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Neo-Aristocracy? Devil's advocate position

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Looks like you're just saying "Rand didn't say that!"

I know she didn't. I'm literally claiming she's wrong; insofar as a nonvirtuous person is not good for my life, it is not wrong to initiate force against them so that they become useful for me. Why would this be wrong of me to do? I'd be telling them to accept my will, yes, but they're mindless and dropped their own mind in some regard already, whether it's about taxes or something else. Not initiating force against any man is only virtuous if we already concluded individual rights for all is a proper political principle.

[and remember, I'm playing a role here, and arguing this position as strongly as I see possible.]

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Louie said: I find this to be characteristic of the kind of psycho-epistemology that would support an übermensch. The kind that treats independence as a type of willingness to persue their own whim

Eiuol:   You claim your "position" agrees with Objectivist ethics, but disagrees only with its politics... i.e. that your politics can either be derived from Objectivist ethics or at least i

How would you propose we decide who has the moral worth (and sufficient track record in business) to be the dictator, the head of state? How would you go about telling people to do "the egoistic thin

20 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Looks like you're just saying "Rand didn't say that!"

Of course I am, because you said you define virtue in the Objectivist sense.  I was showing that you aren't.  You're coming up with your own ethics that holds that theft is a virtue.   As I previously asked, why then wouldn't you advocate having the most ruthless egoistic thug as head of state instead of a businessman?  For that matter, there is no reason for you to not consider ANY thug initiating ANY kind of force (including murder) to be virtuous.  After all, your only standard is what is useful to the thug.  So you are advocating that men interact with each each other on such a basis.  This is a "surrender of all the virtues required by life—and death by a process of gradual destruction."  Also, you're using "nonvirtuous" and "mindless" interchangeably.  I don't think that's valid.

Edited by Robert Romero
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One point I haven't seen brought up yet is that, for a dictator like this to succeed in practice, they would need most of the population of the country to have been persuaded to accept the values of Objectivism already. If the majority of the people didn't accept the values the dictator was imposing on them, then there would be an uprising and the dictator would be overthrown.

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On November 21, 2015 at 10:10:20, Eiuol said:

2046,
"Fake" virtue is only to distinguish that there will be a population of people who are at least going through the motions. In the process, some of those people will become authentically virtuous thanks to learning how. At that point, those people are choosing to be virtuous, the presence of coercion disappears for them. Being forced to pay taxes isn't force for them, they want to pay anyway. They'd pay even if taxation didn't exist.

Fake virtue is better than vice, in the sense there is nothing the person is doing that is a vice. Their psycho-epistemology might be a mess, but at least they're doing something beneficial for me, especially for the dictator. It's not like they have an idea of what egoism is. The whole structure is aimed at cognitive benefit of leadership by example.

1. Again, I still don't think you've sidestepped having to deal with the voluntariness of morality argument. Saying "I don't need to argue against that" and that people will have to fake virtue and that's better than making immoral choices doesn't get you around it. The argument says that fake virtue is no virtue at all, maybe even worse than making immoral choices, and that there is no way to force someone to act virtuously. Repeating that they will just fake it and that's okay doesn't deal with the objection, it just brushes it aside. That's no bueno.

2. Again also I think we need to specify the content of virtue here. This will be crucial to the success of this systems in its own aims.

You say that the content of virtue is Randian, but this does not compute. To Rand, the aim of virtue is human flourishing, and human flourishing is always and necessarily individualized. Ergo, virtue is always and necessarily individualized. 

Though we can make abstractions about generic goods and generalized strategies for flourishing (rationality, independence, pride, etc.), that's what "virtues" are, these generalized principles don't take on determinancy or reality, or any moral worth whatsoever apart from the individual context and use of practical reason.

3. So that brings us to the question of whether or not this system in question can really tell you how to be virtuous. Are your hypothetical system's laws going to say "be independent" and what does that mean and how do you enforce violations of that? Enforcing generalized principles is impossible aside from arbitrary interpretation.

