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Public Interest Monopolies

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MasterScowler
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I am curious as to any thoughts on this topic; e.g. is it unethical to legislate against monopolies where public interest is a prime factor; is it foolish not to?

To wit:

I live in the Chicago suburbs, and in Illinois, the phone giant SBC has been directed to lease out its networks to competitors at greatly reduced prices. I am not fully aware of the details of the matter, but that is semantic anyway. As I see it, SBC built the networks, and as such, despite that it benefits me directly, I disagree with this policy. Compete or crumble.

However, this gives me pause to consider the flipside. If SBC did control 90% or more of the telephone business (a veritable monopoly), how would this affect the individual? With no competition, customer service becomes a non-factor, prices become arbitrary. There are some who may not conisder phone service a public interest, but I dare any of them to survive in the contemporary world without one for a month. Worst-case scenario, 911 is not available.

Furthermore, what of other services, such as natural gas, electricity, medicine? While I can appreciate the Objectivist stance on individual deserts, I can't resolve for a dismissal of life in its stead; e.g. no human being should be deprived a life-saving surgery due to financial constraints. While a rational, ethical individual could responsibly manage a monopoly, I think it presumptuous and foolish to afford such a berth; to disregard the practices of Kenneth Lay and his constituents, for example, is to deny reality.

So while I do not support the concept of legislating monopolies ethically, I cannot refute the practice rationally. Is this due to an error in my own logic? What is the implied "ought" to this "is"?

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"is it unethical to legislate against monopolies where public interest is a prime factor; is it foolish not to?"

"Public interest" is not a "prime factor" when it comes to private property. "Public interest" is not a factor at ALL when it comes to private property. Because the property does not belong to 'the public', it has absolutely no say in its use or anything else about it, no matter how 'interested' they are in controlling its disposal.

"With no competition, customer service becomes a non-factor"

So we hold a gun to people's heads in order to gain 'service' from them? There is a word for that.

"prices become arbitrary."

There is no such thing as an arbitrary price. There is only the price people are willing to exchange at.

"There are some who may not conisder phone service a public interest, but I dare any of them to survive in the contemporary world without one for a month. Worst-case scenario, 911 is not available.

"

There is no such thing as "public interest". What you are saying is that this service offered by some individuals is valued SO highly that people cannot imagine living without it. But the fact that one values a thing does not give you the right to control it. One's desires are not a claim upon the lives and efforts of others - no matter how much you want, need, or desire those things. Again, one's "interest" in those lives and those efforts is not a claim of ownership to those things.

"While I can appreciate the Objectivist stance on individual deserts, I can't resolve for a dismissal of life in its stead; e.g. no human being should be deprived a life-saving surgery due to financial constraints."

With this sentence, you have just declared that, because the value a Doctor can provide others is SO great, he must not be allowed to live his life as he sees fit. A doctor is so valuable that he MUST be a slave.

Sorry - but there is NO justification for slavery. No matter how much you want something, it does not give you the right to TAKE it at the point of a gun. Its as simple as that.

"While a rational, ethical individual could responsibly manage a monopoly, I think it presumptuous and foolish to afford such a berth"

Translation: "While it is conceivable that an individual could dispose of his property in a way that *I* would consider proper, I think it is foolish to *allow* people such freedom, because they might choose to act in a way different than *I* think is appropriate. And since I value what they have SO highly, it is foolish to take that chance. It is better to simply hold a gun to their heads and force them to do what I want from the get go."

"to disregard the practices of Kenneth Lay and his constituents" You need to be MUCH more specific here in this accusation. WHAT "practices" are you railing against? And WHO are these "constituents" and what do they have to do with anything?

"So while I do not support the concept of legislating monopolies ethically, I cannot refute the practice rationally."

Translation: "While I do not support the concept of slavery, I cannot refute the practice rationally." Or even more bluntly: "While I don't like the concept of slavery, it works."

"Is this due to an error in my own logic?"

Yes. And the error is your moral premise. You start from the premise that individuals and their effort are yours to dispose of as you see fit, especially if you place a high value upon them. In other words, you start with the premise that men are property.

In fact, men are not property. Men are sovereign beings. They have rights - rights which may not be violated by other men, no matter what the reason - including your wants' needs, desires, wishes, whims, or anything else.

In other words, you understand men "ought" to be free, but because this would not guarentee that your desires will be achieved, you reject this freedom and instead accept a gun in your hand. That is your "is".

It is this contradiction you must resolve. You must reject ONE of the premises.

You know which one we will suggest.

(Note - while your economic assesment of monopolies is in error, I do not address them because they do not matter. Even if they were COMPLETELY correct, that would not change the moral principles involved. Man is not a slave.)

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RadCap, you forgot to say "Yee-haa!" at the end of your point-by-point refutation of altruism.

As for monopolies, they can only be created by government intervention. They are not prevented by anti-trust laws.

As for the public interest, that is an arbitrary term which everyone thinks they know what it means and no one actually does know what it means. It is then invoked ad nauseum as a means of grabbing power.

As for healthcare, if you think it is expensive now, wait until it is declared free.

We have it here in Scotland. My late uncle had it and it was worth the price he paid for it as he was sent home from the doctor's with chest pains, given tablets for heartburn and died of a heart attack the following day.

If your first post was true, you could have no argumentg against full socialism and that would serve you right.

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BlackSabbath: As for the public interest, that is an arbitrary term which everyone thinks they know what it means and no one actually does know what it means.

Perhaps you're correct, albeit semantically. Might I rephrase "public interest" as "services indispensible to quality of life"?

BlackSabbath: As for healthcare, if you think it is expensive now, wait until it is declared free.

If A = A, my friend, then healthcare is expensive. Comparative rationalizing does not change this.

