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Conflicting Conclusions and therefore Conflict of Interest

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Well what is the closest thing to a conflict we can come up with?

Here's my brain storm:

A conflict is an occurrence, an event. Something that happens that contains or comes with a relationship of two entities.

A conflict is a period where an either-or is coming into fruition. There is an attempted mixture that "should not happen" in some context. 

Two things are in the process of occupying the same space. Two things are interfering with each other. I wonder if a conflict might change the nature of the participant entities. The two rocks collide, both break in a certain way. They are not the same after the conflict. Not sure if that is a necessary element. The two lights change the nature of each other. The two sounds make a new sound in total. etc.

It seems that there are conflicts that are good and some that are bad. I had thought that they are only bad. But there are good conflicts too, like the Olympics. (Nevertheless, even in the Olympics, the soccer players may hit each other our of anger). In that case, it is a conflict within the rules vs. conflict outside of the rules that make it bad or good conflict.

But I suspect that a conflict is not neither good or bad/amoral. I will still argue that a conflict is part of the field of morality. Otherwise, I will have to use "human conflict", or "human to human" conflict as a part of morality. If that does not fit the bill, I would have to use the term "moral conflict" since I won't participate in dual definitions. Unless we become convince that it could be amoral too.

You brought up the issue of the conflict within the self. Is that a conflict of interest? The conflict has to have two entities. The self is not the conflict, it is conflicting motives within the self. But Objectively, what is to your benefit, i.e. that which benefits you the most is one single thing, isn't it? Isn't that conflict a subjective conflict?

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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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4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I would call this "non conflicting goals".

Interests are types of goals. Interests are long-term goals. The context that Rand talks about interests are ultimate long-term goals. Interests are not short-term goals. Keep it simple in your mind. "If you are taking a rational approach to your life, this does not hinder my pursuit of life." 

4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Paths that can't conflict like different altitude example. We just don't know what altitude corresponds to regarding interest. I call this the "non conflicting paths"

No analogy is necessary. In fact, since goal seeking implies following a chronological path, we are already talking about paths. When paths cross, that implies a conflict - you would not be able to continue the path without directly going through the path of another person. We can call this a knot. However, the ends of the path are not knotted. That's because no one shares an individual life. The result is that no matter how many knots there are, they can be unknotted. I'm not sure what really the issue is but I fear that giving you the knot example might make it clear. 

Remember, that is not an analogy. Any overlap is a conflict. All overlaps can be removed. 

9 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

but you have jumped to the end

not sure what you mean.

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Interests are types of goals. Interests are long-term goals. The context that Rand talks about interests are ultimate long-term goals. Interests are not short-term goals. Keep it simple in your mind. "If you are taking a rational approach to your life, this does not hinder my pursuit of life." 

Okay, so what was she arguing against?'

Who is saying "If you are taking a rational approach to your life, this does (in fact) hinder my pursuit of life."

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7 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

No one disagrees that overlaps can be removed.

The question is "what is the condition where no overlaps exist"?

I agree with Eioul sentiments about the conflict having to be more a destination or continual or recurring state than momentary or accidental collision.  

In that way, overlap would have to be long range, constant conflict so to speak.

I agree with your analogy about paths reacting.  The future is not known and the rational path through life changes and are informed in response to changing contexts, as events occur, as  opportunities present themselves etc.

For a true overlap a conflict in a sustained sense, would require the real world consequences of each persons rational path to gravitate back towards the other persons... despite the fact of the overlap or perhaps in response to it.  I know this is abstract... I can’t think of an example.

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8 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

The question is "what is the condition where no overlaps exist"?

To be specific, I said that when paths cross, they conflict. Some overlap is fine. That would be what happens when we work in parallel. The condition when there are no crosses is the condition where you have unknotted your crosses. This is possible because our rational interests (our final ends) do not even overlap. Will you reach that condition? Not any are more likely than knowing everything that is possible to know in existence. Not any more likely than you will never make a mistake in your life. 

8 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Okay, so what was she arguing against?'

