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Is my understanding of the O'ist ethics correct?

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Bob_Mac
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First of all, I'm new to the forum and relatively new to studying objectivism so please forgive me if the topic has been answered elsewhere.

I find all of this most interesting, but am also a long way (so far) from accepting many of the positions, but some certainly do make sense to me.

One problem I have is this position...

"The principles of Objectivist Ethics are based on the furtherance of your (the individual's) life"

(while also respecting others right to the same)

Nothing in the ethics realm can supercede this. Correct so far I hope??

So, this is the basic premise that ethics are founded upon if I understand correctly. So, man's morality is ultimately seen or examined as it relates to this premise.

I happen to think that as it stands, this premise is not only questionable, I think it's wrong in the face of evidence (and therefore objectivism seems to self-refute here). The individual survives (or even exists) now, ONLY because his ancestors survived AND reproduced. This is a self-evident fact. Therefore, I believe that this foundation could more accurately be described as a more complex interaction of an individual's life and reproduction which are NOT necessarily the same thing, but can certainly be at odds with each other. Reproduction is inextricably linked with collective (and by extension individual) survival. Here's a very simple example: Young males (human males and most animal males) take risks (even risk of death) to reproduce. This makes no sense in terms of individual survival being paramount. It easily makes sense if A: This is an ethical error/evil or B: Species survival is part of the ethic foundation. B stands out as the obvious choice here. It seems to be too widespread/inherent in all human and animal behaviour not to be B.

Ethics, to me seem to be a struggle with/between individual and collective benefits (values) that can often be at odds. I really do want to keep an open mind here, so comments are most welcome.

Bob

Edited by Bob_Mac
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"The principles of Objectivist Ethics are based on the furtherance of your (the individual's) life"
That's okay, although potentially open to misunderstanding. This is a statement of fact: if you want a premise that you can argue about, you have to say something different. 'Cuz there's no way that you are going to successfully argue that the principles of Objectivist Ethics are not based on the furtherance of one's life. You need some statement like "One should...". Furthermore, the Objectivist ethics doesn't take this to be a primitive absolute. An action is moral if it furthers your life, assuming that living is your goal. If you have the goal of non-existence, thus dying, then "right actions" would be rather different. The fundamental choice is between existence and non-existence. So let's assume that existence is your goal.
The individual survives (or even exists) now, ONLY because his ancestors survived AND reproduced.
It's obvious (because of causality) that you exist because your parents created you. Beyond that, it's not obvious that you owe your continued existence to your parents.
Therefore, I believe that this foundation could more accurately be described as a more complex interaction of an individual's life and reproduction which are NOT necessarily the same thing, but can certainly be at odds with each other.
I don't get your point. Given the nature of man, the fact that you exist entails that there was some egg-and-sperm event that caused you to exist. I don't see how that is even relevant to the question of morality. The fundamental question is not "why do I exist" but "what should I to to continue existing".
Reproduction is inextricably linked with collective (and by extension individual) survival.
There's your mistake. You can continue to exist even if you do not create any new people -- billions of people do it.
Young males (human males and most animal males) take risks (even risk of death) to reproduce.
We're not talking about animals, only humans (we could include other volitional beings, if they existed). Human males take risks primarily to have sex, not to get a woman pregnant. The ladies can speak for themselves. Even today, some guys will have unprotected sex, and die from it. That's not just stupid, it's immoral. BTW, the fact that some people act immorally does not refute the Objectist Ethics. Morality is fundamentally an individual matter: what actions further your life? Since most of us live in some kind of society, we also have to have a system for proper dealings with others, which is where you get principles about not murdering or stealing.

You might use the search function to read up on the question of why an individual might deliberately decide to create another person. It is by no means immoral to not reproduce. The question comes down to asking, in what way does having a kid further my life? If you can't think of anything, I'd suggest you shouldn't do it.

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I wasn't clear enough.

