Kevin Haggerty

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  1. Absolutely, they can both be wrong. And how! But they gotta be wrong about what they're wrong about, don't they? I don't see intellectual dishonesty in using your friend's tactics in a war of words, particularly when it's your friend's idea to use 'em in the first place. In these parts, calling a man "intellectually dishonest" is about as black a mark against his character you can find and it makes me a little bit crazy how ready some people are to go there. I do see Hillary trying to bring Barrak down as a person and I think it's a bad move--she goes for the ad hominem like a pigeon goes for bread crumbs. But Hillary's got no game, while Obam' the Phenom' is walking away with the nomination at this rate. I just calls 'em likes I sees 'em! (It's good to see you, Michael, how's the book coming?) Kevin
  2. Y'know, you might have a point here if it was a whole speech. If he copied a speech. But it's not and he didn't. It's a blurb, it's a sound-bite. It's a 30 second quip. What it really is is a come-back. Hilary says he's "all words" and this is his retorts. All his friend had to say was, "All words, eh? Just bring up all the great words of America's great orators, like 'I have a dream' and 'we hold these truths to be self-evident,' etc." It's a list is all. The reason his "speech" is a copy of Patrick's "speech" is because they both list the same chestnuts of American rhetoric. Not if you look at the primary and caucus results! I think his detractors have a problem with it, a serious problem. And while we're at it, I'm not sure what strawman Michael was referring to, actually. Obama didn't dodge her attack, he engulfed it. Clinton makes a pretty broad swipe, pretty general--certainly no specifics on her part--and he dismisses it with a flourish. The same flourish his friend used two years ago. If you're looking for intellectual dishonesty look no further than Ms. Clinton. She knows perfectly well Obama has positions, they've debated umpteen million times on 'em. He's got his li'l 5 year plan, just like she does. She's attacking his style. Isn't this obvious? She, who, let's face it, is not much of an orator, is attacking him for being a pretty damn good one. And he threw it back in her face. I get from the tone of your post that you don't like Obama to begin with. Me, I appreciate good oratory from a political candidate for once in my life. Do you, honestly, give a crap about this particular Clinton/Obama spat? Do you honestly believe that Obama cribbing a retort from a friend of his in part of a speech will have any major bearing on his ability to perform the duties of President of the United States? Kevin
  3. Dustan, it was Patrick's idea for Obama to use his tactic in the first place, Patrick thought it would be a good way to respond to Hilary. So there is no "vs." here. Intellectually dishonest... It's just people looking for dirt where there is none. Kevin
  4. Omygod, she was an Aquarius??? That explains EVERYTHING! :sorcerer:
  5. Ah well, shoulda kept lurking. What excuses can I muster? It was late? The lights from the oncoming cars blinded me? I was posessed by demons? No. I fail. Carry on. Good to see you about, Jonathan.