I mean, it goes all the way back to anytime somebody said that self-interest is bad. Or when people like Kant think moral action requires a complete lack of interest towards anything. Or especially Christian morality where you are sinful by nature so your interests are necessary base and in conflict with God and the divine. Or cynical people that think that all people really just want momentary advantage over another person because we're all just animals anyway. It doesn't really matter if she was arguing against someone, because she is telling you moral principles that she thinks are true.

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22 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

But Doug, shouldn't the phrase be "there is no difference of interest". Difference is different than "preventing possibility of conflict".

People who claim there is conflict of interest often claim it comes from people having exactly the same interest.  They want the same job, or the same lover, or the same whatever.  Ayn Rand explained why this is not valid.

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

despite the fact of the overlap or perhaps in response to it.  I know this is abstract... I can’t think of an example.

I believe what I was getting and before is that you could exist in a closed social system (in the sense that there are forced constraints from the outside that you're not allowed to violate) or an open social system (in the sense that there are no constraints from the outside). Sure, when initiation of force is banned, the social system is to some degree closed, but that's not important because initiating force is not in the name of a rational interest.  The point is that the more open the system is, the easy it is to have enough room to move your path (there are more degrees of freedom).

If the constraint is rational, then it's a nonissue because no one would rationally pursue those things in the first place. 

The question becomes if there are possible constraints that are rational which would also close off a path completely. 

I'm thinking about this in a computer science way, because it is easiest way I find a focus on just the path without worry about hundreds of details. But at this point my reasoning I can bring in examples. Well, those examples are the same as before.

The only constraints from the outside that I can think of, that absolutely must be followed regardless of your choice, are those involving force. Like I mentioned before, being somebody whose rights are violated to an extreme degree, and easy to interact with other people whose rights are violated to an extreme degree. The paths are so constrained that there are almost no degrees of freedom. There is no wiggle room to alter the path and make it so that there is a benefit of trade. 

Edited by Eiuol
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3 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I believe what I was getting and before is that you could exist in a closed social system (in the sense that there are forced constraints from the outside that you're not allowed to violate) or an open social system (in the sense that there are no constraints from the outside). Sure, when initiation of force is banned, the social system is to some degree closed, but that's not important because initiating force is not in the name of a rational interest.  The point is that the more open the system is, the easy it is to have enough room to move your path (there are more degrees of freedom).

If the constraint is rational, then it's a nonissue because no one would rationally pursue those things in the first place. 

The question becomes if there are possible constraints that are rational which would also close off a path completely. 

I'm thinking about this in a computer science way, because it is easiest way I find a focus on just the path without worry about hundreds of details. But at this point my reasoning I can bring in examples.

The only constraints from the outside that I can think of, that absolutely must be filed regardless of your choice, are those involving force. Like I mentioned before, being somebody whose rights are violated to an extreme degree, and easy to interact with other people whose rights are violated to an extreme degree. The paths are so constrained that there are almost no degrees of freedom. There is no wiggle room to alter the path and make it so that there is a benefit of trade. 

True, we can think of less extreme versions of the "Saw" movies' horror scenarios, but which are caused by the same sort of forces at work.

But can we not give a little benefit of a doubt to rigorously analyze something akin to what Merjet has proposed, or what even perhaps Boydstun is open to...  I think it is important to at least try to address those cases in earnest.  If we end up disagreeing with them, at least we would know exactly why.

 

With respect to tort and contract law, we enter a realm where both attempt to find where justice lies.  This is something all parties are interested in, insofar as rational persons have an interest in living in a society where justice prevails.  That means earnestly wanting justice irrespective of on what "side" of a disagreement, or unforeseen accident, or undealt with contingency of a contract.. one finds oneself on.

If, as a rational person I judge that in situation X, justice requires A for party a, and B for party b, then that conclusion of mine is independent of whether I find myself as person a today or person b tomorrow... in fact if justice IS objective (which I believe is true) it has nothing to do with whether I am person a or b or whether I can even understand what requires justice.

