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Some Questions For Objectivists

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Let me start this thread with honesty, because it may be the best thing that I can offer, so that you can understand why I'm here and trying to respect Objectivism. First, some common ground: I'm a libertarian and a metaphysical non-Randian objectivist. Where I differ from Objectivists is that I am a libertarian for reasons centered around pragmatism rather than morality, and I have very different moral imperatives than those offered by Rand's Objectivism.

By nature, I'm a student of philosophy (Even if by label I am a quantitative systems student); I was once a secular humanist and now just don't have a label. To be honest, I never liked what introduction I did receive to Objectivism (I read an introductory book by Peikoff and several books by Rand). So, I set it aside and went about my business.

Enter my recent roommate situation. One of my roommates was in jail in the past (we got along fine) and by a strange coincidence the other was a rather outspoken proponent of Objectivism (we got along fine, too). Unfortunately, these two guys absolutely hated each other, and they were fighting, physically, every other day when I wasn't around. I had to take sides, so I sided with the guy who hadn't been in jail (the Objectivist, John). So, I got my roommate John moved for free, since I know the folks that own the place (and myself). This put my friendship with this other fellow at risk, which is unfortunate, because we were friends, and I can get along well with most people. The Objectivist guy (henceforth John) seemed like a nice, quiet, smart guy who was being bullied, and it seemed like helping him was the right thing to do.

It turns out the guy who was getting beat up all the time was also a complete sociopath. The only two requests I made of him were to leave the AC on 70 degrees and if I could borrow his extra power supply to fix my computer. The guy would try to out-pseudo-intellectual me all the time, and he would talk about how ignorant everyone is, and then I'd say, "Hmm, do you think I'm ignorant?" and he'd just look at the ground with a smirk.

The guy would take pretty much any help you offered him, but would never be cooperative or respectful about anything. When I started to be perpetually annoyed at him, he started doing increasingly weird childish stuff. Naturally, I resented him, so I quit helping him with much of anything. The thing about John is he's bigger than me, but he has no spine, so I figured, what the hell, I'll just ignore him and do whatever I want. He threatened my girlfriend in a way that was very scary for her, I ended up confronting him, there was something about his body language I didn't like, and the end result is that for the first time in my life, I got in a fight (and unfortunately, ended up giving someone a severe beating). I don't actually feel guilty about what I did, because the guy was a bonified butt-munch, spineless, and he was also bigger than me. Actually, the police didn't even believe him when he filed assault charges because I am smaller than him and he has apparently filed assault charges against five different people in the past year.

However, I do and should feel guilty that I allow myself to perceive an entire group a certain way because of a bad experience. The truth of the matter is that since then, I have come to perceive Objectivists as selfish people who are fixated on intelligence and who enjoy intellectual masturbation rather than emotional maturity in others. I admit that is not a nice or fair way to perceive or portray Objectivists, and being a philosopher who (above all things) considers morality to be characterized by empathy, I have a duty and a burden on my conscience that I should make good with and come to understand a group that I misrepresent, even if only in my mind.

I think that's enough about myself, and I hope you will forgive anything I say if you perceive my words as disrespectful. I am, at least, doing my best to speak with complete candor. I do have some questions for each of you.

So, some questions, whose purpose is two-fold: first, to convince me that I am wrong about Objectivists in general, and second, to convince me that Objectivism as a philosophy is not so bad either.

1.) Not all evil behavior is stupid behavior, nor is all stupid behavior evil, correct?

2.) It is not moral to accept many things from people with communal personalities and refuse to help at all in return, correct? I understand this rule is applied to governments, but individual entities are treated differently than governments in this situation, right?

3.) It is not moral to mistreat stupid people simply because they are stupid, correct?

4.) It is not immoral to help someone without expecting anything in return, correct? (E.g., it is immoral to promote this as an imperative instead)

5.) Is the moral normative more of a positive description of how species behave, or is it a real metaphysical normative?

6.) From a secular, neurological perspective, it seems more reasonable to view morality as an emergence of empathetic centers of the brain which reinforce and punish "socially approved" and "socially unacceptable" behaviors, respectively, rather than "beneficial" and "non-beneficial" behaviors. E.G., morality seems more sensibly modeled as a function of the superego. Are any of you guys bothered by this sort of positive description of morality, or do you consider it more adequate than "socially approved" and "socially unapproved" models?

7.)Do you consider the distinction between "socially approved" and "personally beneficial" behavior less-than-meaningful or unimportant?

And just out of curiosity,

8.) What is more important in a friend: their maturity or their intelligence?

9.) Do you like kids?

10.) Leonard Nemoy or William Shatner?

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1.) Not all evil behavior is stupid behavior, nor is all stupid behavior evil, correct?

I would say that all evil behavior is stupid (by which I mean counter to the interests of the evil-doer), but not all stupid behavior is evil.

To give concrete examples, it would be stupid for me to go rob a bank, because I would be worse off for it in the long run, because I would get caught eventually.

However it wouldn't be evil for me to not pay enough attention and whack my thumb with a hammer.

2.) It is not moral to accept many things from people with communal personalities and refuse to help at all in return, correct? I understand this rule is applied to governments, but individual entities are treated differently than governments in this situation, right?

I don't really understand this one. Are you asking if it would be immoral to accept a gift of hippy wine from a commune nearby? I don't see why I shouldn't unless I didn't like the wine. They want to give it to me, and I presumably want to have it, so whats the problem?

When dealing with unjust governments, a moral person should always try to take as much as possible and give as little back as possible.

3.) It is not moral to mistreat stupid people simply because they are stupid, correct?

Unless you mean something like a refusal to provide for their welfare is mistreating them, this is pretty straightforward. It isn't moral to violate their rights.

4.) It is not immoral to help someone without expecting anything in return, correct? (E.g., it is immoral to promote this as an imperative instead)

This depends on the context. If you are poor, and you give money to a repeat offender drug addict half-way house, then I would say that was immoral. If you are financially comfortable, and give money to someone who deserves it that is perfectly moral.

5.) Is the moral normative more of a positive description of how species behave, or is it a real metaphysical normative?

Can you define moral normative please?

6.) From a secular, neurological perspective, it seems more reasonable to view morality as an emergence of empathetic centers of the brain which reinforce and punish "socially approved" and "socially unacceptable" behaviors, respectively, rather than "beneficial" and "non-beneficial" behaviors. E.G., morality seems more sensibly modeled as a function of the superego. Are any of you guys bothered by this sort of positive description of morality, or do you consider it more adequate than "socially approved" and "socially unapproved" models?

