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Conflicting Conclusions and therefore Conflict of Interest

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

That full Branden explanation of rationality:

"...is our unreserved commitment to perceive reality to the best of our ability, a commitment to being conscious--an acceptance of reason an the ultimate arbiter and guide in matters of knowledge, values and action".

As you raise, can two generally rational persons "perceive reality" differently? (No). 

Interesting, I had never thought of rationality as a type of commitment. With that definition, rationality can only be used as referring to the "long term".

In the short term, people will have different conclusions. It's through hashing out, and a commitment to hashing it out "consciously" that eventually the conflicts go away. (because you end up seeing the ONE reality) 

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I mentioned this upstream, but thought I'd show more of it here, hoping to encourage more of the scholarly-inclined to get this book and make it one of our tributaries to discussions here. (I personal

I mean, you've been asked a few times exactly why you have a different view. You began the discussion by suggesting that Rand didn't understand the "common meaning", and/or was really only talking abo

You keep giving different versions of the same scenario. I keep asking each time why you think it is a conflict of interest, or phrased differently, which interests conflict.  At this point it'

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I mentioned this upstream, but thought I'd show more of it here, hoping to encourage more of the scholarly-inclined to get this book and make it one of our tributaries to discussions here. (I personally cannot imagine why or even how I would think and talk philosophy questions---at Rand's level of address or beyond---without places for written exchanges such as here and without finding out what other hard-study and hard-thinking minds have come to on the issue and its surrounding issues throughout the history of philosophy and the contemporary scene of professional philosophers. It's just that philosophy in my own head is tied to that community of mind across the centuries and across the world of minds today, like we're in this adventure together and are helps to each other. Different from making poetry in that way, I notice.)

Darryl Wright contributes Chapter 7 "'A Human Society' Rand's Social Philosophy" to the Blackwell A Companion to Ayn Rand. The subheadings to his paper are "The Trader Principle and Benevolence" / "Man as an End in Himself" / "The Question of Conflicts of Interest" / "Individual Rights"

I attach a portion of the section I put in red. This book is much rich thought and store of references for many of us interested in Rand's philosophy. 

Scan 2.jpeg

Scan 3.jpeg

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One confusion over that chapter: If a potentiality of conflict exists in a relationship, "inherent in the relationship", that is not a conflict (based on a rational deliberation). Then the question becomes: What is a genuine conflict? Or a conflict in this context?

Because, there is a potential for conflict in any relationship.

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ET, what do you mean by a "genuine conflict"? I mean, what is the distinction you are reaching for under your implied distinction of genuine v. not-genuine?

Many years ago, I fell in love with a friend, but it was unrequited. That sort of disappointment and setback of happiness is hard for me to even begin to see as an interpersonal conflict at all, because she simply didn't have that sort of feeling toward me, however much we had mutual love of other sorts. I can see that as a not-genuine conflict for sure. Is that what you would mean by not-genuine?

A couple in a romantic ongoing relationship might have a conflict over who does which particular chores or over their joint expenses. Those would be conflicts, they might be resolvable, and the couple might have no conflict in wanting to better the relationship by getting such conflicts resolved. Would you mean under "not-genuine" this sort of conflict over burdens, which are not a conflict so serious as their deeper concert of interests? (This case reminds me of discussions of the bent-stick-in-water illusion. It really is an illusion. It would not be helpful to say it was not a genuine illusion. Rather, that it is not a case of an incoherence in reality.)

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I would like to have read a little beyond what Stephen excerpted from A Companion to Ayn Rand. However, I don't own the book and I can't see the rest of page 172 using Amazon's 'Look Inside' feature.

I made two examples on this thread that presume rational men, but a conflict of some kind arises between them. Wright says that Rand does not deny the potential for setbacks and disappointment. Does Wright say anything next about when such potentials become actual? The two examples I gave are exactly that. A conflict of some sort arose, whether or not one chooses to call it a "conflict of interest." In one example the two parties disagree about what’s best for their common goal. In the second something happens unforeseen by either side that creates the conflict. Yet in my opinion neither party in either example acts irrationally.