You said you're going to have various bureaus "nudging" people in virtuous directions, but even if your bureaus made laws like "you must take your vitamins and work out three times per week," these are still fairly general and it is impossible to know the exact context, background situation, and vast milieu of alternative choices and values informing what might be virtuous for any given individual.

Real virtue might manifest itself as "I want to be a piano teacher" whereas your system might say "no, we are going to systematically coerce you to, say, be a businessman." 

4. Which brings us to how you are going to exactly tell people to be virtuous. DA already mentioned the problems about who determines what is virtuous and so forth.

In addition to that, there are over concerns. You seem to want to say this system is kind of an aristocracy and is short of a totalitarian regime. However, Mises argued in Human Action quite convincingly that anyone who advocates government dictaton over one area of individual consumption must logically come to advocate complete totalitarian control over all choices.

You can search the details of his arguments there, but it's quite multifaceted. (Mozart will have to be prohibited you know, cause he's a Red.) Any system that has people being put into a totalitarian cage and being force fed their vitamins for their own good would seem to run afoul of any concept of human flourishing or egoism, even a Nietzschean one.

5. There are other, related arguments like if the people can't choose what's in their own interests, why should the same people also be expected to accept this system as in their own interest? And so forth.

6. The bigger picture is that if (1) is right, and there is an impossibility of enforcing a broadly Aristotelian set of virtue by physical violence, then what you are doing with this system is NOT even "forcing virtue" or anything like that, but rather "prohibiting immoral choices." There's a big difference there. And now you are not positing a Nietzschean aristocratic system at all, but a more mundane Cass Sunstein type system, susceptible all the standard anti-paternalist arguments.

Edited by 2046
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Eiuol:

 

You claim your "position" agrees with Objectivist ethics, but disagrees only with its politics... i.e. that your politics can either be derived from Objectivist ethics or at least is not in contradiction with it.

According to you, what is morality? What is "the standard" of morality, what is the good?

When you "judge" your system (now politics), what is your standard?  How is your standard for judging whether your political system is right or good related to Objectivism's moral and ethical standard?

 

Of central importance to Objectivism is the principle of non-initiation of harm / individual rights.  It is the principle your system ignores and purposefully so as your system requires the initiation of force/violation of rights.  How do you reconcile the derivation of the non-initiation of harm and individual rights from Objectivist ethics with your system which completely contradicts it, and yet "claims" not to be in conflict with Objectivist ethics?

 

What arguments do you "see" as "possible" when taking such a stance?

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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You're coming up with your own ethics that holds that theft is a virtue. Robert
Theft or not theft is, to be precise, neither vice nor virtue. Also to be precise, I should be saying "similar to Objectivist virtue" because even altering political conclusions will hold implications for ethics, thus making the content of virtue different. Clearly, this will end up contradicting Objectivist ethics -somewhere-, but it's more like I'm recreating how one induces political principles from ethical ones. It's similar in the way that I am still using one's own life as a standard, and using one's mind rationally. So, yes, if one is mindless, they're by definition not virtuous. Not initiating force isn't a virtue itself, it's just a political principle that, supposing Oist ethics, justice -- a virtue -- would demand you follow.

If individual rights are not important, and initiation of force is not important then no matter how much I, a dictator, appears thugish to you, I'm still right. I've advocated using force against a specific group of people, that is, people who have earned no respect from me and deserve nothing. Whether I decide to initiate force on them becomes a matter of expediency. Imagine it this way: John Galt advocating that mindless people like James Taggart -deserve- force initiated on them. One man's thugishness is another man's confidence to stand up to vice. Why would I want to permit a James Taggart to request or even demand to operate by his own non-mind? Even before he lazily used government authority as opposed to his ability, he was a loser.

If the majority of the people didn't accept the values the dictator was imposing on them, then there would be an uprising and the dictator would be overthrown. -William
From a practical end, it's only going to require some tipping point, not a majority. But part of my basis for this also being practical is the aesthetic angle, where at least people will see a dictator's force of will and power. This has a cognitive effect on people, where the concreteness is more powerful than what art provides. In fact, this focus on aesthetics for power and will is my basis for this government, deriving political principles from aesthetic principles.

