouldn't". Rand doesn't even say there's a decided reason. She suggests pleasure/pain is a feeling that for developmental reasons affect seeking life. Later, we may identify the choice for life in explicit terms, but the only reason to offer is that by seeking life, happiness will come with it. If you choose non-life, okay, in which case, by Rand's position, you won't have any happiness. As soon as you choose non-life, there is no sense of ethics that matters. So, yes, in some way, life is a subjective matter, but here, the important point is that as babies, before we even know what life is, we do life-sustaining actions without a deliberate, reasoned out plan. By implication, values are formed. As an adult, we can analyze those values and measure them against life, which is where value derives. We'd probably say that there are reasons to maintain that life.

 

Your concern seems to be that moral relativism might be true. Moral relativism is basically that more than one standard of morality is valid, but not necessarily all standards. Rand argues that only one standard of morality is valid because of the two fundamental alternatives: existence and nonexistence.

 

For the record, cognitive development is pretty relevant to Objectivist ethics. Developmental factors are important to explain a system of ethics. We're blank slates at the moment of birth, but not any moment after that.

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Because I was hoping that politely pointing out your false premise would make you go back and check if your arbitrary assertion about Objectivism is really true.

 

Since it didn't work, I suppose some critical feedback might be needed. Here it is: your error is in failing to realize that you have no idea what Oist Ethics is based on. Instead of talking out of your ass, you should spend some time learning about it. 

 

And that's probably the most help you'll get this whole thread. Everyone else is just confirming your delusion that you can argue and message board post your way into understanding philosophy.

What are you talking about, seriously? VECT didn't say he knows the answer. He literally is saying he doesn't understand by explaining what he doesn't understand. He already knows there is some error, or he's looking to see if Rand made an error. Let's keep it productive, recognize that by asking a question, he is spending time learning.

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@Nicky

 

I do like to argue, but that's only on topics I am confident my knowledge in. It's my belief that debate/argument is the only way to test the solidity of my concepts and completeness of my knowledge. If I lose an argument, which did happen a few times on this forum, then I learn something new. If you are not interested in entering an argument with me, I understand, but there's no point taking it personal.

 

However, this is one of those topics I am not confident with my knowledge at the moment. So I'm looking for pointers. Either I'll be fortunate enough to read someone's enlightening post, or I'll find what I need on Google in time.

Edited by VECT
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@Eiuol

 

At the moment my understanding of Objectivism ethics extend back from politics to only as far as individual rights. If an individual is acting within his/her right, then my current reasoning is telling me that all acts are okay. But obviously I get the sense that's not the case with Objectvism Ethics. 

 

Take the example of a drug addict. Now if this individual chooses to pursue an ultimate goal of independent-sustainable life, then obviously drug addiction would be immoral because it is counter-productive towards that goal. But if this individual chooses pleasure from drugs as his ultimate goal, and his life as a means to that end, then how exactly does Objectivism Ethics tells him that he shouldn't do that?

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"Take the example of a drug addict. Now if this individual chooses to pursue an ultimate goal of independent-sustainable life, then obviously drug addiction would be immoral because it is counter-productive towards that goal. But if this individual chooses pleasure from drugs as his ultimate goal, and his life as a means to that end, then how exactly does Objectivism Ethics tells him that he shouldn't do that?"

Only when someone has chosen life does value have any meaning. Someone who doesn't choose life doesn't need a moral code - stagnation and death requires only that you do nothing. When we talk of values we must ask to whom and for what purpose. For Objectivists the ultimate purpose is their life.

The hedonist seeks out to maximise his pleasure regardless of whether it is rational and therefore regardless of whether it's really in his interests.

Rand wrote:

"I am profoundly opposed to the philosophy of hedonism. Hedonism is the doctrine which holds that the good is whatever gives you pleasure and, therefore, pleasure is the standard of morality. Objectivism holds that the good must be defined by a rational standard of value, that pleasure is not a first cause, but only a consequence, that only the pleasure which proceeds from a rational value judgment can be regarded as moral, that pleasure, as such, is not a guide to action nor a standard of morality. To say that pleasure should be the standard of morality simply means that whichever values you happen to have chosen, consciously or subconsciously, rationally or irrationally, are right and moral. This means that you are to be guided by chance feelings, emotions and whims, not by your mind. My philosophy is the opposite of hedonism. I hold that one cannot achieve happiness by random, arbitrary or subjective means. One can achieve happiness only on the basis of rational values. By rational values, I do not mean anything that a man may arbitrarily or blindly declare to be rational. It is the province of morality, of the science of ethics, to define for men what is a rational standard and what are the rational values to pursue."

Pleasure can result from many things. Some of those things do not reduce your vitality or even enhance it. Narcotics are not one of them. Taking them means hurting yourself to feel good, which is self-defeating, which is according to Objectivist ethics immoral.

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Take the example of a drug addict. Now if this individual chooses to pursue an ultimate goal of independent-sustainable life, then obviously drug addiction would be immoral because it is counter-productive towards that goal. But if this individual chooses pleasure from drugs as his ultimate goal, and his life as a means to that end, then how exactly does Objectivism Ethics tells him that he shouldn't do that?

There is no shouldn't there. All you'd say is ethics doesn't matter at all for that person and they'll never be happy.

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Why do you wish it were different? It's up to an individual, yes, and there are reasons to say life is pursued developmentally speaking. "Wholly subjective" seems to say there is no reason at all. I don't see any bad implications of what I explained.

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Say if you are trying to convince someone to a more healthier lifestyle. I had a friend who regularly smokes. He knows the risks and all the potential health problems associated with smoking, down the to exact statistics figure (he actually works in stats). But this guy consciously choose to trade health for the pleasure of a cigarette/cigar. You simply can't reason people out of decisions like that. I certainly tried.

 

This is just one example. There are people out there who pursues (within the confine of their rights) uncounted variations of what would be considered immoral values by Objectivism standard. You can say, given the objective nature of an individual's psychology, the anti-values they pursue will not lead them to the kind happiness that a proper Objectivist life would. Be that as it may, but how do you objectively compare the happiness gained from a proper-Obj life to say the pleasure gain from drug usage? It's like comparing vanilla vs chocolate.

 

And that's why I said I wish it was different. Because if it was, then reason would have the power to convince another to change the ultimate end goal they pursue. As it stands, it only have the power to convince others that certain values they are pursuing is counter-productive toward their end goal.

Edited by VECT
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I see, I thought as much then. Though I wish it were different.

 

Within the confine of rights, what ultimate purpose an individual chooses to pursue is wholly subjective.

 

It is objective.  It is subjective within a context defined by reason.

 

For example, I work in transportation.  If I wanted to be a smuggler that would not be within my rational self-interest.  Working in trucking is.  From there what capacity is subjective as defined by my interests and what makes me happy but still delimited to other reasonable contexts as well.  For example, It would unreasonable for me to be a truck driver if I was blind.  

 

There is subjective elements by definition of us having free will, therefore each individual has personal interests, but they are always limited by reality.  

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If it were possible to be entirely self-sufficient, to live without any interaction with others, then ethics would be irrelevant.  One wouldn't say, for example, "gee, I wonder if it's OK for me to do such and such", one would simply act.  It's only in consideration of the consequence of interaction with others that an ethical view (of proper action) becomes relavent.

 

To live, or not to, is a choice.  To pursue happiness is a choice.  To live for the happiness of others is a choice.  Choice is what makes deliberate action possible, which when directed towards others makes ethical evaluations relevant according to whatever impediments to choice ones action creates for others.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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