I would need to see a lot more definitions, and supporting evidence to really comment on this.

7.)Do you consider the distinction between "socially approved" and "personally beneficial" behavior less-than-meaningful or unimportant?

I think there is a great difference between these two concepts. We live in an Altruistic society, so the personally beneficial is quite often the opposite of the socially approved.

And just out of curiosity,

8.) What is more important in a friend: their maturity or their intelligence?

Intelligence, though immature people annoy me almost as much as stupid people.

9.) Do you like kids?

Some of them are a lot of fun, some of them are spoiled little brats. It depends on context.

10.) Leonard Nemoy or William Shatner?

Leonard Nemoy

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2.) It is not moral to accept many things from people with communal personalities and refuse to help at all in return, correct? I understand this rule is applied to governments, but individual entities are treated differently than governments in this situation, right?

I really don't think a situation like that is an issue of morality, but rather just being a good friend. I myself am very generous with my things and share a lot, but I have one friend who is just a jerk about that sort of thing. Frankly, it would then be immoral to keep giving him things, because he's just being a bad friend.

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6.) From a secular, neurological perspective, it seems more reasonable to view morality as an emergence of empathetic centers of the brain which reinforce and punish "socially approved" and "socially unacceptable" behaviors, respectively, rather than "beneficial" and "non-beneficial" behaviors. E.G., morality seems more sensibly modeled as a function of the superego. Are any of you guys bothered by this sort of positive description of morality?
Yeah, I think reductionism is fairly silly outside of the hard sciences, and it smacks of scientism. The specific problem here is that youre not distinguishing between morality in an abstract sense, and the particular beliefs that an individual person holds. It may well be true that my next door neighbour Joe holds his ethical beliefs as a direct result of social pressure, and perhaps you will be able to invent a semi-plausible story about why some forms of cooperation are evolutionary advantageous. But this has very little to do with what Objectivists mean when they talk about morality and, as a purely scientific model, it fails to explain why a significant subset of people (eg those on this forum) hold beliefs which are obviously not socially approved. I imagine that most of my ethical views are "socially unacceptable", so its hard to see how I could have ended up holding them if it was all just a case of positive reenforcement. What youre essentially saying is "people necessarily hold the same moral beliefs as the society around them", which is just obviously false.

7.)Do you consider the distinction between "socially approved" and "personally beneficial" behavior less-than-meaningful or unimportant?
I dont think 'social approval' is especially meaningful when it comes to choosing a personal moral code. It might be interesting in the context of cultural anthropology when we're investigating the historical reasons why a society holds the beliefs it does ("How did Christian ethics become prevalent in the West?" and so on), but its not terribly important when it comes to an individual person deciding what course of action will make him happiest, which is what Objectivist ethics is all about. There is never going to be a good answer to the question "Why should a person do what society wants him to when it will be detrimental to his long term happyness?", although perhaps you can explain why some people do choose to do things that arent in their best interests, by making reference to indoctrination, manipulation, cultural history, theories of power, and yes, maybe even evolutionary psychology. Edited by Hal
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I think that anyone answering his questions here should explain whether they are or are not an Objectivist. Not everyone here is an Objectivist.

That said, I do consider myself to be an Objectivist, but I can only speak for myself personally in answering. I don't, in other words, speak for Objectivism but rather I can give my best understanding of it.

Now, to answer your questions:

1.) Not all evil behavior is stupid behavior, nor is all stupid behavior evil, correct?
Well, yes, in a way. All evil behavior is self-destructive behavior. Assuming that a person is not seeking to destroy themselves, it would be in error to do something self-destructive (i.e. evil). Now that’s a bit of a technicality, I know. But the moral is the rational so the immoral is therefore the irrational. So anyone who acts evil is being stupid, although not necessarily "duh duh" stupid.

2.) It is not moral to accept many things from people with communal personalities and refuse to help at all in return, correct? I understand this rule is applied to governments, but individual entities are treated differently than governments in this situation, right?

The important principle is the trader principle. I seek to obtain values only by creating equal values and trading for them. I seek, in other words, to give value for value. People who give stuff out for free kind of mess with this system. On the one hand, I’m not comfortable getting something without having earned it. Is the giver a friend or well wisher? If so, I’d consider the gift a compliment and seek to return it some day. Are they an altruist who is utterly against the ideas I value? Are they giving it to me for some strange self-sacrificial reason that is not in any way due to a value I have created? I’d try to politely decline if I could. (usually those people give weird gifts, anyway)

But I’m sure you mean in the case of a roommate who does me favors? Sir, I would be remiss if I passed on any opportunities to return those favors! If I wasn’t prepared to return favors, I wouldn’t accept any. Once again, the trader principle.

The issue of a government has been answered already, I see. A government that is robbing me with taxes is something I would intend to get as much of my money back in services from as possible.

3.) It is not moral to mistreat stupid people simply because they are stupid, correct?
What do you mean by “mistreat?” I mean, I avoid all stupid people as much as I can. I’m also under no obligation to spare their feelings when they do stupid things that hurt me in some way. (quite the opposite, in fact) But nobody gets any mistreatment that they don’t deserve. That would be unjust. If someone’s only hurting themselves, then it’s really none of my business, is it? Unless I can see it spilling over and threatening me in some way, it’d be rather rude to just tell people off every time anyone did anything wrong. Generally, that’s called being a jerk.

4.) It is not immoral to help someone without expecting anything in return, correct? (E.g., it is immoral to promote this as an imperative instead)

Yes, I’d say it is. If I give out something without getting anything at all in return, then it is an act of self-sacrifice. Of course that “something in return” might be almost anything, so long as it benefits me. For example, someone who is my friend is someone who I want to be happy. The thing I get in return from giving to friends is them being happy.

5.) Is the moral normative more of a positive description of how species behave, or is it a real metaphysical normative?
What is a “moral normative?” I am unfamiliar with that term.

6.) From a secular, neurological perspective, it seems more reasonable to view morality as an emergence of empathetic centers of the brain which reinforce and punish "socially approved" and "socially unacceptable" behaviors, respectively, rather than "beneficial" and "non-beneficial" behaviors. E.G., morality seems more sensibly modeled as a function of the superego. Are any of you guys bothered by this sort of positive description of morality, or do you consider it more adequate than "socially approved" and "socially unapproved" models?