We can’t ask Ayn Rand if one party or the other acted irrationally. There seems to be two main choices. 1. One did act irrationally, and hence he was not a rational man in that instance. 2. Both men were rational, but a conflict of some sort occurred anyway.

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12 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

ET, what do you mean by a "genuine conflict"? I mean, what is the distinction you are reaching for under your implied distinction of genuine v. not-genuine?

Yes, I realized I should have specified that better.

By genuine conflict I meant a conflict that is "determined" by rational means. As in, in your rational state, what would you see as a conflict. Usually conflict is with "other irrational people". But in a rational society "others" are all rational.

It is almost like that concept rational is intertwined with conflict. Like they were concomitants.

Think about the question: "what is "rational conflict"". A conflict between two rational people. (by definition especially based on what she said, can't exist)

In this way, it can be argued successfully that there would be no societal conflict if everyone was rational (in the long run).  The word "interest" would not even be necessary.

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7 minutes ago, merjet said:

We can’t ask Ayn Rand if one party or the other acted irrationally. There seems to be two main choices. 1. One did act irrationally, and hence he was not a rational man in that instance. 2. Both men were rational, but a conflict of some sort occurred anyway.

"Conflict of some sort"... is a very wide abstraction which does not distill the idea of a "conflict of interest".

In fact, if your argument is that "Conflicts of some sort can exist between rational men" then I suppose you could claim some evidence, namely your examples, to back it up, but that is not a counter argument for what Rand identifies by what she is saying in her essay.

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

I made two examples on this thread that presume rational men, but a conflict of some kind arises between them.

This was addressed on page 1. Feel free to respond to posts from there, but please try to be productive and build on the answers you already received. 

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

By genuine conflict I meant a conflict that is "determined" by rational means. As in, in your rational state, what would you see as a conflict.

Can you give an example?

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

Yes, I realized I should have specified that better.

By genuine conflict I meant a conflict that is "determined" by rational means. As in, in your rational state, what would you see as a conflict. Usually conflict is with "other irrational people". But in a rational society "others" are all rational.

It is almost like that concept rational is intertwined with conflict. Like they were concomitants.

Think about the question: "what is "rational conflict"". A conflict between two rational people. (by definition especially based on what she said, can't exist)

In this way, it can be argued successfully that there would be no societal conflict if everyone was rational (in the long run).  The word "interest" would not even be necessary.

ET, I think that's the wrong way to go. I'd hold on to the possibility of conflict among rational people as distinct from, as more general than, conflict of interest among rational people, and then examine the possibility of either being absent in a world of fully rational people. Rand thought and argued only that conflict of interest (really a subclass of that--- conflict of rational interest) could not arise. Even with that much qualification, I'd say it's a hard proposition to defend. I'm thinking of tort cases coming by unintentional, accidental harms. Accident is real. Purely accidental harms come about. We can have tort law that orders transfer of wealth from the one who accidentally harmed another under a theory (Richard Epstein) in which everyone has a right to bring harm only to themselves. And if harm is brought instead to another, actions by the one who caused it can be rightly required to do what can be done to make the injured one whole again, at least in an overall way. This way of thinking about such tort law seems of a piece with the idea that each individual is an end in herself. Yet another seemingly rational view would be No, leave the chips where they fell at the accident. (I'll try to dig into this deeper tomorrow when I deal also with Merlin's cases in light of the treatment by Wright. Right now we have to have supper.)

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18 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Can you give an example?

I can't. If you and I are rational, committed to reason, in the long term and regarding long term issues, we will not have a conflict in the long run.

That is in fact my question. Is there an example?

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47 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

ET, I think that's the wrong way to go. I'd hold on to the possibility of conflict among rational people as distinct from, as more general than, conflict of interest among rational people, and then examine the possibility of either being absent in a world of fully rational people. Rand thought and argued only that conflict of interest (really a subclass of that--- conflict of rational interest) could not arise. Even with that much qualification, I'd say it's a hard proposition to defend. I'm thinking of tort cases coming by unintentional, accidental harms. Accident is real. Purely accidental harms come about. We can have tort law that orders transfer of wealth from the one who accidentally harmed another under a theory (Richard Epstein) in which everyone has a right to bring harm only to themselves. And if harm is brought instead to another, actions by the one who caused it can be rightly required to do what can be done to make the injured one whole again, at least in an overall way. This way of thinking about such tort law seems of a piece with the idea that each individual is an end in herself. Yet another seemingly rational view would be No, leave the chips where they fell at the accident. (I'll try to dig into this deeper tomorrow when I deal also with Merlin's cases in light of the treatment by Wright. Right now we have to have supper.)