RadCap: There is only the price people are willing to exchange at.

A true monopoly (and I thank you for not nitpicking my assessment of monopoly) offers no room for barter. What I am willing to pay is moot, as the service is unable to be had by other means, save perhaps relocation.

RadCap: One's desires are not a claim upon the lives and efforts of others - no matter how much you want, need, or desire those things.

Well of course not. We happen to concur on this point (which you seem rather fond of espousing). I'm sorry if I didn't make it clear that I am no proponent of whim worship; allow me, if I may, to expound a bit on my values, in the hopes of clearing up my ideas and precluding any further presumptions of me embracing slavery.

My first value is life, to all other concepts sine qua non. If there is no life, then freedom, private property, happiness, love and any other value one holds are moot. Galt espoused this value as well: "I will do whatever you tell me to if you put a gun to my head." I also value work, and private property. I concur fully with MinorityOfOne's paper on SBC (I thought this a candid point in my post...) And I value personal accountability; I value this to the degree that where an individual lacks it, I think it necessary to bestow it upon them. Indeed, if you extoll any value exchange at all, then justice is an inseparable factor in that exchange; a dollar's worth of goods for a dollar's worth of productivity, yes? To wit:

With this sentence, you have just declared that, because the value a Doctor can provide others is SO great, he must not be allowed to live his life as he sees fit.
If moral sanction is the name of the game, and the dollar is the currency for value exchange, what is the dollar value of a human being? Are some worth more than others, say a doctor vs. a janitor? Once that dollar value has been established, we could guage against each individual's value the cost of saving their life, the difference of which would decide whether or not the doctor is justified in sentencing their patient to death, or if she has committed murder.

RadCap: And WHO [is Kenneth Lay and his] "constituents" and what do they have to do with anything?

Does Enron ring a bell? And here's what they have to do with anything: D'Anconia Copper. While I enjoyed and accepted much of Atlas Shrugged, I thought this particular moral lesson flowed both ways. If we do not legislate businessmen, we grant them moral sanction to do business as they see fit. If everybody in the world had as strong of values as did Galt or Rearden this would make perfect "practice sense", but our society is not utopian, and there are plenty like Lay and his "constituents", who embrace no such morality, and we would be guilty of their crimes would that we were to grant them sanction due to our inactivity. I do not wish to mitigate the freedoms of The Good Guys, RadCap. But nor will I grant sanction to The Bad Guys.

RadCap: Men are sovereign beings. They have rights - rights which may not be violated by other men, no matter what the reason - including your wants' needs, desires, wishes, whims, or anything else.

Each man has a right to live their life according to their wishes. No man has the right to impose upon another. Each man has the right to collect what they earn. No man is entitled to another man's earnings. Works for me. So what about the "right to life"?

RadCap: In other words, you understand men "ought" to be free, but because this would not guarentee that your desires will be achieved, you reject this freedom and instead accept a gun in your hand. That is your "is".

Correction: I.E. I understand that men "ought" to exchange value for value, but that there "is" no monopoly on rational ethics in the business world (or any other nomenclature of men, to be sure). So while you might throw up straw men denouncing slavery, I also hear an undertone of "There are no Americans in Iraq."

Are you suggesting that all men are rational, ethical and trustworthy, and that there is no need to legislate or otherwise hold them accountable for their actions at all?

Rand said that at any time where public rights take precedence, it is thus inherent that at some point, one individual's rights is considered more important than another's. Like Francisco's lesson, this also flows both directions. If she is suggesting that no one individual's rights may trump another's, she paints de facto that the life of the patient is just as important as the life of the doctor, and if values can be prioritized, then does not the value of life trump the value of productivity? In other words, does the right to live trump the right to earn?

I am not suggesting a zero-sum resolution. Hell, I'm not really suggesting any resolution at all. I am merely searching for answers.

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The right to life doesn't mean you have the right to live at somebody else's expense. All rights are rights to courses of action, not to things. Similarly, the right to property doesn't mean that others must give you property, and the right to pursuit of happiness doesn't mean that others have to be nice to you.

It may be useful to concretize your question here. If a man needs surgery to save his life, do you think he has the right to come to your door and rob you at gunpoint? When you think of "society" doing something, it's more abstract than when you boil it down to individuals, and so it's easier to make mistakes. Take it personally, and it'll be much clearer.

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"A true monopoly (and I thank you for not nitpicking my assessment of monopoly) offers no room for barter."

Being a 'true' monopoly has nothing to do with this. If I have something and will only trade it for z, you can 'barter' with me all you like - you can offer me a, b, c. However, the trade will not occur.

This is my right - regardless of whether you can trade for that something elsewhere or not. It is my right because it is MY property. You have NO claim to it whatsoever.

--

"My first value is life, to all other concepts sine qua non."

I understand this is your premise. I also understand that you place this above any other consideration - including the MEANS of sustaining this life. I thought I was clear on that point. I said:

"In other words, you understand men "ought" to be free, but because this would not guarentee that your desires will be achieved, you reject this freedom and instead accept a gun in your hand. That is your "is"."

In other words, I understand that you value your life. And I understand that all other considerations are placed beneath the continuation of that life - including the freedom of other men (because without your life, you can have no freedom or anything else.)

I did not say I misunderstood your premise. I state that it is wrong.

--

"If moral sanction is the name of the game, and the dollar is the currency for value exchange, what is the dollar value of a human being?"

When it comes to human interaction, there are only two means by which it can occur: both men may agree to interact with each other voluntarily - or - one man can force another to interact with him. In its distilled form, the two means are voluntary or force. A handshake or a gun. Trade or a bullet to one's head.

