Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Gary Brenner

The Prudent Predator argument

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Inspector wrote:

Actually, this is the part I meant to focus on:

Could you clarify what you meant by that?

X’s favorite color is red.

Y’s favorite color is green.

A fact for X is not necessarily a fact for Y.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tumor, then? It matters not, really. Since we are discussing a rational man, you may not argue from any non-rational emotion, do you agree?

That would depend on what the argument is. If the question is, must all of a rational person’s preferences be based on known causes, I would answer “no.” If that were a requirement, I would never be able to order from a menu.

It doesn\'t, until you throw around statements like this:

and this:

1. What is your point exactly? I like women. Steve likes men. We have different preferences in sex partners. Does that mean one or both of us are irrational?

2. I don’t know it for a fact, but it would not be going too far out on a limb to suppose that Mao liked killing people – inasmuch as he caused so much of it. But I once met a homicide cop who said he liked killing “human vermin.” No, I’m not equating the moral worth of a dictator and an American policeman. The point is that both had goals and killing certain “enemies” was a means to those goals.

My point is that we can’t proceed if you insist on treating peoples’ emotional mechanisms as primaries - that if so-and-so just so happens to like such-and-such that this is an acceptable moral goal for him to pursue.

I don’t claim that emotions are primaries. I’ve already acknowledged that, like everything else in life, they have causes. The problem is we don’t always know what those causes are. I cannot tell you why I like the color green, or why I’m fascinated by maps and diagrams, or why I’ve always hated cotton candy. Are you suggesting that if I don’t know why I like diagrams, it is not morally acceptable for me to pursue a career that involves them?

That, since we agreed to discuss a man of reason, we would not bring non-rational emotions into the discussion. But when I attempted to discuss self-esteem, you brought non-rational emotions into the picture. Do you see what my objection is?

If we are going to discuss real human beings, we can’t limit our discussion to some hypothetical model of super-self-aware Man. We earthlings are complicated folk and not easily pigeonholed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KendallJ wrote:

Would suggest that you check my now twice referenced response to you. It is not a proof but clarification of what Rand meant by the statement.

Fair request.

You wrote:

“What SN is describing is considering man\'s life (the organism in this case) as a standard of value. Rand is careful to differentiate standard from purpose. That is, Objectivist ethics uses the organism as a class, as the yardstick (or standard) by which to determine what virtue is.”

The organism is used “as a class”? Do you mean that virtue for the individual man is determined by what is good for (or furthers) the whole species?

You wrote:

“The quote you gave me from Rand is a little ambiguous, but I am certain that she is much more clear in other writing and she does address this numerous times. The phrase ‘man qua man’ is also a key word. That is, evaluating man as a member of the class of animals man. Another signal is the standard/purpose distinction. Look for these and you will see Rand clarifying what she means.”

I did not find the quote (“An organism\'s life is its standard of value . . .”) ambiguous in the least.

As for the “man qua man” argument, I have dealt with that a number of times on this thread. For example, what makes the producer more “qua man” than the looter? Precisely what is the criterion by which we determine man’s essence (or essences) so that we can engage in declarations of what “man qua man” is and is not? Can we state that man the carnivore is acting in accordance with “Man’s Nature,” but man the vegetarian is not? By what principle do we rule that claim in or out?

Also suggest you check out that thread that I pointed you too as it references both the very specific Rand quote you are furiously depending on, as well as other clarifying passages. I don’t intend to repeat them all here or prove the specific general case from your specfic interpretation. I’ll start from reason as necessary in life of man qua man, NOT as the particular cost-benefit analysis you want to make that quote into.

Very well, let’s start there. Let’s take reason as the prime necessity. Now what are the steps from that premise to a prohibition on the initiation of force? Why is initiatory force ipso facto contrary to reason? Where is the argument?

By the way, we are really into politics here, not ethics. In the same way that life as the standard of value is the basis upon which Objectivist ethics are developed, so respecting rights is the basis upon which Objectivist politics.

Since the problems I was having with Objectivism were passages in “The Objectivist Ethics,” I took a wild guess and decided to post on the Ethics forum. Should we have an administrator move the thread?

Dealing with other men is a political issue.

Really? Ethics has nothing to say about interpersonal relations?

To that end, the ethics are self contained, and you would not use life as the standard to derive this political issue directly, but it should be consistent with, i.e. integrated with the ethics.

Fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If we are going to discuss real human beings, we can’t limit our discussion to some hypothetical model of super-self-aware Man. We earthlings are complicated folk and not easily pigeonholed.

I don't think you understand the issue here. A particular aspect of man must have a reason to be considered in an ethical analysis. Men have preferences, emotions, etc. But only certain aspects of man are considered in the ethical analysis. This is not some "hypothetical" man, but only the essential aspects of all men.

Should I consider men not easily pigeon-holed as well because we all have a different number of freckles? You've already stipuated that reason is man's ultimate means of survival so it seems reasonable to consider that aspect. If you want to make the case that other aspects should also be factored into ethical considerations well then that is your case to make. However, introducing differences arbitrarily goes by a name, subjectivism - wrong board I think.

Note that factors of considerations should not only be universal to men, but also necessary to the ethical analysis. Emotions or color preferences are hardly essential differences upon which to base ethical considerations, but hey, I'm all ears for that argument.

Edited by KendallJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fair request.

You wrote:

“What SN is describing is considering man\'s life (the organism in this case) as a standard of value. Rand is careful to differentiate standard from purpose. That is, Objectivist ethics uses the organism as a class, as the yardstick (or standard) by which to determine what virtue is.”

The organism is used “as a class”? Do you mean that virtue for the individual man is determined by what is good for (or furthers) the whole species?

Standard / purpose distinction. Class as a standard. Individual's life as a purpose. You're confusing the two. Again, as you have so rightly pointed out this is an exercise in essentialization. Class helps define virtue. Once virtue is defined, then objectives and goals are specific to the context of an individuals values, but not contradictory to the virtues. Why this is so comes later tonight, after you've perused the thread I pointed you to where this distinction is discussed ad nauseum.

You wrote:

“The quote you gave me from Rand is a little ambiguous, but I am certain that she is much more clear in other writing and she does address this numerous times. The phrase ‘man qua man’ is also a key word. That is, evaluating man as a member of the class of animals man. Another signal is the standard/purpose distinction. Look for these and you will see Rand clarifying what she means.”

I did not find the quote (“An organism\'s life is its standard of value . . .”) ambiguous in the least.

