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Objectivism and Supporting Government


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#81 studiodekadent

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 08:57 AM

What I've generally gotten in response are generally evasions (i.e. that I'm taking things out of context, that I'm rationalizing, etc) which don't actually address the question but instead criticize the way I'm asking the question.


Nick,

Accusing Objectivists of evasion is, well, a big accusation. Especially since evasion is something that happens inside an individual's consciousness and not something you can observe directly.

Responses like "you're taking things out of context" and "you're being rationalistic" (which isn't the same as "rationalizing") aren't evasions. They're methodological and epistemological concerns with your argument.
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#82 studiodekadent

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 08:59 AM

Completely agreed.. I don't advocate abolishing the state in order to increase liberty. The state goes away, as an effect, as people have a rational grasp on reality.


I certainly think that's a possibility.
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#83 Xray

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 03:19 PM

That may be, but reasons people choose to live in certain areas are not necessarily principle-based. I choose chocolate over vanilla not out of any principle, but because its preferable. The difference between the US and North Korea is much larger than chocolate and vanilla, so let's say chocolate and dirt. Again, no real principle that I know of behind that choice, I just don't care for the taste of dirt.

Neither choosing where to live nor what to eat is a moral issue.

But according to Objectivism, it is. At least this is what I have been told on another thread, where it was pointed out that in Objecitivism, "every choice is moral".

Do we have Rand's exact words on that?

Edited by Xray, 06 August 2011 - 03:21 PM.


#84 Brant Gaede

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 08:52 PM


That may be, but reasons people choose to live in certain areas are not necessarily principle-based. I choose chocolate over vanilla not out of any principle, but because its preferable. The difference between the US and North Korea is much larger than chocolate and vanilla, so let's say chocolate and dirt. Again, no real principle that I know of behind that choice, I just don't care for the taste of dirt.

Neither choosing where to live nor what to eat is a moral issue.

But according to Objectivism, it is. At least this is what I have been told on another thread, where it was pointed out that in Objecitivism, "every choice is moral".

Do we have Rand's exact words on that?

A moral issue is a subcategory to moral. All choices are moral simply because they are choices which appertains to free will. An action then taken is moral, amoral--that is, morality doesn't seem to matter or is slight, or immoral.

Essentially, that's all.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#85 Xray

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 06:47 AM



That may be, but reasons people choose to live in certain areas are not necessarily principle-based. I choose chocolate over vanilla not out of any principle, but because its preferable. The difference between the US and North Korea is much larger than chocolate and vanilla, so let's say chocolate and dirt. Again, no real principle that I know of behind that choice, I just don't care for the taste of dirt.

Neither choosing where to live nor what to eat is a moral issue.

But according to Objectivism, it is. At least this is what I have been told on another thread, where it was pointed out that in Objecitivism, "every choice is moral".

Do we have Rand's exact words on that?

A moral issue is a subcategory to moral. All choices are moral simply because they are choices which appertains to free will. An action then taken is moral, amoral--that is, morality doesn't seem to matter or is slight, or immoral.

So my choosing a peach over an apple is a moral choice because my free will was involved? Give me a break, Brant! :D

I'd like to see Rand's direct words on all choices being moral. I always thought it was Peikoff who said that, not Rand.
So TIA for providing the direct source.

Edited by Xray, 07 August 2011 - 10:32 AM.


#86 Brant Gaede

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 10:13 AM




That may be, but reasons people choose to live in certain areas are not necessarily principle-based. I choose chocolate over vanilla not out of any principle, but because its preferable. The difference between the US and North Korea is much larger than chocolate and vanilla, so let's say chocolate and dirt. Again, no real principle that I know of behind that choice, I just don't care for the taste of dirt.

Neither choosing where to live nor what to eat is a moral issue.

But according to Objectivism, it is. At least this is what I have been told on another thread, where it was pointed out that in Objecitivism, "every choice is moral".

Do we have Rand's exact words on that?

A moral issue is a subcategory to moral. All choices are moral simply because they are choices which appertains to free will. An action then taken is moral, amoral--that is, morality doesn't seem to matter or is slight, or immoral.

So my choosing a peach over an apple is a moral choice because my free will was involved? Give me a break, Brant! :D

I'd like to see Rand's direct words on all choices being moral. I always thought it was Peikoff who said that, not Rand.
So TIA for providng the direct source.

I'm not doing Rand, here, on this subject. I may be contradicting her. I'm doing precision of thought, which seems to be wasted on you.

--Brant

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#87 Xray

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 10:39 AM


So my choosing a peach over an apple is a moral choice because my free will was involved? Give me a break, Brant! :D

I'd like to see Rand's direct words on all choices being moral. I always thought it was Peikoff who said that, not Rand.
So TIA for providng the direct source.

I'm not doing Rand, here, on this subject. I may be contradicting her. I'm doing precision of thought, which seems to be wasted on you.