Since sanction can only be given in a voluntary agreement, and you speak of sanction, then though you do not explicitly state it, there can be only one logical (ie non-contradictory) context of which you speak - the voluntary means of human interaction.

So, you have just asked:

"In a voluntary interaction between two men, with the dollar being the medium of exchange, what is the dollar value of a human being?"

This is not a valid question. It is not valid because it assumes value is instrinsic. Value is not intrinsic. There is NO set value for anything.

"What is the dollar value of a chair?" It can be less than nothing - or it can be astronomical. It is not set. There is only the value each person places upon it in seeking an exchange. Many will disagree with the value of the seller of the chair. But some may agree. And it is those who agree who may then exchange the dollars they value less for the chair they value more - with the seller who values dollars more than the chair he values less.

"Are some worth more than others, say a doctor vs. a janitor?"

Some men can offer more in trade than others. This means some can offer a seller a greater value than others. Do you consider this 'unfair'? Do you think a seller should not consider the value which is offered in exchange for his product or service? If so, then you are saying trade should occur regardless of value attained by one or both parties to the trade.

Put simply, that removes the REASON for engaging in trade.

But, as I have said previously, that is not the consideration you seek. It is your end - your life - you seek to achieve. That someone else has other ends is not your concern.

"the doctor is justified in sentencing their patient to death"

Actually, this is a complete falsehood. If you have a life-threatening condition, it is that condition which is the cause of your death. Your desire to have someone treat you does not change that fact.

" or if she has committed murder."

More of the same falsehood. Murder is a particular form of force

Force is *contact* with the person or property of another without that other's consent.

Force is a NON-voluntary INTERACTION.

Without contact, there is no force, and as such there is SPECIFIC form of force (murder).

In this example, if I refuse to treat you, then there is NO interaction. There is no force. As such, there is no murder.

In other words, you are engaged in a contradiction here - a moral equivocation. You are trying to say that NON-interaction IS interaction. It is not. NON-interaction is the OPPOSITE of interaction. Nothing you say or desire can change that fact.

NON-action is not, and never will be, ACTION.

"A" is NOT "non-A"

--

" RadCap: And WHO [is Kenneth Lay and his] "constituents" and what do they have to do with anything?"

"Does Enron ring a bell?"

This is not an accurate quote. I did NOT ask "who is Kenneth Lay". I asked you to SPECIFY the PRACTICES you claimed were improper (instead of simply making VAGUE accusations). And I asked you WHO his "constituents" are. Saying "Does Enron ring a bell?" does not answer EITHER of those questions. Neither does the rest of your paragraph. As such, your response can only be taken as a means of AVOIDING the questions.

"If we do not legislate businessmen, we grant them moral sanction to do business as they see fit."

Translation:

"If we do not initiate force against the businessman, he will initiate force against us."

False alternative. Of course what you fail to include is the option of DEFENDING against force, no matter who initiates it. But then, that would not guarantee that you get the ends you value so highly. So why bring it up?

"So what about the "right to life"?"

Rights are moral principles which define and sanction a man's freedom of ACTION in a social context. Put simply, the right to something is NOT the right to ANY material value. The right to something pertains ONLY to action - specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference BY other men.

Thus the right to life is not the right to your body's existence. The right to life is not a guarantee that a man will remain alive, but only a guarantee that his life is his own to dispose of (as opposed to anyone else's to dispose of)

The right to life is the declaration that you and ONLY you are free to use and dispose of your body. It means NO ONE else has that freedom. It also means that you are NOT free to use and dispose of anyone else's body. It means ONLY THEY have that freedom.

Summarized: "You have no freedom to come into contact me without my consent, and I have no freedom to come into contact with you without your consent. Beyond that, there are no restrictions on our actions whatsoever."

--

"I understand that men "ought" to exchange value for value, but that there "is" no monopoly on rational ethics in the business world (or any other nomenclature of men, to be sure)."

"Are you suggesting that all men are rational, ethical and trustworthy, and that there is no need to legislate or otherwise hold them accountable for their actions at all?"

This is the same false alternative you offered previously. See above. As it stands, my summary of your premises is accurate. You just haven't grasped that they are your premises. You are saying that IF all men were moral, then we wouldn't need to force them to achieve your ends. But since they are not all moral, we do need to force them to achieve your ends. Or, as I had put it: "Since freedom doesn't guarentee your ends, we need slavery to achieve those ends."

--

"Rand said that at any time where public rights take precedence, it is thus inherent that at some point, one individual's rights is considered more important than another's"

I cannot tell if you are trying to say this is a proper or improper thing. What AR states is there are NO public rights, and any time such "rights" are asserted, the rights of one individual are always violated.

She explicitly stated this was wrong.

--

"In other words, does the right to live trump the right to earn?"

No right 'trumps' any other right. My right to act does not "trump" your right to act. We are both free to act. And we are both restricted from forcing the other to act.

As I put it quite clearly in my previous post, each man is free to act. No man is free to enslave. Your ends - sustaining your life - do not change this fact. If you can only sustain your life by enslaving another man, that does not give you the right to do so.

As I said, your whim, need, desire, etc etc etc does not give you the right to anyone else.

--

Since understanding the concept of rights appears to be the biggest problem here, I suggest a reading of "The Virtue of Selfishness", specifically the essay entitled "Man's Rights". I recommend even more "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand."

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When you think of "society" doing something, it's more abstract than when you boil it down to individuals, and so it's easier to make mistakes. Take it personally, and it'll be much clearer.
Actually, this is exactly what I am getting at. To wit: you are the doctor. Your patient suffers a terminal illness, but can afford the treatment only in part. As a person, would it not trouble you to turn your patient away? could you do it at all? Say it's not even terminal. Say it's merely debilitating. Does that change your response?

