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Conflicting Conclusions and therefore Conflict of Interest

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Conflict of Interests:  Why not start from the objective side of "interest" and move back?

 

I always interpreted Rand's use of "conflict of interest" as not having anything to do with being "interested" in something as in subjectively (possibly merely irrationally) wanting something, but as meaning "interest" in the sense of having a kind of objective stake or investment in something, which is at least morally recognizable. 

In that sense it was a sort of pre-property or anticipation of rights, or a kind of recognition of potential for rights and/or property.

So rational men knowing rights are rights and potentials are not actuals, realize the interests are not in conflict, not until any sort of investment realizes, actualizes or invests.  In the same way a fetus is not a person, an interest is not property, and an overlap in potentials is not a contradiction of actuals.

 

Rights and property are objective in the same way values are. People can be wrong or right about some particular analysis of rights, property, or values, and can and do have big disagreements over them.  That does not change the objective nature of what they are arguing over.

So maybe it makes sense to start from the other direction.  Start from actual rights, actual property and move from this objective side back toward "interests", back towards the realm or pre-property and pre-rights, to potentials, investments, or interests in such things, where and how would subjectivity enter into it?  The actuals do not overlap, they are objective, but the potentials because they are potentials do overlap even if both parties understand that eventually they cannot.  Is "overlap" actually conflict or is it merely a recognition of possible futures which are mutually exclusive?  

 

Life can be a race and a competition, but since property and rights are objective, there is no real conflict.... although irrational men will fabricate them.

 

 

 

  

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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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14 hours ago, merjet said:

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It should be obvious by now that the only example Ayn Rand gave in her essay – two people pursuing the same job that only one of them can get – doesn’t even come close to satisfying the conditions described above. Neither job applicant owes loyalty to the other. Nether commits a breach of trust. In many such cases the two applicants would be complete strangers to one another and have no relationship with one another whatever.

That example does satisfy all conditions, but needs to be extrapolated to every instance possible and observable. But here, too. If the one applicant pursuing the job is less qualified, but is a friend of the boss's son, and the boss would give him the job - irrationally - it would be rational for the favored applicant to step aside for the better qualified person.

Rand's precept: "Man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions". Why? Moral justice: because that moral, rational person must get what he deserves. What one puts in is what one must take out. You are owed what you earn but equally don't accept the unearned. We have debated that precept before.

If two or more rational men are involved in an association or endeavor, say of scientists who worked for years on an experiment, the leader of the team would rationally include his coworkers in the published paper - or, irrationally, deny them any credit due.

When a couple divorce and both were rational there would be no acrimonious dispute over who gets what. There would be no "conflict of value". Where one was irrational, she (say) would try to enact some petty - sacrificial -revenge by fighting to keep his fishing boat (say) that she doesn't need, use or want.

There are many instances one can see of rational people harmoniously engaging to their mutual benefits, not having ~or allowing~ conflicts of interest to arise, but, commonplace, of the irrational ones who thrive on causing conflicts.

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3 hours ago, whYNOT said:

That example does satisfy all conditions, but needs to be extrapolated to every instance possible and observable. But here, too. If the one applicant pursuing the job is less qualified, but is a friend of the boss's son, and the boss would give him the job - irrationally - it would be rational for the favored applicant to step aside for the better qualified person.

I disagree. The only conditions Ayn Rand gave were that two men were applying for the same job and only one could be hired. She said nothing about one being a friend of the boss's son. So all your extrapolating makes it not Ayn Rand's example, but yours. She said nothing about one applicant trusting the other, or one owing loyalty to the other, or even knowing one another. 

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2 hours ago, merjet said:

 She said nothing about one applicant trusting the other, or one owing loyalty to the other, or even knowing one another. 

Her example isn't set in stone. I merely added a slight twist to hers. They're illustrations of the underlying principle involved: no conflict of interest can...

The corollary being that where there is conflict of interest, someone isn't rational.

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34 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

The corollary being that where there is conflict of interest, someone isn't rational.

False for both of the following two examples.

1. Employees E1 and E2 work together. E1 is E2’s boss. Both are rational. In order to solve a particular work problem or achieve a particular goal, E1 wants to execute Plan1 and E2 wants to execute Plan2. Plan1 and Plan2 are incompatible; can’t do both. Each believes his or her own plan is somewhat better than the other. They argue. E1 decides on Plan 1 since E1 is the boss. 

Both are rational and their plans conflict.

2. Two rational businessmen sign a contract. Buyer B agrees to buy from supplier S. If the contract is simple, short-term, and no problems arise, then omniscience is not required. On the other hand, assume a long-term contract that is far more complicated. B and S negotiate and agree on the terms. They consider contingencies, and the written contract addresses the contingencies. Suppose all goes well for a while. Then a problem arises, a contingency that neither anticipated, and S can’t meet the terms of the contract. It may not even be S’s fault, but that of a third party. For example, a supplier to S or a spike in prices triggers the problem. B and S are both dissatisfied. Each considers the other inflexible given the circumstances. In other words, they have a conflict of interest. In order to have anticipated the problem and have written the contract to deal with it would have required omniscience.

