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Mind you, I'm not saying one should be arguing with most people about politics, ethics and philosophy; however, if one chooses to do so, this argument seems as good as any.
I didn't mean to imply this topic was special and merits extra consideration in the choice to argue; I might equate all three of the topics you mentioned when deciding not to argue. My point was more, "There are people with whom engaging in argument is not beneficial for one party, and thus also neither parties."

If someone feels there is something to gain in arguing for a very broad and important principle with which he agrees and the other guy does not, then he should argue (I no longer propagate this kind of argument scenario). If there is nothing to gain by arguing, but the other guy is of personal importance, I think the best course of action is to recommend something to read. If he is interested, he will need some time to change his erroneous views, and an argument will not do it. (Perhaps throwing some general statements out there may get him to pick up the book.)

If neither agree about something important and fundamental nor have a personal stake in the other guy, I think it is a poor use of time to argue when neither will benefit.

Edited by JASKN
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@Inspector:

As you might imagine, this is not only insane, but highly dangerous. Judgment is a survival tool and you abandon it at your peril!

Of course, you knew that.

How can people get away with statements like "don't judge?"

Well, first of all, most people think "well, they can't possibly mean that." But they do. And so long as people dismiss it, then it won't be challenged.

I agree completely... "don't judge" is completely ridiculous and makes no sense at all. I hear many Christians state this as a creed and morally correct; however, the funniest part about that the statement most Christians have spawned this narrow minded interpretation is talking about something completely different.

@Bold Standard:

This moral imperative is an inheritance from Christianity, so it might be helpful to understand this in the context of Jesus' rebellion against justice.

This is where I disagree. Just because many Christians profess this beleif it doesn't mean it is actually warranted by the source.

For example the quote you mentioned:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Is like taking two sentences of yours and manipulating it to say what I want. You need to take things in context, if anything reason dictates you evaluate things as a whole and in context and not chopped up into falsehoods. I mean you can argue a point that isn't being made but that makes no sense or reason at all.

Lets take a look at the context of that verse you quoted (look up the King James version if you want, I personally am not a fan of the King James translation, though this verse says the same things despite the translation)

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

Ok so if you read on a couple more sentences you can get a bit more context. Instantly the meaning of that verse changes dramatically. In fact most Christians are too lazy to read on further and like to blindly quote parts of scripture without considering the context (so I don't blame you too much for doing the same, though you should be better about this considering your a fellow advocate of reason).

Upon further inspection it is clear this verse is instructing you not to judge someone else about a problem if you have an even worse problem in the same area.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

It is clear it doesn't imply to "never judge" as many interpret it... because it goes on to say:

"You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

So basically if your a beggar on the streets don't instruct someone of low income on financial advice. If anything this verse advocates reason. If you judge and admonish another for being rude to someone unjustly and then curse someone else because your in a bad mood and it isn't warranted then you are being a hypocrite. In fact if you do this you are acting completely out of reason and a true perception of reality, but a fancifull view in which you don't look at your own issues.

on the other hand it does instruct that if you either don't have a "plank" in your eye (or if you remove it if you do) then you "will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye".

In my opinion these are wise words full of reason.

Bold Standard you really should read things in context. No offense intended, though as we are discussing it is indeed okay to judge eachother and in the horrible way you quoted the scripture out of context (like many Christians do unofortunately) you show a bad representation of reason.

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Problem is, if we're all sinners, we have this constant plank in our eye! So, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" actually means -- in the broader context (if one assume we are all sinners) : "Don't throw stones". So, I do not blame Christians from seeing the whole context and taking the meaning to be that judgement is reserved to God, and not for man.

Either way, the Christian idea of justice is NOT the focus of this thread.

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Problem is, if we're all sinners, we have this constant plank in our eye! So, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" actually means -- in the broader context (if one assume we are all sinners) : "Don't throw stones". So, I do not blame Christians from seeing the whole context and taking the meaning to be that judgement is reserved to God, and not for man.
I think you are making some very illogical connections in what you use as "context".

"Problem is, if we're all sinners, we have this constant plank in our eye!"

No that doesn't... for one the verse I quoted ended with:

"You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

It clearly instructs you to indeed judge and let others know what you judge if you really know what you're talking about. It's a simply admonition to check your own situation before judging others, we often know when we are indeed worse off than they but often still naively advise others in areas we fail in. Reason would dictate the person should not take advice from a person who has proven to fail at that area. The verse is dictating simple reason and common sense.