This also reminds me of the fact that even in the realm of tort law, rational people, be they juries or judges, may disagree as to the proper principles and/or their application to a specific case.  All agree in the interests of justice.  None have an overtly personal interest in the case.  Can such disagreement be cast as conflict of rational interests?  Should rational men be held to the same standard of Judges and Juries?  Must rational men render judgement the same whether they find themselves on one side of the fact situation or the other? 

Edit:  Do rational men seek anything other than justice in any legal matter?

I think something similar to this objective determination of justice is at play in the thinking and interests of rational men.

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4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I can't. If you and I are rational, committed to reason, in the long term and regarding long term issues, we will not have a conflict in the long run.

That is in fact my question. Is there an example?

It's helpful to concentrate on the positive and affirmative, which sets a measure for the NON-conflict of interests to be compared against. Where one has ascertained that the other is committed to rationality and places his reasoning above all, I think the rest follows. Medium and long term he is acting on reality and for his own self-interest - as you are. He must also be the beneficiary of his moral actions, which you'd not withhold from him identically as you'd not deny yourself and your own. There is recognition of your partner in rationality being of high value in himself, in his own right - as well as to you and your ends. Independence, productiveness, integrity and justice are the key virtues in a rational partnership and initiative.

Anyway, that's the standard as I see it.

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Merlin,

The portion of Darryl Wright’s chapter I displayed in my post was the conclusion of his composition on the subheading topic of conflict of interest. He is recapping there in the part I posted.

Wright’s chapter is strongly self-contained. For each of the items in his subheadings, his arguments go back to fundamentals in Rand’s ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. He strives to rightly locate the subheading topic within Rand’s larger frame. So, for example, he argues for what is correct and what is incorrect in David Kelley’s monograph on benevolence as set in Objectivism. Wright argues against Kelley’s location of benevolence, Kelley’s holding benevolence to fit as a moral virtue, rather than fitting in another way, in the full framework of the philosophy. And Wright argues the correctness of Rand’s social philosophy and correctness of the way he Wright is treating these subheading topics within the full framework of the philosophy. The order of his subheading topics reflects a logical dependency between them. So, all that goes for his address of the topic “The Question of Conflicts of Interest.”

It is fine and good to adduce examples, especially real-world examples, additional to those adduced by Rand in her tackle of the issue. It is fine and good for philosophers (and scientists) to formulate conceptions and definitions related to ordinary usage(s) of the same term (e.g. Rand on reason*) but departing from definitions in common usage. (Russell Hardin did this with the term “interest” in his book Morality within the Limits of Reason, where his is closer to that conception under Hume than under Hobbes or under Rand.)

Merlin, I think your two examples are rightly characterized as “conflicts of some sort” and indeed “conflicts of some sort between rationally behaving agents”. But Rand was addressing only the sort that goes ordinarily as conflict of interest, and part of her address was to craft an explicatory conception of interest whereby self-interest of one person does not entail voiding self-interest of any other person in voluntary interactions with each other.

I don’t think Rand (or Wright’s supporting effort) is fully successful. Rand can handle well enough your first example, with boss and employee, by her explicative new craft of “rational interest.” I doubt her position and her explicative craft of interest and rational self-interest is up to the challenge of your second, contracts, scenario. Wright helps out Rand’s case for her general thesis significantly by bringing to bear explicitly basic elements in Rand’s frame that she did not rehearse in her essay. However, the new crafts of explicative definitions of concepts by Rand (followed by Wright) are inadequate to such cases as your second one and torts cases such as I and SL lately mentioned.