I'm all for preciseness. Do you seriously believe your argument that all choices are moral is convincing? What about the bizarre results one gets in choices like the one I listed above?
Since you don't have Rand's direct words on that, my question to the other posters: Did Ayn Rand say that "every choice is moral"?

Edited by Xray, 07 August 2011 - 10:44 AM.


#88 Xray

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 10:47 AM

I'm posting because I've browsed through here a bit and find that there appear to be some bright people in these forums, and I have a question that I've had difficulty locating a satisfactory answer to. Specifically, the question is about the contradiction between the non-aggression principle ("No man may initiate the use of physical force against another"), and the support of government (which Rand defined as an institution that claims a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force). That is, any group of people that claim a monopoly (and intend to enforce that monopoly) must do so through the initiation of force. Roy Childs Jr. explained it well in his Open Letter to Ayn Rand:
http://www.isil.org/...pen-letter.html

My question involves specifically the logical contradiction in this position, not the argument from apocalypse justifications for holding a contradictory position (i.e. without a government, there would be chaos!).

I look forward to some illuminating responses.. thank you!

Roy Childs' letter is a very interesting read.
I think Ayn Rand had good deal more realism than many anarchists in that she clearly saw that anarchism can't work.

Childs citing Rand:

1. "If a society provided no organized protection against force, it would compel every citizen to go about armed, to turn his home into a fortress, to shoot any strangers approaching his door," etc.

Hard to refute, this argument.

In a 2007 talk, Steven Pinker cites a source where it says that:

..."the timing of the decline of homicide in Europe coincided with the rise of centralized states."
http://www.kranti.or...f-violence.html

Pinker also points out that eruptions of violence can be seen

"...in zones of anarchy: in failed states, collapsed empires, frontier regions, mafias, street gangs and so on."


Childs's letter starts off with:

Dear Miss Rand:

The purpose of this letter is to convert you to free market anarchism. As far as I can determine, no one has ever pointed out to you in detail the errors in your political philosophy. That is my intention here.


Did Childs seriously believe that pointing out a contradiction in a philosophy would convert its founder to the critic's philosophy?

Does anyone know of a philosopher who abandoned his own philosophy A, switching to philosophy B after philosopher B pointed out contradictions in philosophy A?

Edited by Xray, 07 August 2011 - 12:32 PM.


#89 Brant Gaede

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 10:57 AM


I'm posting because I've browsed through here a bit and find that there appear to be some bright people in these forums, and I have a question that I've had difficulty locating a satisfactory answer to. Specifically, the question is about the contradiction between the non-aggression principle ("No man may initiate the use of physical force against another"), and the support of government (which Rand defined as an institution that claims a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force). That is, any group of people that claim a monopoly (and intend to enforce that monopoly) must do so through the initiation of force. Roy Childs Jr. explained it well in his Open Letter to Ayn Rand:
http://www.isil.org/...pen-letter.html

My question involves specifically the logical contradiction in this position, not the argument from apocalypse justifications for holding a contradictory position (i.e. without a government, there would be chaos!).

I look forward to some illuminating responses.. thank you!

Roy Child's letter is a very interesting read.
I think Ayn Rand had good deal more realism than many anarchists in that she clearly realized that anarchism can't work.

True, but she hated direct, intellectual competition. She also used the top-down model which naturally embraces the state. That spilled over to her own life, both personal and professional. Over 40 years ago a couple of libertarian, left wing anarchists were pictured on the front of the NYTimes Sunday magazine, I think with raised fists. The communist cultural overlap was obvious. That would have completely pissed her off.

--Brant

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#90 Brant Gaede

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 11:04 AM



So my choosing a peach over an apple is a moral choice because my free will was involved? Give me a break, Brant! :D

I'd like to see Rand's direct words on all choices being moral. I always thought it was Peikoff who said that, not Rand.
So TIA for providng the direct source.

I'm not doing Rand, here, on this subject. I may be contradicting her. I'm doing precision of thought, which seems to be wasted on you.

I'm all for preciseness. Do you seriously believe your argument that all choices are moral is convincing? What about the bizarre results one gets in choices like the one I listed above?
Since you don't have Rand's direct words on that, my question to the other posters: Did Ayn Rand say that "every choice is moral"?

Not to you. I simply explained the hierarchy of different, but related concepts. You have yet to address that. You just keep bulldozing ahead, swimming in your intellectual molasses, as has always been your wont on OL.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#91 Xray

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 12:09 PM


Since you don't have Rand's direct words on that, my question to the other posters: Did Ayn Rand say that "every choice is moral"?

Not to you. I simply explained the hierarchy of different, but related concepts. You have yet to address that. You just keep bulldozing ahead, swimming in your intellectual molasses, as has always been your wont on OL.

The discussion here was not about "different but related concepts". I had directly addressed a post by Nick Coons who wrote:

"Neither choosing where to live nor what to eat is a moral issue." (N. Coons, #71).