The statement "we'are all sinners" is obvious. It's a simple statement with simple meaning. A reminder that we all can look past the truth at times, no matter how reasoned we think we are. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. It just strengthens that admonition to check yourself. It reminds you that you (like everyone else) makes mistakes too and maybe before you judge (especially judging harshly) should check your own faults in that area first.

in the broader context (if one assume we are all sinners) : "Don't throw stones".

For one context means this:

1. the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context.

2. the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.

What you are doing is taking ridiculously broad context that doesn't make sense. You are defying reason by linking a specific situation to a general statement made. Not very logical.

Just because Jesus defended the life of a woman, by saying those without sin should throw the first stone, it doesn't mean that same principal applies to every situation. In fact if anything there is a distinct difference between Matthew 7:1-5 (telling you not to judge if you in fact are worse at that aspect then that person) and John 8:7 (Jesus defending the life of a woman by telling those without sin to throw the first stone). One is Jesus teaching general principles in a gathering to a group of people. The other is an event in which Jesus is defending a woman by saying what he does.

By definition that is what context is. One is Jesus purposely teaching concepts, the other is Jesus acting in a specfic situation.

Reason should be your guide, not the goal to incorrectly use "context" in an illogical way.

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I think you are making some very illogical connections in what you use as "context".
No, context does not mean "immediately surrounding text". It means: all the relevant ideas that the author is assuming at the point when he makes a statement. The immediately surrounding text is not all one has when one is judging an author's meaning.

Anyhow, no more Christian advocacy here, please. Start a thread in the Debate Sub-Forum, if you like.

Edited by softwareNerd
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*** Merged topics ***

*** Split from an earlier thread ***

The litmus test for morality is not whether the action is in their self-interest or not. It is whether they consciously violate something they know to be immoral, or whether they evade.


Observe that here Ayn Rand says, "an action you know to be evil" NOT "an action they know to be evil." Her statement applies to judging and choosing one's own actions, not to judging others.

An individual can introspect and know for sure whether he has made an honest error or evaded, but it would take mindreading or the other person's reported -- and reliable -- introspections to know if someone else is mistaken or evading. When it comes to judging others, all we can do, and what we should do, is judge whether their actions and statements are (1) true or false and (2) good for us or bad for us. Edited by softwareNerd
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Observe that here Ayn Rand says, "an action you know to be evil" NOT "an action they know to be evil." Her statement applies to judging and choosing one's own actions, not to judging others.

An individual can introspect and know for sure whether he has made an honest error or evaded, but it would take mindreading or the other person's reported -- and reliable -- introspections to know if someone else is mistaken or evading. When it comes to judging others, all we can do, and what we should do, is judge whether their actions and statements are (1) true or false and (2) good for us or bad for us.

One can recognize evasion in others but it can not be based on speculation. When one is taking all of the facts into consideration but is, for example, intergrating them incorrectly, weighing their significance incorrectly and thus reaching a wrong conclusion - that is a mistake. Evasion is when someone is unwilling to aknowledge a contradictory fact when presented with it. If I claim that all apples are red at all time and continue to claim it after I have been shown a green apple then that is a case of evasion and not a mistake.

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If I claim that all apples are red at all time and continue to claim it after I have been shown a green apple then that is a case of evasion and not a mistake.

That is rather strong, but not conclusive, evidence of evasion. It might also be due to color-blindness.

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That is rather strong, but not conclusive, evidence of evasion. It might also be due to color-blindness.

While this is possible, it is arbitrary. Sophia is an adult woman. If she is making strong general claims about the color of things, and knows she's colorblind, then that is a case of evasion. If she doesn't know she's colorblind, I would be hard pressed to think that she would be that certain of it, since I would doubt she has never been mistaken about color in the past.

Either way, I think there still a good case that she's evading something.

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You are right. One should consider that as an option. If eliminated however I think it would be enough to conclude evasion.

I don't, because, like color-blindness, there may be options not considered. This does not mean I withhold judgement. It means I need more facts to be sure.

In a case like your apples example, I would ask the person why he said what he did. If he said, "I don't care what they look like. I'll be damned if I'll give you the satisfaction of proving me wrong," then I would have conclusive evidence of evasion.