This is my right - regardless of whether you can trade for that something elsewhere or not. It is my right because it is MY property. You have NO claim to it whatsoever.

You are unequivocally correct.

In other words, I understand that you value your life. And I understand that all other considerations are placed beneath the continuation of that life - including the freedom of other men (because without your life, you can have no freedom or anything else.)
A slight, but important, correction: I did not say I value my life. I said I value life. Now, as a rational egoist, my life takes precedence, by in large, over most considerations. But as a moral egoist, I recognize circumstances where some values may take precedence over my own life: attack my home, and I will lay down my life to defend it. As a matter of pragmatic cost-benefit, this does not make sense; I can always build another home. As a matter of placing value on what I have earned, and the sanctity of my claim to it, I could not call myself a champion of reason were I to allow it to be taken from me without challenge.

So when I say I value life, RadCap, I also value yours and your right to it. If I didn't, I wouldn't trouble myself to analyze my values; it is the difference between being self-centered, and rationally self-interested.

Value is not intrinsic.

Exactly my point. More later...

Some men can offer more in trade than others. This means some can offer a seller a greater value than others. Do you consider this 'unfair'?
In theory, no. In practice, yes. See, if a theory is of little use in practice, it's not a very good theory. What you're referring to is the exchange of their productivity; and I concur that there can be no other rational, moral form of exchange than by mutual consent.

What I'm referring to is the exchange of lives.

Four American people were mutilated in Iraq last week, sparking a resurgence of violence. NPR reported that three of the victims were former military; two Navy SEALS and an Army Ranger. The mass media reported them as civilian, however, to spark emotional outcry. Hussein is referred to as an oppressor, and a killer of women and children; the obvious contradiction is that everybody is somebody's child - why should the assassination of a child be more shocking or considered more evil? A man walks by an alley, and sees a woman being sexually assaulted; if he continues walking, is he more or less good than the rapist? Peter Schwartz said that the immoral — the unjust, the dishonest, the irrational — is by its nature anti-life and can offer no value.

But justice is not self-propagating amongst the immoral; justice cannot be NON-action...

The moral demand for action could not be more clear. Why didn't the Men of the Mind relegate themselves to Galt's Gulch, to live in mutual, rational, moral harmony, and never trouble themselves with the evil and injustice of the world outside? Why did Dagny shoot the guard when he could not decide whether or not to "allow" her passage?

For risk of granting moral sanction...

In this particular hypothetical, a doctor has the ability to save a life. You do not believe she has a moral obligation to do so. This speaks volumes of the doctor's ethics and values. Assuming she is not responsible for her victim contracting a terminal illness, she cannot be accountable for its effects. But can she lay any claim to value of life, any claim to a love of it, having so callously and impersonally disregarded the life of another? This makes no practice sense. How does she rationally resolve the remorse for a failed surgery? Should she feel more remorse for the loss of a toddler over the loss of a teenager, the loss of a mother over the loss of a father, the loss of a janitor over the loss of an executive, the loss of a transient over the loss of a president, or the loss of a toddler over the loss of a president? Please pardon the dig on mass-media demagoguery... :P

Would it matter if the President had voted to raise taxes in her income bracket (thus mitigating his cost-benefit value to her)?

You're unequivocally correct; I have no right to your property under any circumstances. but much like the doctor, how you assign value to your property and my life speaks volumes... Killing somebody is not the same as allowing them to die, but neither are laudable.

re: Kenneth Lay and his constituents:

The reference seems self-evident to me. You think I'm avoiding the question, I think you're begging the question. But, I'll bite: I'm referring to those what froze the stocks of their employees so that they could sell theirs first.

Translation:

"If we do not initiate force against the businessman, he will initiate force against us."

False alternative. Of course what you fail to include is the option of DEFENDING against force, no matter who initiates it. But then, that would not guarantee that you get the ends you value so highly. So why bring it up?

Why bring it up? Why continually translate my English into your English?

:D

Here's why I bring it up: every day when I come home from work, I can see my neighbor cleaning a Glock at his kitchen table, glaring at me. He offers no verbal threat, but the inference of violence is not to be ignored. What action should I take, if not to initiate action against him? Should I disregard it altogether, as he has not inititated force against me? Initiating force can be a form of defense, can it not?

The right to life is not a guarantee that a man will remain alive...
This would be a fool's prolicy, as that right is immutably temporary, and thus of only temporary value. So if you have the ability to save my life, at no risk to yourself, and you choose not to, that is not the moral equivalent of "disposing of my life"?

You have no freedom to come into contact me without my consent, and I have no freedom to come into contact with you without your consent. Beyond that, there are no restrictions on our actions whatsoever.

Myself, then, summarily: all men should be held accountable for their actions, if not personally, then externally. If I put in place the methods by which you rob me blind, certainly I cannot be held accountable for your theivery, though I would be guilty of comedic stupidity.

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"You're unequivocally correct; I have no right to your property under any circumstances. "

With this statement, the conversation SHOULD be OVER. IF you ACTUALLY accepted this premise, then there is NOTHING else to say about YOUR disposal of MY property.

Of course the conversation is NOT over, because you DON'T actually accept the premise. You do NOT accept that it is UNEQUIVOCALLY correct. You ACCEPT the premise that SOME things DO give you the right to my property - AND my life. One simply need look at this sentence to see you DESPERATELY struggling to rationalize SOME justification for your contact with me and/or my property WITHOUT my consent.

"So if you have the ability to save my life, at no risk to yourself, and you choose not to, that is not the moral equivalent of "disposing of my life"?"