But that is because you haven't taken in any of Rand's other writings on the topic. In fact, that is the more ambiguous of her statements because it doesn't make clear the distinction of organism as a class, or organism as an individual. It can be read either way. She clarifies this other places on the same topic, along with the std/purpose distinction. If you peruse the thread I pointed you to you'll find others who do this exact thing, cling to one particular sentence so closely that they avoid evidence that they might be reading the statement incorrectly, because they really need it to be true in order to claim that Rand is wrong.

As for the “man qua man” argument, I have dealt with that a number of times on this thread. For example, what makes the producer more “qua man” than the looter? Precisely what is the criterion by which we determine man’s essence (or essences) so that we can engage in declarations of what “man qua man” is and is not? Can we state that man the carnivore is acting in accordance with “Man’s Nature,” but man the vegetarian is not? By what principle do we rule that claim in or out?

Well now that is an exercise in epistemology. Maybe you should peruse ITOE again? Essentialization is crucial to conceptualization and definition, i.e. to reason. A zillion things are true of men. Only some things are essential to characterize man. Those are the things that broad concepts like ethics deal with, not because they describe some sort of sterilized never-to-be-seen example of man, but because the generalizations derived from them must be assured to be true of all men, regardless of color preference or freckle count. If you don't know this or how to go about doing it, then I would suggest to you that that is part of your problem, and why you keep reverting back to subjectivist/pragmatist tendencies when rejecting valid arguments given to you.

Also recommended is a course called The Art of Thinking, in which Peikoff reviews some of the left overs that he did not have room for in OPAR such as the mechanisms of reason, one aspect of which is thinking in essentials.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Really? Ethics has nothing to say about interpersonal relations?

That's not what I said. Ethics can be derived without specifically considering examples of dealing with other individuals, at least Objectivist ethics can. They are mostly stated with respect to a persons actions given his relationship to reality.

But politics in the philosophical essence is ethics applied to interpersonal interactions, with consideration given to the specific characteristics relevant to interpersonal dealings. Rights (which looting are a violation of) are specifically a political (in the philosophical sense) construct. Note, political concepts must be congruent with ethics. Whether or not that is ethics "having a say", well, it's your colloquialism. I've got no clue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KendallJ wrote:

I don’t think you understand the issue here. A particular aspect of man must have a reason to be considered in an ethical analysis.

Then state what aspects of “man” are considered in your ethical analysis and the reason(s) for their inclusion.

Men have preferences, emotions, etc. But only certain aspects of man are considered in the ethical analysis.

Which aspects of “man” should not be considered in ethical analysis and why?

This is not some “hypothetical”\\\" man, but only the essential aspects of all men.

What definition of “essential” is used here? “The indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify? Or “The most important or most crucial element”? Or some other definition?

Should I consider men not easily pigeon-holed as well because we all have a different number of freckles?

Place my comment in its proper context. I was responding to Inspector’s view that emotions or preferences that do not have a known cause should play no role in our debate on this topic. If you wish to exclude humans who do not have known causes for the emotions/preferences they hold from the set of “essential” human subjects, I would suggest that you are dealing with a very small sample.

You’ve already stipuated that reason is man’s ultimate means of survival so it seems reasonable to consider that aspect.

Yes, let’s.

If you want to make the case that other aspects should also be factored into ethical considerations well then that is your case to make.

Note that factors of considerations should not only be universal to men, but also necessary to the ethical analysis. Emotions or color preferences are hardly essential differences upon which to base ethical considerations, but hey, I\\\'m all ears for that argument.

I am examining the Objectivist ethical case, not presenting my own. So the debate does not hinge on the evidence the skeptic presents but the evidence the advocate presents. So I go back to my first query in this post: “State what aspects of man are considered in your ethical analysis and the reason(s) for their inclusion.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That\'s not what I said. Ethics can be derived without specifically considering examples of dealing with other individuals, at least Objectivist ethics can. They are mostly stated with respect to a persons actions given his relationship to reality.

Okay, I admit that it was my error to suppose that my criticisms of Ayn Rand’s philosophy were ethical. Clearly they were political. Now how exactly does that undermine my objection?

But politics in the philosophical essence is ethics applied to interpersonal interactions, with consideration given to the specific characteristics relevant to interpersonal dealings. Rights (which looting are a violation of) are specifically a political (in the philosophical sense) construct. Note, political concepts must be congruent with ethics. Whether or not that is ethics “having a say”, well, it’s your colloquialism. I’ve got no clue.

Great. So where is the argument that “rights” (in the sense of non-looting) are a valid political (or, if failing that, ethical) principle?

Oh, of course, “political concepts must be congruent with ethics.”

Now tell me precisely what is the logical case for that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why are you asking me to state what I think is essential? I thought we were debating the Objectivist case? That should be clear right?

Look Gary, if you're examining the Objectivist ethical case, then familiarity with it's specifics would be assumed. Rand states the essential characterization of man which she uses, and numerous Objectivists have pointed it out to you. Your response has been to ignore them or to argue based upon accepting different premises and not really stating them.

I would refer you to the Objectivist Ethics, yet once again. I believe you've said you read them, but at this point, it is really starting to be unclear. I have the signet edition. The following are suggested to review.

p. 20-24 will give you an essentialization of what Rand states is essential about man's characterization: namely his volitional, rational faculty. If Inspector is really arguing what you say, then I'm surprised that you, having read the essay didn't stop and say "hey, that's (the inclusion of emotions in an ethical analysis) not the Objectivist argument as I understand it."

p. 25 details the standard of Objectivist ethics as man's life, qua man, and details exaclty what that means. I realize that you want to hang onto that one quote of yours but really it's quite explicitly explained otherwise.

p. 27 details the standard / purpose distinction, again explaining in detail.

Supposedly you've already stipulated reason as mans means to survival, which would mean agreement with this above. If it does not, then please state the basis by which you plan to critique it. Your critiques to date are directly refuted by the direct statements in the essay, and folks have pointed that out to you.

If you would like to debate man's rationality as his essential character, then by all means, but we'd have to stop, and put the looting debate on hold until its confirmed that you or I either agree or disagree, but I'm starting to see a pattern of jumping around making arbitrary statements that imply disagreement with things (such as the fundamentality of reason) that you've explicitly stated you agree with.

Look to anyone who has read and considered VOS, your critique is a mess. I'm surprised as many people have continued to provide you with patient direction as have, but hey we all need the practice.

Ok Gary, walk me through this so I am clear on what I can expect of you.

What Rand works have you read (apologies if you stated this elsewhere, giving me a link will be fine)?

If restating Rand's analysis of particular points is what I'm going to be asked to do at every turn, then you're politely asking for far too much of my time to indulge you.

