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Conflicting Conclusions and therefore Conflict of Interest

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8 hours ago, 2046 said:

Let us take this opportunity to discuss the metaphilosophical issues confronting the way you are required to do philosophy, before I turn to my usual dismissiveness.

You got the part after the comma right, along with resorting to plenty of ad hominem.

 

8 hours ago, 2046 said:

Thing is, I don't think Merlin knows anything about 1-7, mainly because he's not that good or smart.

Thing is, 2046 failed to acknowledge that my previous posts met 1-7, likely because he's not that good or smart or honest. “He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see.” - Ayn Rand

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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'

ET, Thanks for bringing up this issue. I think of the conflicts of interests that brought on the American Civil War. Slavery was a crucial economic factor of production and profit in the Sou

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2 hours ago, merjet said:

2046 failed to acknowledge that my previous posts met 1-7

That's just the thing. You really believe your posts at least met 1, but they didn't. And unfortunately, you felt insulted when you were told that your reasoning sucks. Do you want to have a better discussion, or do you prefer to insist on discussing things the same way?

ET, I don't see any issue with saying that there would be "no more" conflicts of interest between rational people, mostly because the conflicts of interest don't actually exist in the first place. It's not that they go away, it's that people realize they were never there in the first place. As was mentioned before, you may initially get the impression that a conflict of interest exists with another rational person. All you have to do is pause for a moment, and reflect on the situation. Maybe even consider that you were the irrational person. We can get into some of Swig's ideas if you'd like, but to me those are more about why it's difficult to figure out how to evaluate everything correctly. 

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

All you have to do is pause for a moment, and reflect on the situation. Maybe even consider that you were the irrational person.

I would say that Merjet and 2046 are having a "conflict of interest". And these are two highly rational people.

The disagreement is about "the best way of interacting that we should want".
I'm replacing the word interest with "the best way of interacting that we should want" to see if that will make a difference.

Both are okay with attacking each other personally.

Now, one way or the other, if they disengage, the answer to the question will not be discovered (sooner or ever). Yet, "when an interaction hurts, one should leave" is in fact a "good way of interacting".
In other words "each person should take care of themselves" is in fact easily proven to be the best way of interacting.
But the answer to the question will be gone or delayed. 
So then one could argue that "not hurting others is a better way" because I will gain the answer faster.

This is the complexity that I see muddying the water. As Branden would say (paraphrasing), when there are high emotions, irrationality will appear. Which means the best practice is to let the emotional dust settle and then try again.
But in the heat of the moment, in midst of an emotional storm, free will may be limited.

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2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I would say that Merjet and 2046 are having a "conflict of interest".

I say we are having a dispute about the meaning of "conflict of interest." 2046 insists the only one worthy of discussing is what Ayn Rand meant by it. I disagree. 

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16 minutes ago, merjet said:

I say we are having a dispute about the meaning of "conflict of interest." 2046 insists the only one worthy of discussing is what Ayn Rand meant by it. I disagree. 

You need me to believe that to maintain your worldview

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4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I would say that Merjet and 2046 are having a "conflict of interest". And these are two highly rational people.

The disagreement is about "the best way of interacting that we should want".
I'm replacing the word interest with "the best way of interacting that we should want" to see if that will make a difference.

Both are okay with attacking each other personally.

Now, one way or the other, if they disengage, the answer to the question will not be discovered (sooner or ever). Yet, "when an interaction hurts, one should leave" is in fact a "good way of interacting".
In other words "each person should take care of themselves" is in fact easily proven to be the best way of interacting.
But the answer to the question will be gone or delayed. 
So then one could argue that "not hurting others is a better way" because I will gain the answer faster.

This is the complexity that I see muddying the water. As Branden would say (paraphrasing), when there are high emotions, irrationality will appear. Which means the best practice is to let the emotional dust settle and then try again.
But in the heat of the moment, in midst of an emotional storm, free will may be limited.

Maybe this will actually help provide clarity. I don't think we're having a conflict of interest, at least not in Rand's sense. I take Rand's sense of interest from the VOS introduction and "The Objectivist Ethics" to refer to ones good as a human being. (Or more precisely, to refer to the scope of one's good.) I take this because she uses self-interest and selfishness interchangeably (or as selfishness as concern for ones own interest), and refers to them as "the values required for man's survival qua man."