That is EXACTLY correct. Your entire post still comes down to you asserting that NON-interaction is INTERACTION - that A is non-A. It is still one MASSIVE equivocation. And on that basis, you seek to FORCE a man to act in a way YOU want him to REGARDLESS of his will.You use ALL manner of twists of logic to try to JUSTIFY this force. But it doesnt change the fact you have NO right to use it.

You may claim that I don't value life if I don't treat your illness. TOO BAD. Your appraisal of my moral standards does not grant you any control over my life or my property.

You may claim I don't value life if I don't try to fend off a rapist. Again, TOO BAD. My life isn't yours to decide. If you do not agree with my decisions on what actions to take or not to take, that is your TOUGH LUCK. It does not make me your slave.

That YOU don't have YOUR ends achieved is YOUR problem. But you seek to make it EVERYONE'S problem by pulling out a gun and holding to the heads of those with whom you disagree.

Congratulations. You are truly a THUG.

"The moral demand for action could not be more clear."

Completely false. There is NO demand one person can place upon another. There is NO duty one must perform for another. There is NO action one must take for another.

There is NO "moral demand" for SLAVERY.

You, however, believe otherwise. You believe your NEED *places* a "demand" upon others (your need to be rescued; your need to be healed; your need to communicate, for god sake!).

--

One note - you believe you provide an example where it IS moral to INITIATE force:

"every day when I come home from work, I can see my neighbor cleaning a Glock at his kitchen table, glaring at me. He offers no verbal threat, but the inference of violence is not to be ignored."

Hmm - so you perceive a THREAT of force. You percieve that he may INTERACT with you WITHOUT your consent.

"What action should I take, if not to initiate action against him? Should I disregard it altogether, as he has not inititated force against me? Initiating force can be a form of defense, can it not?"

You need to do alot more reading on objectivism. You need to grasp the concept "threat of force" and understand how it is related to force and man's mind (his means of survival).

Lets take your example even further. Your neighbor picks up his gun and points it directly at you. Not only that, but he says "Fix my leg or I will kill you." According to your assertion here, he is not initiating force against you. He has not actually made contact with your person or your property without your consent. He is only THREATENING to do so. He is only TELLING you he will use force against you if you do not act according to his whim. So according to you, you are still free. You are interacting with him VOLUNTARILY.

Not true. The moment he pulled out the gun and THREATENED to interact with you by means of force, all VOLUNTARY interaction between the two of you was eliminated. As such, if you use force against him, you are DEFENDING yourself AGAINST his threat to come into contact with you without your consent. In other words, HE is the one doing the INITIATING. You are RESPONDING to that initiation.

Put simply defense against force and its threat is NEVER an initiation - by definition.

Of course, the THREAT to act against someone is NOT the same as NOT interacting - or REFUSING to interact, so your entire point is meaningless. Again, it is simply more equivocation on your part.

Given your posts, the only thing I can suggest to you is a THOROUGH reading of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. There are so false premises to which you adhere, it is impossible to address them in a rational manner here.

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Congratulations. You are truly a THUG.

Why the agressive tone? This is exactly the kind of thing that deters people from Objectivism - so many of it's advcates are unable to keep a friendly tone in debates. Why is this?

The only error the original poster made was to use a false premise? What language would you apply towards a worshipper of altruism and socialism?

In AS, it is clearly demonstrated that remaining civil in debates is considered a virtue. Why are so many Objectivists so hot headed?

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Why the agressive tone? This is exactly the kind of thing that deters people from Objectivism - so many of it's advcates are unable to keep a friendly tone in debates. Why is this?

Aggressive? I think it was totally called for, as it is an accurate description of MasterScowler's position. Sometimes people don't like hearing the truth, does that mean we should start lying to make them feel OK. Will lying make more people interested in Objectivism? Wouldn't that make us hypocritical?

What would you have liked RadCap to have called him? Is there a P.C. translation for 'thug'? Perhaps 'a differently principled and immorally abled user of force' would have been a better choice?

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Aggressive? I think it was totally called for, as it is an accurate description of MasterScowler's position. Sometimes people don't like hearing the truth, does that mean we should start lying to make them feel OK. Will lying make more people interested in Objectivism? Wouldn't that make us hypocritical?

What would you have liked RadCap to have called him? Is there a P.C. translation for 'thug'? Perhaps 'a differently principled and immorally abled user of force' would have been a better choice?

It was not called for. What you are saying is that we should go about calling everyone that isn't an Objectivist a thug. While it in many ways may be true, it is not a smart method to use if you wish to enlighten people about objectivism and rationality.

Are you saying that if I think you're stupid, I will be lying if I don't call you a moron? This is poor logic.

Did he have to call him anything? How about refuting his arguements in a friendly way? Is that concept impossible to you?

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It was not called for. What you are saying is that we should go about calling everyone that isn't an Objectivist a thug. While it in many ways may be true, it is not a smart method to use if you wish to enlighten people about objectivism and rationality.
You are dropping the context here, RadCap is making an assessment of MasterScowler principles and comments. If RadCap would have called him a thug in another setting it could very well be rude and uncalled for. In the circumstances it was merely a matter of identification.

Did he have to call him anything? How about refuting his arguments in a friendly way? Is that concept impossible to you?

Are you suggesting that RadCap keep all moral judgments to himself? I think RadCap was being very friendly in his refutation of MasterScowler.

<sarcasm>Perhaps in hind-sight we should start using tags. :D</sarcasm>

If I do or say something very stupid, like replying to your post despite it being very off topic, go right ahead.

:) I am very weak willed it seems. :dough:

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There are so false premises to which you adhere, it is impossible to address them in a rational manner here.

I have other questions and ideas on this topic, but I don't wish to impose upon you. You are a powerful thinker, and I appreciate the time and consideration you've given me, and I recognize that you are not obligated to correct my path, that it is my own duty to do so. I thank you for what you have afforded me.