I do not think it's immoral not to reproduce. I think that the moral foundation of individual emphasis is incomplete. I think it can shown that there is a balance or competition or tradeoff - not sure how to word this - between individual, collective, and reproductive value and that the individual life is not necessarily supreme in every case. Actions can further your life, your progeny's life, your species life, your "X" group's life - or not. Species propogation and societal value are too fundamental to be ignored, dismissed or discounted. You can continue to exist even if you do not create more people. However, the reason any of us exist at all is because the reproductive tenacity of countless previous generations. Reproduction is at least as important as individual survival, it is inherently and self-evidently a human quality.

It sounds like to me that the Objectivist ethics are derived from a certain political viewpoint and not the other way round. I'm not trying to be difficult or offensive at all, this is an honest assessment so far of my limited exposure. I will keep an open mind.

Bob

(Edit: Removed quote of entire preceding post. sNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd
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Let me get this straight . . . actions that further your own survival are somehow not actions that further the human race's survival? Um . . . are you not human? If you work for your own survival and happiness (and so does everyone else) the continued existence of the human race occurs automatically by default.

If, however, you sacrifice yourself for the "survival" of the race, group, species, what-have-you, what you are doing is destroying a man who is capable of living in favor of men who clearly are not (otherwise their continued existence would not require sacrifice on your part.) In what fantasy world does it promote the "survival" of the human race to have it reduced to a group of congenital incompetents?

The question of individual vs. species survival simply means that SOME men have the right to survive at the price of the deaths of OTHER men. What makes THOSE men more representative of the "human race" than the men who are required to die for them? What would constitute a "balance" in a situation of this kind? Everyone to go half-hungry and cling by teeth and toenails to existence? What happens when there's some kind of disaster and no one has any reserves to keep going? The human race is wiped out, that's what.

Note also that you will not exactly desire progeny if you see their production as some sort of "duty" you are forced to undertake. People should only have children because they enjoy having them. If you want an example of what happens in the apposite case, just look at the number of infanticides that occur every year.

And it's the OBJECTIVIST postion that's self-refuting?

Edited by JMeganSnow
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It sounds like to me that the Objectivist ethics are derived from a certain political viewpoint and not the other way round. I'm not trying to be difficult or offensive at all, this is an honest assessment so far of my limited exposure. I will keep an open mind.

Ah, THERE is your question.

Before positing the importance or unimportance of societal or reproductive concerns you need to understand the derivation of Objectivists ethics and meta-ethics. You should read the relevant chapters of Dr. Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Also, I believe this is covered in The Virtue of Selfishness.

It would be ideal to read both of those and see if it answers your question.

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Objectivist ethics are derived from epistemology, not politics. The derivation of the philosophy from its base to politics is as follows:

Metaphysics leads to epistemology

Epistemology leads to ethics

Ethics leads to politics.

Objectivism holds that only an individual entity can value, thus there are no collective values. A person must first survive to reproduce, so survival as a value comes before reproduction.

Which of Ayn Rand's non-fiction works have you read?

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I think that the moral foundation of individual emphasis is incomplete. I think it can shown that there is a balance or competition or tradeoff - not sure how to word this - between individual, collective, and reproductive value and that the individual life is not necessarily supreme in every case.
I don't see where the incompleteness lies, or what is being balanced. Primarily, I don't understand what "collective value" or "reproductive value" is. I can see how spermicides and celibacy would be disvalues for the purpose of reproducing, so correspondingly if an individual wanted to reproduce then there are certain things they should do and others they should not do. But that notion of value is subsumed under individual value, i.e. if reproducing is a value for you, then there are certain things you should do. But then I don't see why you would stop with reproductive value. There's also entertainment value, for instance.
Species propagation and societal value are too fundamental to be ignored, dismissed or discounted.
Why? Are you saying that some people have this particular feeling about species propagation? Sure, but then it is an individual value.
However, the reason any of us exist at all is because the reproductive tenacity of countless previous generations. Reproduction is at least as important as individual survival, it is inherently and self-evidently a human quality.
You say, and yet I don't see the evidence. What makes it self-evidently in my interest to have many descendants? Are you saying that man was put on Earth by god for the purpose of making babies? If not, where does this species-wide purpose come from? For something to be important, it has to be important to someone. Being "important" isn't a floating property that's just out there -- it's a relation between an entity and a valuer. Without the valuer, it isn't important.
It sounds like to me that the Objectivist ethics are derived from a certain political viewpoint and not the other way round.
No, the Objectivist Ethics derives from more fundamental philosophical principles, namely the axioms of existence, identity and consciousness. I'd suggest initially focusing on the notion that things have a nature, and then that man has a nature; then focus on the concept of "purpose".
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Let me get this straight . . . actions that further your own survival are somehow not actions that further the human race's survival? Um . . . are you not human? If you work for your own survival and happiness (and so does everyone else) the continued existence of the human race occurs automatically by default.

