Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Rearden Slaps Francisco!

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

After being slapped by Rearden, Francisco doesn't retaliate; instead, he says, "Within the extent of your knowledge, you are right." (pg 599, ~top of page) (This is when Rearden walks into the office that Francisco and Dagny are in. And if I remember right, Rearden thinks that Francisco is romantically involved with Dagny and thinks that this is a threat to Dagny and thus one of his most precious values)

Probably not being able to see the entire context, I am somewhat confused by F's statement. I understand that knowledge is a contextual thing, and so is certainty. A child can be "right," or "correct," in defining a dog as a thing that barks, if it is the only animal he has perceived that has done so (there's probably more conditions as well, but I would bet the condition I've layed out is fairly significant). But how does one know the context of another person's knowledge? How does F know the context of R's knowledge, and if he does know it, doesn't Rearden have to be held responsible for a "limited extent" of knowledge, beyond what reality will give him? And if so, shouldn't Francisco at least slap Rearden back? No? What if Rearden's slap was instead an attack intended to kill. . .within the context of Rearden's knowledge, would he still have been right?

Again, I could not be understanding the context fully, but let me give an example: If a four year old somehow manages to get a hold of an automatic weapon and go out and pull the trigger, as if he was in some video game, shooting up everything in sight, would it be right for a cop to shoot him?

The child, within the extent of his knowledge, does not know it is wrong to do what he is doing, yet the cop knows he is endangering the lives of others as well as himself. So from the cop's perspective it is right to shoot the child, assuming there is no other rational and efficient way to disarm him. But from the child's perspective he hasn't done anything wrong.

So I'm wondering how this doesn't lead to subjectivism or perspectivism in terms of determining who is right and who is wrong.

Surely there are cases where a grown adult commits a crime, but within the context of his knowledge, it wasn't a crime. So is he still held responsible, and why? And what prevents someone from turning the "contextual knowledge" idea into the widely used plea of insanity (i.e. "I didn't mean to blow up 3,000 people, within the context of my knowledge, it was the right thing to do!)

Thanks, and I'm sure my question here relates directly to the other topic I posed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But how does one know the context of another person's knowledge?
You guess, and you can be wrong. The reasonable man (that's a profession, btw) knows certain things, as a member of a particular society, for example we all know that George W. Bush is the president of the US and that Canada is the country right to the north of us. I'm betting that you have no knowledge of corvus albus so in the context of your personal knowledge, all crows are black.
If a four year old somehow manages to get a hold of an automatic weapon and go out and pull the trigger, as if he was in some video game, shooting up everything in sight, would it be right for a cop to shoot him?
Yes. But you're invoking an emergency situation, which messes things up -- is that intentional? There is the maximally rational context where we're having a discussion about logic and I realize that you don't know that not all crows are black, where I make an estimation of your knowledge. If I'm right, then we procede once I've corrected your crow-knowledge; if I'm wrong, then I worry about your logic. In the Uzi-child situation, it really doesn't matter what I think the child knows, it matters that the child is slaughtering the neighbors. (This is totally surreal, of course, but I'll play along for the purposes of the example). The fact that the child is unaware that he is harming people isn't important: what is important is that the child be stopped, because he is in fact initiating force against others. That is the objective fact that has to be first in your mind, in evaluating this situation.
So I'm wondering how this doesn't lead to subjectivism or perspectivism in terms of determining who is right and who is wrong.
This point needs to be rephrased: who is acting morally, and who is acting immorally? I don't see that the child is acting immorally (and the cop certainly isn't).
Surely there are cases where a grown adult commits a crime, but within the context of his knowledge, it wasn't a crime.
Vast numbers of such cases. Any anti-trust prosecutions, for example. There are also many cases where it is "discovered" that a person committed a crime when it was discovered that the act can be squeezed into the parameters of the law (i.e. the law can be twisted). There are many cases where people were convicted under the White Slavery Act for innocent acts, but where the prosecution was able to argue convincingly that the act was within the ambit of that law. But that is a grave injustice, and I would say that no reasonable person should think that giving a prostitute a ride home from a vacation in another state constitutes "white slavery".