Don't sweat the thug comment (I doubt you do). I am not so thin-skinned as to be psychologically damaged or otherwise offended by your opinion of me. As a smart man said: If you do not agree with my decisions on what actions to take or not to take, that is your TOUGH LUCK. Besides, it's an inaccurate assessment.

But if you don't mind, a closing statement:

FWIW, I think the disconnect in this discussion was not wholly on rights, but more so on value. I wish every man was morally sound, that there was no need for government. But I recognize that for what it is: a Utopian ideal, a mere wish and thus without value. I understand that to assume that we could feasibly and successfully operate under such lawless premises would be to deny reality. Rand did not condone anarchism; a laissez-faire republic was her ideal government. She, too, recognized the need for legislating and policing Bad Guys. Businessmen are not de facto Bad Guys, but some Bad Guys are businessmen.

My focus was not to marginalize businessmen or their practices. My intent was actually to speak on values. To consider the value exchange of men; to consider the trade of currencies that do not necessarily equate without remainder; property vs life. I do not espouse any Kantian duty to their fellow man. I do not condone altruism qua altruism. I do not think you should give anything away, especially to your enemy. I do not think you should be idle in the face of a threat, real or implied.

But in the context of rational self-interest, I also recognize that it is not inherently evil to help somebody. AR said that if you want to help somebody, and you can afford to do so, then go right ahead. She correctly renounced altruism as an irreducible virtue, as opposed to an exercise in rational self-interest. If I value the exchange, and can afford it, helping you is good. In this case, it is not altruistic; it is selfish!

That should appeal to your ubermensch values quite nicely.

What I am suggesting here is that the first value of all men should be life. Not the right to life, but the living of it. I am suggesting that the value in saving a life is a worthy exchange for any who can afford it. I am suggesting that each man reexamine their values, and what they can afford. Because value is not intrinsic, neither is the assessment of what one can afford. While you may value a chair more so than the seller, I doubt you value your life more so than the rape victim does hers -but as for the rapist...

So the true moral question is whether or not you suffer a rapist. Whether or not you tolerate evil. Whether or not you sanction THUGS.

Every day you must come into contact with others without consent. The moral questions come into play in how that exchange is conducted beyond the initial contact. Choosing NOT to do something is still a choice MADE, an action TAKEN. A rapist FORCES his desires on another. You WALK AWAY from a rape scene. A patient FORCES you to treat them at gunpoint. You REFUSED TO TREAT a patient. Indeed, A is NOT non-A.

There is no such thing as a NON-action, RadCap. You cannot be alive without placing value judgments on that which you experience. Thinking is an inevitable action of living. Peikoff would appear to agree with me:

In some contexts, a man is properly held blameless for an unreasonable idea, so long as he himself does not act on it. For example: if I conclude that, though you are innocent of any wrongdoing, your death would be a wonderful thing, but I then remind myself of your rights, hold myself in check and refrain from killing you, I may be free of blame and can even be given a certain moral credit: “He kept his idea within his own mind,” one could say, “he did not allow it to lead to the destruction of the innocent; to that extent, in actual practice, he was moved by the recognition of reality.” But this kind of analysis does not exonerate the philosophic advocate of unreason. In regard to him, one cannot say: “He implicitly advocates murder, but does not himself commit it, so he is morally innocent.” The philosopher of irrationalism, though legally innocent of any crime, is not “keeping his ideas within his own mind.” He is urging them on the world and into actual practice. Such a man is moved not by the recognition of reality, but by the opposite: by the desire to annihilate it. In spiritual terms, he is guilty of a heinous crime: he is inciting men to commit murder on a mass scale. Advocacy of this kind is a form of action: it represents an entire life spent on subverting man’s mind at its base. Can anyone honestly hold that such advocacy pertains not to “action,” but merely to the world of “ideas,” and therefore that verdicts such as “good” and “evil” do not apply to it?

Your own twists of logic (correctly) value freedom. You (correctly) recognize that force is a denial of freedom, and that there are many other forms of force beyond the pointing of a gun. Your philosophy is (correctly) that there is nothing higher than the self, that your rights are inalienable and sacrosanct, that your values are well-considered and good.

Your philosophy values property over life. It would cost you more to stop a rape than you would purchase in the exchange. It would inconvenience you more to save a life, than you would gain in saving it.

My <sarcasm>thuggish</sarcasm> philosophy recognizes the exchange of many forms of currency; and the conversion of them is often complex. One must constantly examine the value of their currencies, so as to be truthful to their rate of exchange. As such, my philosophy seeks truth qua truth, recognizing the caveat that the premises for seeking may itself be skewed, and requiring great effort from the individual to counter their own prejudices. As such, my philosophy tolerates no convenient paradigms; i.e. it places no blame in being wrong, but does not suffer a man being knowingly wrong.

I know that value is not intrinsic, RadCap, nor is it absolute. I know, too, that I should not force you to accept my values. But there are at least two values that all objectivists and rational men can agree upon:

1. I own what I earn.

2. Living is good.

What we don't agree on, brother, is which, if any, take precedence.

***

Again, thank you for the exchange. Feel free to offer your own closing statement, if you so deem, but as for me, I will take your cue and put this topic to rest.icon8.gif

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Life should be the first value of every man, particularly, his own life. But this does not mean that the government (or anyone else) is entitled to force everyone to act as though this were the case...

I suggest you read The Virtue of Selfishness... there is an essay in there regarding the purpose of government in a free society. Perhaps it will explain this to you.

Rand did not condone anarchism; a laissez-faire republic was her ideal government. She, too, recognized the need for legislating and policing Bad Guys. Businessmen are not de facto Bad Guys, but some Bad Guys are businessmen.