Rubbish! Morality is most sensibly modeled on a conscious evaluation of the facts of reality, not on what other people think or (even worse) on what you subconsciously fear other people will think. Think for yourself, I say!

7.)Do you consider the distinction between "socially approved" and "personally beneficial" behavior less-than-meaningful or unimportant?
The only reason that “socially approved” is worth any consideration whatsoever is because you must plan for what others will do in response to you. What a man should be concerned with are the facts of reality, not the opinions of others. (except, as noted, inasmuch as they will affect him)

8.) What is more important in a friend: their maturity or their intelligence?

It’s necessary to have a certain minimum of both. Someone who’s immature is going to be an ass, no matter how smart. And someone who isn’t intelligent is not going to be able to have anything to offer, no matter how mature.

9.) Do you like kids?
Depends on the kid. I’ve seen some amazingly smart, mature, well-behaved kids and I’ve seen some little monsters that would send chills up your spine. I don't plan on having kids, myself. Neither my wife nor I particularly want to share each other. :lol:

10.) Leonard Nemoy or William Shatner?

Hmmm, very close. Almost too close to call. Spock is a self-proclaimed proponent of logic, but embraces the most illogical of philosophies: utilitarian collectivism. Kirk is a man of passions, some quite wrong and some very right. I’d lean toward Kirk because in his better moments he gets things done. And gotta love his “cowboy” diplomacy.

Or did you mean the actors themselves?

Actually, that kind of goes the same way. Nemoy is more even-keeled in general, but there are moments where he’s just totally fruitbat. The Shat, on the other hand, is overall wacky, often wrong, but just so amusing. Gonna have to go with the shat. But that’s an even closer call. Especially because Nimoy's guest spots on The Simpsons and Futurama are hilarious.

Edited by Inspector
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So, some questions, whose purpose is two-fold: first, to convince me that I am wrong about Objectivists in general, and second, to convince me that Objectivism as a philosophy is not so bad either.

1.) Not all evil behavior is stupid behavior, nor is all stupid behavior evil, correct?

What exactly do you mean by "evil" and "stupid"?

Actions that are inconsistent with reality and/or the requirements of human nature will damage one's life. That is a matter of fact. Such actions may be taken as a result of an error of knowledge (the person simply didn't know relevant facts, or made an error in thinking about the facts), or as a moral breach (the person willfully refused to be aware of some fact through evasion). In the former case the person is not morally culpable, but the harm caused by their action is nevertheless real.

In Objectivist terms, morally evil behavior requires a deliberate choice to suspend one's awareness, which is a form of self-imposed stupidity. But there are other forms of stupidity, and actions can have life-harming effects even if no facts were deliberately evaded by the actor.

Without knowing more about what you mean by "evil" and "stupid" it's difficult to say more, apart from the observation that deliberately choosing to evade some fact of reality is never morally acceptable under the Objectivist ethics.

2.) It is not moral to accept many things from people with communal personalities and refuse to help at all in return, correct? I understand this rule is applied to governments, but individual entities are treated differently than governments in this situation, right?
I assume by this that you are referring to the exploitation of the kindness or altruism of others, accepting their aid and refusing to aid them in turn? I don't think that's acceptable under the Objectivist ethics. Objectivism holds that proper relationships between individuals should be governed by the "trader principle", in which men trade values with each other. If somebody else offers you a value of some kind, in a context where an offer of a commensurable value in the future is clearly expected, then accepting the trade and later refusing to "pay up" would be a form of moral fraud.

It is worth noting, though, that the trade needs to be clearly delineated. Just because someone gave me a helping hand in the past doesn't entitle them to make unlimited claims on my time and resources in the future.

Governments are a bit different because they introduce force into the equation. If some altruist tries to offer me help that I don't want, I can refuse. If the government does so, refusing winds up with me going to jail. The trade is no longer voluntary, and that makes all the difference.

3.) It is not moral to mistreat stupid people simply because they are stupid, correct?

Correct. The virtue of justice requires appropriate treatment of all other men, regardless of their intelligence. You might want to clarify what you mean by "mistreat", though, since it is a normative term. I would certainly consider things like lying, intimidation, harassment or unprovoked insult to be unjust to others regardless of their intelligence.

4.) It is not immoral to help someone without expecting anything in return, correct? (E.g., it is immoral to promote this as an imperative instead)
This depends on context. If you value the person you are helping, and you can spare the resources required to help them, it can be fine. (An example -- when I was in college, a good friend of mine hit a rough financial spot. I lent him the money he needed to get through it at 0% interest, and he eventually paid me back. I had the money to spare at the time, so it wasn't a sacrifice. But doing the same thing for a random stranger I just met on the street *would* have been a sacrifice, and immoral.)

I think the way Rand described this was to say that the issue was not whether or not to give a dime to a beggar, but whether you had the moral right to exist without doing so.

It is also important to understand that providing assistance to others you value is in some sense still a trade. In the case I cited above, I obtained other values from my friend (companionship, conversation, shared experiences, and so on); it was those values that made it worth my while to provide him with financial support.

You have to judge these issues inside the context of your own life, situation and hierarchy of values.

5.) Is the moral normative more of a positive description of how species behave, or is it a real metaphysical normative?

I'm not at all sure what you mean by this.

According to Objectivism, moral norms are simply principles that indicate the best way for individual human beings to survive and flourish. They're not simply a description of the way people *do* behave, because clearly many people don't behave the way Objectivist moral norms indicate they should. But neither are they "metaphysical" in the sense of identifying intrinsically valuable actions divorced from specific individual needs, purposes and contexts. Moral norms are identifications of the relationship of facts to the requirements of human survival.

6.) From a secular, neurological perspective, it seems more reasonable to view morality as an emergence of empathetic centers of the brain which reinforce and punish "socially approved" and "socially unacceptable" behaviors, respectively, rather than "beneficial" and "non-beneficial" behaviors. E.G., morality seems more sensibly modeled as a function of the superego. Are any of you guys bothered by this sort of positive description of morality, or do you consider it more adequate than "socially approved" and "socially unapproved" models?
I think this sort of approach to morality really misses the point. If morality is hardwired into our brains (which is what your description seems to imply) then it isn't really a guide that we use to choose our actions. It would be non-volitional and thus, in actuality, non-moral.