The root problem for Rand in theory of social relations is (as I left off writing on three-plus decades ago and shall likely not take up anew in remainder of life) the constraint and stiltedness her ethical egoism (best of any ethical egoisms) gives to comprehension of justice and to her representation of honesty and (with Branden or Kelley) benevolence, twisting them to the point of being inauthentic representations.

(Similarly inadequate under Objectivist attempts in social philosophy: theory of property rights, especially in appropriation of land in the economic sense and theory of Common Law and theory of law conferring legal powers; and neglect of strategic game theory needed for any adequate modern theory of self-interest in economic participation and in theory of rights; and mistake [as with Rothbard also] of long-standing human conventions as human nature devoid of convention; then too, failure to recognize the necessity, extent, and service of certain conventions in social relations, including in the law.)

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3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

The root problem for Rand in theory of social relations is (as I left off writing on three-plus decades ago and shall likely not take up anew in remainder of life) the constraint and stiltedness her ethical egoism (best of any ethical egoisms) gives to comprehension of justice and to her representation of honesty and (with Branden or Kelley) benevolence, twisting them to the point of being inauthentic representations.

It would not be a conflict of your interest if you were to repost any of said writing here for my selfish benefit

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True.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rational Egoism

– Function of Mind

– Function of Ethics

– Supported Choice to Live

– Desire to Value

– Altruism

– Sacrifice

– Value Out There

– Visibility, Benevolence, and Egoism – ab

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My earliest writings were in the 1980's -- Political and moral philosophy, all published in the magazine Nomos.

The Moral Value of Liberty (1984)

Review of The Evolution of Cooperation (1985)

Rights, Games, and Self-Realization (1988)

Introduction / Part 1 - Rights against Personal Injury for Two in Isolation / Part 2 - Imperfect Rights in Land / Part 3 - The Just State / Freedom Followup to this 1988 on its method of government funding: here.

Human Rights As Game Strategies (1988)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As it worked out, my forthcoming essay “Existence, We” (JARS - summer 2021) sets out fundament metaphysics and conception of mind that silently but plainly calls for an ethical theory following on this framework. But so far as I can see, followup will first (because more urgent) continue in theoretical philosophy,* and I bet that takes a good while.

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10 hours ago, Boydstun said:

True.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rational Egoism

– Function of Mind

– Function of Ethics

– Supported Choice to Live

– Desire to Value

– Altruism

– Sacrifice

– Value Out There

– Visibility, Benevolence, and Egoism – ab

 

Stephen, quoting from your post in RoR:

"In 1984 I wrote an essay titled "The Moral Value of Liberty" which was published in Nomos. I need to quote something I wrote therein:

Just as the self cannot be the subject it is without having been subject to external objects, so the self cannot be the value it is without external objects of value to it. And just as the self cannot be the subject it is without also being the self-reflective object it is, so the self cannot be the value it is without being of that value to itself. (V2N1 20)
 


This is an expression of what I think of as conveyance of the primacy of existence into human values in a radical way. This is primacy of existence running more deeply in human values than in any egoistic theory of ethics.

The idea that external things need to be valuable to oneself in order for oneself to be valuable to oneself is not entirely foreign to Rand's writings on ethics. She has an essay called "Selfishness without a Self" that touches on this. She drafts her Howard Roark as oriented to external things and constructions he values; he is only secondarily oriented to himself as valuer of those things.

Ethical egoism is the view that all moral values and virtues can be based purely on consideration of the agent's self-interest. I have watched attempts to set ethics purely on self-interest from Protagoras and Socrates to Plato and Aristotle to Spinoza and Rand and Mack to my colleague Irfan Khawaja. I don't buy them. They all fail. They fudge sooner or later. There is truth and value in these attempts, and I will keep on watching their latest editions".

--

I wonder at your high level thinking in the statement, but whether this 'meta-ethical egoism' (for want of a better term ) can and must always reduce to Rand's ethical egoism? If one wanted to, one couldn't escape moral self-interest, I sense. Putting doubts aside, yours is a radical line of thought.

For me, first I had to understand things clearly as they are "out there", before I could place value (or otherwise) in them -- and before I could find objective value in myself. Valuing and rational selfishness wasn't automatic or 'given' and took me longest to appreciate.

