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Are freedom and practicality mutually exclusive?

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daniel
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A man is driving to the airport to catch a flight to a very important meeting that he wants to go to; it will help his career. However on the way he diverts his drive to buy cigarettes. Is he free? Is he not a prisoner to his irrational self? Is he not divided? Should not someone interfere? Does interferance always lead to dictatorship?

Or take this example: Are British people free to go to the Bahamas? There is no law against it, but few can afford it. So is it freedom (after all it's not practical)?

Edit - Corrected, in the future please use proper grammar. - Felipe

Edited by Felipe
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..However on the way he diverts his drive to buy cigarettes. Is he free? Is he not a prisoner to his irrational self?...

If he was irrational, why did he stop to buy cigarettes? Evidently, your idea that the man is irrational is irrational. The question should be rephrased: If a man knows that someone's actions are rational, why would he state otherwise?

Secondly, you mention only the irrational self. If there is a irrational self, there must be a rational self since you differentiated the self as you did. Humans do not differentiate white and stone or they would be able to differentiate an infinite number of times. They differentiate white from other colors. I would like to say more since I am still thinking about it, but I have not yet finished.

Thirdly, irrationality is the absence of rationality. Why would rationality ever be questioned if it never existed in any beings? In order to form a concept you need to differentiate it from something. What was differentiated from irrationality and who possessed it?

Edited by slave
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Hi Daniel. Please define freedom, in your own words.

Freedom is the independence of an individual from interferance by others.

PS I don't actually support positve liberty, I'm merely interested in the ways Objectivists would counter the above scenario. I know my views, I want to know others.

Good question. I suggest that nobody answers until a definition is given.

Out of interest why? Why do you require my defintion of freedom before you give an answer. Will my answer have any effect whatsoever?

If he was irrational, why did he stop to buy cigarettes? Evidently, your idea that the man is irrational is irrational.

Because he was motivated by passion, a spur of the moment feeling. Not all actions are rational just because people do them. Why do people give up hours of their time every week to worship a God? Because they are irrational.

Also I don't think man is irrational, I think some men are. Finally its not my idea, rather its a long idea going back to the thinking of Rousseau, Hegal, Marx

Edited by daniel
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PS I don't actually support positve liberty,

What do you mean by that statement?

Out of interest why? Why do you require my defintion of freedom before you give an answer.
Because it's important for us to understand in what manner you are using that word before we can give you an accurate answer. If we are operating on different definitions of the same word, communication can be useless.

Because he was motivated by passion, a spur of the moment feeling. Not all actions are rational just because people do them.

Not all actions are irrational simply because they are motivated by passion or "spur of the moment feeling". Some passions are well-rooted in a rational value system.

Aside from that, in your original question, you didn't pose a consequence for the man being diverted to get cigarettes. You didn't specify that in doing so, if he missed his flight, lost the opportunity he had, etc. You simply said he was driving to the airport and stopped to get cigarettes. What makes that irrational?

Edit: I would add that based on your definition of freedom, the question "Is he free?" is irrelevant. Your scenario does not demonstrate that he was being interfered with by others, but rather that he was acting on his own accord.

Edited by RationalCop
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Freedom is the independence of an individual from interferance by others.
The problem is that this just introduces a questionable concept, "interference". Suppose a little old lady wants to buy a car; guy selling brand X just stands there silently, guy selling brand Y tries to persuade her to buy type Y. Isn't Y-guy interfering with her decision-making process? And suppose a little old man comes along and decides to buy one of the cars before she makes up her mind -- is he interfering with her decision making (by closing out an option). The reason we ask these questions is that the initial premise --- that it's "all about freedom" -- is wrong, and worse, the very concept of freedom has been perverted to the point that claims made on the basis of "freedom" are very often wrong. It's like the word "democracy". You can actually find people saying "Democracy doesn't mean that the majority gets to boss around the minority". Well, duh, that is exactly what it means.
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Daniel, in the way in which you seem to be viewing it, anything we say to you in response to your question would interfere with your "freedom"!

You're mixing up the psychological meaning of the word with the political meaning. There are even other meanings, such as financial freedom, so you have to be clear what you mean in the question you are posing.