Both are rational and they have a conflict of interest.

 

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2 minutes ago, merjet said:

Both are rational and their plans conflict.

Their plans conflict, but that does not mean their interests do.

It is in the interests of both that there be an orderly way of choosing a course of action in the event of such a disagreement, rather than organizational paralysis or a disorderly decision process.

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Their plans not their interests, like DM remarked. As pointed out, the means to the end might and often do differ between rational people: one would persuade the other of the best means. As long as the ends are rational and valuable for both they haven't a conflict.

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Are “interests” primarily objective or primarily subjective?

That's a hard one. One has to delineate "interest" from "self interest". Value has to be egoistic so that implies that there has to be some subjective element. (Value to whom?)

The separate "a self" from the value, means value is intrinsic.

We hear the example "He married that woman because his mother wanted it". Well, was it to his interest to do that? Was his mother's approval important (objectively)?

I do agree with you that we should start from rights and go backwards.

From what I have gathered, Rand is arguing that "there does not have to be a zero sum game". That rational people want a result that everyone wins. It does not HAVE TO BE winners and losers as most people believe. It's a moral argument of what should be.

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12 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

That's a hard one. One has to delineate "interest" from "self interest". Value has to be egoistic so that implies that there has to be some subjective element. (Value to whom?)

The separate "a self" from the value, means value is intrinsic.

We hear the example "He married that woman because his mother wanted it". Well, was it to his interest to do that? Was his mother's approval important (objectively)?

IMHO According to Objectivism, values are objective (neither subjective nor intrinsic), but the concrete form they take varies in context or person to person. 

Art IS an objective value to the psyche, the form that takes will vary from person to person and context to context.

12 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I do agree with you that we should start from rights and go backwards.

:)

12 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

From what I have gathered, Rand is arguing that "there does not have to be a zero sum game". That rational people want a result that everyone wins. It does not HAVE TO BE winners and losers as most people believe. It's a moral argument of what should be.

Does whether there is a zero sum game affect whether or not property is objective?  IF reality were such that there HAD to be winners and losers, would that matter at all to the objectivity of values and rights and property? 

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Observe Rand decided to use the term "interest", not "rights" or "property" or "claims"

BUT ALSO

NOT "desires", "dreams", "wishes", "hopes" and "plans"... 

she is talking of something along the transformational journey from such overlapping and subjective potentials toward the non-overlapping objective actuals.  

 

A rational man realizes that the journey, although starting open ended, ends at a place where things are no longer subject to his whim.

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Observe Rand decided to use the term "interest", not "rights" or "property" or "claims"

BUT ALSO

NOT "desires", "dreams", "wishes", "hopes" and "plans"... 

Okay, I'll dig deeper around objective values and say something controversial … because with its raw definition, there is no such thing. On the other hand, an objective "moral value" is clear, absolute, universal and demonstrable.

Based on the definition: “Value” is that which one acts to gain and/or keep.  "a value" could be desires wishes etc. One could value death and whatever causes it.

But then there is the issue of standard:

"“Value” presupposes a standard, a purpose and the necessity of action in the face of an alternative. Where there are no alternatives, no values are possible. It is only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible."

So are there are two types of values? One based on standard and one not. Or are all values based on a standard?

Don Watkins on one of the recent YouTube discussions emphasized that Rand though of values that are based on a standard, i.e. thought out, rational. (Isn't that a description of "moral values", not "values"?)

If we go with the first definition, values would include desire. No rational standard included. Survival being the standard but not necessarily "concluded" by the mind.

Only based on "a" standard one is able to determine if the value is moral or not.

So interest indicating objective "moral values" is kind of like saying "objective moral values" do not mean "dog eat dog" but a win win interaction. It would counter the idea that "we are all evil at the core so we can only survive under an authoritarian system".

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"Interest" has several definitions. Link. The two noun meanings from the MacMillan Dictionary that seem to best fit what Ayn Rand meant by "interest" are:
▸an advantage or benefit to someone or something 
▸a connection with something that influences your attitude or behavior because you can gain an advantage from it.

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21 minutes ago, merjet said:

▸an advantage or benefit to someone or something 
▸a connection with something that influences your attitude or behavior because you can gain an advantage from it.

Interesting phrasing:

 advantage or benefit "to" 

connection... because you "can gain"

 

Connotation here in both is toward that of potential rather than a fully realized gain or accrued benefit... sort of prior to "cashing in".

 

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52 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Okay, I'll dig deeper around objective values and say something controversial … because with its raw definition, there is no such thing. On the other hand, an objective "moral value" is clear, absolute, universal and demonstrable.

Based on the definition: “Value” is that which one acts to gain and/or keep.  "a value" could be desires wishes etc. One could value death and whatever causes it.

But then there is the issue of standard:

"“Value” presupposes a standard, a purpose and the necessity of action in the face of an alternative. Where there are no alternatives, no values are possible. It is only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible."

So are there are two types of values? One based on standard and one not. Or are all values based on a standard?