And, while the above is true, it says only that somethings must be regulated, not that "public interest monopolies" are among them. And, since Rand was clear that only the initiation of force may be regulated by a proper government, if you are offering the above as evidence that Rand would have agreed with you, you are doing so dishonestly.

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But there are at least two values that all objectivists and rational men can agree upon:

1. I own what I earn.

2. Living is good.

"Living is good" is not a value. It is just your opinion.

Ayn Rand never described values in this way. She wrote:

"'Value' is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. The concept 'value' is not a primary; it presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what?" ["The Objectivist Ethics", The Virtue of Selfishness]

Living may not be good for a cancer victim. Living is not a duty. Nor is saving anyone else's life a duty. Living is not necessarily good. It is not a primary.

You must decide, on an individual basis, whether a particular life, your own or another's, is objectively valuable to YOU. If you see O.J. Simpson drowning in a lake, you probably wouldn't think much of it and keep walking. If you saw a little baby drowning in a pool, you'd probably rush to save her. Why?

There's an answer. Read Rand.

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While others ( RadCap ) have addressed this topic quite well I would like to make a note. The 1st post included and example of SBC being forced to sell copper to competitors. Well what about cell phones? I haven't had a local phone service in 2 years, my bill is cheaper, and I have a portable phone. Technology and freedom makes monopolies impossible.

Also I see one of the main problems with your ( MasterScowler ) thinking is that its way too concrete. Also your concrete examples leave context out completely.

for example: your doctor scenario is painfully simplistic. 1 doctor, 1 ill person. If that 1 doctor doesn't treat this person ( who has no money/property for whatever reason ) they will die and that is your basis for enslaving the doctor. Luckily reality isn't so simplistic and devoid of context. Even if you flesh it out its still an abstract devoid of context. Thats why its better not to use arbitrary concrete examples in a discussion. Especially when discussing things with objectivists who are well rooted in Metaphysics etc.

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First, you say:

" I wish every man was morally sound, that there was no need for government. But I recognize that for what it is: a Utopian ideal,"

" She, too, recognized the need for legislating and policing Bad Guys."

These statements are just one of the reasons I say you need to read more concerning Objectivism. This is not an attack. It is just an assessment of your current state of knowledge on the subject.

Moral soundness - or lackthereof - is not the first, last and only cause for the initiation of force. As such, it is not the reason for the existence of govt. Even moral men may initiate force. And they may do so because they believe they are defending against force, or are unaware that their contact is without consent, etc. This is because men are neither omniscient nor infallible. They may make errors in judgment. And these errors can lead them to initiate force, even if that is neither their intention or their understanding of their actions.

So the purpose of govt is not just for "legislating" in order to police against "Bad Guys." It exists specifically - and only - to defend against the initiation of force - be that force intentional (ie by "Bad Guys") or unintentional (ie by "morally sound" individuals).

--

Now, in trying to understand why I disagree with you, it appears you have made many assuptions concerning what I do and do not believe you are saying or mean:

"My focus was not to marginalize businessmen or their practices"

I understand this. If you will note, my statements to you never singled out one particular group of men (business or otherwise). It always spoke about men who sought the interaction of other men, whether they were businessmen or not. In other words, I focused upon principle - principle which applies equally to all men. In other words, I did not say nor imply the above was your focus.

" My intent was actually to speak on values. "

I understand this as well. I believe you will find that my comments to you always acknowledged that you sought to base your actions upon your moral valuations. My argument was that is not the proper function of govt. to force your moral valuations upon anyone who does not act in accord with them. In other words, I have always been aware of your intent.

" AR said that if you want to help somebody, and you can afford to do so, then go right ahead."

This is not, nor has it ever been, in dispute. What is in dispute is your substitution of the concept MUST for the concept MAY. In other words, AR stated you MAY help someone. She did NOT make such help a "moral demand." She said quite the opposite in fact.

"Choosing NOT to do something is still a choice MADE, an action TAKEN."

This is not, nor has it ever been, in dispute. The context here is not if one chooses or whether choice is an action. The context is INTERACTION. Specifically the context is whether consent is a moral requirement for such contact with another human being.

You provide two supposed examples of human contact:

"You WALK AWAY from a rape scene."

"You REFUSED TO TREAT a patient."

I'll add another:

"You walk away from a panhandler who has requested charity."

In the first example, you specify no interaction whatsoever. You do not make contact with anyone and no one makes contact with you. No one requests your interaction and you do not request an interaction. As such, it has no connection to, and therefore no relevance with, the discussion.

In the second example, there is apparently some (unspecified) interaction (I say this because refusal is a response). In other words, some request for contact with you has been made. And you have turned down that request for contact.

In my example, there is a specific interaction. In other words, a specific request for contact with you has been made. And you have turned down that request for contact.

So - regarding the two examples which ARE in the context, a process has occurred:

-I have made a request for contact with you, because I believe that contact will be of value to me.

-You consider that request and decide whether you believe you will get a value from that contact or not. You further decide whether that value is worth more than the value of the time and effort you will exchange for that value.

- based on these value judgments, you then decide whether or not to accept the request for interaction, or reject the request for interaction.

The reason a request must be made is because people can and do make DIFFERENT value judgments. A request for interaction is a request for information - to see if values are shared and if judgments between two individuals are the same. If they are, then the individuals engage in the interaction. If they are not the same - if they hold different values and come to different judgments, then the two individuals go their separate ways.

Why?

Because their lives are not the property of the other individual. They and ONLY they get to decide what values they will accept and what judgments they will make. If this were not the case, then NO request for interaction would be required. One individual would simply walk up to another individual and do whatever it is they pleased.