Take the imagery of a Roman general conquering invading barbarians, or showing tremendous bravery by leading a phalanx into battle. You'd probably talk about the depths of his moral fiber, not some flimsy notions like "he's so awesome for not initiating force", even if it's an important principle. A painting is one thing. What about knowing he's real, and in charge of the country? Make that the basis with which to derive political principles. Allow the depths of his pride and independence to rule, and for respecting people of sufficient moral stature. Individual rights are a distraction.

2046, yes, some will fake virtue. But I honestly can find no reason to say immoral choices will ever be better than fake virtue. Fake virtue has action without intending or recognizing the intent. Immorality would lack action, and the proper intention. To be sure, neither one is virtue, but wouldn't fake at least produce some of virtue's effects, and immorality no effects? The fakers will actually have a means to discover virtue by taking actions, so a portion will be able to reach consistent virtue by being told what to do. At best immorality is negative, i.e. tells you what not to do. This reflects how man induces principles - doing and observing. Compelled action is better than no action at all. As to the content of actual virtue, see the previous two paragraphs.

Onto the system of laws. There are degrees in which people are consistently virtuous, so there will be differing laws to judge how bad a violation was. This is part of why nudges are better than outright commandments. Nudges in my sense here are similar to marketing, except in this case enacted by the government. Require people get their yearly flu shot, but accomplished by means like opting in people at default. Choosing to opt out would be a fine. I wouldn't need to end up arresting anyone and making a scene. Indeed, not all choices will  be enforceable, decreeing jobs people require is impossible. All I mean is that there are significant and sizable areas to be manipulated beyond the scope of any LFC. Who gets to decide? That goes back, again, to the Roman general part.

This is a long post. I'll get to more later.

Edited by Eiuol
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Eioul, I think a good way to proceed would be to try to identify the most fundamental point at which you disagree with Objectivism. Objectivism is a hierarchy, so we should be able to draw a line and say "we agree about everything before this point, but beyond this point we diverge."

You presumably agree with the Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology, or at least you haven't explicitly objected to either of them. You have also said that you agree that life is the standard, which means you accept Rand's solution of the is-ought problem.

So, the next step is the virtues. Do you disagree with Rand's account of the virtues, or is that common ground as well?

Edited by William O
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3 minutes ago, William O said:

Eioul, I think a good way to proceed would be to try to identify the most fundamental point at which you disagree with Objectivism. Objectivism is a hierarchy, so we should be able to draw a line and say "we agree about everything before this point, but beyond this point we diverge."

You presumably agree with the Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology, or at least you haven't explicitly objected to either of them. You have also said that you agree that life is the standard, which means you accept Rand's solution of the is-ought problem.

So, the next step is the virtues. Do you disagree with Rand's account of the virtues, or is that common ground as well?

I bet you 5 mystical dollars no line will be drawn...  it's not "flexible" enough to allow "arguing" the position.

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[Brackets are me breaking character by the way.

SL, this is a character. I have no idea what your issue is. You seem to think I am the character. I'm as much the character as Kevin Spacey is Frank Underwood. My goal is to work on ideas for a story I'll write eventually, to develop a character for it.

William, do I, the real me, have a point of fundamental disagreement? No. Does the devil? Yes. When I say ethics is agreed upon, it's better to say agreement up until the point of inducing political principles. This is the devil's point of view. The fundamental difference here is using aesthetic principles for political conclusions. The real me is exploring implications of this in order to think about what sort of person holds these beliefs, and what the logical end is. The virtues seem to be agreed upon, broadly speaking. As implied before, justice is where it might differ a lot, in particular what justice entails for responding to the nonvirtuous.]

Edited by Eiuol
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On ‎11‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎11‎:‎17‎:‎31‎, Eiuol said:

This is a devil's advocate position I'm taking, despite my phrasing things as though I'm certain. It's easier to work this way, as opposed to saying each time all my uncertainties. I'm questioning that a government actually should be hands off when it comes to the law. In other words, I'll take the stance that a pseudo-fascist/aristocratic government may actually be better off from an egoistic perspective. I am still operating on egoism, i.e. what is in my rational self-interest; I'm just questioning that a hands off laissez faire government is the ideal for a virtuous man of ability. So here it goes.