It also strikes me as bizarre to view morality as a social matter. I would still need a way to choose how to act even if there were no other people, and thus no "socially approved" or "socially unapproved" behaviors. Also, why is it more sensible to model morality in terms of how somebody other than me views my actions, rather than how I myself view my actions?

7.)Do you consider the distinction between "socially approved" and "personally beneficial" behavior less-than-meaningful or unimportant?

Can I pick both?

I think the fundamental moral question to ask about an action is whether it contributes to my own survival and flourishing. The question of how other people will react to an action obviously has an impact on this, but it's secondary at best. If an action damages my life, I'm not going to do it even if a lot of other people would approve of my doing so.

8.) What is more important in a friend: their maturity or their intelligence?
I think the most important thing in a friend is a strong base of shared values and interests. It is likely that the values and interests shared between a very intelligent person and an unintelligent person will be limited, and that will necessarily limit the scope of their friendship. Which doesn't mean such friendships can't be valuable -- I lived with a guy in college who was definitely not as smart as I was, but we both loved to play bridge, and board games, and had very similar senses of humor. So we played a lot of cards and Cosmic Encounters, swapped a lot of jokes and had a really good time.

A lack of maturity, in my opinion, is a character flaw. It makes people act erratically. I would definitely delimit my dealings with someone immature as a matter of self-defense.

9.) Do you like kids?

I don't have any, so it's tough to say. As with most people, they can be amazingly annoying at times and wonderful at others. Ask me again sometime after I have some of my own.

10.) Leonard Nimoy or William Shatner?

Hmm.

I'm going to go with Amanda Tapping. Stargate SG-1 is really the show that Star Trek: Enterprise *should* have been, and it's way better than Star Trek: The Original Series. Plus, blonde hotness.

I did like Nimoy's work on Futurama.

For the record, I do consider myself an Objectivist. I also have to say that the behavior you described from your soi-disant Objectivist roommate strikes me as pretty inappropriate. As with any movement, you can find people who claim to adhere to Objectivist principles who are really class-A jackasses. You can also find some who are wonderful people. (The jackasses are easier to find among younger Objectivists, IMHO. Rand is pretty strong medicine, and some people seize on some of her statements out of context to justify acting in pretty unsavory ways. The better ones grow out of it.)

Edited by khaight
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What exactly do you mean by "evil" and "stupid"?

Actions that are inconsistent with reality and/or the requirements of human nature will damage one's life. That is a matter of fact. Such actions may be taken as a result of an error of knowledge (the person simply didn't know relevant facts, or made an error in thinking about the facts), or as a moral breach (the person willfully refused to be aware of some fact through evasion). In the former case the person is not morally culpable, but the harm caused by their action is nevertheless real.

In Objectivist terms, morally evil behavior requires a deliberate choice to suspend one's awareness, which is a form of self-imposed stupidity. But there are other forms of stupidity, and actions can have life-harming effects even if no facts were deliberately evaded by the actor.

Without knowing more about what you mean by "evil" and "stupid" it's difficult to say more, apart from the observation that deliberately choosing to evade some fact of reality is never morally acceptable under the Objectivist ethics.

Wow, good answer. I very much agree.

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The thing about a philosophy is that it is a set of principles. Know the principles, and you know the philosophy. Know someone who claims to follow the philosophy and you may or may not learn anything about it at all. You may be witnessing someone who misunderstood everything he read, is inherently an ass, or read everything upsidedown.

1.) Not all evil behavior is stupid behavior, nor is all stupid behavior evil, correct?
Like some of the other posters have asked: how do you define evil? I would state that all evil behavior is stupid. Knowingly committing an action one knows to be wrong, I do not see how it cannot be stupid. Stupid behavior (again undefined) would depend on the context. I've done some really stupid things, but I'd hardly consider them evil. I afford other people the same consideration unless I can see evidence to the contrary.

2.) It is not moral to accept many things from people with communal personalities and refuse to help at all in return, correct? I understand this rule is applied to governments, but individual entities are treated differently than governments in this situation, right?

Not sure I understand.

3.) It is not moral to mistreat stupid people simply because they are stupid, correct?
Do you mean this simply as those whom you perceive to be of lesser intelligence than yourself? This would be a broader principle covering a broader context of behavior. If so, I could answer like this. (Again mistreat is one of those words that is left out there undefined.) I do not judge people on the basis of their intelligence, but on their morality, and character. I should say that I do not judge them on the basis of their intelligence unless a specific context calls for it. I do not penalize them, nor try to gain my own sense of self-worth by making it an issue.

7.)Do you consider the distinction between "socially approved" and "personally beneficial" behavior less-than-meaningful or unimportant?

I consider the distinction important as it reveals two different motivations of behavior. However, in a better society, these two would be one and the same. Outside of the initiation of physical force "socially approved" behavior is meaningless to me. Approved - in what society? By what standard?

8.) What is more important in a friend: their maturity or their intelligence?
Have you noticed that a lot of your questions come without context? I have some friends that I talk philosophy with. I have others that I have some beer with and play poker. Some others that I play music with.

In a best friend I would say they are equal. Forrest Gump would be just as bored at Einstein's house as visa versa. Other cases, as I hinted above, depend on context.

9.) Do you like kids?

Sure, I was a pup myself once. Good times.

10.) Leonard Nemoy or William Shatner?

Does this really help you to know our answers to this question? I refuse to answer this. They were a team, two halves of a human: Kirk - the passions, Spock - the intellect. No way, man you aren't trapping me in this.

Edited by Thoyd Loki
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I refuse to answer this. They were a team, two halves of a human: Kirk - the passions, Spock - the intellect. No way, man you aren't trapping me in this.

I always had the impression that Spock represented the intellect, McCoy the emotions, and Kirk the blending of the two.

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I always had the impression that Spock represented the intellect, McCoy the emotions, and Kirk the blending of the two.

Oh yes, that makes much more sense. I'll have to say Kirk then. Although I still don't know whether the original question was about the actors or their roles. Ridiculous question if about the actors, I don't know them.

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FYI, using Amanda Tapping as your answer is cheating and the correct answer was "William Shatner" :D

"When dealing with unjust governments, a moral person should always try to take as much as possible and give as little back as possible."

I think what I am getting at is that the hippy commune (or even the socialistic, giving person) could be viewed as microcosm of socialistic government, but that this isn't necessary, so I am curious to hear whether many Objectivists would treat it the same way. There are some significant differences, too, of course; in other words, I wonder if Objectivists would attribute the same vices to communal people or small communes that they would tack on big governments. I imagine a person could take either stance and still be an Objectivist, and I should have been more clear about this.