Clearly not. Actions that further your own survival may or may not be in the interest of the the human race's survival. Choosing not to have children is an obvious example. This may or may not be in the race's interest.

If, however, you sacrifice yourself for the "survival" of the race, group, species, what-have-you, what you are doing is destroying a man who is capable of living in favor of men who clearly are not (otherwise their continued existence would not require sacrifice on your part.) In what fantasy world does it promote the "survival" of the human race to have it reduced to a group of congenital incompetents?

Can't have it both ways. The individual death of a competent man is as meaningless or meaningful to society as the choice of one woman not to have children depending on the circumstances. Extend them both to the general sense and the human race crumbles - Agreed.

However, It cannot be sometimes OK (rational/moral) not to have children and always bad (immoral) to self-sacrifice in some way. Just logically can't be.

The question of individual vs. species survival simply means that SOME men have the right to survive at the price of the deaths of OTHER men. What makes THOSE men more representative of the "human race" than the men who are required to die for them?

Note also that you will not exactly desire progeny if you see their production as some sort of "duty" you are forced to go. People should only have children because they enjoy having them. If you want an example of what happens in the apposite case, just look at the number of infanticides that occur every year.

And it's the OBJECTIVIST postion that's self-refuting?

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Another thought...

It could be argued that having children is very much a form of self-sacrifice. In a very real sense you serve you children and put their needs first - at least when they're helpless. Eventually this changes and the sacrifice diminishes.

According to Rand though, this should be immoral no?

Also, I will certainly read more of Rand's writings. However, I don't know that it's strictly necessary when I have a problem with a fundamental position of the individual. But I will do this.

"Are you saying that man was put on Earth by god for the purpose of making babies? If not, where does this species-wide purpose come from?"

To address this: No. Man exists on earth as a direct result of making babies. This is true, or evolutionary biology is all wrong. Tons of evidence for this - an entire branch of science.

Reproduction => genetic variation => adaptation and natural selection => new and better individuals. Man is nothing without reproduction. You might believe that man is born a blank slate. THis is demonstrably false. Reproduction is an inherent need and is built into us genetically. We are hard-wired to reproduce. You could argue this, but you'd be dead wrong.

Bob

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Also, I will certainly read more of Rand's writings. However, I don't know that it's strictly necessary when I have a problem with a fundamental position of the individual. But I will do this.

You don't have to read the whole thing. Just read in the order of Metaphysics--->epistemology----(meta-ethics)---Ethics until you get to a point you disagree with. Then you can come back and ask about the point you disagree with. OPAR is written in this order, so it makes it particularly easy.

Right now, you don't even know Objectivism's position on any of those subjects. (just some vague understandings of its ethics, from the sound of things) It's pretty meaningless to try and discuss ethics without discussing its antecedants.

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Clearly not. Actions that further your own survival may or may not be in the interest of the the human race's survival. Choosing not to have children is an obvious example. This may or may not be in the race's interest.

The "human race" is simply a number of individual men. It has no "interests" as that would presuppose both that it is an entity distinct from the individuals that make it up, and that it is conscious, neither of which obtain. This should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. I'm so sorry that you didn't manage to comprehend my sarcasm.

So, in your opinion, choosing to have children runs directly contrary to your personal interests? Having children is bad for you? How did you arrive at that conclusion?

Can't have it both ways. The individual death of a competent man is as meaningless or meaningful to society as the choice of one woman not to have children depending on the circumstances. Extend them both to the general sense and the human race crumbles - Agreed.

However, It cannot be sometimes OK (rational/moral) not to have children and always bad (immoral) to self-sacrifice in some way. Just logically can't be.

Your assertions do not constitute "logic" because you say so.