The above quote is in case you are wondering this is where the confusion arose.  It implies "you personally" are uncertain, that "you personally" are questioning whether government should be hands off, and that you are using a devils advocate position only to help you to figure out what you believe.

 

That said, I apologize to the extent I have misinterpreted your aims and thoughts, and so now, I shall take you at your word and will leave you to it... have fun.

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2046, with point 4 and nudging, the aim should be a careful implementation for deciding on which nudges would demonstrate power over vice as opposed to petty dislike of a rather unimportant choice. Flu shots matter, but it is likely a waste of resources to really make it robust. That some people make bad choices at time should flow naturally, perhaps their own weakness is notable, like Peter Keating. Areas that count are displays of honesty and pride, that's where a regulatory structure is money well spent. A focus on particular displays of vice is where to aim law. Don't outlaw drugs, but outlaw drug abusers. Threaten to deport people who display deep collectivism, such as people for Occupy Wall Street offering and generating no productivity. An LFC, by contrast, allows them to stay.

Nudges would exist to push people towards virtue where possible on these "big" areas. In some sense, extravagant displays and celebrations of virtue sponsored and declared by the state is the primary means here. Nudges may actually be too weak except in some rare case, a Cass Sunstein system is petty and herd-like. It'd be far too concerned with egalitarianism, trying to appear kind to all people. Why not go as far as initiating force on the unvirtuous instead of letting them be? They offer no value if it's extreme enough. Essentially, morality is legislated if a real effect is possible. Legislating flu shots, probably not. Regulating treatment of addicts, probably.

That should be the rest of the responses to the objections so far. Remember, the main idea is 1) human cognition demands a living breathing example of a virtuous man, which is best represented by 2) a dictator of extreme virtue who has absolute say. The dictatorial powers described are aimed at virtuous displays of power, without concern for equal individual rights for -all- men.

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Remember, the main idea is 1) human cognition demands a living breathing example of a virtuous man, which is best represented by 2) a dictator of extreme virtue who has absolute say. The dictatorial powers described are aimed at virtuous displays of power, without concern for equal individual rights for -all- men.

I do not believe that a man of extreme virtue would consent to be a dictator.

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Why do you believe that? If you say individual rights, then why is it that a virtuous man should care about the rights of a nonvirtuous man? The idea is that individual rights cannot result in the society an egoist would prefer, where you'd have the greatest degree of virtue. Rights are not desirable if it doesn't result in the best type of society for me, in which case respecting rights is not important and not demanded by justice. I'm saying some people (the virtuous) would have rights in the government-granted sense, others wouldn't. I gave benefits of having a dictator for man's nature as needing concretization of abstraction.

Edited by Eiuol
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On 11/25/2015, 11:23:42, DonAthos said:

I do not believe that a man of extreme virtue would consent to be a dictator.

 

On 11/25/2015, 11:49:56, Eiuol said:

Why do you believe that? If you say individual rights, then why is it that a virtuous man should care about the rights of a nonvirtuous man?

If our SuperMan lived in a society of completely, 100% irrational people (or as close to 100% as a person can get without kicking the Oxygen habit) then what could he gain from ruling them? 

Presumably, he wouldn't have a whole lot of free time. You never see an Objectivist hero twiddling his thumbs (at least in fiction) - he's always moving; always busy; never taking his eyes off of the next goal.

So how could he justify spending the time and energy required to babysit the self-emasculated?

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16 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

So how could he justify spending the time and energy required to babysit the self-emasculated?

I don't know what this is supposed to answer. I never spoke about a society of 100% irrational people. I said the opposite of babysitting, as in some people would get deported, for example. The sense of ruling here is not unlike how a business leader "rules" his employees, albeit with the government's spotlight. Why not allow just such a business leader the same for all of a society with government power?

Your line of "that's not the way it works". The way what works? People learn from others a lot of the time, and over time learn by example and by experience of how or if a method works. This goes for learning math, learning to dance, learning to socialize, even virtue.