"Like some of the other posters have asked: how do you define evil?"

I define evil a certain way, but what is important to me in this post is how objectivists define evil. What I mean is that objectivism certainly defines and ascribes morality to certain actions, so I am hoping to understand how Objectivism would define it. I've heard how it is defined many times, but something does not quite make sense to me.

Can you define moral normative please?

It is a redundant choice of words, but I mean to imply an "ought" that is grounded in some kind belief about morality. For example, "You ought not eat the cookies in the cookie jar, because that is disobedient and disobedience is immoral" would be the sort of "ought" moral statement I am referring to.

What youre essentially saying is "people necessarily hold the same moral beliefs as the society around them", which is just obviously false.

I think this is true, but the problem is with my semantics. What I am wondering is this: semantically, when 98% of people discuss morality, they are referring to certain concepts of morality that are universally rooted in the same part of the brain. Objectivists seem to have a radically different view of morality, so what I wonder is why one should convert it into an imperative and semantically link it to this old normative in that it is inherently right? I think there is something I do not understand here.

I would say that all evil behavior is stupid (by which I mean counter to the interests of the evil-doer), but not all stupid behavior is evil.

To give concrete examples, it would be stupid for me to go rob a bank, because I would be worse off for it in the long run, because I would get caught eventually.

I guess I should ask, and more importantly, is it moral to do something that greatly injures someone else if you are fairly sure your behavior will be of high net benefit to you, after properly weighing the risks?

Edited by Arkanin
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Also, this important.

Is it implicitly meant that in the objectivist "Virtue of Selfishness" that unjustly infringing on another person's right to persue their own self-interest is fundamentally life-denying and therefore evil? For example, Stalin's pogroms might have been highly self-interested, but because they unjustly crushed many others' right to persue their own self-interest, they were still evil, even if the decisions were of net benefit to Stalin? Hence, it is immoral to, say, kill someone, even if it will be in your rational self-interest, because it infringes on and destroys their right to persue their own rational self-interest?

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Leaving aside emergency situations (which are not a proper basis for ethics), it is NEVER in your interest to infringe upon the rights of others, no matter what the short-term benefits may appear to be. The demonstration of this point requires a broad context of knowledge about Objectivism, so I recommend reading The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand and Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff.

I'll also note that Stalin ended up as a psychotic who completely lost his grip on reality.

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I think an important thing to note here is that there is no conflict of interests between your (rational) self-interest and the non-violation of other people's rights. It's not as if we (as Objectivists) actually want to be completely selfish and sacrifice everyone to our own personal gain, but refrain from doing that because we consider it to be wrong.

Instead, it is wrong because it doesn't serve our own self-interest in any way. It takes a while to fully understand why it is wrong to try and cheat reality in every case, as this is what all those irrational actions (among which are violating the rights of others) amount to when you reduce them to the fundamentals.

To say it in a different manner, and to paraphrase Ayn Rand (I think, not sure exactly where I read this): Not only does the end not justify the means, but an improper means makes the end a non-value.

It's the belief that things are a value to you regardless of what you do to get them that gives rise to these dilemmas, which are really not dilemmas at all. :D

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I think what I am getting at is that the hippy commune (or even the socialistic, giving person) could be viewed as microcosm of socialistic government, but that this isn't necessary, so I am curious to hear whether many Objectivists would treat it the same way. There are some significant differences, too, of course; in other words, I wonder if Objectivists would attribute the same vices to communal people or small communes that they would tack on big governments. I imagine a person could take either stance and still be an Objectivist, and I should have been more clear about this.

Hippy communes and collectivist governments are not directly comparable: bad governments take our property by force. That is why we are justified in trying to squeeze every last cent out of them: to lessen the injustice of them taking from us.

As for my general opinion of hippy communes (voluntary collectivism) and welfare state government (involuntary collectivism), obviously the latter is worse than the former. But they’re both pretty awful.

I am hoping to understand how Objectivism would define [evil].

Well then, by gar you should have asked that in the first place!

Big, complicated question with a very long answer. Your best bet would be to re-read the relevant parts of The Virtue of Selfishness and pose questions on what you don’t understand.

Put simply: “Evil” is that which harms your life as a man qua man. (i.e. a being that survives by means of his reasoning mind)

It is a redundant choice of words, but I mean to imply an "ought…"
I’m afraid that when I put that definition back into your question, it still doesn’t make sense to me. What is “a positive description of how species behave” and what is a “real metaphysical normative?”

What I am wondering is this: semantically, when 98% of people discuss morality, they are referring to certain concepts of morality that are universally rooted in the same part of the brain. Objectivists seem to have a radically different view of morality, so what I wonder is why one should convert it into an imperative and semantically link it to this old normative in that it is inherently right? I think there is something I do not understand here.

If I may translate: if Objectivist morality is so different from conventional morality, why call it “morality” at all? Why not just make up a new word to avoid confusing people?

Because conventional “wisdom” about morality involves the fallacy of the frozen abstraction: substituting a particular morality (altruism) for the wider concept “morality,” which properly subsumes several different kinds of ethic. The idea that “altruism=the only possible morality” is totally wrong. To make up a new word would be to give in to that falsehood.

I guess I should ask, and more importantly, is it moral to do something that greatly injures someone else if you are fairly sure your behavior will be of high net benefit to you, after properly weighing the risks?
The answer is, that if you have indeed properly weighed the risks, it will never be of net benefit to you to do something that initiates force against someone else.

I substituted the term “initiates force” for “greatly injures” because there are plenty of situations where harming others is of immense benefit to myself: when someone pulls a knife out on me and demands my wallet, for example. (i.e. situations where someone else has initiated force against me)

Is it implicitly meant that in the objectivist "Virtue of Selfishness" that unjustly infringing on another person's right to persue their own self-interest is fundamentally life-denying and therefore evil?

If you think that that is implicit as opposed to explicit, then you need to read it again, LOL! But to answer your question, yes, the initiation of force is fundamentally life-denying; it is a great harm and never a benefit to the initiator, and anyone who is truly selfish would consider it evil.

Of course why it is never a benefit is a longer subject and is best covered by The Virtue of Selfishness and also Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

So now a question for you: what part of Objectivism that you have read do you not understand/not agree with/makes you uneasy?