Huh? Above you claim that choosing not to have children is in your interests. Now you're claiming that it also constitutes a self-sacrifice. So, you're saying that self-sacrifice is in your interests? How does that square?

Or did you mean that sometimes choosing not to have children might be in your interest, and sometimes choosing not to have children would be a self-sacrifice.

Well, that's certainly true. If you hate children, choosing not to have them is in your interest. If you love them, choosing not to have them because, say, you feel it would "look better" or you don't want to contribute to "overcrowding" would constitute a self-sacrifice.

I highly suggest that you do as the other members have indicated and learn what is the foundation of the concept "value" and the actual derivation of ethics.

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...Also, I will certainly read more of Rand's writings....
Since yout interest is about the basis of Ethics, I would strongly recommend that you begin with The Virture of Selfishness. In this book, read the first essay, which is probably about 40 pages long. If you read just that essay and nothing else, you'll at least understand the terms and the context of Objectivist ethics.

Then, let's talk.

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It could be argued that having children is very much a form of self-sacrifice.
Third time's the charm. I noticed this in your first two posts, now lemme draw your attention to your "it could be argued" line. It's not really important whether someone can slap together words to such-and-such effect. the question is, do you seriously and honestly believe that it is true that having children is a universal self-sacrifice? The destruction of value? Trading something of greater value for a lesser value? If you don't believe that, then I don't see the point in saying that "it could be argued". You ought to be interested in what is, not in what some people might say.
In a very real sense you serve you children and put their needs first - at least when they're helpless. Eventually this changes and the sacrifice diminishes.
I think you don't grasp the concept of sacrifice. A sacrifice is not "giving something". By such logic, paying money for a new car is a sacrifice, because you have to give something -- money. Sacrifice is the destruction of value, giving something of value and getting back something of no value. The profitability of an exchange is not determined solely on the basis of the immediate return, but also the long-term return, what it does for your life as a whole.
(purpose of man, making babies..)To address this: No. Man exists on earth as a direct result of making babies.
But this is irrelevant, because the question is not what causes men to exist on Earth, but whether there is some individual-external valid purpose for the existence of any man. Man must seek his own purpose, and the first think every man must do -- because we are volitional beings -- is decide whether to exist. If so, you must seek your nature. It is not a part of man's nature to breed mindlessly or to serve as a sacrificial animal for the herd.
Reproduction is an inherent need and is built into us genetically. We are hard-wired to reproduce.
That's blatantly false. Man has not an instinctive herd animal: we have free will. You've raise this "Man is just another herd animal" point more than once, now I think it is time for you to directly address this problem. Give us your scientific evidence that man is non-volitional and that he acts purely by instinct. The entire concept of ethics, more specifically morality, is entirely about distinguishing proper and improper choices -- which presupposes choice. This is why dogs cannot be immoral, because they are non-volitional.
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Just to Odden's last point...

I never said man is a herd animal and acts purely by instinct. This is wrong and I never said this. We do have free will I agree. What I am saying in this point is that man is driven partially and quite significantly by genetics/reproduction. We are not a herd animal, nor are we completely separate from animals. To deny this in the face of so much evidence is... well you get the idea, it's wrong. If you cannot accept this, there's no point in discussion, your position is irrational. Just because you want man to be completely above animals doesn't make it so.

Bob

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So you admit we have free will, but at the same time you say it is not fully capable of overcoming what I assume you consider to be instincts driving us to reproduction? This is untrue. Man does not have these instin cts of which you seem to be refering.

I know people whom have tempted to have sex with certain people, but this does not mean they want to reproduce with them. They might want to have sex with them, but it is fully their choice if they want to do so or not, whether or not they wish to obey that urge or not. Genetics do not decide what choices man makes, his mind does that, his free will.

Where is this evidence then? Where is the evidence that supports the beleif you seem to have that we are subject to so much of what animals are? We will not beleive your claim without evidence, that would be irratonal, not that you can provide us this evidence. It is not what we wish that we found the fact that man is above animals upon, but the evidence we have that supports it.

Calling us irrational is not going to have a lot of effect, at least not on me anyway. Except that the moderators of this site do not take such acccusations lightly, especially when they are as unfounded as yours.