The central principle pertaining to law is that "ignorance of the law is no excuse" (the roots of which are in Roman Law but which I think stems in modern times from William Occam's I Dial., book 4, chapters 11, in case you're curious). In a right-respecting society with a rational legal code, laws would be obvious because they serve a particular purpose, protection of rights. Of course, when those damn legal positivists have their way, law is whatever the sovereign says, and that is probably why Martha went to prison (because most people do not realise that lying to federal authorities is a crime, oath or no oath), so you have to look it up. An amusing pastime is reading Title 18 of the US Code. You can often find surprising crimes. 336, for example.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Probably not being able to see the entire context, I am somewhat confused by F's statement. I understand that knowledge is a contextual thing, and so is certainty. A child can be "right," or "correct," in defining a dog as a thing that barks, if it is the only animal he has perceived that has done so (there's probably more conditions as well, but I would bet the condition I've layed out is fairly significant). But how does one know the context of another person's knowledge? How does F know the context of R's knowledge, and if he does know it, doesn't Rearden have to be held responsible for a "limited extent" of knowledge, beyond what reality will give him? And if so, shouldn't Francisco at least slap Rearden back? No? What if Rearden's slap was instead an attack intended to kill. . .within the context of Rearden's knowledge, would he still have been right?

Is it right to kill someone because you believe them unworthy of sleeping with the woman you love? No? In that case Rearden would be wrong to attempt to kill Francisco. However, Francisco knew that Rearden believed Francisco to be a worthless playboy because that was precisely the false image that Francisco was attempting to portray. I mean, imagine for a second that you're a man like Francisco, who holds his integrity as an absolute, and you've just received an appalling insult from a man who believes you have no integrity! Normally you'd respond viciously and immediately, however, the situation was not normal: Francisco was hiding his true self.

THAT is why, in the context of Rearden's knowledge of Francisco's character, Rearden was correct do do what he did.

As for your example of a four-year-old with an automatic weapon, that situation is so ridiculous it doesn't really bear consideration. Do YOU know any four-year-olds that could actually handle an automatic weapon? We try to avoid inane hypotheticals here and talk about principles. What principle are you talking about?

You might want to think about the fact that some crimes (murder) have different "ratings" based on the knowledge/intent of the criminal. Is it murder one if you shoot your husband, believing him to be a burglar, because he forgot his keys and snuck in through the back window at 2am? Why or why not?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It may seem trivial but this correction is important: it is not in Dagny's office but her apartment.

Also, I think this is after Dagny goes to her cottage, but that is significant too.

Lastly, remember that according to Dagny, Rearden, (there wasn't a comma in between the two name; amusing isn't it?), was wrong in his action for she gets him back by revealling that Francisco was indeed her first lover--and given both of their contexts that is very biting.

Jose Gainza.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The purpose of my "emergency situation" was not to throw some impossible hypothetical into the air. The sole purpose of it was to illustrate someone unknowingly doing something harmful to others. Being entirely ignorant of our law and what constitutes negligence and what doesn't, I was hoping someone could help clarify things for me from an Objectivist standpoint.

This point needs to be rephrased: who is acting morally, and who is acting immorally? I don't see that the child is acting immorally (and the cop certainly isn't).

To make sure I understand, the child is doing nothing wrong, since he had no way of grasping what he was doing--in other words, a moral evaluation is inapplicable to a four year old. And the cop was acting morally since he was preventing someone from initiating force against others.

Is it right to kill someone because you believe them unworthy of sleeping with the woman you love? No? In that case Rearden would be wrong to attempt to kill Francisco. However, Francisco knew that Rearden believed Francisco to be a worthless playboy because that was precisely the false image that Francisco was attempting to portray. I mean, imagine for a second that you're a man like Francisco, who holds his integrity as an absolute, and you've just received an appalling insult from a man who believes you have no integrity! Normally you'd respond viciously and immediately, however, the situation was not normal: Francisco was hiding his true self.

:lol: Thanks, makes sense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The purpose of my "emergency situation" was not to throw some impossible hypothetical into the air. The sole purpose of it was to illustrate someone unknowingly doing something harmful to others. Being entirely ignorant of our law and what constitutes negligence and what doesn't, I was hoping someone could help clarify things for me from an Objectivist standpoint.
There are a lot of separate issues in your child case that muddy the waters. First, it's an emergency; second, it deals with a person who clearly does not have a fully developed rational faculty. A better case (depending on what you are looking for) would be a person who unknowingly spills a toxic substance on his neighbor's property (doesn't know it is toxic, doesn't know it is spilling). The basic standard for judgment is whether he was acting responsibly. Suppose he think it's a sound barrel of rainwater, when it's a leaky barrel of benzine. Then he is blameless and moral.
To make sure I understand, the child is doing nothing wrong, since he had no way of grasping what he was doing--in other words, a moral evaluation is inapplicable to a four year old. And the cop was acting morally since he was preventing someone from initiating force against others.
As long as you equate "doing something wrong" with "acting immorally". The question of child morality is very difficult, since at a certain age, they don't get it. One possible judgment is that all 2 year olds are immoral, but fortunately most of them get over it.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's nothing like interpolating literature :lol:

After being slapped by Rearden, Francisco doesn't retaliate; instead, he says, "Within the extent of your knowledge, you are right."