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Inspector and Marteen,

It would seem to me that your positions are at their fundamental core different in nature. What I mean to say is that (Marteen), you seem to me to be saying that it is wrong to alienate others' rights to moral persuit of self-interest because it lacks pragmatism, at least, in the case of murder. On the other hand, it would seem to me that Inspector is saying it is wrong to alienate others' rights to moral persuit of self-interest because for this ethic of moral persuit of self-interest to be made universal, it is necessary and right in and of itself that we respect and do not violate the inherent good of another person's rational persuit of self-interest.

While identical in result, the underlying motivations for these actions have significant implications for Objectivism as a philosophy, and I guess you would say I am trying to ascertain which of these positions is right. If there is not an agreement, that is OK, but this would suggest to me that there is a fundamental and far-reaching divide among objectivists that I am not aware of.

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Inspector and Marteen,

It would seem to me that your positions are at their fundamental core different in nature. What I mean to say is that (Marteen), you are saying that it is wrong to alienate others' rights to moral persuit of self-interest because it lacks pragmatism. On the other hand, it would seem to me that Inspector is saying it is wrong to alienate others' rights to moral persuit of self-interest because for this ethic of moral persuit of self-interest to be made universal, it is necessary and right in and of itself that we respect and do not violate the inherent good of another person's rational persuit of self-interest.

Where did you get that from what I wrote?

I said:

“Evil” is that which harms your life as a man qua man. (i.e. a being that survives by means of his reasoning mind)

The answer is, that if you have indeed properly weighed the risks, it will never be of net benefit to you to do something that initiates force against someone else.

the initiation of force is fundamentally... a great harm and never a benefit to the initiator

What part of that did you read to say that " for this ethic of moral persuit of self-interest to be made universal, it is necessary and right in and of itself that we respect and do not violate the inherent good of another person's rational persuit of self-interest." ?

Or maybe I don't understand what you mean by that? What do you mean by "right in and of itself that we do not violate...?" Like as in, "just don't do it, even though you would benefit from doing it?" If so, then read again what I said: it will never be of net benefit to you to do something that initiates force against someone else.

It is both a practical necessity and a matter of logical consistancy. As I said, the explanation for why this is is much longer and best found in those books.

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To say it in a different manner, and to paraphrase Ayn Rand (I think, not sure exactly where I read this): Not only does the end not justify the means, but an improper means makes the end a non-value.

It's the belief that things are a value to you regardless of what you do to get them that gives rise to these dilemmas, which are really not dilemmas at all. :D

I am not quite sure how you concluded from this part that I was talking about pragmatism... As far as I can tell I said explicitly that I was against pragmatism (i.e. the end does not justify the means).

Just to make it clear, I am in no way in disagreement with Inspector on this issue; the main difference may be that he managed to word it more eloquently.

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I think what I am getting at is that the hippy commune (or even the socialistic, giving person) could be viewed as microcosm of socialistic government, but that this isn't necessary, so I am curious to hear whether many Objectivists would treat it the same way. There are some significant differences, too, of course; in other words, I wonder if Objectivists would attribute the same vices to communal people or small communes that they would tack on big governments. I imagine a person could take either stance and still be an Objectivist, and I should have been more clear about this.

As I said in my earlier answer, the key difference between a voluntary commune based on altruism and a government is that the government is empowered to use force. So no, I wouldn't treat the two in the same way because they are not, in fact, the same. A voluntary commune is simply not a government in miniature.

That said, Objectivism holds that altruism (giving up greater values for lesser ones) is damaging to human life and therefore evil. A commune engages in altruistic behavior voluntarily. Modern governments frequently exact altruistic behavior from their subjects by the threat of force. The sacrifice causes damage either way. The commune is less of a threat for the simple reason that they can't force people to participate.

I define evil a certain way, but what is important to me in this post is how objectivists define evil. What I mean is that objectivism certainly defines and ascribes morality to certain actions, so I am hoping to understand how Objectivism would define it. I've heard how it is defined many times, but something does not quite make sense to me.
This is either very simple, or very complicated. The complicated version would entail laying out the Randian meta-ethics, which I'm not going to attempt here. The simple version is that evil is any chosen action which damages or undermines the survival and/or flourishing of the actor.

I do want to try to head off a common misunderstanding of what that implies. You will never understand the Objectivist ethics unless you understand the role that principles play in it. Objectivism argues that acting on principle is a necessary condition for successfully achieving values over the long term. That being the case, acting in contravention of a valid principle in a context where that principle is applicable undermines a requirement for long-term success and should not be done -- regardless of the apparent short-term gains that may seemingly be in the offing. Leonard Peikoff describes the dynamic vividly when he asks whether anybody would cut off their own head in exchange for a million dollars.

If you're really interested in exploring this sort of thing in detail, I recommend reading Tara Smith's new book Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics. It covers the major virtues in Rand's ethics in detail, along with why they are virtues and what sorts of actions they demand. The book is unfortunately expensive, but you might be able to get a university library to buy a copy if you request it.

I think this is true, but the problem is with my semantics. What I am wondering is this: semantically, when 98% of people discuss morality, they are referring to certain concepts of morality that are universally rooted in the same part of the brain. Objectivists seem to have a radically different view of morality, so what I wonder is why one should convert it into an imperative and semantically link it to this old normative in that it is inherently right? I think there is something I do not understand here.

I would agree; there is something you do not understand here.

The validity of a concept is not a function of the way other people use words. Morality is a chosen code of values used to guide action. This broad definition incorporates both Rand's ethics and the ethics accepted by virtually all non-Objectivists. Ethics identifies the sorts of actions that people ought to perform. In this sense, the Objectivist view of morality is exactly like the conventional one. What differs is the type of actions that ought to be performed, and the reasons why. But that doesn't mean that the Objectivist ethics isn't an ethics.

I guess I should ask, and more importantly, is it moral to do something that greatly injures someone else if you are fairly sure your behavior will be of high net benefit to you, after properly weighing the risks?

False premise, and package deal. You need to be very careful about what you consider an injury, and be sure to hold the full context.

Suppose that I invent the car, and proceed to sell a large number of them. This drives my neighbor, the buggy maker, out of business because all his customers are now buying cars from me instead. Have I injured him? Some might say so. My neighbor is now unemployed, and has no source of income. But in the long term he's better off living in a world that has cars in it, because cars are much more useful than buggys. More broadly, he's better off living in a world where people are free to invent and sell better products than he would be in a world where people are prevented from doing so. His 'injury' is more of a setback in a long-term process of advancement.