Edited by Prometheus98876
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So you admit we have free will, but at the same time you say it is not fully capable of overcoming what I assume you consider to be instincts driving us to reproduction? This is untrue. Man does not have these instin cts of which you seem to be refering.

I know people whom have tempted to have sex with certain people, but this does not mean they want to reproduce with them. They might want to have sex with them, but it is fully their choice if they want to do so or not, whether or not they wish to obey that urge or not. Genetics do not decide what choices man makes, his mind does that, his free will.

Where is this evidence then? Where is the evidence that supports the beleif you seem to have that we are subject to so much of what animals are? We will not beleive your claim without evidence, that would be irratonal, not that you can provide us this evidence. It is not what we wish that we found the fact that man is above animals upon, but the evidence we have that supports it.

Calling us irrational is not going to have a lot of effect, at least not on me anyway. Except that the moderators of this site do not take such acccusations lightly, especially when they are as unfounded as yours.

Fair enough, I'll tone it down.

You've got a lot of mixed up points in there, let me parse this a bit...

Man has free will, I agree. Man is different in many important ways than animals, I agree. Man is an animal though and also shares many important attributes with animals. If you disagree, you're wrong; not necessarily irrational, but wrong nonetheless.

"They might want to have sex with them, but it is fully their choice if they want to do so or not, whether or not they wish to obey that urge or not."

True. But you admitted the "urge". Where does that come from? God? I'll tell you, and it's the truth whether you wish to believe it or not. The urges are built in, hard-wired. So are other things in the mind, lots of other things. Even on the grand scale of Intelligence itself (regardless of how it's measured BTW) has been shown to be genetically derived. There is overwhelming evidence for this. Very well executed studies of genetically identical people show that genetics is a huge factor (not entirely of course) but THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT factor determining intelligence and various other personality traits. This alone refutes the ridiculous notion that man is born with a blank slate mind, among other things. This is simply false in the face of evidence.

"Genetics do not decide what choices man makes, his mind does that, his free will."

False. There is more wrong with this sentence than you could probably grasp, otherwise you couldn't have written it. If you assert this, you must provide evidence. I do not assert the opposite though, but this statement is clearly false. I do not say that man is not capable of overcoming genetic urges, at least sometimes. But even the mind itself is mostly genetically derived. The two simply cannot be separated.

"Where is this evidence then? Where is the evidence that supports the beleif you seem to have that we are subject to so much of what animals are? We will not beleive your claim without evidence, that would be irratonal, not that you can provide us this evidence. It is not what we wish that we found the fact that man is above animals upon, but the evidence we have that supports it. "

The burden of proof/evidence is on me, I admit, since I have asserted that it is true that man is very much of animal nature and genetics is a very important factor in human nature and by extension, behaviour. Let's just say the following fields of science (some of which I have a great deal of knowledge, others little) are chock full of evidence you seek.

Genetics

Biology

Evolutionary Biology

Evolutionary Psychology

Medicine

to name a few. To actually spell out the minutae of the evidence is would fill volumes. With the current evidence available, my assertion is supported beyond any reasonable doubt at this time. Unless you have a problem with these sciences?

Bob

One more thing...

"I know people whom have tempted to have sex with certain people"

"This is untrue. Man does not have these instin cts of which you seem to be refering."

Hmmm....Just a little inconsistent dontcha think??

Bob

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"The principles of Objectivist Ethics are based on the furtherance of your (the individual's) life"

(while also respecting others right to the same)

Nothing in the ethics realm can supercede this. Correct so far I hope??

So, this is the basic premise that ethics are founded upon if I understand correctly. So, man's morality is ultimately seen or examined as it relates to this premise.

That is wrong, and is the source of your lack of understanding (assuming that understanding is what you are going for).

Others on this thread have pointed this out to you and you have ignored them. Perhaps you should be trying to understand what is actually the basis of Objectivist ethics instead of proceeding on a false assumption and then refusing to let that assumption go once you have been corrected and directed to sources where you can find the truth.

"dontcha think??"

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Bob_Mac,

You imply that man has a specific biological nature. Indeed, man cannot can against his nature. Not that he should not, but he cannot. If he can, then that would not be in his nature. At that broad level, everyone here would agree.