Okay, I admit that it was my error to suppose that my criticisms of Ayn Rand’s philosophy were ethical. Clearly they were political. Now how exactly does that undermine my objection?

Because I'm trying to point out to you why it might be that cost benefit analysis is not Rand's ethics. You accomplish this by going from "organism's life" to "I must evaluate every instance on teh basis of whether it furthers my life or not so why can't I loot?" That is collapsing all of ethics down into a indistiguishable mess. That's what pragmatists do, not Objectivists.

Edited by KendallJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That\'s not what I said. Ethics can be derived without specifically considering examples of dealing with other individuals, at least Objectivist ethics can. They are mostly stated with respect to a persons actions given his relationship to reality.

Well, that’s a load off my mind. I\'m glad the looter does not have to think about others. Only himself.

But politics in the philosophical essence is ethics applied to interpersonal interactions, with consideration given to the specific characteristics relevant to interpersonal dealings. Rights (which looting are a violation of) are specifically a political (in the philosophical sense) construct. Note, political concepts must be congruent with ethics. Whether or not that is ethics “having a say”, well, it’s your colloquialism. I’ve got no clue.

Okay. There may be no such thing as an ethical right. All rights are \"political,\" you say. That is reassuring.

I think.

So what is the \"political\" right against aggression?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If there is no way to prove or disprove the existence of benefits, the following statement by Ayn Rand is a mere assertion and is therefore of no value in formulating a system of ethics:

“Such looters may achieve their goals for the range of a moment, at the price of destruction: the destruction of their victims and their own. As evidence, I offer you any criminal or any dictatorship.”

Actually, I’m not making any assumptions about the happiness or self-esteem of others. To be exact, I’m questioning any claims that the producer is necessarily happier or more self-valuing than the looter. There is no objective data to support such claims.

You are drawing conclusions without presenting any evidence to support them. If your position is that each and every looter is making “an admission of having no self-worth,” I say prove it. And proof does not consist of stating, “Well, you can’t prove otherwise.”

That is precisely correct.

The causes of my own happiness can tell me nothing about the causes of another’s happiness. For example, I don’t care for small children. Other folks love them. So what can I hope to tell about the source of happiness in others by examining myself?

I agree that the problem is not ethical as much as it is epistomological.

If reason is man's means of dealing with reality(premise)

, and dealing with reality successfully(which requires reason) achieves self-efficacy,

, and achieving self-efficacy in several or many aspects of life leads to self-esteem

, and self-esteem(liking oneself) is a necessary and primary component of happiness

then man achieves happiness to the degree that he utilizes reason in his life.

You seem to be looking at this deductively as has been brought up earlier, which is a mistake and it is impacting your view on things you may not realize. Most importantly, you are dividing humanity into 4 artificial catagories looting/happy, looting/unhappy, not looting/happy, not looting/unhappy.

In actuality, happiness varies across time for individuals and between individuals and would appear as a spectrum rather then grid. Happiness is derived from following reason(as I demonstrated above) and people are happy to the extent that they do. So a thief who applies reason to his "craft" will derive more happiness from his life then a thief who does not. (for one, he wont be in jail as often) An honest man who productively digs a hole and fills it in repeatedly on his own land will likely end up hungry and unhappy because he is not applying reason well to hs life, even though he may be respectful of others.

Reason being the ultimate cause of happiness does not hinge on any particular compartmentalization, in other words.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1. What is your point exactly?

It is exactly what Kendall said in post #154. ("A particular aspect of man must have a reason to be considered in an ethical analysis [that is, if you accept that reason must be the source of ethics, which you have]. Men have preferences, emotions, etc. But only certain aspects of man are considered in the ethical analysis.") Thank you, Kendall!

Edited by Inspector

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, while Gary is rereading VOS, I have brought at least a few key points. I think they are sufficient to address Gary's concerns, but as you have seen me assert, I am concerned that this is still arguing with a skeptic and a fools errand. It was helpful for me to think through these items, so in the end it was valuable for me; however, continued debate if it continues along the same lines of argumentation will mean that it was a fools errand.

As I reviewed the thread there are basic issue on several levels, epistmologcial, ethical and political. Gary is making a few key errors in method which I hope to uncover, and there are a few key points that need to be made very clear. The basic flow of my points is thus.

1. Man's volitional, conceptual nature defines him as the only animal that must use reason to live, and this general fact about all men thus necessitates a code of ethics, and necessitates rationality as the fundamental virtue of all men.

2. Reason is not "mental math" or "problem solving". Rather it is "the faculty that identifies and integrates the material from man's senses." It is the method of identifying reality. The output of reason is a non-contradictory identification of reality. There is not one man's reason differing from anothers.

3. All the virtues are integrated. That is, they are all facets of rationality. To violate one, necessitates that others be violated. The necessarily puts the irrational on a course to their own destruction. While other mechanisms may play a factor in time and utlimate end point of a particular person, the fact that this mechanism is necessitated by vice is inescapable.

4. If one recognizes 1 and 2, but argues the prudent predator, then he is simultaneously denying 1 and 2 for his victim. That is, if the principle applies to all men, then to loot is to deny that it applies to others, and essentially anti-reality, or anti-reason. It defies the very idea of a general principle.

So let's get started. Gary identifies in this thread a key issue, albeit late in the game.

To put it another way, where is it shown that there must be a single, universal morality for all men? Where is the demonstration that all men are or should be equal in a moral/political/legal sense? Before you call the predator contradictory or anti-reason, you must first prove that we are all endowed with the same rights and that reality forbids one to violate the rights of the other.

Where do we look to find this “nature” of man? Can it be found only in the soul of the producer and not the predator? Perhaps we could say that the ethics of looting is derived from the “nature” of the looter.

Ironically, the guy who started out quoting Rand from The Objectivist Ethics should have read same essay for within is the analysis of what it is that is generalizable about man and essential about him that requires a code of ethics: his volitional, conceptual nature.

Just as the automatic values directing the functions of a plants body are sufficient for its survival, but are not sufficinet for an animal's -- so the automatic values provided by the sensory-perceptual mechanism of its consciousness are sufficient to guide an animal, but are not sufficient for man. Man's actions and survival require the guidance of conceptual values derived from conceptual knowledge. But conceptual knowledge cannot be acquired automatically....

But man's responsibility goes still further; a process of thought is not automatic nor 'instinctive' nor involuntary - nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. He has to discover how to tell what is true or false and how to correct his own errors; he has to discover how to validate his concepts, his conclusions, his knowledge; he has to discover the rules of thought, the laws of logic, to direct his thinking. Nature gives him no automatic guarantee of the efficacy of his mental effort.