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"The sense of ruling here is not unlike how a business leader 'rules' his employees, albeit with the government's spotlight."

... Except that a CEO isn't allowed to fine, imprison or draw-and-quarter his employees (regardless of their performance), which I presume to be the sense of "ruling" that we're talking about.

"I never spoke about a society of 100% irrational people."

No, but you asked why a SuperMan wouldn't want to rule less virtuous people.

If these people were 100% rational then Rand's defense of individual rights (which I won't belabor, here) applies. If they were 100% irrational then he'd stand to gain nothing from ruling them, and to lose some part of his own life's time. It doesn't matter that nobody actually lives by those extremes: both apply to every single person, to whatever degree they are good or bad (and, of course, not posing an immediate threat to anyone else).

It stands to reason that our SuperMan would be well aware of this.

"The way what works?"

To gain real virtue by practicing counterfeit virtue.

 

"Even a good decision, if made for the wrong reasons, can be a wrong decision."

-Governor Swann (Pirates of the Caribbean)

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5 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

"The way what works?"

To gain real virtue by practicing counterfeit virtue.

I said many times, the person would possibly learn to be virtuous, as opposed to a mixed bag. Virtue is something you do and takes practice.

Yes, there would be more a leader would do as a head of state, the point is to create an environment such that good people are encouraged. I'm emphasizing that ruling here is not to be paternalistic, it's purpose is to be able to create the best kind of society for oneself. Why wouldn't it be desirable to rule in this sense. Expel the unvirtuous, unvirtuous people interfere with lives far too easily despite not violating rights. It's better to make a person useful, or get rid of them. Why worry or care about their rights, just be expedient.

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On 11/19/2015, 7:32:18, DonAthos said:

Suppose that whomever does all of these things, and by whatever means, the result did not cohere with what Eiuol considers to be moral, or sufficient, or egoistic, or productive, or virtuous. Would you still wish to be compelled to support it through taxation?

 

On 11/19/2015, 8:02:17, Eiuol said:

If the result did not cohere with what I consider to be moral, too bad for me. [...] Indeed, I'd admit I should be compelled to fund the state.

 

9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I'm emphasizing that ruling here is not to be paternalistic, it's purpose is to be able to create the best kind of society for oneself.

I do not agree that a society which might do what I do not consider to be moral, yet compel me to fund/support it, is "the best kind of society" for me. I would rather live in a society in which my individual rights are preserved.

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Sure, you might not like it, but why should that matter? Whether you consider it moral is besides the point, you seem to be saying the best kind of society is one you happen to prefer, and would be unwilling to admit to ever being wrong, or would never want to say someone else's moral sense is wrong. If you are unvirtuous, then I see no reason to care about your rights.

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5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Sure, you might not like it, but why should that matter? Whether you consider it moral is besides the point...

So... you'd like a society to enforce virtue, morality, etc., but whether I (or you, or anyone else) consider(s) the results to be virtuous or moral or not is besides the point?? If you're saying that this theoretical authority would determine what is virtuous/moral, and that we'd simply have to trust them to get it right, then no thanks. I don't trust other minds more than my own, and I don't necessarily trust others to have my best interests at heart (or to have sufficient knowledge of my personal context to be able to assess my best interests).

You say that the purpose here is "to create the best kind of society for oneself." But I am also "oneself," and the society you describe would not be the best kind of society for me.

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Suppose you could learn precisely how to manipulate such a person into doing any arbitrary thing by spending several weeks to months of dedicated, purposeful thought; several weeks to months devoted exclusively to the tickings of their subconscious triggers and urges.

Would it be worth it?

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Harrison, that's far more detailed than I'm talking about. I addressed it in a response to 2046 above, I said certain levels of detail are just not worth it and appear petty. I am talking about legislating morality as determined by a head of state.

Don, what you -consider- moral is besides the point. It matters whether you are virtuous. Indeed, yes, you'd trust people to get it right, that's the whole idea. This is no different than trusting a doctor. In fact, a better way to put it is why I should care if you're comfortable. Of course, if the dictator failed to show ability, you'd have no reason to trust him. Why go straight to distrust at first, but not do that towards a doctor?

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