It is also true that if a man does not think about anything but the immediate gratification he wants to feel in the next few moments, then he would often not act the same way as if he did think about the longer term consequences. I think you'd agree with that too.

Man's mind/brain is part of his nature. It allows him to figure out things. Man thus has the ability to project the consequences of his actions in a long-term manner (i.e. longer than simply the range of the moment). So, for instance, a man may feel like robbing a bank, but he knows that he'll most likely be caught.

Since man is going to live for a lifetime, it is reasonable that he should plan his actions over the range of that lifetime (to the best of his ability, because asking more is impossible). That is the starting point.

Do you disagree with some part of all that?

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That is wrong, and is the source of your lack of understanding (assuming that understanding is what you are going for).

Others on this thread have pointed this out to you and you have ignored them. Perhaps you should be trying to understand what is actually the basis of Objectivist ethics instead of proceeding on a false assumption and then refusing to let that assumption go once you have been corrected and directed to sources where you can find the truth.

"dontcha think??"

Got a problem with reading comprehension? It was pointed out as "Okay" and then clarified. If you think it's wrong then add to the discussion with clarification and keep your emotional response to yourself. It adds nothing.

"Furthermore, the Objectivist ethics doesn't take this to be a primitive absolute. An action is moral if it furthers your life, assuming that living is your goal."

I don't pretend to know diddly squat about Objectivism, but I will learn. This in no way precludes me from a discussion of basic assumptions. However, you'll see, if you look at the thread again, that the discussion became more about the basic nature of man rather than the downline implications to ethics. I will read more info, but if there's a fundamental error in the very root of Rand's arguments then is there a rational reason to read further? But I will anyway. There I go again, being immoral....

Bob

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[the fact that intelligence has a genetic factor]alone refutes the ridiculous notion that man is born with a blank slate mind, among other things.

No, that is blantantly false on its face. Intelligence is the speed or ability with which a person's mind works. Is has ABSOLUTELY ZERO to do with the CONTENTS of a person's mind at birth. The genetic factor most emphatically DOES NOT refute tabula rasa.

"Genetics do not decide what choices man makes, his mind does that, his free will."

False.

Bob, it is the position of Objectivism that man has free will and that his genetics do NOT determine the choices he makes. You are not allowed, per the forum rules, to assert or argue positions contrary to Objectivism in the normal forums. If you want to start a debate, you must take it to the debate forum.

I'm going to do the equivalent of a "citizen's arrest" here and say that you should cease and desist all such statements or moderator action will be necessary.

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Very well executed studies of genetically identical people show that genetics is a huge factor (not entirely of course) but THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT factor determining intelligence and various other personality traits. This alone refutes the ridiculous notion that man is born with a blank slate mind, among other things. This is simply false in the face of evidence.

I suspect you may not know what the term "blank slate" refers to. In trying to explicate to myself what was wrong with your conclusion, I came up with the following analogy. Consider the term "blank film" instead of "blank slate." In saying that we are born "blank film," we mean that the film is unexposed; it has no images or content on it. However, this does not mean that all film is alike. You can get very high quality film that will reproduce images with near-perfect fidelity (which you can use to take pictures of worthy scenes or random garbage, as you wish). You can also get cheap film which will only record grainy, low-resolution images (with which, again, you can choose to capture great scenes or lousy ones). Just as obviously, this distinction between high-quality and low-quality film does not mean that high-quality film comes with pictures already on it.

In this analogy, the film represents a baby's mind at birth: with certain properties like intelligence already set at a certain level, but no content whatsoever. That remains for the child to fill in as he chooses what to "take pictures of," so to speak.

In short: A baby's mind is as devoid of ideas as a new roll of film is devoid of images.

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What I am saying in this point is that man is driven partially and quite significantly by genetics/reproduction.
And what I'm saying is that this is false. If you have some proof that man has uncontrollable reproductive instincts, you can present it. This point is the centerpiece of your attack on Objectivist ethics, which is why you need to present your proof. It would be irrational for me to accept a false statement without having been presented with any evidence that it's true. Try persuasion.