(Couldn't one achieve self-value existing in a Gulag all one's life, knowing only the bad?; conversely, we may see a free person who had all the advantages of perceiving valuable "external things" quite often fail to know self-value).

 

 

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As I find more material about the subject matter I include it. This is from Atlas Society:

"This principle of the harmony of interests is key to the Objectivist view of ethics and politics. Objectivism’s ethics of rational selfishness is not an ethics of dog-eat-dog because of the harmony of interests. A political system based in individual rights to freedom—i.e., capitalism— does not pit the “haves” against the “have-nots” because of the harmony of interests."

"The bottom line is that conflict is good for us, in context, when participating is to the benefit of everyone involved."

https://www.atlassociety.org/post/how-can-one-create-a-harmony-of-interests-among-people

 

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Harmony of interests and co-operatedness among a group of rational people is secondary - and an important secondary - and is "key to the Objectivist view of ... politics". (With other enterprises and initiatives).

But "key" to its ethics? I don't believe so. This is what someone might call a fudge. Who wants to see rational selfishness softened for broader acceptance? 

The primary benefit will and should still be to each individual. Who remains "the source of and capacity for value".

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On 4/20/2021 at 8:11 AM, Boydstun said:

Merlin,

The portion of Darryl Wright’s chapter I displayed in my post was the conclusion of his composition on the subheading topic of conflict of interest. He is recapping there in the part I posted.

Wright’s chapter is strongly self-contained. For each of the items in his subheadings, his arguments go back to fundamentals in Rand’s ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. He strives to rightly locate the subheading topic within Rand’s larger frame. So, for example, he argues for what is correct and what is incorrect in David Kelley’s monograph on benevolence as set in Objectivism. Wright argues against Kelley’s location of benevolence, Kelley’s holding benevolence to fit as a moral virtue, rather than fitting in another way, in the full framework of the philosophy. And Wright argues the correctness of Rand’s social philosophy and correctness of the way he Wright is treating these subheading topics within the full framework of the philosophy. The order of his subheading topics reflects a logical dependency between them. So, all that goes for his address of the topic “The Question of Conflicts of Interest.”

It is fine and good to adduce examples, especially real-world examples, additional to those adduced by Rand in her tackle of the issue. It is fine and good for philosophers (and scientists) to formulate conceptions and definitions related to ordinary usage(s) of the same term (e.g. Rand on reason*) but departing from definitions in common usage. (Russell Hardin did this with the term “interest” in his book Morality within the Limits of Reason, where his is closer to that conception under Hume than under Hobbes or under Rand.)

Merlin, I think your two examples are rightly characterized as “conflicts of some sort” and indeed “conflicts of some sort between rationally behaving agents”. But Rand was addressing only the sort that goes ordinarily as conflict of interest, and part of her address was to craft an explicatory conception of interest whereby self-interest of one person does not entail voiding self-interest of any other person in voluntary interactions with each other.

I don’t think Rand (or Wright’s supporting effort) is fully successful. Rand can handle well enough your first example, with boss and employee, by her explicative new craft of “rational interest.” I doubt her position and her explicative craft of interest and rational self-interest is up to the challenge of your second, contracts, scenario. Wright helps out Rand’s case for her general thesis significantly by bringing to bear explicitly basic elements in Rand’s frame that she did not rehearse in her essay. However, the new crafts of explicative definitions of concepts by Rand (followed by Wright) are inadequate to such cases as your second one and torts cases such as I and SL lately mentioned.

The root problem for Rand in theory of social relations is (as I left off writing on three-plus decades ago and shall likely not take up anew in remainder of life) the constraint and stiltedness her ethical egoism (best of any ethical egoisms) gives to comprehension of justice and to her representation of honesty and (with Branden or Kelley) benevolence, twisting them to the point of being inauthentic representations.

(Similarly inadequate under Objectivist attempts in social philosophy: theory of property rights, especially in appropriation of land in the economic sense and theory of Common Law and theory of law conferring legal powers; and neglect of strategic game theory needed for any adequate modern theory of self-interest in economic participation and in theory of rights; and mistake [as with Rothbard also] of long-standing human conventions as human nature devoid of convention; then too, failure to recognize the necessity, extent, and service of certain conventions in social relations, including in the law.)