I don't think my good and Merlin's good are in conflict. We don't have to agree to pursue our good. This because we have different goods. If you think our natural or ultimate end is something like a "dominant end" where Merlin and 2046 are merely loci in such a good, then if we have different conclusions about what that is, we might be said to conflict. But if you think of our ultimate end as an "inclusive end" that is only made real through our individualized natures, it's possible to understand the form of my "survival qua man" and Merlin's "survival qua man" to be particularized in different ways. So Merlin and I don't have to agree to not be in goods-conflict. Opinion-conflict is distinct from that.

Also, were not "interacting" strictly speaking. (interaction here, I mean act in some way whereby we must have some effect on the other.) And our disagreement over some thesis, or over what methods one should take in considering a thesis, has nothing to do whether or not I think, say Person A, B, or C is not a high-quality philosophy writer, or person in general. Or at least they are disjunctive with such things. And that is perfectly normal and healthy. In fact, I think 99% of the people that post on here are roughly as low-quality as Merlin's posts are. That's just part of internet intellectual junk-food. But I do think my posts about method can be helpful to some people, even if they don't like me or think I'm a jerk. Which is also perfectly reasonable.

But I think this relates to the bit about "in a free society" that Swig brought up. She does seem to qualify the whole discussion, that her thesis only applies to a free society. I take it she means something like the following: Merlin and I can just dismiss each other, each one thinking the other is silly, in a free society. A free society is based on individual rights, including private property rights. And part of private property rights is that people aren't forced to interact, because they can draw a boundary around each. Respect for boundaries is a solution for conflict. Thus, in a free society, a solution to every potential goods-conflict exists: each person can ignore the other and go their own way (see last paragraph in the chapter.)

What's interesting is she says "no interests are possible" in an unfree society. I'm not sure what she means by this. Presumably, the initiation of force makes human flourishing impossible, is her point in We the Living and so forth. But that's a really authoritarian regime? What about a semi-free society? She doesn't really address those questions. I think one could use examples of a limited kind of flourishing people are able to achieve in places like even gulags and prisons to argue against the idea that "no interests are possible." The case of Admiral James Stockdale provides an interesting example. But I take it that her point is that if Merlin and I were forced to interact, now we have a zero-sum game where our goods are both diminished, at least compared to us just going our own ways, or if one or the other just didn't exist.

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

2046 insists the only one worthy of discussing is what Ayn Rand meant by it. I disagree. 

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 about something trivial, so you gave examples that you thought would easily make us call into question what she was talking about in her essay. So people corrected you that you were missing the point, or were misinterpreting her, or otherwise not reading her essay carefully. Fair enough. Then you gave a hypothetical. Great. But when you were given analysis, you were combative, didn't answer clarifying questions, even going as far as to say it was impossible to demonstrate that your example was a conflict of interest among rational people. Then went back to repeating your first post, and accusing 2046 of refusing to talk about what anyone else means by conflict of interest (need I remind you that the whole thread is about what Rand meant?). But you yourself refused to answer what you meant by conflict of interest when I asked why you thought you thought experiment demonstrated a conflict of interest! 

4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I would say that Merjet and 2046 are having a "conflict of interest". And these are two highly rational people.

Just for looking at things carefully, we can see that Merjet has failed to be rational. Is he rational most the time? Maybe. It's not as if Rand was saying that normally rational people will never fail to be rational. When they fail to be rational, they will see what they believe to be conflicts of interest, and probably think they are being rational at the time. Merjet might believe that here, it is in his interest to argue as he has so far. Arguing in a manner that other people think is poor form. The conflict of interest would be that 2046's interest is to argue in a relatively precise and academic way, but also by introducing other information that we can clarify our own thinking or find a point to argue with, while Merjet's interest is trying to argue about this other meaning of conflict of interest, without meeting the context of the original question, and focusing on a particular narrow dispute about definitions.

A way to resolve this of course is Merjet to admit some error and that 2046 has a better way, or at least admit that a different course of discussion is better. Unless of course his wider interest is just to "win the argument", in which case the conflict of interest remains. Getting to the truth is the rational course of action. That might take some time, but in either case, we know that getting at the truth can and should be a mutual interest here. When we realize that, we also realize that there actually is no genuine conflict of interest exists if we hold rational interests. 