I am somewhat confused by F's statement... Doesn't Rearden have to be held responsible for a "limited extent" of knowledge?

So I'm wondering how this doesn't lead to subjectivism or perspectivism in terms of determining who is right and who is wrong.

Interesting, I hadn't previously given this any serious thought. Francisco considering it right to ignorantly do an immoral action :) Dagny certainly seemed to think Rearden's action was wrong, and it was an initiation of force, after all.

But, in defense of my role model, you have to ask "right about what?"

I don't think Francisco was referring to being slapped. Francisco "betrayal" of Rearden is the important issue beneath the irrelevant "don't touch my girl" imbroglio.

Roughly speaking, to the extent of Rearden's knowledge

  • Francisco would be a good man, only if ...
  • Francisco's betrayal was done expressly to destroy Rearden Steel, and thus Rearden himself
  • Rearden's efforts were one of the few things holding back the world's destruction
  • Rearden Steel was worth protecting at all costs (even voluntary slavery?)

*Taken literally*, these (and other?) premises needed to be checked, but if Hank's premises were correct, then Hank was right about his judgement of himself, d'Anconia, and the inevitable results of their particular courses. IF.

d'Anconia's "within the extent" statement also applied to (and presumably was targeted toward) Dagny. She had the same unchecked premises. To the extent that their premises led to their conclusions, Hank and Dagny were right to act on their conclusions (not in slapping but in not Striking) but they were quite wrong (and did bear the responsibility) about not realizing the error in said premises.

All right, Dagny. I won't try to stop you. So long as you still think that, nothing can stop you, or should...

Now you may hate me - as, from your stand, you should...

Every one of us has to travel that road by his own steps. But it's the same road.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As for your example of a four-year-old with an automatic weapon, that situation is so ridiculous it doesn't really bear consideration. Do YOU know any four-year-olds that could actually handle an automatic weapon? We try to avoid inane hypotheticals here and talk about principles. What principle are you talking about?

I don't think that the example is inane. He may have made a mistake in calling talking about a child with an automatic weapon as opposed to a semi-automatic one but the example is still valid. What if a 4 year old comes out with a gun and starts shooting? is it moral to kill him?

There has been multiple children under 6 years old that I have heard of in the last few years that have shot off hand guns either at people or hitting/killing them. I think that makes the example pretty reasonable. Also there is actually one hand gun that is fully automatic, it's called a Glock 18 .

I agree I really dislike examples that are unrealistic or impossible but I don't think this one should be filed under that category.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There has been multiple children under 6 years old that I have heard of in the last few years that have shot off hand guns either at people or hitting/killing them.
That isn't relevant: what matters how many 4 year olds have innocently picked up automatic or semi-automatic weapons, innocently mowed down bystanders and continued to kill in this delusional state, because they think that are having demon-killing fun in Doom III. The question is not whether some children have committed murder, the question is about a child innocently killing because he did not understand the nature of his actions. I find the particular scenario entirely implausible, but it can be replaced with scenarios that happen on a daily basis (like stuffing towels down the toilet).
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to add onto that, if a four year old got a hold of a semi-automatic, he probably would not be able to control it well enough to actually hit anyone from any sort of distance.

On the topic of contextual knowledge, it was in Francisco's best interest for him not to retaliate against Reardon because he was hopeful that Reardon would join him in Galt's Gulch and if Reardon disliked Francisco then the chances of that were slimmer. I suppose Francisco could have pressed assault charges if he had wante, but it would not have been in his best interest given his goal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That isn't relevant: what matters how many 4 year olds have innocently picked up automatic or semi-automatic weapons, innocently mowed down bystanders and continued to kill in this delusional state, because they think that are having demon-killing fun in Doom III. The question is not whether some children have committed murder, the question is about a child innocently killing because he did not understand the nature of his actions. I find the particular scenario entirely implausible, but it can be replaced with scenarios that happen on a daily basis (like stuffing towels down the toilet).