So rational people do not have an interest for their personal situation to subvert justice or violate anyone else's rights.

...

So when can genuine conflicts of people's rational interests occur outside of emergencies or imposed "saw" movie scenarios?

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50 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

akin to what Merjet has proposed

We can ignore Merjet because he's not even talking about the same thing nor does he want to. He only wants to talk about his definition of interest and telling everyone else that we should all be talking about his definition. 

53 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

what even perhaps Boydstun is open to

I'm not sure I see the value in his question. Accidents don't change anything. His question seems to be "is it rational to apply the law to accidents". Might be an interesting question if you want to talk about philosophy of law, but not one I'm interested in personally.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

With respect to tort and contract law, we enter a realm where both attempt to find where justice lies.  This is something all parties are interested in, insofar as rational persons have an interest in living in a society where justice prevails.  That means earnestly wanting justice irrespective of on what "side" of a disagreement, or unforeseen accident, or undealt with contingency of a contract.. one finds oneself on.

And that is the bottom line.

"This is something all parties are interested in, insofar as rational persons have an interest in living in a society where justice prevails. "

That is the same interest in all participants. Non-conflicting and NOT DIFFERENT.

The key to the whole thing that has been repeated that I did not take in is.

She said:

"No conflict of interest"

Not

"No conflict"

The "path" analogy only deals with conflict vs. no conflict.

"Conflict of interest" is a different concept than conflict.

I have been unsuccessful in coming up with an analogy of "conflict of interest".

It's like the derivative of a curve, not the curve. So it would be like non conflicting derivative, not non conflicting curve.

Edited by Easy Truth
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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

So when can genuine conflicts of people's rational interests occur outside of emergencies or imposed "saw" movie scenarios?

I am convinced "never". She is correct within a society of "rational people who are interested in a life worth living".

The key requirement for this to all fit is the fact that a rational man, by nature, will avoid conflict with another rational man. That rationality causes a repulsion to conflict with another rational person (unless there are certain conditions). 

A rational man could initiate conflict if

1. It is within boundaries or rules of an agreed game or a voluntary agreement

2. Self defense, in this case, against an accident

In this way, conflict will always be possible. But "conflict of interest" with this formulation is impossible because the interest stays the same. The objective interest would still be in the direction of "avoid conflict". (universally and not in opposition, and not different)

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6 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

People who claim there is conflict of interest often claim it comes from people having exactly the same interest.  They want the same job, or the same lover, or the same whatever.  Ayn Rand explained why this is not valid.

Because the rational persons are one, both (or all) reality-oriented, distinct from being mainly other-oriented.

They would cater to the saying "may the best man win"- in one sense. Not for the winning, per se, but the objectively best man. That in THIS context, job or lover, you seek what is rightfully deserved on your merits - and - as recognized by the rational choices of the employer/partner/etc.

Short of meeting those conditions, a rational person would honestly prefer not 'to win'. 

(Obversely, it will often happen that one's 'rival suitor' isn't rational or deserving and would want to beat out his competitors for the sake of winning alone: you'd have a conflict of interest).

Edited by whYNOT
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4 hours ago, whYNOT said:

They would cater to the saying "may the best man win"

"may the best man win" implies a zero sum game. Perhaps, an agreement to engage in that conflict. So it is an interest in a certain kind of conflict. It makes the statement "no conflict of interest" problematic.

Ultimately Merjet is correct in saying that she does not use interest in the normal usage.

I am trying to identify how she is using it. And the only way it is not contradictory is in the sense of:

Interest in Justice

Interest in Rights

Interest in Fairness

Interest in Law and Order

And interest in Peace.

Even though there are wars and will be war, there is a rational interest in peace.

Unless one can make the case that there is a rational interest in war.

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14 hours ago, Eiuol said:
23 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Okay, so what was she arguing against?'