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I would add that based on your definition of freedom, the question "Is he free?" is irrelevant. Your scenario does not demonstrate that he was being interfered with by others, but rather that he was acting on his own accord.
I am having a hard time trying to understand something relating to this point. I would like if you could comment on it since I believe it is the fundamental question, and you have identified it.

Daniel does not demonstrate that the man is interfered with by others, but he does mention the "irrational self". Since something must exist prior to freedom in order to restrict freedom, the "irrational self" must exist in order to support his argument. This is why I think the question has noting to do with freedom. To discuss freedom means that the assumption the "irrational self" is being accepted implicitly to make an argument.

Please comment.

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I am having a hard time trying to understand something relating to this point. I would like if you could comment on it since I believe it is the fundamental question, and you have identified it.

I think the point itself is rather simple, and it isn't really "discussing freedom". It's rejecting that freedom is even a relevant concept based on his question and definition.

Also, I haven't accepted the concept "irrational self" as I questioned whether the act committed was irrational to begin. He states a course of action but does not denote a consequence (or perhaps better stated as sufficient context) with which to evaluate whether the act was irrational.

Also, I think there is only "self", not an "irrational self" and a "rational self", as if there were two separate entities within a single entity. A person may behave rationally sometimes, and irrationally sometimes, but that doesn't mean that person has two separate "selfs".

This is why I think the question has noting to do with freedom.

I would say that just represents ANOTHER reason why his question has nothing to do with freedom.

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What do you mean by that statement?

Because it's important for us to understand in what manner you are using that word before we can give you an accurate answer. If we are operating on different definitions of the same word, communication can be useless.

Not all actions are irrational simply because they are motivated by passion or "spur of the moment feeling". Some passions are well-rooted in a rational value system.

Aside from that, in your original question, you didn't pose a consequence for the man being diverted to get cigarettes. You didn't specify that in doing so, if he missed his flight, lost the opportunity he had, etc. You simply said he was driving to the airport and stopped to get cigarettes. What makes that irrational?

Edit: I would add that based on your definition of freedom, the question "Is he free?" is irrelevant. Your scenario does not demonstrate that he was being interfered with by others, but rather that he was acting on his own accord.

Positive freedom is the freedom to achieve certain ends, negative freedom is freedom from coercion. Positive freedom means, for example, people being coerced into education so they can 'realise' themselves. I oppose it because it is so open to abuse.

I know that my scenario showed he was acting of his own accord, that's part of the point. 'His' being the important word - his irrational self. Most people have felt two selves, for example when someone wishes to sleep with their best friends wife but also wishes to remain loyal to their friend. Thus is he free? Some scholars such as Charles Taylor say no, others, for example Berlin, say yes.

I suggest people become more familiar with the negative versus positive liberty debate. Has anyone actually read Berlin's 'Two Concepts of Liberty'? This site will give background and the example:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/

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Out of interest why? Why do you require my defintion of freedom before you give an answer. Will my answer have any effect whatsoever?

Because it is the keystone of the argument that you presented. Attempting to answer the argument you presented without addressing this root issue would only prolong and confuse the debate.

If you answer with a proper definition of "freedom" then your argument makes no sense at all. Obviously they are free.

If you answer with an improper definition of "freedom," then the debate must focus on obliterating the nonsense idea of "positive freedom" or the equation of political with economic power or whatever other irrationality spawned that false definition.

Also, you might want to post this sort of thing in the debate forum so as to avoid confusion.

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Is he free?
From what?

I think that is important for Daniel to answer.

'Positive' and 'negitive?'

There is no way to properly differentiate 'freedom' any further, you may limit context but that is not what you are doing here. Either you are free to exercise your right to life or you are not to some degree. Freedom is Freedom.

Most people have felt two selves, for example when someone wishes to sleep with their best friends wife but also wishes to remain loyal to their friend. Thus is he free? Some scholars such as Charles Taylor say no, others, for example Berlin, say yes.

I suggesting that you take a long hard sit-down with this idea.

You say 'Most people.' Have you felt this way? If so, why?

Rational or not, only you can make decisions in the living of your life. Wether you make an irrational decision or a rational one it is still you making them, you cannot escape that fact. You may fully believe there are two of you, which may clinicly make you schizophrenic, but there isn't.

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I suggest people become more familiar with the negative versus positive liberty debate.

I don't see the need for me to become familiar with that debate. I already understand that liberty and freedom are subject to different contexts, as are ALL concepts.