So the answer to his question half way through this thread was sitting a few paragraphs before the original quote that he pulled out to begin it. This is the general characteristic of man which defines and requires an ethical code. He can certainly wish to be "uncertain" of this generality, but he should then show us the man whose values are automatic, who is not conceptual in nature, and who is infallible. And this generality is also essential to ethics because it derives the need for ethics. The non-automaticness of his faculty requires ethics to order to guide his action. But he has already stipulated the point so I won't belabor it.

Rand then defines value and virtue and their defining items, which Gary has misquoted almost to a fault.

The Objectivist ethics holds man's life as the standard of value-- and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man.

The difference between "standard" and "purpose" in this context is as follow: a "standard" is an abstract principle that serves as a measurement or guage to guide a man's choices in the achievement of a concrete, specific purpose. "That which is required for the survival of man qua man." is an abstract principle that applies to every individual man. The task of applying this principle to a concrete, specific purpose - the purpose of living a life proper to a rational being - belongs to every individual man, and the life he has to live is his own.

Man must choose his own actions, values and goals by the standard of that which is proper to man - in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.

Gary wants to dispense with the standard, man qua man, with what Rand identifies as purpose, enjoying his own life. This is a subjectivist/pragmatist tactic, reducing every contextual evaluation to a cost-benefit analysis, and reducing purpose to subjective goals which no one can define. Observe (and this is just a sampling):

Certainly, if you stipulate that only productive people have “real” self-esteem, you automatically exclude the non-productive from the category of those who experience this assumed “real” self-esteem. But what certifies the truth of the premise that only the productive class have real self-esteem? What would rule out the possibility that a jewel thief could practice his craft with skill, confidence, happiness and a degree of pride as intense as that of the rich women he robs?

The causes of my own happiness can tell me nothing about the causes of another’s happiness. For example, I don’t care for small children. Other folks love them. So what can I hope to tell about the source of happiness in others by examining myself?

2. I do not dispute the contention that the decision to loot relies on a “chain of antecedent reasoning,” long or otherwise. What has not been shown is that the looter is acting contrary to “life” (his own, that is) and “rationality,” or that he is unable to determine whether he is meeting his goals.

I can only speak for myself. Wealth is useful to me because I value privacy, and the poor don’t have much of that. I’ve never cared about status because I’m not gregarious by nature. And power only seems to cause misery.

Now that’s my take on it. I don’t claim to have the foggiest idea what other people think about these things, unless they decide to pour their hearts out to me. Hypothetically, I might suggest that a person may like wealth because wealth brings comfort and comfort is easier on the back than discomfort. He might like status because he associates smiling, cheering faces with the approval of his parents. And power might be a kick because it would give him the means to correct the wrongs he felt had been done to him in the past.

But these just take any purpose and give it the status of a standard of value. But since the standard of value will define virtue for us, this means that the pursuit of anything is virtue. "Anything is the good, if I say it is, and who is to say any different?" Those who claim that pragmatism isn't subjectivism should watch this slight of hand.

What requires a standard in the ethical analysis? The answer in short is: reality. Objectivism is tied to reality at every turn. Unlike empiricism which dispenses with conceptualizations and just jumps right to the data, Objectivism steeps itself in reality as it assembles each and every concept in its analysis. The standard then is defined by man's common, unique and essential requirements for survival. For the same reason that man needs a code of ethics, his primary virtue is the faculty which will determine that code for him: reason.

Rationality is man's basic virtue, the source of all his other virtues. Man's basic vice, the source of all his evils, is the act of unfocusing his mind, the suspension of his consciousness, which is not blindness, but the refusal to see, not ignorance, but the refusal to know. Irrationality is the rejection of man's means of survival and, therefore, a commitment to a course of blind destruction; that whic is anti-mind, is anti-life.

The virtue of rationality means the recognition and acceptance of reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only judge of values and one's only guide to action...

Reason is the faculty that identifies the material provided by man's senses.

Rationality is the cardinal virtue, and reason is man's means of identifying reality. Here is where Gary again commits a subjectivist/pragmatist error. By defining and using reason as if it is just the output of some mental gymnastics by any person who happens to fire a few synapses.

Yes, we agree on the necessity of reason for human survival. I would only add that the most accomplished human predators in the modern world achieved their goals with their brains rather than “awesome fangs, great speed, poison spurs.”

Why should a predator abandon reason? By ignoring data, placing trust in unreliable sources, and jumping to wishful conclusions, the predator risks failure, imprisonment or even death.

Reason is not "mental math" or "synaptic gymnastics" or out-of-context "problem solving". Reason is the non-contradictory identification of reality it is concerned not only with solving a problem, but with an evaluation of why one should spend time solving that problem, or what goals one needs to acheive. By solving the problem and ignoring the context, one is ignoring reality just as surely as if one ignores the problem altogether. Gary has ignored the generalities that can be drawn in man, the ability and necessity to set a standard of value, and turned ethics into subjectivist heap of trash. Now in order to cover his tracks, he has to redefine reason so that you won't see that his "reasonable" looters are actually ignoring reality in the endless "rationality." There isn't individual rationality that leads each of us to different conclusions and sets up inherent conflict. Reason is tied to reality. But then Rand wrote an entire essay on this. See "The 'Conflicts' of Men's Interests."

You have argued that \"predating on other men\" is \"not living as a man.\" But such a proposition, if it is to be taken seriously, requires proof that the category of people who live as \"men\" excludes predators. I have not seen such proof, nor proof of the contention that predators necessarily act \"contrary to reason.\"

I have not yet seen any demonstration that looting is inconsistent with the choice to live and use reason as one’s means of survival.

1. On this forum I have not yet seen a demonstration that the looter necessarily commits a breach of reason.

Which is a great example of my third point. Derivative virtues of honesty, integrity, productiveness, etc are tied back to rationality. They are all facets of the same issue, that is the non-contradictory identification of reality.Rand and Peikoff in OPAR all define the Objectivist virtues as some aspect of recognition of reality. From OPAR, Rationality is "primary orientation to reality". Integrity as "loyalty to rational principles." Honesty as the "rejection of unreality". Justice as "rationality in the evaluation of other men." Productiveness as "adjusting nature to man for survival".

Reality is the common thread, the integrating feature along with man's need for reason within the Objectivist virtues. As such, violation of any Objectivist virtue has a separate consequence which is external to any seemingly derived code of ethics. Namely, it bumps up against reality in the form of a contradiction. That is it necessarily conflicts with reality in some way. Reality being immutable, that contradiction cannot be wiped away. It can only be evaded. And it is in the evasion that necessarily puts the evader on a path to destruction. In order to continue to evade reality one will necessarily bump up against the need to evade that reality by violating other virtues. All of use who are parents have seen this very effect in our children who try to "get away" with something. A theft must be covered up by a lie, which in turn must be covered up by an action to conceal the lie, and so on.