  6. Hey everybody, sorry for coming so late to the party, but having not finished AS, I tend to skip threads on the topic (naturally enough). Add to this that I've only read the first 6 pages of this thread and then this last, and perhaps I should really continue lurking, BUUUUUUUUUUUUUT (takes a breath) I have a defense of Dagny that no one seems to have offered as of yet. The crucial issue here, as always, is context. Without context, yes, she killed a guard because he couldn't make up his mind. Shock! Outrage! Bob isolates the sentence which denotes this and then jumps to whatever conclusion suits him, because without the specific context of WHAT the man couldn't make up his mind ABOUT, that's exactly what Bob gets to do. He drops the context and supplies his own. Wheeeee! Commando ops! Piano wire! But if we simply include the context: the guard couldn't make up his mind...1...2...3...ABOUT JOHN GALT, then the scene makes the simplest kind of sense. The premise the book rests on is that John Galt is right, righter perhaps than anyone who has ever lived. You don't knowingly interfere with that. If you do, then definitively, you are evil. And if you knowingly vacillate about it, well, the end result is the same, you're sanctioning evil by your inaction; you're stalling because for you, MAYBE evil is right. This guy could not recognize what side he was on and that placed him on the wrong side--he could not recognize the good. Oh, poor guy, he was just confused! But what AR is saying is that you can't be innocently confused about the good when it's right in front of you. "Okay, so you're confused," says Dagny, "Well, I'm not. Get out of my way!" And he doesn't. Well, in terms of reality, his inaction speaks louder than words. What his behavior told her was that he was a willing pawn of evil. Too bad for him. To Dagny, John Galt is the good, he is the right. And the narrator agrees with her. So Galt is kind of a litmus test--if you side against him, if you vacillate in doing what you can to aid him when put to the test--you are part of the problem and in a romantically realistic novel, you will come to a bad end. No? -Kevin
  7. Ach! No child is being saved from cancer by this. No child is being saved from HIV by this. There is no earthly reason to circumcise a child. If you elect to be circumcised upon reaching your majority, no one will stop you. Please, Bob, in this, at least, desist. -Kevin
  8. Yes, Michael, scalping was first used as a way to determine payment to mercenaries sent by the British Crown into Ireland to kill Irishmen--more scalps, more proof of murder, more payment. When the Crown was done with that campaign, they sent the same mercenaries to America to kill Indians. The Native American "military" was so astounded and so impressed with the savagery of scalping they felt that they must "escalate" their practices to match it. Culturally, yes, scalping had a strange connection to the difficult to translate concept of "counting coup"--a practice derived from the ritual shaming of an enemy by touching or hitting your enemy on the head. The concept expanded and changed over time and across native cultures to include stealing an enemy camp's horses, for instance, and eventually included this practice of scalping. -Kevin
  9. Hey Robert, I'm no Peikoff scholar by a long shot, but from what I have read, it strikes me that in his writing revilement tends to trump philosophical consistency. So often, he seems simply to be going for the put-down: "It's evil!" becomes "It's meaningless!" becomes "It's stupid!" depending on what aspect strikes him as being the most damning in the moment. The black and white world he inhabits (and no, I don't see a world that is all greys, but a world in full color, thank you very much ;) ) disallows him making distinctions between degrees and kinds of wrong. Wrong is all wrong, largely indifferentiable from any other wrong. How else can he list "Nazism, Communism, non-objective art (lol), non-Aristotelian logic, egalitarianism, nihilism, the pragmatist cult of compromise, the Shirley MacLaine types, who 'channel' with ghosts and recount their previous lives" as moral equivalents? Why didn't he include "libertarianism, adultery, taking more than one's fair share of donuts at breakfast and falling asleep in philosophy class?" I'm reminded of a documentary on the Catholic Church's attitude toward pedophilia in the priesthood, Deliver Us From Evil. A therapist comments that since the Catholic hierarchy demands complete celibacy of its priests and therefore accounts any sexual act a mortal sin, they make no distinction between sleeping with a parishioner's wife and raping his 9 year old daughter. Sex is sex. Evil is evil. At the risk of "psychologizing," Peikoff's attitude strikes me as fundamentally naïve. Whenever folks go on and on as he does in Fact and Value about "evil," I gotta wonder what kinds of evil they've actually had to deal with in their lives. The evil of murder, the evil of pedophilia (I've had the misfortune of personally dealing with both actualities in my lifetime) are, up close, not subjects for philosophical chit-chat. They are harrowing mysteries of human volition