As stated so far, and based on your definition, your example is not an issue of freedom.

Moderator Mode: ON

I would suggest at this point, you review the forum rules. I don't know what philosophy you intend to espouse at this point, but if it's not Objectivism, it's not permissible on this board. Talk about multiple "selves" is not something that is consistent with metaphysical or epistemological ideas relating to Objectivism. If I (or anyone else) has misunderstood the context of what you mean by a person having multiple "selves", now would be a good time to clarify your position.

I don't mean to sound overly harsh. I just think it's fair for you and other members that you understand the focus of this forum. Certainly, there are many of us that would like to entertain your questions about Objectivism and it's application to life. And should you decide to challenge the philosophy, the appropriate sub-forum would be that of the Debate forum. But all of the other forums are restricted in focus as I mentioned above.

If after reading the rules you still don't understand something, I'll be more than happy to try and explain.

Moderator Mode: OFF

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Daniel, a proper definition of freedom states that it is absence of phycisal coertion, not absence of interference. If we take your definition for granted, then the very sight of another person would mean that we are not free. The truly free person then, using your definition, would be a person who has an entire universe for himself.

Also, in your previous post you are stating that a man acting out of passion is not free. However, your definition doesn't include this. Never mind though, it is incorrect anyway, I'm just illustrating some of the misconceptions you have about freedom, maybe it helps you define it correctly.

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From what?

I think that is important for Daniel to answer.

'Positive' and 'negitive?'

There is no way to properly differentiate 'freedom' any further, you may limit context but that is not what you are doing here. Either you are free to exercise your right to life or you are not to some degree. Freedom is Freedom.

I suggesting that you take a long hard sit-down with this idea.

You say 'Most people.' Have you felt this way? If so, why?

Rational or not, only you can make decisions in the living of your life. Wether you make an irrational decision or a rational one it is still you making them, you cannot escape that fact. You may fully believe there are two of you, which may clinicly make you schizophrenic, but there isn't.

Free from himself. Its not schizophrenic to realise people face dilemmas. I've had dilemmas, i think most people have, for example, today i was tired and wanted to go home but I had a lecture which was important so I went to the lecture. I felt this way because I can experience a variety of emotions. I know that even if this choice is irrational its still me making it, however, positive freedom advocates argue if its irrational you shouldn't make it. Furthermore you wouldn't be being forced because its for your own good you just don't know it because your 'lower' self is dominant due to a lack of education. This is Rousseau's idea of being 'forced to be free'. This is NOT my view. I merely wanted the views of Objectivists, not a debate.

Source - thanks for giving an alternative defintion.

RationalCop - I don't 'espouse' any philosophy in this debate (though I am an Objectivist), rather i'm asking others opinions on the philosophy of positive liberty. I'm not adopting a view, rather explaining one and ideally get some other Objectivists views of it. Some have given those responses.

Edited by daniel
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There is no such thing as being free from one's self.

I agree. I would counter positive freedom theorists by saying man is an end in himself, not a part of man hidden inside himself is an end in himself. I'd also say positive freedom results in abuse and tyranny. How would you counter the 'dilemma's point'? I'd say that even though people face dilemmas the person concerned has the biggest incentive of making the correct choice, after all it's their life.

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How would you counter the 'dilemma's point'?
If you look at Felipe's reply, the argument that they are making is that "man can not be free from himself", but he can have his freedom restricted from his irrational self (implicitly) {after but added by slave}. All you need to do to prove to rationality in their irrational subject. That is why when you stated the man without cigarettes is irrational, I showed you otherwise. By doing so, the irrational self is evidently rational. I did not accept what was implied after the but in the underlined above. When you prove any irrational man is still rational, you have proven that there are not multiple selves. A good sophist is a dead sophist (I forget who said that). A good irrational man is a dead irrational man. An irrational man would have died soon after birth when he rejected milk. Any one that accepted milk, has proven their rational nature.

They will probably agree that man can not be free from himself (rationality implied). If you get them to concede that point explicitly, all you have to do is argue the implied portion of the argument. Prove that any living man is rational or he would be dead.

Wow. I just thought of something. Philosophy for living in this world (AR). The philosophy of this argument is for not living in the world - death.

Edited by slave
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Daniel, what is the person in question's view on morality - morality is relative or morality isn't anything?