4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Now, one way or the other, if they disengage, the answer to the question will not be discovered (sooner or ever).

The difficult thing might be figuring out the difference between irrational and not smart enough. If somebody is having a bad day, and you just need to engage them tomorrow when things settle down, that's a case of irrationality. Sometimes a person is characteristically irrational, and they will routinely use appeals to emotions, or threats, or lies. Other times, neither applies because the person is not capable of understanding the concepts in question. It doesn't matter how patient you are with them, they just won't get it, no arguments will sink in, and you'll actually look stupid in their eyes precisely because what you say doesn't make any sense. Or could go the other way, that you're the one who is not smart enough to understand.

Imagine a chess grandmaster against an amateur chess player. The chess grandmaster thinks on such a higher level that they simply do not compare. The amateur chess player is not even capable of understanding what the grandmaster does except at the very basic level of how the pieces move. I'm not saying that the amateur is stupid about everything, I only mean stupid about chess. The same can apply to philosophical arguments, or anything else in life. Even then, general intelligence is somewhat of a thing, or at least several related measures. There might be a minimum level of intelligence someone needs to be able to comprehend certain ideas. It wouldn't matter how rational they are. Can everyone understand the mathematics of quantum physics? I don't think so. 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Rand didn't understand the "common meaning", and/or was really only talking about something trivial

This is another good point. I have a bit of a soft spot for the ordinary language school. I think it's a perfectly reasonable question to ask whether the everyday common sense usage of "conflicts of interest" comports with the meaning Rand employs here. And if it does not (which it definitely doesn't) what motivates our moving from the one usage to the other?

And the answer to that lies in the answer to the question: why does Rand need there to be no conflicts of interest? What work is this doing in her overall system? I mean what's the cash value of the thing? Suppose she's wrong, sometimes my good will just conflict with other people's, and that's just a pervasive fact of reality? So what?

I think she needs it due to her political philosophy. She needs a free society that does not, at least structurally, prejudice some people's good over others. And she needs that because she needs it to be entirely up to you whether or not your good is achieved. That's why taking a wider view of the context of your interests refocuses you on what's in your control vs not. That's why the ending is not weird or odd that she take it to politics at the end of the day. (What's weird to me is that she gives it two sentences and ends right there.)

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The Principle of Two Definitions, From Leonard Peikoff's course: Unity in Epistemology and Ethics

Transitioning from a  colloquial usage of "conflict of interest" to a particular application under a particular philosophic context would benefit from identifying and understanding the process. Peikoff laid some groundwork in this talk starting with "value" as his first example.

After identifying the purpose that a lawyer defending a client he knows is a criminal could serve in a free society, the onus of remaining free lies with those who desire it. Just as in 1776, maybe a third of the citizen bought the gift of liberty by grasping the intellectual foundations and implementing it politically. As long as no rights are violated, the described lawyer is providing a value to his client.

Those desiring the objective administration of justice would find it in their own selfish interest to discover and establish a method of maintaining quality control in its implementation.

 

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7 hours ago, 2046 said:

What's interesting is she says "no interests are possible" in an unfree society. I'm not sure what she means by this.

2046's mention of "No interests are possible" in an unfree society, gives me a glimpse of the following possibility.

With altruism as governing philosophy, there is permanent and complete inability to identify what your interests are. Even when there are gradations, there is never a possibility of acting toward one's interest, because one can never know what "one's interest" is in a corrupt system. Every inter-action is somehow influenced by corruption.

Any system that eliminates conflict of interest, has to allow for interest to be identifiable.
So in that sense, rational people would in fact want a system where their interests are protected, and they would know that to protect something, one and all would need to be able to identify it.

I would argue that in an unfree (or even a semi unfree society), one can NEVER be sure that each individual is motivated by what they "would fairly" want.  The government (or governance) would not be about each person doing what is best for them, since force is being used to skew motivation. 

People still want, but whatever they want is corruption influenced (directly or as a consequence of altruism-corruption).

If she is using "cannot be" or "not possible" in an epistemological sense to mean "cannot be identified", then it would fall into place.

"No interests are possible" in an unfree society has to mean "No pure/pristine/uncorrupted/unambiguous interests are identifiable and therefore impossible in an unfree society".

As in pristine water, it does not exist if it is partially or completely poisoned/corrupted.