It is relevant. I'm saying that a four year old could pick up a weapon like a hand gun and fire at people. He could also do this not realizing the morality of it. He doesn't have to kill or even hit anyone for it to be a valid question. I don't see what you can find implausible about that. Unlikely or rare? Yes definitely but it's possible and therefore valid I think. Either way the essence of his hypothetical was clear so I don't see what the problem is.

All he was asking is if it would be moral to shoot someone who was shooting at people even if that person didn't know what they were doing was wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me change this slightly:

Dillusional person with gun in hand starts pulling the trigger because he things that people are monsters that are attacking him.

Fact: He is dillusional and may not understand what he is doing.

Fact: No one knows this at the time.

Fact: He is a threat to others.

What do you do?

Since he is an immediate threat to the lives of others, you remove his abilitiy to be a threat. If this means killing him. It is unfortunate, but it must be done.

His state of mind doesn't actually matter. It is his actions. If he cannot control himself and is a threat to others. He is still a threat to others.

I just though of Kennedy. He is lucky that he wasn't shot when he crashed into the capital. He could have appeared to be a threat to the president and the "guards?" would have had every right to shoot him down.

It would have been unfortunate. Well maybe for some a little funny. But it would have been proper.

The same thing goes with the old man in california a few years back that drove through a crowded market at 60mph because he hit the wrong pedal.

Fact: he was hurting others.

Fact: their right to life supercedes his if he is a threat (even against his will).

Its the same with vietnam. They strapped explosives to vets and had them walk toward our troops. Where is the value? The troops? The boy that will die anyway? No question here. Shoot the kid. It may be sad, but it saves lives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

**********************************************************************

Regarding Francisco and Rearden.

Their situation differs.

If reardens attack had been to the death. Francisco would have had every right to fight back and kill Rearden if he needed. It would have been extremely unfortunatley and depressing. It would have also said something different about Rearden's character.

Slapping --> Rearden connected that Francisco was Dagny's first lover. He was insulted by the thought because of what it implied about Dagny, Francisco, and about himself.

In this sense, the person who actually felt the slap was Rearden himself. His reality was just smashed and he could not put the pieces back together again. He had to question himself.

It wasn't the real reson for slapping Francisco. The reason was because of what Francisco had done to Reardens and his mills. Rearden slapped Francisco because Rearden felt befriended and betrayed.

Francisco was obviously pained as well. He hoped Dagny was still his. He found out that she wasn't and had to accept this fact. He also had to accept the fact that the Man that he loved (Rearden) was telling him how much he hated him and how he never wanted to see him again. I doubt it even occured to Francisco to fight Rearden. I see that Francisco is struggling wiht 3 things. The loss of Dagny. The loss of Hank. And the desire to blurt out all of his knowledge and his reasons for how he is acting.

Francisco realizes that he accepted the possible loss of Dagny and this slap from Rearden when he choose his path. Since "Every one of us has to travel that road by his own steps." The only advice Francisco could give was "Within the extent of your knowledge, you are right."

And this applys to both Rearden and Dagny. More to dagny since she meant much more to him than rearden. (Lover vs Brother - by choice).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes David, the toxic waste example you gave was much more appropriate. That was just the illustration I was hoping to create. I thought using a "child" was better because the child had absolutely no way of rationally understanding what he was doing, but obviously it just made things more muddled.

Its the same with vietnam. They strapped explosives to vets and had them walk toward our troops. Where is the value? The troops? The boy that will die anyway? No question here. Shoot the kid. It may be sad, but it saves lives.

I remember hearing a talk given by Yaron Brook some years back about how it was necessary to shoot children during war-like situations simply because there was no better alternative. A man attending the lecture would not accept this, and kept rationalizing his position by trying to appeal to the emotions of Dr. Brook. "But how can you shoot a child!?" He would ask in a sympathetic and passionate voice.

When he said that, I laughed. I pictured Bin Laden surrounding himself with babies while taking out America singlehandedly with an ozzi. --!We cannot kill Bin Laden, for he is surrounded by babies!-- as thousands upon thousands of Americans die.

That man's response, however, was a great example of the pervasive altruistic mentality. I know that I, for one, will not die for the sake of ten babies :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...