I mean, it goes all the way back to anytime somebody said that self-interest is bad. Or when people like Kant think moral action requires a complete lack of interest towards anything. Or especially Christian morality where you are sinful by nature so your interests are necessary base and in conflict with God and the divine. Or cynical people that think that all people really just want momentary advantage over another person because we're all just animals anyway. It doesn't really matter if she was arguing against someone, because she is telling you moral principles that she thinks are true.


Up until now, we have been trying to explain what she means by "interest". 

Forgetting she has unambiguously defined what she means by "conflict of interest".

To quote her, she is arguing against:

"The false dichotomy that man's interests clash"

"The good of one man has to be achieved by the suffering and destruction of another"

As in Cannibalism being the only choice available. (she uses cannibalisms to illustrate her point)

This is the meaning of "conflict of interest" and the context.
 

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

"may the best man win" implies a zero sum game. Perhaps, an agreement to engage in that conflict. So it is an interest in a certain kind of conflict. It makes the statement "no conflict of interest" problematic.

 

That's why I stressed and explained 'win', most advisedly. One *should* gain what's earned by one, and in a given real context there *will* objectively be the best man for xyz; (context includes employment, relationships the free market and so on. The "market decides" - as would and does a rational employer and rational lover).

The other rational individuals of course acknowledge this fact of reality and will not consider for a moment they had to 'lose'. They did not. In fact - it's in their rational interests not to gain the not-fully-earned at an other deserving individual's expense, which would be zero-sum. Their sense of reality, pride and moral justice would preclude accepting it.

In another situation and time they know full well they will 'win' also.

(Has anyone above suggested D'Anconia 'losing' Dagny romantically to Galt, and his realistic acceptance of that? An illustration of Rand's intended meaning, I think).

Reality is one's single challenge, not other people. One's own reality, a consciousness, the significant part of that.

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4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

 

Ultimately Merjet is correct in saying that she does not use interest in the normal usage.

I am trying to identify how she is using it. And the only way it is not contradictory is in the sense of:

Interest in Justice

Interest in Rights

Interest in Fairness

Interest in Law and Order

And interest in Peace.

Even though there are wars and will be war, there is a rational interest in peace.

Unless one can make the case that there is a rational interest in war.

When you expand to the grand scale, a society and a nation, things get more complicated as you indicate and know.

It's given that every rational individual must recognize the objective good of all those elements, and no conflict at that level.

The difficult question is: by what ¬means¬ are those ends to be implemented, achieved and/or sustained? Intellectual conflicts will certainly arise among those rational people: this policy, or that? This action now, or later, or not at all? From Justice through to Peace and possibly necessary wars.

Naturally much of those are beyond all of our personal and physical control, involving the government, other citizens, criminality and acts by foreign foes. That fact ought to be recognized by the (rational) disputants. Second, that no one has prescience over future events. Reality will be the final arbiter, as they know.

I suggest these are conflicts of means, fought over intellectually and that a conflict of "interest" doesn't come up. 

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1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

Or negative-sum.

I was mistaken, she is not arguing against zero sum, she is arguing against negative sum where all loose.

She is arguing against a loose loose world not a win loose world.

She mentions that it is the justification for altruism. That once everyone is doomed, inevitably going to loose  ... it's just a matter of dividing up the goods.

Negative-Sum Game

A negative-sum game is a situation where the gains and losses of all will add up to less than zero, agents involved in such a dynamic will lose in comparison to what they currently have. This type of situation often creates major competition or conflict. A good example of a negative-sum situation is the distribution of budget cuts within an organization. In this case, each department expects to have some funds taken away with the result being less than zero; negative-sum.

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15 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Forgetting she has unambiguously defined what she means by "conflict of interest".

I don't think anyone forgot, I was trying to tell you this entire time that whatever you say about the conflicts in between, the ultimate interests do not conflict. It seems that you forgot this was explained to you way back in the beginning on the first couple pages. 

18 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I am trying to identify how she is using it

You've been told how she is using it. It's up to you if you agree or not. If you are trying to understand what she means even better, that's also fine. But it has already been identified for you. 

53 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

She is arguing against a loose loose world not a win loose world.