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When it comes to judging others, all we can do, and what we should do, is judge whether their actions and statements are (1) true or false and (2) good for us or bad for us.

I'm not sure that I entirely agree with this. When you are judging another person, what you are trying to establish is whether that person is virtuous or not (eg honest or not, rational or not, independent or not, etc). Thus, even if we establish that their statements are false, we have to know if they *knew* that their statements are false, before we can judge *them* as dishonest (or as having acted dishonestly, to be more accurate).

Now, if we know that that person is not a liar, and that person has told us what they perceived, then this is enough to judge them on their honesty, absent any evidence to the contrary (and similarly for the other virtues). Simply showing that the facts are different from the facts they reported is not enough to show that they are dishonest. Since justice demands that one is considered innocent until proven guilty, the reputation of the person is what stands in such a case.

It should therefore be a given that Mrs Hsieh perceived a threat if she says she perceived a threat (or danger), especially given that even Mrs Speciher would not mind associating with her (which she wouldn't if she had judged her as dishonest, I presume). And this is where the question of the thread begins: whether her response to the threat she perceived was just. And as such, whether we should all act similarly when we perceive such a threat (as the value to be gained from the discussion).

{edit: added the "or as having acted dishonestly, to be more accurate" sentence}.

Edited by blackdiamond
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I don't, because, like color-blindness, there may be options not considered. This does not mean I withhold judgement. It means I need more facts to be sure.

In a case like your apples example, I would ask the person why he said what he did. If he said, "I don't care what they look like. I'll be damned if I'll give you the satisfaction of proving me wrong," then I would have conclusive evidence of evasion.

Yes, I agree with making sure that your suspicion is right.

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When you are judging another person, what you are trying to establish is whether that person is virtuous or not (eg honest or not, rational or not, independent or not, etc).

WHY?

Isn't it so you can judge what they are likely to do in the future? So you can know whether to trust them, deal with them, and whether you can learn or gain any value from them? In other words, whether they good for you or bad for you? I hope so because I also know there are plenty of people who judge for less selfish -- and less rational -- reasons.

Some have a Christian "church-lady" attitude and are always seeking sin in others so they can condemn them and thereby establish their own moral superiority second-hand and by contrast. Other over-zealous condemners are putting a moralistic veneer on their own very ugly hatred of the good for being the good. Observe how and why James Taggart passed moral judgement on Hank Rearden.

Thus, even if we establish that their statements are false, we have to know if they *knew* that their statements are false, before we can judge *them* as dishonest (or as having acted dishonestly, to be more accurate).

How much you need to know about someone else in order to judge them is very contextual. If a doctor or lawyer gives me bad advice, I probably will not investigate to find out whether it is an honest mistake or evasion. I'll just find another doctor or lawyer.

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WHY?

Isn't it so you can judge what they are likely to do in the future? So you can know whether to trust them, deal with them, and whether you can learn or gain any value from them? In other words, whether they good for you or bad for you?

Right. Except when you have integrated the person's character from past interactions with her and other facts you know about her (in short, you know her, or you know the people who know her), then you already know that the person is honest, etc etc. Thus if you ask them what they perceive, whatever they say is what they have perceived. If you know they are always diligent before coming to a conclusion, then you know they were diligent before they came to that conclusion. (Unless you have evidence to the contrary, that reputation - which you have confirmed - is all you can stand by).

For the purposes of this thread, the judgment that is relevant is whether the person *perceived* that threat. And this is so simple that their word is enough. A discussion to prove if they are lying about that perception, or if they are evasive, involves a contradiction if (we accept that): 1. we know they are not like that and 2. we are willing to associate with them on their blog if they could allow us (which we shouldn't be if they are that dishonest). So, the only reasonable conclusion is that what they report to have perceived is indeed what they perceived (after due diligence).

How much you need to know about someone else in order to judge them is very contextual. If a doctor or lawyer gives me bad advice, I probably will not investigate to find out whether it is an honest mistake or evasion. I'll just find another doctor or lawyer.

Yes, and you are unable to judge that doctor or lawyer unless you investigate those facts, or if you already know them (their character) - from past integrations.

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Right. Except when you have integrated the person's character from past interactions with her and other facts you know about her (in short, you know her, or you know the people who know her), then you already know that the person is honest, etc etc.