This mechanism is fixed and it is universal to any man who claims that he can evade reality in isolation (such as those who argue the prudent predator). While there may be circumstances in any particular case which act to slow or cover up this chain of evasion (a rich man for instance can live a very long time and never be productive), the mechanism is still there, and that mechanism is what I believe Rand was discussing when discussing the eventual destruction of a looter. I also believe that there is ample evidence of the psychological effects of evasion in all its forms and one need simply search for it to find it. In fact, this it the most fundamental issue, since it is the first aspect of any individual at risk in the act of evasion. Regardless of material impact the psyche is affected and affected more greatly wiht the extent of evasion. Gary offers us the extreme examples of dictators for instance, but I would highly suspect that most dictators are true sociopaths, and as such would be exempt from our standard of proof per his admission (I would also refer Gary to discussion of criminality such as are presented in the book, The Criminal Mind by Stanton Samenow). Regardless, there is ample inductive evidence to indicate that this chain is actual to any extent of what Gary would call "certainty" (which is a whole other issue).

Finally to the issue of looting. Hopefully I've shown that the generality Gary was seeking applies, that looters are not acting rationally because they evade this generality even as they deftly "solve problems" and that the reality orientation of Objectivist virtues necessitates continued evasion in order to cover up initial evasions.

But what is the direct argument for someone who argues the prudent predator problem? That is someone who argues that even in a Objectively "rational" world there must be conflicts of goals and thus result in the possiblity that it might be rational to prey on another? While this is exactly what Rand's initiation of force principle is meant to address, I won't rely on it directly. This is the proper way it should be built up from induction, but since Gary has an issue with induction in general, I prefer to answer the hypocrisy of the prudent predator position in purely rationalistic terms.

To accept the fundamental, reality-oriented need for rationality as a primary virtue in man, and then to argue that said rationality requires you to prey on another, rejects the very need for such a principle in your victim. That is, a conflict in goals cannot exist in a reality-based ethical system. To claim that it does is to reject the principle while trying to base an argument on it.

That's it for me. I'm sure Gary will have a long list of "but, but, but... " tomorrow. Hopefully I've had a chance to show you where some of the biggest issues are in his arguments. As i said, Gary, if you really have read VOS several times as you claim, your critque is a mess. I can't quite tell what you're really after in this discussion, but hopefully I've at least made you think a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not necessarily. I thought Objectivists believed in the importance of context. If so, please consider this example. X and Y are both skilled, dedicated, successful doctors in their early fifties. X is fascinated by medicine and little else. When he and his wife take a vacation, he brings along a stack of professional journals to read. On the other hand, Y has a number of interests besides medicine. He plays piano, loves the theater, and enjoys contributing to internet forums.

I hold that it is just as rational for Y to retire now in order to pursue other interests as it is for X to continue his career in medicine.

I don't see this as a valid application of your suggestion.

To apply this suggestion consistently ('labor' bad, 'leisure' good), x would also have to quit.

That being said, it appears that I'm already about 3 pages behind on this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wouldn't a single exception to the impracticality prove that it's practical?
No. The odds for the winner are the same as for the loser. The fact that A won and Z lost does not prove that A had better odds than Z.
What definition of "practical" are you using?
Useful.
Then the only thing that matters in determining if X is practical is whether you win or lose, right? What is the relevance of odds?

I assume you understand the relevance of sN's point, if not mine.

The act of accepting an irrational process is self-destructive regardless of its results in one case or another.
Let’s stipulate all of the above.
Whaddyamean "let stipulate"? Do you agree or don't ya?
I agreed with enough of it to grant the point. Its relevance to this debate is another matter.
Equivocating is hardly the same as answering the question.

At any rate, if you theoretically agreed that the act of accepting an irrational process was self-destructive, you'd be implicitly acknowledging that you Mao counterexample proves nothing. If you insisted the Mao counterexample was relevant, I'd probably then ask you what you'd meant by "destructive" as you would obviously be using it with two divergent meanings. Theoretically.

If you theoretically disagreed that the act of accepting an irrational process (e.g. randomly cutting wires on a bomb) was self-destructive (regardless of whether you were unlucky enough to not meet your maker,) I would theoretically question your sanity and again ask what is your definition of "destructive".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1. Man’s volitional, conceptual nature defines him as the only animal that must use reason to live, and this general fact about all men thus necessitates a code of ethics, and necessitates rationality as the fundamental virtue of all men.

2. Reason is not “mental math” or “problem solving”. Rather it is “the faculty that identifies and integrates the material from man\'s senses.” It is the method of identifying reality. The output of reason is a non-contradictory identification of reality. There is not one man’s reason differing from anothers.

3. All the virtues are integrated. That is, they are all facets of rationality. To violate one, necessitates that others be violated. The necessarily puts the irrational on a course to their own destruction. While other mechanisms may play a factor in time and utlimate end point of a particular person, the fact that this mechanism is necessitated by vice is inescapable.

4. If one recognizes 1 and 2, but argues the prudent predator, then he is simultaneously denying 1 and 2 for his victim. That is, if the principle applies to all men, then to loot is to deny that it applies to others, and essentially anti-reality, or anti-reason. It defies the very idea of a general principle.

No, Prudent Predator X does not have to deny the necessity of reason for man’s survival (#1) in order to steal from Y. In fact, X may applaud Y’s “faculty that identifies and integrates the material from man\'s senses.” That faculty is what makes Y productive enough to create wealth that X can steal.

Rand then defines value and virtue and their defining items, which Gary has misquoted almost to a fault.

Please cite a single instance of my misquotation of Rand.

Gary wants to dispense with the standard, man qua man, with what Rand identifies as purpose, enjoying his own life.

Let’s look at the criterion by which you select the essential attributes of man qua man If it is what Rand calls an “abstract principle that applies to every individual man,” then it must apply even to those whose behavior we dislike such as mystics or predators or altruists. It appears there is a problem here. Productivity is not an attribute of the looter. Therefore, we have arrived at a supposedly general principle that is not true for every man. How can we then tell the looter he is not living “qua man,” is not living according to his essence? Why should we not suppose that looting is his essence?

This is a subjectivist/pragmatist tactic, reducing every contextual evaluation to a cost-benefit analysis, and reducing purpose to subjective goals which no one can define.