You seem to be saying that man has partial free will (since you did say that may has free will). If man is entirely volitional and yet generally enjoys sex, then your ethical argument is irrelevant, since sex can't be used as a trump card of the type "except in such-and-such matter, because sex trumps all".

Sure man share attributes with other animals. We share contralaterality with all chordates, warm-bloodedness with birds and other mammals, and so on. We are also different from many animals, like, we talk and don't moo, and we have lungs, not gills. You haven't shown that there is any signficant similarity between man and animal which is relevant to ethics. Ethics is not based on fur, it is based on the mind. There are no relevant medical facts: it is all about the mind. That's why your reproductive comments have no bearing on the validity of Objectivist ethics.

Your foray into the blank slate area is at least a move in the right direction, even though you don't understand the blank slate concept. If you want to argue against Objectivist ethics, given the direction you've been going in this thread, you would have to argue that in some instances, man in incapable of chosing, e.g. the "instinct" to have sex is so strong that the presence of a willing sex partner forces a man to have sex. If you are not going to claim this, then you don't have an argument: even if sex is extremely important to all men, that has no effect on ethics, as long as we have free will.

What you need to do now is stop replying, and go read some of the basics of Objectivism. It's clear that you don't understand it well enough to discuss in an informed fashion, and I am quite disappointed at how unwilling you have been to look at the (lack of) logic of and evidence for your argument. Once you understand how the Objectivist Ethics derives, there might be some point in discussing whether it is even remotely relevant that your existence is caused by someone else. You have yet to do that.

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No, that is blantantly false on its face. Intelligence is the speed or ability with which a person's mind works. Is has ABSOLUTELY ZERO to do with the CONTENTS of a person's mind at birth. The genetic factor most emphatically DOES NOT refute tabula rasa.

Bob, it is the position of Objectivism that man has free will and that his genetics do NOT determine the choices he makes. You are not allowed, per the forum rules, to assert or argue positions contrary to Objectivism in the normal forums. If you want to start a debate, you must take it to the debate forum.

I'm going to do the equivalent of a "citizen's arrest" here and say that you should cease and desist all such statements or moderator action will be necessary.

Regarding tabula rasa:

I read hernan's posts back in May and he put it quite well regarding tabula rasa

"So then this is merely a circular argument or definition. Tabula rasa includes only the conceptual knowledge. Anything which is not conceptual knowledge is not part of what Objectivists include in their tabula rasa mechanism.

There might be any amount of innate knowledge, any amount of human preprogramming, any amount of instinctive tendencies but these are deemed external to the Objectivist self.

Needless to say, this definition will not map well to the activity in the brain.

This makes about as much sense as claiming that "you" are the right hemisphere of your brain. That the left hemisphere is just some organ like the stomach.

"

It is a fallacious argument to say that knowledge is something gleaned from the outside world and only in this way can it be knowledge. Since birth is our first encounter with the outside world, tabula rasa is only true by definition and can never be questioned. It is circular and meaningless. What about knowing how to learn? This is innate, clearly.

Our brains are wired to make us act a certain way in many instances. Now it is not that simple, because we have cognitive controls and abilities that give rise to the notion of "free will". However, it is equally wrong to assert that free will is clearly dominant (at least this is worth discussing) or that instinct/genetic programming is absent in humans. The latter assertion is ridiculous, but I don't remember if this was explictly mentioned.

"Bob, it is the position of Objectivism that man has free will and that his genetics do NOT determine the choices he makes."

Ok, I can accept this. However, the truth is closer to a constant interplay of both genetics/instinct AND free will that both influence choices in constantly varying degrees. Do you assert that genetics plays no role in decisions or choices?

Bob

I suspect you may not know what the term "blank slate" refers to. In trying to explicate to myself what was wrong with your conclusion, I came up with the following analogy. Consider the term "blank film" instead of "blank slate." In saying that we are born "blank film," we mean that the film is unexposed; it has no images or content on it. However, this does not mean that all film is alike. You can get very high quality film that will reproduce images with near-perfect fidelity (which you can use to take pictures of worthy scenes or random garbage, as you wish). You can also get cheap film which will only record grainy, low-resolution images (with which, again, you can choose to capture great scenes or lousy ones). Just as obviously, this distinction between high-quality and low-quality film does not mean that high-quality film comes with pictures already on it.