Boydstun:

I do not believe Rand was referring to anything "social" or anything about a person's subjective state when she refers to interest.  I believe she is referring to the objective aspect of that concept, that which lies outside of sentiments about things or sentiments about relationships.

Accordingly, in order for Rand's formulation to be flawed, we need not only a disagreement or a fight among rational men (who are fallible), but require somehow a contradiction in the reality of those things (and in the same respect) over which they are fighting.

 

Rational men may have a conflict over what they think are their interests, but their rational interests do not and cannot conflict, even in contracts and tort law, no matter how complex or difficult the issues.  IMHO This is exactly analogous to how men might disagree or fight over morality, because it IS complex and difficult, regardless of whether they know or not, the discovery of Ayn Rand, namely, that morality is objective. 

 

The above, is a strong claim, essentially claiming rational men's rational interests are objective.

There is a weaker claim which I find acceptable, which is that rational men's rational interests DO NOT contradict moral principles (which are objective), including all of ethics and politics, and in particular rational egoism and individual rights.

 

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On 4/21/2021 at 1:17 AM, Easy Truth said:

As I find more material about the subject matter I include it. This is from Atlas Society:

"This principle of the harmony of interests is key to the Objectivist view of ethics and politics. Objectivism’s ethics of rational selfishness is not an ethics of dog-eat-dog because of the harmony of interests. A political system based in individual rights to freedom—i.e., capitalism— does not pit the “haves” against the “have-nots” because of the harmony of interests."

"The bottom line is that conflict is good for us, in context, when participating is to the benefit of everyone involved."

https://www.atlassociety.org/post/how-can-one-create-a-harmony-of-interests-among-people

 

Hi ET:

I like what you found here. 

I'm not sure the term "Harmony" isn't a little of an overblown, kumbaya, everyone hug, touchy feely term, but something more akin to "genuine respect", doesn't have the same ring to it, even though it is more proper in terms of sentimentality.

 

 

Has this thread effectively addressed your OP? 

I sincerely hope it has!

I'm still interested in having a discussion but most of the "out loud" chewing I have shared has been met with crickets.  I must conclude either that the value of those musings are so marginal that everyone is left indifferent, or that they are deemed so outlandish that my effort to bother providing them on this forum forms no currency toward desert of any reply whatsoever.

 

If you are game, I'd like to discuss this, and perhaps run a scenario similar to Merjet's through a rigorous back and forth as rational men, with our musings and perhaps this article in mind.

 

 

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Has this thread effectively addressed your OP? 

I sincerely hope it has!

I looked at my original post and I noticed it came out over the fact that Objectivists found the presidential political candidates as their interest. 

But differing between Objectivists, as in, people who are committed to reason and who do believe in an Objective reality. (Rational Per Boydstun's links)

My conclusion is that in the long term we would agree on which one in fact was the best choice.

2046 was pushing that Rand's statement is in broad strokes and I can agree with that.

And ... there certainly was a conflict in conclusions about the candidates.

But, as rational people, was our interests in conflict?

Subjectively yes, Objectively probably no, but TBD.

After all, we did not disagree that a president is necessary, we did not disagree that law and order is necessary, we did not disagree that individual rights is important, we disagreed on who is better, on who is worse.

On abstract long term issues, there was no conflict.

But on concrete, short term issues and judgements, there was.

What has not been answered from the Scholars that look at things from the perspective of historical philosophy is which philosophy in fact posits that :  There are conflicts of interest among rational men.

My theory has been that Marxism posits it, therefore authoritarianism and equality of outcome is all we have to go by to alleviate conflict of interest.

Or altruism, or anti-self-interest "your interest is not important in society" position, meaning you deserve none. Since you deserve nothing objectively, you have no interest.

It may in fact be the cultural understanding. That would imply a belief that there is NO alleviation to conflict of interest. 

I agree with you that the Objective Morality is a key element in Objectivism. It was the core issue with Prager Videos and some other threads on the religious right wing.