Again the labels. Prove that my argument is based on pragmatism or subjectivism and then demonstrate that the approach is in error. Next prove that I have reduced every contextual evaluation to a cost-benefit analysis. Next prove that I have said that purpose is necessarily a subjective goal which no one can define.

But these just take any purpose and give it the status of a standard of value. But since the standard of value will define virtue for us, this means that the pursuit of anything is virtue.

Very well. Please demonstrate that productivity can be a standard but looting cannot be.

“Anything is the good, if I say it is, and who is to say any different?”

Thank you for going on record against misquoting people. Now tell me who said the above, so I can go on record as being in disagreement with him?

Those who claim that pragmatism isn’t subjectivism should watch this slight of hand.

Again the labels and no real argument.

What requires a standard in the ethical analysis? The answer in short is: reality. Objectivism is tied to reality at every turn. Unlike empiricism which dispenses with conceptualizations and just jumps right to the data, Objectivism steeps itself in reality as it assembles each and every concept in its analysis. The standard then is defined by man\'s common, unique and essential requirements for survival. For the same reason that man needs a code of ethics, his primary virtue is the faculty which will determine that code for him: reason.

Rationality is the cardinal virtue, and reason is man\'s means of identifying reality. Here is where Gary again commits a subjectivist/pragmatist error. By defining and using reason as if it is just the output of some mental gymnastics by any person who happens to fire a few synapses.

Yes notice where Gary defines reason this way. And if we have neglected to provide an exact citation, you will just have to do the labor yourself.

Reason is not “mental math” or “synaptic gymnastics” or out-of-context “problem solving”. Reason is the non-contradictory identification of reality it is concerned not only with solving a problem, but with an evaluation of why one should spend time solving that problem, or what goals one needs to acheive. By solving the problem and ignoring the context, one is ignoring reality just as surely as if one ignores the problem altogether. Gary has ignored the generalities that can be drawn in man, the ability and necessity to set a standard of value, and turned ethics into subjectivist heap of trash.

Nowhere have I argued that an ethical system must be subjectivist. But don’t let that deter you from your valiant battle with a strawman.

Now in order to cover his tracks, he has to redefine reason so that you won\'t see that his “reasonable” looters are actually ignoring reality in the endless “rationality.” There isn\'t individual rationality that leads each of us to different conclusions and sets up inherent conflict. Reason is tied to reality. But then Rand wrote an entire essay on this. See “The ‘Conflicts’ of Men\'s Interests.”

Nowhere have I promoted any such thing as “individual rationality,” in the sense that objective reality is different for X and Y.

Which is a great example of my third point. Derivative virtues of honesty, integrity, productiveness, etc are tied back to rationality. They are all facets of the same issue, that is the non-contradictory identification of reality.Rand and Peikoff in OPAR all define the Objectivist virtues as some aspect of recognition of reality. From OPAR, Rationality is “primary orientation to reality”. Integrity as “loyalty to rational principles.” Honesty as the “rejection of unreality”. Justice as”\"rationality in the evaluation of other men.” Productiveness as “adjusting nature to man for survival”.

Reality is the common thread, the integrating feature along with man’s need for reason within the Objectivist virtues. As such, violation of any Objectivist virtue has a separate consequence which is external to any seemingly derived code of ethics. Namely, it bumps up against reality in the form of a contradiction. That is it necessarily conflicts with reality in some way. Reality being immutable, that contradiction cannot be wiped away. It can only be evaded. And it is in the evasion that necessarily puts the evader on a path to destruction. In order to continue to evade reality one will necessarily bump up against the need to evade that reality by violating other virtues. All of use who are parents have seen this very effect in our children who try to “get awa” with something. A theft must be covered up by a lie, which in turn must be covered up by an action to conceal the lie, and so on.

This mechanism is fixed and it is universal to any man who claims that he can evade reality in isolation (such as those who argue the prudent predator). While there may be circumstances in any particular case which act to slow or cover up this chain of evasion (a rich man for instance can live a very long time and never be productive), the mechanism is still there, and that mechanism is what I believe Rand was discussing when discussing the eventual destruction of a looter. I also believe that there is ample evidence of the psychological effects of evasion in all its forms and one need simply search for it to find it. In fact, this it the most fundamental issue, since it is the first aspect of any individual at risk in the act of evasion. Regardless of material impact the psyche is affected and affected more greatly wiht the extent of evasion. Gary offers us the extreme examples of dictators for instance, but I would highly suspect that most dictators are true sociopaths, and as such would be exempt from our standard of proof per his admission (I would also refer Gary to discussion of criminality such as are presented in the book, The Criminal Mind by Stanton Samenow). Regardless, there is ample inductive evidence to indicate that this chain is actual to any extent of what Gary would call “certainty” (which is a whole other issue).

I look forward to the presentation of this inductive evidence with great eagerness.

Finally to the issue of looting. Hopefully I’ve shown that the generality Gary was seeking applies, that looters are not acting rationally because they evade this generality even as they deftly “solve problems” and that the reality orientation of Objectivist virtues necessitates continued evasion in order to cover up initial evasions.

What you’ve done is define rationality to specifically exclude looting. Bravo. I could define the term in a different way to produce different results. Frankly, I’d much rather see the inductive evidence you’ve promised.

But what is the direct argument for someone who argues the prudent predator problem? That is someone who argues that even in a Objectively “rational” world there must be conflicts of goals and thus result in the possiblity that it might be rational to prey on another? While this is exactly what Rand’s initiation of force principle is meant to address, I won’t rely on it directly. This is the proper way it should be built up from induction, but since Gary has an issue with induction in general, I prefer to answer the hypocrisy of the prudent predator position in purely rationalistic terms.

To accept the fundamental, reality-oriented need for rationality as a primary virtue in man, and then to argue that said rationality requires you to prey on another, rejects the very need for such a principle in your victim. That is, a conflict in goals cannot exist in a reality-based ethical system. To claim that it does is to reject the principle while trying to base an argument on it.

That’s it for me. I\'m sure Gary will have a long list of “but, but, but... “ tomorrow. Hopefully I’ve had a chance to show you where some of the biggest issues are in his arguments. As i said, Gary, if you really have read VOS several times as you claim, your critque is a mess. I can’t quite tell what you’re really after in this discussion, but hopefully I’ve at least made you think a bit.

Thank you, KendallJ! While I see a number of errors in your argument, I appreciate the time and effort you put into this lengthy post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
aequalsa wrote:

I agree that the problem is not ethical as much as it is epistomological.