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12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I mean, you've been asked a few times ....

There are so many distortions of truth, misunderstandings, and baseless assumptions there that my pointing them out would indicate an undeserved respect. Readers enough interested can compare what he claims versus the written record. 

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On 10/8/2020 at 2:50 PM, 2046 said:

What's interesting is she says "no interests are possible" in an unfree society.

Yes, she appears to be using a super-generalized idea here. A more fundamental question I have is: what sort of society does she think we have? It would appear that her ethical system only applies in a free society. So if I live in an unfree society, it is impossible to pursue my values. Objectivism is rendered useless.

What if we assume a mixed free-unfree society? Then Objectivism is useful only part of the time. How should we plan longterm under such conditions? As if we live in a totally free society? That's evasion.

I doubt anyone would argue that we live in a totally free society. But suppose a Galt's Gulch utopia, is such a thing necessary for Rand's morality to be 100% applicable to one's life?

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3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

It would appear that her ethical system only applies in a free society. So if I live in an unfree society, it is impossible to pursue my values. Objectivism is rendered useless.

Based on my recent hypothetical understanding of what she means: 

Whatever interest that you have in an unfree society is tainted. It is not totally and completely what you should want i.e. what you would want in a free society. Conflict of interest in this context would mean corruption. This endemic conflict would not exist in a not corrupt system.

Not because there is something inherently wrong with you, but that the system won't allow it.

What you are willing to pay for a car is not what you "should" be paying for that car if there were no taxes in the middle (as it would be in a free society). You may "what I'm willing to pay is my interest", but that is in the context of the unfree society you live in. 

You may want to be a tax accountant, although you don't like it, but the pay is well ... because of the unjust system that you live in. So in your compromise/adaptation, it would be to your interest to be a tax accountant has been influenced and skewed/corrupted by the system. In a free society, there would be no money in being a tax accountant, you would not want to be one, what would be the pristine/pure interest.

In  other words, the compromises that you have to make, destroy the pristine untainted interest that would have existed in a free society. (which rational people would inevitably want)

I would argue that when she says "interest" she means "clean from corruption interest", absent of any corruption rational desire. 

When people say interest, they conflate pure and tainted. Interest is interest.

She uses it to mean untouched and un-tainted by random duty to something other than your self. This duty is either corrupting you or others that you trade with. Therefore, all trades are inevitably touched by the corruption/immorality. Since you have to deal with others that have "adapted" skewed values, you will inevitably be touched by corruption and will have to adapt.

So the ideal self interest dies due to the necessity to adapt.

The ideal person does not compromise, does not allow their pure interests to be tainted.

I believe she said that Kira had to die because an ideal man dies in a non ideal system, which was puzzling to me. I now see that the "ideal-ness" will die in a corrupt system. As the ideal man in a corrupt system has to adapt or will be ostracized. And yet there is Howard Roark etc., the hero that is not willing to compromise and risks it all.

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

Consider -ultimate arbiter- and confusion falls away.

It is not man turned against man, like altruists, but individual adhering to nature and loyal to his reason. His and rational others' conceptual hold of reality is equivalent (varying only in degree). So when such men have disagreements they know reality to be the final judge, not either individual. Knowledge/values, like capital, is never 'a zero sum game'. Or: I gain - you lose. Therefore conflicts of interest would be superfluous and ludicrous.

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

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

Consider -ultimate arbiter- and confusion falls away.

Imagine you are head of client information systems for Schwab, Inc. Schwab acquired TD Ameritrade (TDA) very recently. Schwab and TDA have separate computer systems for serving their clients – buying and selling securities, tracking clients’ accounts, showing them periodic reports, tax information, and so forth. Eventually you (and others) would like to put all clients on one system for long-run cost efficiency. That might be Schwab’s current system, TDA’s current system, or maybe an entirely new one. You examine the current Schwab and TDA systems. One is better in some respects and the other is better in other respects. Neither is clearly better overall. How does the "ultimate arbiter" tell you which choice to make and "eliminate all confusion"? In an organization the size of Schwab, you probably are not the sole authority. Others have their own ideas about what’s best, and probably do not wholly agree with you. Said others might be your boss, one of the best people that report to you, the head of company information systems (for accounting and other functions apart from clients with Schwab and TDA each having their own systems now), or other members of a task force assigned to decide this matter. Of course, the client and company information systems are not wholly independent (each relies on the other to some extent). What do you do?