I have browsed through the thread once and I will have to do it again as a lot has came up.

4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If you are game, I'd like to discuss this, and perhaps run a scenario similar to Merjet's through a rigorous back and forth as rational men, with our musings and perhaps this article in mind.

I am willing and I have always valued your thoughts, but I have stayed away because my problem is, I still find "interest" within society to be a slippery concept. The context switches constantly. Sometimes interest is not self interest. Sometimes interest in doing something for someone else is to one's benefit, therefore to one's self interest. And ... some will dispute that.

  • Sometimes interest, means what one is interested in.
  • Then there is objective interest.,
  • Then there is objective self interest. 
  • Then there are interests that should be
  • Then there is subjective interest
  • Then there is subjective self interest
  • Then there is desire etc.
  • Then there is interest that is just or unjust, right or wrong
  • etc.

Finally, there there is selfish acts toward loved ones, children etc. which are selfish if you risk your life to save them. etc. etc.

The other problem is that I vehemently reject the principle of two definitions.

So, there is a lot to chew on and I am moving painfully slowly.

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On 4/21/2021 at 1:37 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Boydstun:

I do not believe Rand was referring to anything "social" or anything about a person's subjective state when she refers to interest.  I believe she is referring to the objective aspect of that concept, that which lies outside of sentiments about things or sentiments about relationships.

Accordingly, in order for Rand's formulation to be flawed, we need not only a disagreement or a fight among rational men (who are fallible), but require somehow a contradiction in the reality of those things (and in the same respect) over which they are fighting.

 

Rational men may have a conflict over what they think are their interests, but their rational interests do not and cannot conflict, even in contracts and tort law, no matter how complex or difficult the issues.  IMHO This is exactly analogous to how men might disagree or fight over morality, because it IS complex and difficult, regardless of whether they know or not, the discovery of Ayn Rand, namely, that morality is objective. 

 

The above, is a strong claim, essentially claiming rational men's rational interests are objective.

There is a weaker claim which I find acceptable, which is that rational men's rational interests DO NOT contradict moral principles (which are objective), including all of ethics and politics, and in particular rational egoism and individual rights.

 

Rand took up the challenge to show that with rational, objective interests for each individual they do not come into conflict between individuals in their rational interactions.

One could take an approach in which one held up as an objective moral guideline that any sets of interests resulting in conflicts of interests between individuals shows that there are not-objective, wrong items among their interests. To get traction one would still need to look at the various sorts of purported conflicts of interest and show where they go wrong, that is, specifically where there is some defect in objectivity and rationality in the purported interests. That would be like Leibniz did in arguing that this is the best of all possible worlds. He knows already that it must be so, even with any of the many counterexamples put forth, because he knows already that God created the world and that God would not create a world in which the compossibilities of all individual possibles was not the best compossibility. Still, Leibniz goes on and addresses with particulars some of the categories of cases people raise against this being the best of all possible worlds, in order to help allay reservations others have over his abstract picture in which God has to be choosing the best because God is God.

Rand did not take that rather top-down (plus more particular add-ons) approach. And I think that is good. She tackled some of the particular kinds of counterexamples directly and just tried to show that what might appear as a conflict of interests in them was really not so when all things pertinent to objective, rational interests in a social context are taken into account. 

I notice that even if Rand is wrong in proposing that their are NO conflicts of interests that are fully objective and rational, it is no great advance of understanding to say merely "so she was wrong in that thesis" or merely "so some conflicts of interest, objective and rational, exist." Advance is to understand which kinds, if any, of conflicts of objective and rational interests do arise. (And as with moral theorizing generally, I wouldn't look to fanciful hypotheticals, but to cases at law and to ordinary life cases. Enough for the day are the complications thereof.)

 

Edited by Boydstun
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1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

I notice that even if Rand is wrong in proposing that their are NO conflicts of interests that are fully objective and rational, it is no great advance of understanding to say merely "so she was wrong in that thesis" or merely "so some conflicts of interest, objective and rational, exist." Advance is to understand which kinds, if any, of conflicts of objective and rational interests do arise. (And as with moral theorizing generally, I wouldn't look to fanciful hypotheticals, but to cases at law and to ordinary life cases. Enough for the day are the complications thereof.)