She is arguing against both. She is saying that whatever the alleged conflict, the outcome best for our own rational self-interest is the same for both of us. In examples like tournaments where there can be only one victor, it is in the interest of every participant that the best player wins. Losing when the other player is better is actually desirable. 

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2 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I don't think anyone forgot, I was trying to tell you this entire time that whatever you say about the conflicts in between, the ultimate interests do not conflict. It seems that you forgot this was explained to you way back in the beginning on the first couple pages. 

Notice you use "ultimate interest" rather that just "interest".

I actually agree with your usage.

Now, isn't this also agreeing that she is not using the word interest as it is used usually. Something that Merjet is arguing too?

5 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

She is arguing against both. She is saying that whatever the alleged conflict, the outcome best for our own rational self-interest is the same for both of us. In examples like tournaments where there can be only one victor, it is in the interest of every participant that the best player wins. Losing when the other player is better is actually desirable. 

Because I don't believe in the principle of two definitions I would reword some of what you said to:

Let us say the context can be indicated by the modifier "ultimate" ...

"the outcome best for our own rational ultimate self-interest is the same for both of us"

"In examples like tournaments where there can be only one victor, it is in the ultimate interest of every participant that the best player wins. Losing when the other player is better is actually desirable"  because while you are playing the game, losing is not to your interest. 

The context she is using it in is the key.

It could be

ultimate interest

societal interest

overall societal interest

long range societal interest

long range ultimate interest

etc etc, until the precise one is reached.

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

Now, isn't this also agreeing that she is not using the word interest as it is used usually. Something that Merjet is arguing too?

It was emphasis because it seemed like you were often missing that point. Rand uses an economy of writing style such that she doesn't keep reusing adjectives over and over. Sometimes this results in lack of precision, but in this case we can cross reference so many related concepts that it's easy to figure out what type of interest she is talking about.

Merjet is talking about a different subject, he is in his own little world. 

1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

etc etc, until the precise one is reached.

I mean, the other words around "interest" tells you exactly what she's talking about. "Rational men" is the giveaway. 

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16 minutes ago, Eiuol said:
1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

etc etc, until the precise one is reached.

I mean, the other words around "interest" tells you exactly what she's talking about. "Rational men" is the giveaway. 

Rational alone can't do the job unless rational implies predictable.

Rational men have long term goals. Long term can mean different amounts of time for different people. In addition, rational men have different risk tolerances which means acceptance of different assumptions and therefore different value judgements and appraisals.

Living to some extent unavoidably includes some gambling (because man is not omniscient). A rational gamble will sometimes cause a conflict.

So rational interest has a variety of time and risk elements making it unpredictable.

Now, one could say, rational men would handle all conflicts in a harmonious manner, which would ultimately mean no conflict. But it is in that context. Rational does not create "no conflict" but "no (a certain type of) conflict".
 

 

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

In examples like tournaments where there can be only one victor, it is in the interest of every participant that the best player wins. Losing when the other player is better is actually desirable. 

This isn't necessarily true as a counter-example of poker tourneys immediately came to mind. If bad players couldn't go on heater's in these and win it all these would quickly dry up and nearly cease to exist. Game theory-wise short-term variance only converges to actual EV as the sample-size gets large.

I fully agree that no "conflicts of interest" can exist between rational men, so this isn't meant to be an argument against that in any way. I'm just stating why I think this is a poor example in support of that statement.

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Ha, the fallacy of zero sum!

I was reminded of the clever tagline by Avis: We Try Harder (because we are No. 2) apropos Rand's "Competition is a by-product of productive work, not its goal". **

Amazing that people cannot visibly see there's no zero-sum, winner/loser, survival of the fittest, dog eat dog, even in a reasonably free market (stressing free). The stigma over "ruthless, capitalist competition" hasn't gone away despite the evident successes of many entrants into the same industry.

One can count about ten car hire companies at an airport to prove the point. Everybody can do well. Creative minds and productive work are No. 1.

** Hertz eventually went into bankruptcy last year I notice.

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