If reason is man’s means of dealing with reality(premise)

, and dealing with reality successfully(which requires reason) achieves self-efficacy,

, and achieving self-efficacy in several or many aspects of life leads to self-esteem

, and self-esteem(liking oneself) is a necessary and primary component of happiness

then man achieves happiness to the degree that he utilizes reason in his life.

Fine. Explain why the man who kidnaps Africans and sells them to plantation owners is not “dealing with reality successfully,” not achieving self-efficacy and self-esteem and happiness. If you tell me it is because he is not using reason, then that is to define “reason” in a way to specifically exclude looting. But that is an argument that would only be convincing to the already convinced. Man needs reason for survival and happiness. Reason does not permit looting. Therefore looters will self-destruct and be unhappy.

You seem to be looking at this deductively as has been brought up earlier, which is a mistake and it is impacting your view on things you may not realize.

Okay, let’s hear the inductive case.

Most importantly, you are dividing humanity into 4 artificial catagories looting/happy, looting/unhappy, not looting/happy, not looting/unhappy.

In actuality, happiness varies across time for individuals and between individuals and would appear as a spectrum rather then grid. Happiness is derived from following reason(as I demonstrated above) and people are happy to the extent that they do. So a thief who applies reason to his “craft” will derive more happiness from his life then a thief who does not. (for one, he wont be in jail as often) An honest man who productively digs a hole and fills it in repeatedly on his own land will likely end up hungry and unhappy because he is not applying reason well to hs life, even though he may be respectful of others.

Reason being the ultimate cause of happiness does not hinge on any particular compartmentalization, in other words.

I never made any such categorical decree, so I am not sure this point has any relevance to the discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hunterrose wrote:

Then the only thing that matters in determining if X is practical is whether you win or lose, right? What is the relevance of odds?

If one prefers winning to losing, then one would likely prefer winning more times than fewer times. Paying attention to the odds increases that likelihood. If it is acceptable to lose more often than win, one may safely ignore the odds.

I assume you understand the relevance of sN\'s point, if not mine.

Yes.

Equivocating is hardly the same as answering the question.

I politely answered your question by expressing agreement in general on the point you made. If that answer is not good enough for you, then I can offer you no further service.

At any rate, if you theoretically agreed that the act of accepting an irrational process was self-destructive, you’d be implicitly acknowledging that you Mao counterexample proves nothing.

Not so. From what we know of him, Mao was a cunning, resourceful strategist. He was anything but a fool who took random, mindless risks.

If you insisted the Mao counterexample was relevant, I\'d probably then ask you what you\'d meant by \"destructive\" as you would obviously be using it with two divergent meanings. Theoretically.

“Destructive” in the same sense as your examples of the Russian roulette player or random bomb wire puller. Apples compared with apples.

If you theoretically disagreed that the act of accepting an irrational process (e.g. randomly cutting wires on a bomb) was self-destructive (regardless of whether you were unlucky enough to not meet your maker,) I would theoretically question your sanity and again ask what is your definition of \"destructive\".

See above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nate wrote:

I don’t see this as a valid application of your suggestion.

To apply this suggestion consistently (‘labor’ bad, ‘leisure’ good), x would also have to quit.

That being said, it appears that I’m already about 3 pages behind on this thread.

First of all, I never said, “labor bad, leisure good.” It would be akin to saying, “sleep bad, eating good.” I never suggested that leisure uniformly has the same value for every person – regardless of context. Imagine a man stranded in the desert. He can only live a limited number of hours on the water he has left in his canteen. It would be suicidal for him to sit and play solitaire all day instead of trying to walk back to civilization. On the other hand, Warren Buffet has enough resources to permit him considerable leisure time. There is no logical contradiction in the fact that two different people in different circumstances place different values on leisure. In fact, it’s a perfect example of why individualism is important in philosophy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No, Prudent Predator X does not have to deny the necessity of reason for man’s survival (#1) in order to steal from Y. In fact, X may applaud Y’s “faculty that identifies and integrates the material from man\'s senses.” That faculty is what makes Y productive enough to create wealth that X can steal.

Thanks for this Gary, now I have you on record as saying it. I'll be back to it in a second.

Please cite a single instance of my misquotation of Rand.

Excuse me. You are right; I mispoke. Would you like "misquoted" replaced with:

a. "grossly misrepresented" or

b. "exceedingly misinterpreted" ?

Either of those is correct. Before you say neither, I will call you out on that claim.

Let’s look at the criterion by which you select the essential attributes of man qua man If it is what Rand calls an “abstract principle that applies to every individual man,” then it must apply even to those whose behavior we dislike such as mystics or predators or altruists. It appears there is a problem here. Productivity is not an attribute of the looter. Therefore, we have arrived at a supposedly general principle that is not true for every man. How can we then tell the looter he is not living “qua man,” is not living according to his essence? Why should we not suppose that looting is his essence?

Who said anything about the common generalizations being based upon productivity. I know I didn't.

Again the labels. Prove that my argument is based on pragmatism or subjectivism and then demonstrate that the approach is in error. Next prove that I have reduced every contextual evaluation to a cost-benefit analysis. Next prove that I have said that purpose is necessarily a subjective goal which no one can define.

Let's not get too testy here. The adjective is modifying the tactic, not you or your name. I'm not at all claiming that you are making the argument as a subjectivist or pragmatist. I thought we'd covered that.

As to the evidence, I provided very striking evidence through your quotes that you indeed would not argue with any particular objective being introduced, and I would submit that every almost every example of a contextual evaluation you've submitted in this thread has been based upon cost benefit toward any particular goal. You yourself haven't claimed any particular class of goals as meeting a standard and others as not, but if you'd like to do so now, that would be fine. Note that if it involved deciding against doing something due to a cost benefit (or risk benefit) analysis, well then that sort of proves my point.

If you'd like to gather up all of your posts and present them in one place so we can count, please be my guest. As for me, the thread is my evidence, it's not going anywhere. Anyone who wants to can go sample it.

Very well. Please demonstrate that productivity can be a standard but looting cannot be.

I never said that. You should read Rand's essay one more time. Neither did she.

Thank you for going on record against misquoting people. Now tell me who said the above, so I can go on record as being in disagreement with him?

I'm not quoting anyone. I'm careful when I quote to leave the header in place so that anyone who happens to read my posts can click directly to the quote in its full context. You'll never see me do otherwise. Quotes like this one are "scare quotes". It's a form of summarizing a position, with a tinge of mockery. :lol:

Yes notice where Gary defines reason this way. And if we have neglected to provide an exact citation, you will just have to do the labor yourself.