If you concede man is rational, you would have to concede that the man with the dilemma made a choice. That choice would have to be based on a value system which would be based on morality.

He may think that morality is a Christian issue which would mess everything up the hierarchy beneath it.

Pardon me for changing the topic, but I believe the question is the result of a broader abstraction than freedom. Freedom is a pretty simple concept to understand especially if you went to a Catholic school. There has to be a higher level abstraction that is leading the person to a misconception of man.

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If your example implies that buying cigarettes is bad because cigarettes are bad for you:

Everyone has access to information about how cigarettes are bad. You have the freedom to take note of this information. You have the freedom to take it to heart or to ignore it. If you do CHOOSE to ignore it, and smoke anyway, then you may become physically addicted to nicotene. You are not free to ignore the physical nature of your body. We are bound to nature. Thus it is true that we are not free. However, you have the choice to try and alter this addiction by quitting. Your body has literal properties that may oppose this process, but they are not irrational. If we freely choose to smoke cigarettes, we might get cancer. We are not free to separate the cause from the effect, to not get cancer if that's in the nature of our bodies' physiology, or to violate the laws of existence. That's the only way that irrationality comes into play here.

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Yes, you are not free, FROM CONSEQUENCES.

Addiction and any adverse health problems from somking are a consequence of the conscious chioce to smoke. Yes we are not free from the grasp of cause and effect, nothing is.

Freedom, in the context of social interaction, is the absence of physical coersion initiated by another. Consequences do not subvert this freedom.

To say that one is not free from cause and effect is, in effect (pun intended), meaningless.

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A man is driving to the airport to catch a flight to a very important meeting that he wants to go to; it will help his career. However on the way he diverts his drive to buy cigarettes. Is he free? Is he not a prisoner to his irrational self? Is he not divided? Should not someone interfere? Does interferance always lead to dictatorship?

I think I get your point.

How can a man do what he knows is unquestionably bad for him? If a man acts contrary to his best interests as he sees them, then something other than his rationality must be causing the actions (it's irrational to not pursue one's values?), hence such a man is not free?

Or something like that, right?

To borrow the original example, suppose the man's highest priority is to get to Phoenix as fast as possible. He knows that if he gets to the airport as fast as possible he may be able to get onto an earlier flight. If he thus stops to buy cigarettes instead of rushing to the airport, you might say A) getting to Phoenix isn't really his highest priority - a person's wants are ultimately stated by their actions C) though getting to Phoenix ASAP would be his "free" choice, his actions demonstrate that he is not actually free.

Ignoring A) as I don't believe it's part of your argument, I still don't entirely agree with taking C) as a valid conclusion. I would state it more as a question of willpower, as opposed to lack of freedom. This man might not be willing to put forward the hard work to get what he truly desires, instead opting to get the easier, but less desired, value of cigs. Irrational, in some sense, but as willpower is fundamentally a choice, not a good argument for lack of freedom. Is there any argument that even with the utmost willpower, the traveler won't be free?

Also, while this person might have his destination as top priority, that doesn't mean that getting to Phoenix is getting to his full focus. He might not be thinking about the possibility of getting on an earlier flight. An Objectivist might take this moreso a matter of choosing to focus. Even if one believes not focusing to the max is irrational, and realizes focusing doesn't assure success, not of this detracts from the fact that one has total choice on how much to focus.

The Bahama argument doesn't deserve much notice IMO; lack of capacity to pursue a desire in a specific way doesn't equate to lack of freedom to pursue a desire in general. Hey, they can swim or save their money, right? :worry:

</egotistical rant> :blush:

While I don't care for positive/negative descriptors for "freedom," the initial question seems somewhat interesting. Let me know if this is any good as an answer.

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If your example implies that buying cigarettes is bad because cigarettes are bad for you...That's the only way that irrationality comes into play here.
Nothing changes in the argument.

It is evident that the person in question chose the value of a cigarette over his health. Since he valued the cigarette more than his health, he acted rationally when buying cigarettes. The question is why he values a cigarette more than a job and/or more than his health.

The man's values are irrational or the value of a cigarette is worth more than a job and/or more than health in this man.

Cigarettes, freedom, health and the job are irrelevant since you can create the same argument with any other group of nouns. The issue that links all of the other arguments that you can concoct is values.

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