My reply was:

"But according to Objectivism, it is. At least this is what I have been told on another thread, where it was pointed out that in Objectivism, "every choice is moral". (Xray, #83).

So if I was wrong on that and according to Objectivism, not every choice is a moral choice, I'll stand corrected of course. That's why I'm interested in Rand's direct words on it.

Edited by Xray, 07 August 2011 - 12:17 PM.


#92 Xray

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 12:57 PM


Roy Child's letter is a very interesting read.
I think Ayn Rand had good deal more realism than many anarchists in that she clearly realized that anarchism can't work.

True, but she hated direct, intellectual competition.

It's somewhere in the back of my mind that Rand did not reply to Childs's open letter in any form, but merely made some disparaging remarks about it to her friends.

She also used the top-down model which naturally embraces the state. That spilled over to her own life, both personal and professional.

Interesting point. I too think that Ayn Rand was in some way quite a hierarchically oriented person, a hero worshiper who placed the "prime movers" on top.

Over 40 years ago a couple of libertarian, left wing anarchists were pictured on the front of the NYTimes Sunday magazine, I think with raised fists. The communist cultural overlap was obvious. That would have completely pissed her off.

I think Ayn Rand loathed anything even vaguely reminding her of communism. Not hard to understand, in view of her her direct experiences with this system.

Edited by Xray, 07 August 2011 - 12:58 PM.


#93 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 03:32 PM


Since you don't have Rand's direct words on that, my question to the other posters: Did Ayn Rand say that "every choice is moral"?


Did Ayn Rand ever say that every specific choice is moral? I'm certain she would say no. I don’t have Ayn Rand’s exact words on this issue. I don’t know that she ever spelled it out. However, to his credit, Peikoff did clarify it very well in Understanding Objectivism.

Every action can be classified as moral or immoral—i.e., every action can be evaluated as either pro-life or anti-life. However, this is not true of every choice. Moral principles define a wide range of options, and within that range, any number of concrete choices are perfectly moral.

Eating, working and dressing yourself in the morning are all moral actions, and what you specifically want to eat or the particular work you choose or how you dress yourself are all optional within the range of pro-life concretes—i.e., those concretes which favor life. Any number of concrete options are legitimate, and which of them you choose is not a moral issue. However, if you venture outside the criterion of that which is pro-life—if you choose something which is destructive to life—e.g., eating poison, ‘working’ as a mafia hitman or donning a burka—your choice/action is immoral. Your choice makes your action something which is, in principle, destructive to your life.

So I would say that all actions are either moral or immoral, but not all choices. And I think that would be Ayn Rand’s viewpoint as well.

#94 Selene

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 04:27 PM

Her position on "choice" inherently implies that there is something of value that is to be chosen.

From Galt's speech:

If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man’s only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a “moral commandment” is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.

From her essay, "Causality versus Duty," in Philosophy: Who Needs It [page 99]:

Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course.

From The Objectivist Ethics, in The Virtue of Selfishness[page 13]:

What is morality, or ethics? It is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life. Ethics, as a science, deals with discovering and defining such a code.

Vanilla or chocolate ice cream is not a moral choice, but the fact that your mind is engaged in the choice implies a rational moral process.

Adam
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"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#95 Eudaimonist

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 02:33 AM

That is, any group of people that claim a monopoly (and intend to enforce that monopoly) must do so through the initiation of force.


But is it an initiation of force, rather than retaliatory force? I realize that Roy Childs, as an advocate of anarchocapitalism, may believe that the government initiates force on rival private protection agencies, but it is not clear to me that establishing a "legal territory" for a government isn't actually a retaliatory use of force.
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#96 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 05:52 AM

Welcome to OL, Nick.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Later in life, Roy Childs came to reject anarchocapitalism. So he rejected the weight of his argument in “Open Letter to Ayn Rand” and the weight of his arguments in “The Invisible Hand Strikes Back”* which was a rejoinder to Robert Nozick’s ethical-individualist refutation of anarchocapitalism. Apparently, Roy never wrote his reasons for rejecting his earlier arguments.* (I met Roy on a couple of occasions, but those were in the '70s, during in his anarchist period.)

Why I reject anarchocapitalism—in addition to the arguments concerning procedural justice given by Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia—is given in my essay on property rights in land, the land state, and its financing: “Rights, Games, and Self-Realization” / Intro / Part I / Part II / Part III / Follow-on

Pertinent and Important
“Justice Entrepreneurship in a Free Market” by George Smith*
“Life, Liberty, and Property” by David Kelley* **

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PS
I notice that in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy (June 2011), there is a chapter on Property (#35) by David Schmidtz and a chapter on Libertarianism (#41) by Eric Mack.http://www.kosmosonl...w-dr-eric-mack'>*

Forthcoming from an OL participant, concerning the principle of non-initiation of force and the axiom of non-agression: Robert Hartford (August 2011).

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 18 August 2011 - 12:52 PM.





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