demanding the steadiest, most painstaking analysis and inquiry. To confuse this kind of absolute human failure with anything merely discussed in a lecture hall would excite my gravest contempt were it not so completely silly. (I hasten to add, even those of us who have dealt with significant evil in reality, because of evil's nature, are often undone by it and come away with the most warped and corrupt notions. Without help, we generally get worse, not better, after an encounter with real evil.) My experience has taught me that most people are simply confused because their encounter with reality is impoverished--their range of experience is too narrow, too comfortable to demand thinking through the really hard stuff. Furthermore, the really hard stuff is definitively overwhelming and disturbing, so they're more than willing to take this or that authority's word on the subject in the hopes that the real deal never touches them directly. Whatever method we find to encourage others of our species to think for themselves, to encounter reality fully and unflinchingly--no matter what evil, reality-contradicting gobbledygook they may have cluttering up their minds--is, to my mind, a very good thing indeed; be it lecturing to libertarians, or posting on the Internet. -Kevin
  10. There have been many great tenors, men with beautiful voices, but Pavarotti--man! He was something unto himself! I can listen to Nessun Dorma a thousand times (and have--and will a thousand more) and every time his voice catches me by surprise! His was a dream of a voice, something seemingly impossible and yet so real. I feel lucky to have lived in his time. -Kevin
  11. Hi Paul, I know the thread is over a year old now, so I'm not surprised if the stuff I referenced doesn't seem to be part of this thread, but that's where I got it. In addition to the quote of yours that I posted, your Nathaniel Branden quotes are from post #22 as well, and Dragonfly seemed to be arguing that "free will" was the modern equivalent of a cargo cult pretty much the whole time he was posting here (you and he had obviously been working the topic over in other threads, but I don't believe I've read those). To state my position more starkly, I don't see how determinism is at all compatible with a notion of "self esteem." In psychology, the deterministic world view is pretty indivisible from depression and a belief in the self as victim. Don't know how one can consider one's self a true "actor on the world stage" if everything one does is the result of forces external to the self. And as I said, mere functionality ("Yay, the machine isn't broken!") doesn't strike me as much to esteem. And Bob, I don't think a lot of people who value intuition as a concept would equate it with "common sense." Perhaps you get your definition from phrases like "intuitively obvious." I doubt that's the "intuition" Paul is talking about. What I would call "intuition" seems, often as not, to be completely at odds with "common sense." You know, the world is constantly supplying our minds with far more information than we can consciously process. We have basic (largely subconscious) filters that decide what is to be foregrounded in the conscious mind and what's to be backgrounded to the subconscious mind (if we didn't we'd all be autistic). Even though so much of our experience goes right past our conscious awareness, our minds seem to be able to process and double check this info for meaning. That's where the intuition comes in, when our minds draw conclusions from the welter of unconscious information we gather every minute of the day. That's how Kekule was able to come up with the benzene ring. And that's where someone like Paul may get his intuition that determinism is not the final word on causality. -Kevin
  12. Wow, I missed this discussion completely! And now some of my off-line reading has gotten me thinking about will in some new ways and with Bob's posting yesterday, the title of this old thread announced itself to me from the "today's active topics" page and I started reading it, etc. (Michael, isn't it wonderful how broad and deep the world of O-L has become? How hard it is, I presume, for most of us to keep abreast of all the many fascinating developments? Quite an accomplishment! Thoroughly redundant congratulations to you and Kat!) It's funny, me visiting this site and finding it of value, because, for the most part, I have no patience for philosophy. The constantly reductive discussions of philosophers bore me close to tears and rarely if ever express anything I'd want to take home with me. What does fascinate me is psychology. I am particularly interested in the place where psychology and philosophy meet. Not so much "what" people are thinking, but "why." It's curious to me that Paul's NB quotes here have gotten exactly zero commentary, because they seem to me to be at the beating heart of whatever the heck we're talking about when we talk about "free will." Keeping it simple and letting reality be my guide, self-esteem seems to be the elephant in this room. Forget about where free will comes from, I want to know where self-esteem comes from! In a deterministic universe, self-esteem must be