I'm specifically accusing you of stealing the concept, so that would mean you use it that way, and drop the context of a definition. I provided evidence of you using the term in the way that I suggested you did. If you'd like to argue that you didn't mean your statements that way, then I'm all set for the context you'll bring that makes that clear. If you want to claim that you use reason according to Rand's definition then I'll call out the specific examples I cited as mistakes in your method. Either way, you pick.

Nowhere have I argued that an ethical system must be subjectivist. But don’t let that deter you from your valiant battle with a strawman.

See my comments above.

Nowhere have I promoted any such thing as “individual rationality,” in the sense that objective reality is different for X and Y.

What you’ve done is define rationality to specifically exclude looting. Bravo. I could define the term in a different way to produce different results. Frankly, I’d much rather see the inductive evidence you’ve promised.

Yeah, this is where I needed that quote of yours because it makes a point that I think you either missed or is not clear. It is also covered in much detail in Rand "'Conflict' in Interests" essay. It is fundamental. If Gary you fail to take on this point directly or fail to grasp it, I won't go much further, because if you really are playing devil's advocate, we may have hit upon your fundamental objection. If you actually believe what you say (ie. if that "subjectivism" really is there, your claims to the contrary notwithstanding), then there'll be no convincing you even though this next point will be sitting right under your nose.

You said:

No, Prudent Predator X does not have to deny the necessity of reason for man’s survival (#1) in order to steal from Y. In fact, X may applaud Y’s “faculty that identifies and integrates the material from man\'s senses.” That faculty is what makes Y productive enough to create wealth that X can steal.

This directly makes the claim of 2 rationalities. It is not an arbitrary claim that productivity is rational and looting is not. Reality makes that definition. That is, it is not just an arbitrary definition. Rationality is directly tied to reality through survival. To claim that you believe in rationality as the key tool to survival, and then to ignore the product of rationality destroys your claim of belief in the principle. Thus when you look at reason's direct tie to reality (as a process), you must also consider the products of reason in that examination, because it literally is the products of reason through which we survive. This is as crucial and pivotal a point as exists, and it is how Objectivism integrates with reality and such philosophies that would give credence to the prudent predator disconnect with reality even if they claim (as you do) to do so.

Reason as the means of survival is the inductive evidence for looting as irrational. If reason is the non-contradictory identification of reality, then that "reasoning" which arrives at a contradictory identification of reality is irrational.

Only looting claims that the product of a productive man's rationality, his wealth, and the product of a looter's "rationality", his loot, are one in the same. Only looting claims that one cake is the product of two different men's rationality, and it is "reasonable" that only one man have it and eat it. That is contradictory identification of reality. Productivity makes no such claim. It is entirely non-contradictory, which is why it becomes a derivative virtue of rationality and why looting is it's counter vice.

This is exactly what you implicitly claim above, and also each time you've claimed that a looter is acting rationally. In fact, you so much as correctly identify that it is the product of the productive man's rational faculty which creates the wealth to be looted.

Thank you, KendallJ! While I see a number of errors in your argument, I appreciate the time and effort you put into this lengthy post.

Thank you. I have no idea if you seriously believe what you're arguing or if you're playing devils advocate, but it's comments like these that give me hope it's the latter. Please don't mistake my form of spirited debate as a personal attack. I view it more as mental sparring. If you'd like me to tone it down a bit, please let me know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
First of all, I never said, “labor bad, leisure good.” It would be akin to saying, “sleep bad, eating good.” I never suggested that leisure uniformly has the same value for every person – regardless of context. Imagine a man stranded in the desert. He can only live a limited number of hours on the water he has left in his canteen. It would be suicidal for him to sit and play solitaire all day instead of trying to walk back to civilization. On the other hand, Warren Buffet has enough resources to permit him considerable leisure time. There is no logical contradiction in the fact that two different people in different circumstances place different values on leisure. In fact, it’s a perfect example of why individualism is important in philosophy.

So what do you mean by context? How does it differ from a concrete?

They are not the same thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd probably then ask you what you'd meant by "destructive" as you would obviously be using it with two divergent meanings.
“Destructive” in the same sense as your examples of the Russian roulette player or random bomb wire puller.
Why do you think Mao didn't destroy himself through his looting? Because of his lifespan and accumulation of appropriations.

Then you agree that the act of accepting an irrational process is self-destructive regardless of the process's results in a given case.

By your first standard of "destructive", an irrational process would be self-destructive depending on its results in a given case (e.g. playing the lottery and random defusing would be practical if you win, and destructive if you lose.)

By your second standard of "destructive", if looting is irrational, then Mao's looting was self-destructive regardless of the process's results in his given case. And your pointing out his wealth/health is immaterial to the charge of destructive qua looting.

I assume for the moment that you mean "destructive" qua the second sense, and that your Mao example is meaningless.

1,000th post (w00t):smartass::ninja:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This directly makes the claim of 2 rationalities. It is not an arbitrary claim that productivity is rational and looting is not. Reality makes that definition. That is, it is not just an arbitrary definition. Rationality is directly tied to reality through survival. To claim that you believe in rationality as the key tool to survival, and then to ignore the product of rationality destroys your claim of belief in the principle.

It is a feature of this world that there can be a conflict between the universal and the individual. Rands ethics starts from the individual level:

1) An ultimate value is the final end to which everything else is a means.

2) There is a fundamental alternative of existence or non existence for each indivudal, implying that survival is the ultimate value for each individual.

3) Reason is a means to individual survival. The standard of reason for each individual is then the indentification of facts in relation to his survival.

However, on the interpersonal level you apply a standard of reason very similar to the Categorical Imperative (CI). Thus, you have now two standards of reason, and the debate here is about how to resolve the problem when those standards conflict. It's not clear how you accomplish this.

For example, you say that if you cheat on the CI, then you destroy your mind (because the CI is a standard of reason) and this will in turn lead to your death because the mind is vital to your survival. The problem is that this simply isn't true. Most people fall far short of being Objectivists, yet most of them survive longer than Ayn Rand. This realitycheck make most of your claims rather suspicious. The causal connection between cheating on the CI and death is rather far fetched and it's not clear how it is supposed to work. A looter using his loot to buy an expensive health insurance might very well be making a net benefit from a survival point of view since the connection between health an survival is very strong. According to the first standard of reason (individual survival) this would be rational, but according to the second (CI) it would be irrational. Since you are commited to both standards there seems to be a problem to be resolved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
However, on the interpersonal level you apply a standard of reason very similar to the Categorical Imperative (CI). Thus, you have now two standards of reason,

I don't understand your statement. How is Kendall using two standards? When did he start sounding like a CI? Could you be less abstract; concretize that a bit?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...