However, I think the issue you are really trying to raise is something Objectivists sometimes call the predation argument. In a nutshell the predation argument asks why, if the goal of moral action is to obtain values, I should refrain from stealing and lying if I can get away with it? The basic answer goes back to the role of principles in ethics that I referred to earlier. Human beings need principles to project the future consequences of their actions. Without principles, there is no way to determine whether I can "get away" with lying and theft in any specific case. But principles are either authoritative or they aren't. If they aren't, then you can't predict the consequences of your actions and will never know whether you can get away with a cheat. And if they are authoritative, then you can't just ignore the principles that point out the fundamental problems with lying and stealing.

This point in Objectivism is often not clearly understood even by self-proclaimed Objectivists. But the Objectivist position is clear, even if you aren't convinced by my capsule presentation of the argument: Objectivism rejects predation as a viable strategy because it requires abandoning principles as a guide to action, and principled action is a necessary condition for survival and flourishing.

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I am not quite sure how you concluded from this part that I was talking about pragmatism...
Possibly, Arkanin is referring to what we'd term "practical" rather than "pragmatic".

To the Objectivist: the moral is the practical; the pragmatic is impractical (or practical only by coincidence, not by intent).

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But to answer your question, yes, the initiation of force is fundamentally life-denying; it is a great harm and never a benefit to the initiator, and anyone who is truly selfish would consider it evil.

Of course why it is never a benefit is a longer subject and is best covered by The Virtue of Selfishness and also Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

After rereading, I see what you mean, then.

What I am getting at is that if it is good that each person be self-interested, it would be ideally moral to uphold others' right to other lawful self-interest, within reason, for reasons that do not revolve around our own benefit. The reason for this would be very abstract, but would revolve around the idea of making an ethical principle universally realized. If in another sense, it is our good that we be self-interested, it is our duty to uphold our own desires. Truthfully, the earlier makes more sense to me than the latter, but this is a huge, sweeping and critical distinction.

The principle that it can never be of self-interested personal net benefit to murder a person who has not wronged you is demonstrably false. I am not making an argument, but I am saying, surely neither you nor rand mean this, do you? It would be very silly for a philosophy to make demonstrably false claims that are effectively falsified by the real world. I am not saying it is smart to kill people willy-nilly, but one in a thousand people might rationally receive benefit from killing someone who did not wrong them. So the principle is very important.

This is why I make this distinction, as it would give objectivists a much better metaphysical basis for their principles, it seems to me. This is decent as a rule, but not a principle, as I can create a situation and demonstrably show you that murdering another person can be to ones rational self-interest if all they care about is their own happiness.

If your flat response to the question "Would you hypothetically kill someone innocent if, by extraordinary circumstances, you were positive it were to your net benefit" were "yes" I am not sure what to say. It still seems reasonable for me to ask you to answer a hypothetical question, though, even if you are convinced such a situation can never occur.

I guess you might make an interesting abstraction about morality by answering "yes" but because "By giving me that opportunity, they have inadvertently or intentionally done something stupid and / or immoral, so I can consider their action 'evil'". This would make the principle tautologically legitimate by way of showing that if a person has given us benefit by killing them, they have acted immorally, and so the killing is a priori justified for reasons that regard the failings of the other person rather than the morality of the self.

At the same time, I do not think Rand would have answered "Yes" to this question and I do not think she would have been lying. I guess I could be mistaken, and truthfully, that would be disturbing.

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The main point is that Objectivism is against the initiation of force, not the retributive variant. However, we also understand that it would not be a good thing if everyone were to go out and play judge for himself; this is one of the reasons there should be a government.

So yes, it would be good to kill a murderer, but it is not up to an individual person to do so. That is, unless there's an emergency situation and you need to defend yourself right there or die; but in general cases you should probably leave it to the police to catch the murderer, it's their job after all.

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What I am getting at is that if it is good that each person be self-interested, it would be ideally moral to uphold others' right to other lawful self-interest, within reason, for reasons that do not revolve around our own benefit. The reason for this would be very abstract, but would revolve around the idea of making an ethical principle universally realized.

This reasoning strikes me as more Kantian than Randian. Kant was very big on the notion that moral actions had to be based on maxims that could be universalized. That's not Rand's argument. She argues that each individual should pursue his own self-interest, and that in fact it is in the self-interest of each agent to also encourage others to pursue their own self-interest as well.

The key point here, which I think has not yet been mentioned in this discussion, is something Objectivists call the "harmony of interests". The claim here is that the rational self-interests of different people do not conflict with each other, which means it is possible for everybody to pursue their interests without harming others. Rejection of this principle is a powerful driver towards viewing ethics as requiring altruism. If my pursuit of my interests necessarily harms other people, and other people pursuing their interests necessarily harms me, then ethics turns into a system for balancing the pursuit of interest across society, so that everybody gets some values while minimizing overall harm. Such a conception of morality is necessarily social (because its purpose is to solve a problem that would not arise apart from other people) and altruistic (because its guidance is to tell people not to pursue their self-interest because it allegedly harms others).

Typically, objections to the harmony of interests principle are rooted in misconceptions about what actually is in a person's self-interest.

If in another sense, it is our good that we be self-interested, it is our duty to uphold our own desires.
And this is one of those misconceptions. Our self-interest is not defined by our desires. Sometimes satisfying a desire is bad for us. I may desire to stay up late watching "Alias" on DVD, when it would really be in my self-interest to go to bed and get a good night's sleep in preparation for a major presentation at work the following day. I may desire to get drunk to mask my pain at a disintegrating romantic relationship, when it would really be in my self-interest to go to marriage counseling. And does anybody ever desire to go to the dentist, even though having healthy teeth is clearly in their self-interest? Such examples can be multiplied endlessly.

It is obvious that people have conflicting desires. But desires are not the proper standard for measuring interest.

The principle that it can never be of self-interested personal net benefit to murder a person who has not wronged you is demonstrably false. I am not making an argument, but I am saying, surely neither you nor Rand mean this, do you?

Yes, Rand (and I, and I expect the other Objectivists in this thread) really are making that claim. Murdering the innocent is never in your self-interest.

If that's demonstrably false, then demonstrate it.