Well put.

 

* * *

I am coming to the conclusion that conflict of interest, to exist, must in some way manifest as a contradiction between  what would have to constitute a "conflict" between proper action of one person according to objective morality in their context with proper action of another person according to objective morality in their context.  Somehow this has to square with individual rights since we must assume rational men attempt to be moral in the objective sense.  It's easy to conjure up emergency and out of the ordinary hypotheticals... but finding ordinary examples is particularly hard, worse because I come at this with skepticism in the first place.

Do people competing for the Olympics have any conflict of interest?  No.

Do people competing for a lover? No

A job? No.

Does my envy of your property, athleticism, relationships or career constitute a conflict on interest?  No.

Does my and your opposing claims to land constitute a conflict of interest? No, it is a conflict of "claims" and must be someone's mistake (surveyor, lawyer, you and me).

Does my accident give rise to your duty?  Heck no.

Does a disagreement about objective morality or acting on it cause a conflict of interest?  I suppose IF neither of us has made a mistake about objective morality on either of our parts, AND somehow objective morality in the context of me and objective morality in the context of you are "in conflict"... 

but what in the heck would that look like?

 

Finding such a thing will not be easy for me.

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2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I looked at my original post and I noticed it came out over the fact that Objectivists found the presidential political candidates as their interest. 

But differing between Objectivists, as in, people who are committed to reason and who do believe in an Objective reality. (Rational Per Boydstun's links)

My conclusion is that in the long term we would agree on which one in fact was the best choice.

2046 was pushing that Rand's statement is in broad strokes and I can agree with that.

And ... there certainly was a conflict in conclusions about the candidates.

But, as rational people, was our interests in conflict?

Subjectively yes, Objectively probably no, but TBD.

After all, we did not disagree that a president is necessary, we did not disagree that law and order is necessary, we did not disagree that individual rights is important, we disagreed on who is better, on who is worse.

On abstract long term issues, there was no conflict.

But on concrete, short term issues and judgements, there was.

What has not been answered from the Scholars that look at things from the perspective of historical philosophy is which philosophy in fact posits that :  There are conflicts of interest among rational men.

My theory has been that Marxism posits it, therefore authoritarianism and equality of outcome is all we have to go by to alleviate conflict of interest.

Or altruism, or anti-self-interest "your interest is not important in society" position, meaning you deserve none. Since you deserve nothing objectively, you have no interest.

It may in fact be the cultural understanding. That would imply a belief that there is NO alleviation to conflict of interest. 

I agree with you that the Objective Morality is a key element in Objectivism. It was the core issue with Prager Videos and some other threads on the religious right wing.

I have browsed through the thread once and I will have to do it again as a lot has came up.

I am willing and I have always valued your thoughts, but I have stayed away because my problem is, I still find "interest" within society to be a slippery concept. The context switches constantly. Sometimes interest is not self interest. Sometimes interest in doing something for someone else is to one's benefit, therefore to one's self interest. And ... some will dispute that.

  • Sometimes interest, means what one is interested in.
  • Then there is objective interest.,
  • Then there is objective self interest. 
  • Then there are interests that should be
  • Then there is subjective interest
  • Then there is subjective self interest
  • Then there is desire etc.
  • Then there is interest that is just or unjust, right or wrong
  • etc.

Finally, there there is selfish acts toward loved ones, children etc. which are selfish if you risk your life to save them. etc. etc.

The other problem is that I vehemently reject the principle of two definitions.

So, there is a lot to chew on and I am moving painfully slowly.

Nice to see so many good thoughts.

Conflict usually requires a sort of "commensurability" or a "field" of coexistence.  Sound does not generally "clash" with light.  My athleticism cannot interfere with my taste in music.  However, two of my thoughts can conflict with one another if using them together negates them both.  The same is true if I have interests in A and B which urge me both toward and away from action X.

What is the status of my rational self-interest guiding my action, in the field of ??what??? with respect to your rational self-interest guiding your action?  In what ways are these, seemingly separate things, commensurate?

 

 

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