If you do disagree with other powers that be – there is a conflict of interest like in the scenario I made involving E1, E2, Plan1, Plan2 – what do you do? I don’t expect a definitive answer, but describe a situation to ponder where the best answers are not so obvious and simple.

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

. What do you do?

 

Clearly a decision has to be made and soonest, to avoid confusion and disruption. I take into account the many factors and advice arranged in hierarchical importance and decide what path has the greater value (with benefit to the company the basis of value). Once decided, a new reality is in place to proceed from, and my decision rests or falls by the ultimate arbiter: the market.

All rational individuals involved understand that going in, and can't ultimately have conflicts of interest (only difference of opinions or knowledge) if they, too, perceive equal rational value in the company. They know too that a rational decision is not omniscient and prescient. (Nor "obvious and simple").

Here we have a principle to apply to every complex scenario. The details will change. But constant is that conflicts of interest don't exist among rational men, by definition. No one sacrifices (or is sacrificed to) anyone and anything, with that understood.

Where there is genuine conflict of interest (properly defined), then logically, you'd deduce someone is being irrational.

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2 hours ago, merjet said:

If you do disagree with other powers that be – there is a conflict of interest like in the scenario I made involving E1, E2, Plan1, Plan2

How does disagreeing alone mean that there is a conflict of interest by Rand's meaning here?

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

How does disagreeing alone mean that there is a conflict of interest by Rand's meaning here?

There is a conflict of interest in going with this "system or that system".
It is at the heart of "conflict of interest" rather than conflict.
A disagreement about systems is the key difference (Systems that benefit us in this case (interest)). 

When you and I disagree on the system that we should use, we have a conflict of interest.

When we disagree on the existence of something, it's just a disagreement or dispute.

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46 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

 

When you and I disagree on the system that we should use, we have a conflict of interest.

When we disagree on the existence of something, it's just a disagreement or dispute.

Precisely the other way round, I'd say.

The metaphysical existence of something, including their self-interested objectives, cannot be in conflict (for those rational).

The system - method or means to an end, I called it - may cause dispute.

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46 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

When you and I disagree on the system that we should use, we have a conflict of interest.

That's fine, and we have also discussed how supposed conflicts of interest like these don't amount to any genuine conflict of interest if people think rationally. To say that there is a conflict of interest means you should be able to explain which interests are conflicting. 

 

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Well; no. That hits a self-contradiction. To think 'rationally' - which is conceptually - is one part of the explanation of "rational". Existence itself as being one's only reference is the universal foundation of agreement among rational people - AND of it being the ultimate judge: only reality is each one's authority.

It is then very serious for rational people to have conflicts about reality, as distinct from arguing reasonably over which "system" to implement, meaning they don't agree on the objective nature of things nor their value - and therefore are, one or more ... not practicing rationality - and there is the contradiction.  

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Then you need to define or expand on what

5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

genuine conflict of interest

means.

Ultimately it is going to be a difference between what "fairness" to you and me means. Wouldn't a difference in what fairness means be at the heart of conflict of interest?

Not agreeing on the rules.

Genuine in this case would be actual "good" rules vs. actual "bad" rules.

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25 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Then you need to define or expand on what

Well, that's already been done in 2046s posts, that's what I'm saying. I think we've gone over enough exactly what the definition or expansion is, so it's on you or anyone else to explain the weakness or failures of that explanation. 

30 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Wouldn't a difference in what fairness means be at the heart of conflict of interest?

Of the initial appearance of a conflict of interest perhaps, but the conflict of interest isn't really there. It's in both of our interest that the objectively best plan is selected. You haven't mentioned which interests have conflicted. I mean, if your interest is to get your plan approved, that's not really rational, and any other idea would go against that interest. If your interest is to get the right answer, that's rational, and other plans could be in your interest if they are better than yours. 

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We have to concentrate on "interest". It needs to be given the proper philosophical gravitas.

This is not: one person is "interested" in paragliding and another one's interested in auto mechanics.

More too, than: My "interest" is in tackling a task in this way and yours is another method.

Think - "purpose" - in order to get the meaning in the same ball park.

iow, approximately restated: Rational men can't have conflicts of purpose.

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