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[W]hat is the objective basis of politics?

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Crusoe alone on the deserted island has the two elementary factors of economic activity: his intelligent labor and land (given resources, including trees, stones, fish, etc.). Alone he can engage in the economic decision of investing some of his time in construction of tools or tools to make other tools, which is the formation of capital. Those are elements of economic action that do not await the arrival of Friday. When Friday arrives, specialization and joint labor and bartering can enter the economic scene. The fundamental factors of economics and the fundamental nature of capital formation in society are also present with Crusoe stranded alone.

Similarly it seems to go for Rand’s thinking about ethics. One would learn productivity in a family setting or some other social setting. Become stranded on a deserted island, the function and virtue of productivity remains basically the same.

But when it comes to honesty, one learned it as telling the truth to others (says the Scout). That is its elementary meaning and setting, and the virtue of that sense of honesty is not derivative from the virtue of being honest with yourself. When I tell a person the truth, it is firstly from concern for their self-interest, not mine, and firstly from concern to not put falsehoods in their head, not in mine. Come to be stranded on a deserted island, the virtue of honesty with oneself remains. This does not show that this sense of honesty is the base of (the defeasible virtue of) honesty as truth-telling to others.

That all virtues are relative to and require an agent is not the same as showing that all virtues are made virtues by holding the agent (or the agent when model Man) as the ultimate beneficiary of the virtuous act.


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Should we be saying productivity or productiveness?  I understand the latter to refer to the virtue and the former to refer to measuring the amount produced or the rate at which it is produced.  A quick peek at the Ayn Rand lexicon indicates that this is how she uses the words.


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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/25/2022 at 7:45 PM, 2046 said:

An example might be phlogiston, a substance thought to be released during combustion. They early chemists really were trying to understand something, had various reasons for why they postulated this, and began to abandon the concept after it became clear that there was no such thing and the reasons were methodically bad.

>began to abandon the concept after it became clear that there was no such thing and the reasons were methodically bad

That's pretty much true of everything in science, not just early models of heat. If you're correct, then our model of the Big Bang is "inappropriate" because it's actually failing right now and will be replaced in just a few years. Our model of the atom was (by your lights) always "inappropriate" because it's been replaced several times: electrons are not embedded in the nucleus like seeds in a melon (originally conceived by J.J. Thompson), but there's empty space between the electrons and the nucleus...in which case, why doesn't the electron routinely fall into the nucleus? Well, then, it must because the atom is "sort of like" a miniature solar system, i.e., the electron must be orbiting around the nucleus. But that was shown to be "inappropriate" because quantum mechanics says we cannot isolate the exact position of the electron in such a presumed "orbit" because of the Uncertainty Principle; so the most we can say is that the electron has a certain probability of being in one location as opposed to another location; and since the probabilities are continuous (from zero to one), the electron itself must be some sort of "cloud of probability" surrounding the nucleus. No doubt this is "inappropriate", too. All scientific models are exactly that: MODELS. And they are all "inappropriate" as knowledge grows.

By the way, this is true in medicine, too. All young med school graduates are told the same thing by the admins during graduation ceremonies: "50% of what you've learned here at medical school is wrong. The problem for you as practicing doctors is to figure out which 50%." Indeed.

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On 4/26/2022 at 4:45 PM, 2046 said:

In this view, I'm saying honesty is a principled commitment to never distort, fake, evade, misrepresent, or pretend things are other than what they are. I think that's a pretty straightforward reading of what Rand is saying in both the fiction and the non. Call it the knowledge acquisition view of honesty, or aspect of honesty, as opposed to the conventional "don't deceive others" view or aspect.

What you are describing as "the knowledge acquisition view of honesty" certainly is virtuous and has support by Rand.  But she calls it "intellectual honesty":

Intellectual honesty [involves] knowing what one does know, constantly expanding one’s knowledge, and never evading or failing to correct a contradiction. This means: the development of an active mind as a permanent attribute.

“What Can One Do?”
Philosophy: Who Needs It, 201

Her case for plain old unmodified honesty is framed in terms of not obtaining values by means of deception, because it makes the deceiver dependent upon and even a slave to the deceived:

Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud—that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness become the enemies you have to dread and flee—that you do not care to live as a dependent, least of all a dependent on the stupidity of others, or as a fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling—that honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others.

Galt’s Speech,
For the New Intellectual, 129

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