Don Watkins on one of the recent YouTube discussions emphasized that Rand though of values that are based on a standard, i.e. thought out, rational. (Isn't that a description of "moral values", not "values"?)

If we go with the first definition, values would include desire. No rational standard included. Survival being the standard but not necessarily "concluded" by the mind.

Only based on "a" standard one is able to determine if the value is moral or not.

So interest indicating objective "moral values" is kind of like saying "objective moral values" do not mean "dog eat dog" but a win win interaction. It would counter the idea that "we are all evil at the core so we can only survive under an authoritarian system".

Been a while since you've read VOS?

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Interesting phrasing:

 advantage or benefit "to" 

connection... because you "can gain"

 

Connotation here in both is toward that of potential rather than a fully realized gain or accrued benefit... sort of prior to "cashing in".

I agree that the second meaning I showed is toward the potential. But  the first meaning need not be. For example, somebody has a 30% interest (stake) in a business. 

One definition of "interest' in the Oxford definition referenced on the page I linked above is: A stake, share, or involvement in an undertaking, especially a financial one.

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7 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Does whether there is a zero sum game affect whether or not property is objective?  IF reality were such that there HAD to be winners and losers, would that matter at all to the objectivity of values and rights and property? 

IF reality were a zero sum game such that there HAD to be winners and losers, people could not trade.  In any interaction, one person would have to be sacrificed to another.  Different people would have conflicting interests and values.  The concepts of rights and property would not work in such a world.  

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3 hours ago, 2046 said:
3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

So are there are two types of values?

The Principle of Two Definitions

Thanks, the was very helpful, he went through many of the questions I was bringing up.

At 1:41:20 he goes to the crux of the two definitions, as in one concept, but two contexts: Cognitive vs. Normative.

(In other words (in my terminology) descriptive vs. prescriptive).

I still have to understand it better to see the benefit of "not" having two phrases or words spelling out the context.

As in,  what problem would be caused if one specifically used "moral value" vs "motivation"? Kind of like "motivation" vs. "moral motivation". Also as in  "doing" vs. "doing the right thing".

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

I agree that the second meaning I showed is toward the potential. But  the first meaning need not be. For example, somebody has a 30% interest (stake) in a business. 

One definition of "interest' in the Oxford definition referenced on the page I linked above is: A stake, share, or involvement in an undertaking, especially a financial one.

Ah yes true.  That implies something more akin to actual property: leaning in a good direction toward objectivity.

Of course the mere fact of that does not overcome the fallibility of man.

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48 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

IF reality were a zero sum game such that there HAD to be winners and losers, people could not trade.  In any interaction, one person would have to be sacrificed to another.  Different people would have conflicting interests and values.  The concepts of rights and property would not work in such a world.  

OK, I'm pretty sure I must have misused the definition of zero sum game.  

I meant something more akin to scarce and limited resources.  Zero sum game, in those terms you more correctly put it, is simply an impossibility in reality, but a sort of floating philosophical hypothetical.

 

In reality, with limited resources, trade could still exist even if you had all the axes and I had all the trees.

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10 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Of course the mere fact of that does not overcome the fallibility of man.

I agree. Ayn Rand said there are no conflicts of interest among rational men. However, does a rational person never does anything irrational (even if only in retrospect, but not before the doing) or have foresight so perfect that everything the rational person plans never meets a conflict of interest when implementing the plan? I say 'no'.

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On 4/15/2021 at 12:31 AM, merjet said:

Both are rational and their plans conflict.

2. Two rational businessmen sign a contract. Buyer B agrees to buy from supplier S. If the contract is simple, short-term, and no problems arise, then omniscience is not required. On the other hand, assume a long-term contract that is far more complicated. B and S negotiate and agree on the terms. They consider contingencies, and the written contract addresses the contingencies. Suppose all goes well for a while. Then a problem arises, a contingency that neither anticipated, and S can’t meet the terms of the contract. It may not even be S’s fault, but that of a third party. For example, a supplier to S or a spike in prices triggers the problem. B and S are both dissatisfied. Each considers the other inflexible given the circumstances. In other words, they have a conflict of interest. In order to have anticipated the problem and have written the contract to deal with it would have required omniscience.

Both are rational and they have a conflict of interest.

 

The supposed rational party who e.g. states: Nothing to do with me if your factory was flooded/a supplier let you down/you were locked down by the Gvt./etc. - we had a deal - isn't being rational.

He is the cause of the conflict of interest. This is prior to contractual agreements, in which the party might (successfully) sue for breach of contract. His rights are downstream from his ethical/rational actions. One may have the right to claim something but not be rational to do so. Realty intrudes sometimes on men's doings. Anyone asserting omniscience can't be rational.

"Rationality is our unreserved commitment to perceive reality to the best of our ability, a commitment to being conscious..." NB

Although you say X "is rational" doesn't make him always rational. A commitment seems to me to be ongoing action rather than a fixed state, as for example an O'ist claiming he can't ever be subjective ~because~ he is an Objectivist.

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