It would be very silly for a philosophy to make demonstrably false claims that are effectively falsified by the real world. I am not saying it is smart to kill people willy-nilly, but one in a thousand people might rationally receive benefit from killing someone who did not wrong them. So the principle is very important.
It is possible post-facto for an immoral action to have limited destructive consequences, though luck or coincidence. But to take such instances as demonstrating that a policy of taking immoral actions is justifiable does not follow. Suppose that you jump off a building and, instead of breaking your leg, you land in a passing truck filled with hay and thus sustain no injury. Does that mean that jumping off the building was a good idea, or does it just mean that you got lucky? Morality doesn't provide guidance after the fact, it provides guidance prior to acting.

In effect, you are proposing to replace the moral principle "Don't kill the innocent" with the pseudo-principle "Don't kill the innocent unless you can get away with it." The latter, though, is not actually a principle at all. The guidance it provides would lead anyone who accepted it to be constantly on the lookout for cases where he could kill and get away with it. What would such an outlook do to the other aspects of that person's life? He would view people not as potential values, but as potential prey. This would severely restrict his ability to build fruitful relationships with those other people. It would hamper his ability to engage in long-term planning (because that once-in-a-lifetime chance to kill and benefit could crop up at any time). Etc. That's not a good strategy for survival and flourishing.

I can create a situation and demonstrably show you that murdering another person can be to ones rational self-interest if all they care about is their own happiness.

No, I really don't think you can. It only looks to you like you can because you're ignoring the consequences to a person's life of abandoning principle in favor of perceived short-term gains.

If your flat response to the question "Would you hypothetically kill someone innocent if, by extraordinary circumstances, you were positive it were to your net benefit" were "yes" I am not sure what to say. It still seems reasonable for me to ask you to answer a hypothetical question, though, even if you are convinced such a situation can never occur.
I disagree with the premise of the question. Killing the innocent is not in one's self-interest. We can debate the premise, but I see no point in pretending to accept a premise I think is false, just to debate what would follow. That would be like discussing what would happen if 2 + 2 equalled 5. What would be the point, given that 2 + 2 is not in fact 5, but 4?

At the same time, I do not think Rand would have answered "Yes" to this question and I do not think she would have been lying. I guess I could be mistaken, and truthfully, that would be disturbing.

You are correct. Rand's view was quite clear; she did not think that it was possible to benefit by killing the innocent (or, more generally, by violating valid moral principles in contexts where they applied).

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At the same time, I do not think Rand would have answered "Yes" to this question and I do not think she would have been lying. I guess I could be mistaken, and truthfully, that would be disturbing.

Am I following you correctly here? You started off this topic with a story about a guy that treated you badly who claimed to be an Objectivist. This gave you a bad impression of the philosophy. But now you find it disturbing that an Objectivist would not kill an innocent?

Another question. How steeped are you in Kantian philosophy? These conversations are going to get pretty twisted since the 2 philosophies are diametrical opposites.

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I'm jumping into this a little later than I would have liked. I'll answer the questions in your first post as best I can after making a few points:

I would not call myself an Objectivist, but only because I have found obscure quotes from Ayn Rand that I disagree with, and I am not yet sure if they are philosophical or technical in nature.

The guy in the situation you describe sounds like a serious @-whole. The people I have met that are Objectivists or closely identify with Objectivism are just as courteous and considerate (if not more so) as anyone else I've met.

Objectivism rejects the dichotomy between the practical and the moral. Therefore, if you ask an Objectivist to answer an hypothetical question regarding situations where you think it might be beneficial for one party to violate the rights of another, you will gain no knowledge of Objectivism.

Murder will always be contrary to the best interests of the murderer. If you think there is a specific situation where this is not true, I would bet that somebody here would be willing to show you why you are wrong (I'd rather not take the time). Check out the thread about the Prudent Predator Principle for more information.

1.) Not all evil behavior is stupid behavior, nor is all stupid behavior evil, correct?

2.) It is not moral to accept many things from people with communal personalities and refuse to help at all in return, correct? I understand this rule is applied to governments, but individual entities are treated differently than governments in this situation, right?

3.) It is not moral to mistreat stupid people simply because they are stupid, correct?

4.) It is not immoral to help someone without expecting anything in return, correct? (E.g., it is immoral to promote this as an imperative instead)

5.) Is the moral normative more of a positive description of how species behave, or is it a real metaphysical normative?

6.) From a secular, neurological perspective, it seems more reasonable to view morality as an emergence of empathetic centers of the brain which reinforce and punish "socially approved" and "socially unacceptable" behaviors, respectively, rather than "beneficial" and "non-beneficial" behaviors. E.G., morality seems more sensibly modeled as a function of the superego. Are any of you guys bothered by this sort of positive description of morality, or do you consider it more adequate than "socially approved" and "socially unapproved" models?

7.)Do you consider the distinction between "socially approved" and "personally beneficial" behavior less-than-meaningful or unimportant?

And just out of curiosity,

8.) What is more important in a friend: their maturity or their intelligence?

9.) Do you like kids?

10.) Leonard Nemoy or William Shatner?

1.) If the evil is any action contrary to the goal of living as a rational animal which is consciously chosen, no claim regarding intelligence is made. So, in other words, you are correct.

2.) Correct. Inspector's post regarding the trader principle is spot-on. I would like to re-iterate that the value that one 'trades' does not have to be material - in other words, you may simply help somebody because you respect them and want to see them thrive. For instance, I have helped four friends move in the last six months, and I could care less about the food and drink they gave me in return.

3.) Correct. However, willful mistreatment is always wrong. It is proper to punish someone who deserves it, just as it is proper to reward someone who deserves it. A failure to do either is mistreatment. Just because someone is unintelligent does not mean that they deserve to be rewarded or punished.

4.) It is not necessarily immoral to help someone and expect to receive nothing material in return. If you expect no value whatsoever in return than it is immoral, so long as there is anything else you could be doing that would give you value. It is immoral to promote something that runs contrary to the trader principle.

5-6) After reading the thread, I am still confused on these two.

7.) Unimportant? No. The fact that you draw a false dichotomy is important, but again, Objectivism rejects that dichotomy.

8.) I would say that there must be a balance, but maturity is more important. This is a personal choice and says nothing about other people who closely identify with Objectivism or are Objectivists.

9.) I like some kids and am seriously annoyed by others. I intend to have one or two of the kind I like when I am 35 or 40 (about 15 years from now).

10.) Shatner continues to portray entertaining characters.

Edit: DENNY CRANE!

Edited by FeatherFall
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