But, because reason is man's means of grasping reality (and therefore his means of surviving in it), and because man is not omniscient nor infallible, each man and all men rightfully accept or reject the ideas and values they believe are in accord with that reality. This is why voluntary interaction is moral. Because it leaves each man free to do just that. And this is why forced interaction is immoral. Because it denies the individual this freedom. It denies him the use of his means of grasping - and therefore surviving - reality.

It substitutes the judgment of one individual FOR the judgment of another.

THAT is wrong.

(This is another of the objectivist ideas I believe you need to explore in much greater detail)

"Your philosophy values property over life."

Actually, this is NOT my philosophy. But, as I stated in a previous post, whether it is or not is irrelevant to the discussion. The point is I am free to value what I value. The point is you are free to value what you value. And the point is neither of us may use force to alter or eliminate the other's value judgments.

So whether you think my value judgments are "skewed", pig-headed, insane, obscene, wrong beyond wrong, or not 'truthful' simply does not matter. Your assessments have no bearing upon my right to accept those values and to act upon them - just as my assessments of your value judgments have no bearing upon your right to accept them and act upon them. Each of us is free to act. And as such, neither of us is free to force the other to act.

THAT is what we do not agree on.

You argue if someone else holds values different from your own, that *difference* justifies the use of force. You argue that force may properly be used to assure your values, not his, are acted upon BY him.

That is what makes your premise "thuggish" - not that we may disagree over value judgments, but that IF we disagree, what is properly the next step.

I say we should act according to our own value judgments and that we should therefore go our separate ways - ie voluntarily decide not to interact.

You say I should use force in order to substitute my value judgments for your own, and that I should therefore make you go my way - ie force the interaction.

THAT is what we don't agree on, "brother".

To understand this, I will again suggest further reading of objectivism. OPAR presents this most fully and in the most complete context. That is what you should probably read next.

-

Two side notes:

"Your own twists of logic (correctly) value freedom."

If one's logic is correct (ie facts of reality without contradiction), it cannot validly be said to 'twist' or have been 'twisted'.

" I am not so thin-skinned..."

Looking at our avatar, I figured as much. :lol:

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But in the context of rational self-interest, I also recognize that it is not inherently evil to help somebody.  AR said that if you want to help somebody, and you can afford to do so, then go right ahead.  She correctly renounced altruism as an irreducible virtue, as opposed to an exercise in rational self-interest.  If I value the exchange, and can afford it, helping you is good.  In this case, it is not altruistic; it is selfish!

That should appeal to your ubermensch values quite nicely.

<Snip>

Ubermensch?

We are not Nietzscheans here and I think this is a smear.

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Perhaps you're correct, albeit semantically.  Might I rephrase "public interest" as "services indispensible to quality of life"?

If A = A, my friend, then healthcare is expensive.  Comparative rationalizing does not change this.

<Snip>

Services indispensable to quality of life?

That is also arbitrary and can mean anything.

Healthcare is expensive because governments tax, or to put it correctly, STEAL enormous amounts of money from the prodcutive to give out free goodies at election time.

The lost money through THEFT keeps people poorer than they otherwise would have been. The promise of free healthcare drives up the price by inflating the demand for it relative to supply.

And no amount of rationalized EXPROPRIATION disguised as compassion can change this.

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Black -

You are correct that the term "ubermensch" is a smear. I seem to recall one or two others (they were a touch more subtle). I simply ignored them.

As to your healthcare comments -

While you are correct in saying that the current high costs of healthcare are due to govt intervention in the market, all of it is irrelevant to the moral question at hand. And if that moral question is not first decided, then you will never get MS to agree with you on the politics. Why? Because they contradict his moral position.

This is why I have ignored any and all political attacks etc (like his incorrect definition and application of the concept "monopoly"). None of them are relevant to the moral issue. And unless that conflict is resolved, the rest only serves as a diversion FROM the fundamental issue.

:)

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As to your healthcare comments -

While you are correct in saying that the current high costs of healthcare are due to govt intervention in the market, all of it is irrelevant to the moral question at hand.  And if that moral question is not first decided, then you will never get MS to agree with you on the politics.  Why?  Because they contradict his moral position.

This is why I have ignored any and all political attacks etc (like his incorrect definition and application of the concept "monopoly").  None of them are relevant to the moral issue.  And unless that conflict is resolved, the rest only serves as a diversion FROM the fundamental issue.

:)

Yes.

MS subscribes the false dichotomy of Property rights Vs Human Rights as if one were possible without the other.

And his posts remind me of Ayn Rand's description of Kant's books in her review of John Rawls' 'Theory of Justice' that the man who can refute them will not unless he has the endurance of an elephant and the patience of a martyr.

They are so long that my brain hurts trying to take them in.

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No smears, just being sarcastically playful. Kinda like the "twisted" (correct) logic comment, sarcasm. Sorry, forgot the <sarcasm> tags. My bad, I should know by now that sarcasm sometimes doesn't flow well via text. BTW, the last two sentences were also sarcastic. (Must be some Epimenidean blood in my lineage somewhere...)

RadCap, OPAR is on "The List". Couple others precede it though. In the meantime, I hope I'm not imposing by posting. I sincerely do appreciate the insights. Apparently, you have the endurance of an elephant; your significant other must be greatly pleased.

:)

(Hey, only two paragraphs this post.)

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MS

Im curious, what are the couple other books ahead of it on "The List".

As to your continued posting, it is not an imposition. Speaking for myself, what I try to do is explain the objectivist position, say how yours is a contradiction to that position - and to point out where you can read more info on the given idea so you may grasp it properly.

Oh - and how dare you compare me to an elephant!! More mudslinging!

:)

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