But you don't know that. The only person whose honesty you can know about with certainty is your own.When judging others, you look at the evidence you have and, if you have never seen the person being dishonest, you can assume that he will be honest in the future. If you see him being honest in a situation where it is embarassing or disadvantageous to tell the truth and he could get away with being silent or telling a lie, it is evidence that he is actively truthful and will probably be honest in the future. Yet you can never be as certain with others as you are with yourself. In addition, free will plays a huge part. A man who is honest today can, and might, choose to become a liar tomorrow.

Thus if you ask them what they perceive, whatever they say is what they have perceived. If you know they are always diligent before coming to a conclusion, then you know they were diligent before they came to that conclusion. (Unless you have evidence to the contrary, that reputation - which you have confirmed - is all you can stand by).

That's right. When judging others, our knowledge is necessarily incomplete, but we must judge, given the evidence we do have, as carefully and as rationally as we can.

For the purposes of this thread, the judgment that is relevant is whether the person *perceived* that threat. And this is so simple that their word is enough. A discussion to prove if they are lying about that perception, or if they are evasive, involves a contradiction if (we accept that): 1. we know they are not like that and 2. we are willing to associate with them on their blog if they could allow us (which we shouldn't be if they are that dishonest). So, the only reasonable conclusion is that what they report to have perceived is indeed what they perceived (after due diligence).

I don't understand what you trying to say here. I would appreciate further clarification.

Edited by Betsy
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Thanks for your responses, Mrs Speicher.

But you don't know that. The only person whose honesty you can know about with certainty is your own.When judging others, you look at the evidence you have and, if you have never seen the person being dishonest, you can assume that he will be honest in the future. If you see him being honest in a situation where it is embarassing or disadvantageous to tell the truth and he could get away with being silent or telling a lie, it is evidence that he is actively truthful and will probably be honest in the future. Yet you can never be as certain with others as you are with yourself.

If you have previously judged someone as honest - because you wanted to know whether to trust them in the future - then when that future comes (i.e. a situation arises), you have to judge them as being honest, until you have evidence to the contrary. Why would they have to present their introspections to you every single time there is a situation, if you already know how rational and honest they are? So, my point is that, if there is no other evidence to work with, all you can say about such a one is that they are as honest and as rational as you know them to be. Otherwise, your point that you judge a person to know whether to trust them in future would be undermined.

I don't understand what you trying to say here. I would appreciate further clarification.

Point 1 is what I've explained above. Point 2 needs clarification:

If you say that you (Mrs Speicher) are willing to continue associating with someone (eg Ms Hsieh - on their blog, etc), then it appears to me that you do not have evidence that they are irrational or dishonest, etc. Therefore, this solidifies my point that we should indeed assume that the person is rational, honest, etc (as far as what they SAY they perceived) as there is no evidence to the contrary, only evidence of virtue. Your very willingness to continue association with them (after all they've said) would indicate to us (if we at least trust your own judgment) that you have no evidence of their dishonesty, even if this does not necessarily confirm positively their honesty. The only thing we can rely on, therefore, is how we judged them in the past. I hope I'm clear.

The thread, then, essentially asks that given what they honestly perceived, is their subsequent reaction ("the request") justified (or just)?

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If you have previously judged someone as honest - because you wanted to know whether to trust them in the future - then when that future comes (i.e. a situation arises), you have to judge them as being honest, until you have evidence to the contrary. Why would they have to present their introspections to you every single time there is a situation, if you already know how rational and honest they are?

I never said they had to. My aim was to provide reasons why you can never be certain of someone else's future actions and character based on past observation.

Point 2 needs clarification:

If you say that you (Mrs Speicher) are willing to continue associating with someone (eg Ms Hsieh - on their blog, etc), then it appears to me that you do not have evidence that they are irrational or dishonest, etc. [...] Your very willingness to continue association with them (after all they've said) would indicate to us (if we at least trust your own judgment) that you have no evidence of their dishonesty, even if this does not necessarily confirm positively their honesty.

That would not follow.

I do not regard mere interaction with someone as an endorsement or sanction. A soldier who engages in combat with his enemy on the battlefield is interacting with him, but neither sanctioning him nor granting that he is honest or rational.

Likewise, I welcome most opportunities to engage in intellectual battles with my opponents so that I can present my evidence and try to convince thinking people that I am right and my opponent is wrong. Such engagement is not to be taken as any kind of sanction of my opponent.