In this analogy, the film represents a baby's mind at birth: with certain properties like intelligence already set at a certain level, but no content whatsoever. That remains for the child to fill in as he chooses what to "take pictures of," so to speak.

In short: A baby's mind is as devoid of ideas as a new roll of film is devoid of images.

I agree with you within the confines of your analogy - really I do. I have read though that other Objectivists disagree though and extend it to "cognitive mechanism" and disagree on what Rand meant by that. Your argument is based on a definition of knowledge though that is conveniently circular and cannot be questioned.

Bob

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I wrote this:

"What I am saying in this point is that man is driven partially and quite significantly by genetics/reproduction."

You responded :

"And what I'm saying is that this is false. If you have some proof that man has uncontrollable reproductive instincts, you can present it."

First of all, how did "quite significantly" become "uncontrollable"?

I discuss not about the lack of free will, but about the duality of free will and innate qualities at constant interplay and sometimes demonstrably at odds with each other, as well as the strangely fluid definition of tabula rasa now.

I admit the discussion has gone in different directions, and I do not pretend to know how it impacts on Objectivism, only the arguments in question. However, I won't stand for the emotional, insulting, and juvenile tactic of using my ignorance of Objectivism as a proxy for my logic. My logic is not flawed.

Obviously I admittedly know very little as of yet about the Objectivist literature. But you're having trouble following a basic discussion and many of your statements are blindly dogmatic. For example:

You said:

"There are no relevant medical facts: it is all about the mind. "

This is false, mind and biology are not separate in the eyes of current science. But hernan again put this quite eloquently when he wrote :

"I am constantly struck with the impression that Objectivism is locked in a time warp; there seems to be this urge to debate philosophy in terms of the science that was available to Rand when she was forming her ideas.

Maybe you should ask yourself: how would Rand respond to recent scientific discoveries if she were here today? Would she insist on a debate about "instincts"? Or would she read up on the latest models of human bahavior and adapt her philosophy to them?"

You should reflect on this. This was very insightful.

You blather on to insult me with

"and I am quite disappointed at how unwilling you have been to look at the (lack of) logic of and evidence for your argument."

When in fact this is exactly what you are doing. Unwillingness to accept evidence doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Bob

And what I'm saying is that this is false. If you have some proof that man has uncontrollable reproductive instincts, you can present it. This point is the centerpiece of your attack on Objectivist ethics, which is why you need to present your proof. It would be irrational for me to accept a false statement without having been presented with any evidence that it's true. Try persuasion.

You seem to be saying that man has partial free will (since you did say that may has free will). If man is entirely volitional and yet generally enjoys sex, then your ethical argument is irrelevant, since sex can't be used as a trump card of the type "except in such-and-such matter, because sex trumps all".

Sure man share attributes with other animals. We share contralaterality with all chordates, warm-bloodedness with birds and other mammals, and so on. We are also different from many animals, like, we talk and don't moo, and we have lungs, not gills. You haven't shown that there is any signficant similarity between man and animal which is relevant to ethics. Ethics is not based on fur, it is based on the mind. There are no relevant medical facts: it is all about the mind. That's why your reproductive comments have no bearing on the validity of Objectivist ethics.

Your foray into the blank slate area is at least a move in the right direction, even though you don't understand the blank slate concept. If you want to argue against Objectivist ethics, given the direction you've been going in this thread, you would have to argue that in some instances, man in incapable of chosing, e.g. the "instinct" to have sex is so strong that the presence of a willing sex partner forces a man to have sex. If you are not going to claim this, then you don't have an argument: even if sex is extremely important to all men, that has no effect on ethics, as long as we have free will.

What you need to do now is stop replying, and go read some of the basics of Objectivism. It's clear that you don't understand it well enough to discuss in an informed fashion, and I am quite disappointed at how unwilling you have been to look at the (lack of) logic of and evidence for your argument. Once you understand how the Objectivist Ethics derives, there might be some point in discussing whether it is even remotely relevant that your existence is caused by someone else. You have yet to do that.

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