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I do not regard mere interaction with someone as an endorsement or sanction. A soldier who engages in combat with his enemy on the battlefield is interacting with him, but neither sanctioning him nor granting that he is honest or rational.

Likewise, I welcome most opportunities to engage in intellectual battles with my opponents so that I can present my evidence and try to convince thinking people that I am right and my opponent is wrong. Such engagement is not to be taken as any kind of sanction of my opponent.

Would you have a (productive) debate with someone if you knew (or believed) they were dishonest?

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Would you have a (productive) debate with someone if you knew (or believed) they were dishonest?

That depends on what you are trying to produce.

It is unlikely I will persuade a dishonest opponent, but having a public debate with him or her can often expose their dishonesty or clarify the issues for those in the audience.

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It is unlikely I will persuade a dishonest opponent, but having a public debate with him or her can often expose their dishonesty or clarify the issues for those in the audience.

Ok. I guess I can understand that.**

It's just that it sounded to me like you just wanted to be able to visit the blog in general (for discussions on the different items brought up by her, and to gain value from these), and not specifically to expose the "dishonesty" of the blog owner (or to clarify "the issues" to the public).

But whatever the case, I think one can understand why she might have perceived some enmity, and acted to protect herself (and her career).

And hence the question of this thread (which does not assume, by the way, that you are the one in the wrong, but grants that Ms Hsieh did report an honest perception and fear).

[**Just a note: Although I understand your argument here, I must mention that I do recall that Ayn Rand expressed a different view in an interview I saw (with Phil Donahue). She basically said that she had not publicly debated her philosophy with her opponents because she had not yet found "an honorable opponent". She considered Mr. Donahue an honorable opponent, which is why she accepted to do the interview despite his rejection of her philosophy (and i think, his religiosity). In short, she did not find value in debating with a dishonest person.]

Edited by blackdiamond
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[**Just a note: Although I understand your argument here, I must mention that I do recall that Ayn Rand expressed a different view in an interview I saw (with Phil Donahue). She basically said that she had not publicly debated her philosophy with her opponents because she had not yet found "an honorable opponent". She considered Mr. Donahue an honorable opponent, which is why she accepted to do the interview despite his rejection of her philosophy (and i think, his religiosity). In short, she did not find value in debating with a dishonest person.]

I always found that strange. Of all the people to accuse of being a "worthy adversary"...Donahue? He always struck me as the probable basis for the character of Toohey. I don't get it.

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I always found that strange. Of all the people to accuse of being a "worthy adversary"...Donahue? He always struck me as the probable basis for the character of Toohey. I don't get it.

You have to know the context at the time. Donahue was the FIRST prominent morning TV talkshow. His show created the genre. He generally was very well-studied on his guests and asked good probing questions. He was highly-watched and well-respected. It was not until later that more of his personal views came out, and the dearth of talkshows that he fell out of prominence. Also, the mid 70's were the really last liberal era. Carter wasn't really thought and idiot of a President at the time, and Donahue was not "seen" as the flaming liberal he is now.

My grandfather used to watch him religiously in the morning (and he was the staunchest conservative).

Edited by KendallJ
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... you can never be certain of someone else's future actions and character based on past observation.

Why not? It would follow from this line of argument that I can never be certain of the future actions and character of the man I may marry, even 50 years after being married to him. To hold out the arbitrariness of dishonesty at that point would be just that - arbitrary. Certainty in judgment is possible with regards to honesty and depends on two things: how consistent are the observations, and how long have they been going on?

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Why not?

People have free will.

"This, in every hour and every issue, is your basic moral choice: thinking or non-thinking, existence or non-existence, A or non-A, entity or zero."

It would follow from this line of argument that I can never be certain of the future actions and character of the man I may marry, even 50 years after being married to him.

That's true. He still has the freedom to make different choices at some time in the future. Because actions tend to become automatized into habits, past actions are pretty good predictors of future actions, but they are not infallible or 100% reliable predictors.

To hold out the arbitrariness of dishonesty at that point would be just that - arbitrary.

It is not arbitrary, but a real possibility. An honest man has to choose to remain honest "in every hour and every issue."

Certainty in judgment is possible with regards to honesty and depends on two things: how consistent are the observations, and how long have they been going on?

Does that mean that once you have consistent observations about the person over a long enough period of time, he no longer has free will and is now determined to remain honest?

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