pure delusion, sentimental attachment to an abstraction. Either that, or some bloodless equivalent to "Yay! The machine isn't broken!" Why would you congratulate or esteem something for simply working properly? I mean, how much excitement, how much passion can a mere mechanism generate? To quote Paul's post #22: "Without human will, thinking is automatic, art is automatic, love is automatic, existence is automatic, passion is dead!" If indeed we have a self to be esteemed, then the self must generate something to account for it. If passion is a value, it cannot simply be a measure of a machine's struggle against brokenness. On the other hand, Dragonfly's argument has an elegance to it. Just as ancient people thought the gods must be responsible for the natural phenomena they could not understand, so modern man deifies his own poorly understood motives with the magnificent notion that he is the unmoved mover of his own will. I suppose, then, self-esteem would, at best, be relegated to the level of a "necessary fiction." Seems obvious to me that if self-esteem is a real value, then free will must be a real phenomenon. In psychotherapy we are confronted again and again by the praxis of free will, in contraversion to a life-time's worth of causation and addictions, coming forward out of the mysterious individual human being to say, "No, I am not simply the result of the many forces in my life. Today, this moment, I choose to unwrite the program and begin anew." No respectable therapist would ever claim agency for such a patient's shift. It's something in the individual, something unprecedented and transformative. Put even more simply, I'm talking about creativity itself. Is creativity an illusion? Can a Dragonfly honestly say that the creation of great art that transforms consciousness and propels the race toward greater and greater levels of awareness is just an inevitable result of Newtonian principles? And if he can, then--and I mean this very seriously--why do we care about any of it? -Kevin
  13. Steve, I got two words for you: Ayn Rand. Born in Tsarist Russia. And--and--she had no children. And yet. Not "not particularly rational," but exceptionally rational. And, a heck of a legacy, wouldn't you say? Even "heirs." This kind of trendy trend-mongering you're talking about becomes more and more fictive the further into the future you project it. Human beings are not fruit flies. And rationality is--get this--a natural reaction to reality itself. It cannot die out any more than the human desire for beauty or our lamentable fear of the unknown. And as demonstrated by Ms. Rand, it can crop up just about anywhere. Who's to say the next Ayn Rand won't be born in Tehran? Not you, and not "demographics." Rationality dying out? Because white people are having fewer babies than brown people? Or because your and my own wondrous rational genes might die without any heirs? C'mon, Steve! Beyond all that, rationality has greater influence in the entire world today than at any other time in human history. Prove me wrong. The rate of information exchange, the velocity of technological advancements year after year, the success of capitalism in far flung corners of the world--what about these trends? From where I sit, the "irrational world" is not on the brink of swallowing us up at all. On the contrary, the forces of unreason in the world are feeling extremely threatened, and rightly so! And what does a frightened, cornered animal do? It puffs itself up as big as it can and lashes out (hello? Terrorism? Suicide bombers? Fatwas on novelists?). Fundamentalist Islam is not a meaningful ideology on the rise, it is an ancient rageful order on the brink of its own obsolescence. Prove me wrong. I ain't saying they can't do a whole lot of damage in the meantime, but the writing is on the wall. Look where Soviet Russia was a generation ago and look at it today. Reason even brought the Catholic Church to heel, now it's Islam's turn. That is one HUGE assumption, Steve. Three words: human developmental psychology. You beg a few questions with this: Are you, yourself, the product of such a rationalist dynasty? Can you point to ANY such family line in any culture at any time in human history? You know, seriously, in light of all you've said on the topic here, I kinda feel a little sorry for any children you might bring into the world, seeing the heavy-handed agenda you have in store for the poor kids. Anyone who makes the world a better place has given future generations something precious for which the most rational response is simply gratitude. Our gratitude to previous generations does not imply any obligation on their part, nor on ours. It is natural, however, that someone with a thriving self esteem would want to be the type of person future generations look back on with gratitude, just as we draw inspiration from the giants upon whose shoulders we stand. Furthermore, a great many of the greatest artists and thinkers, the greatest achievers in history have left the world childless. Individuals have different strengths and contribute to the world in different ways. C'mon, speaking for yourself, would you rather have Atlas Shrugged or Frank O'Connor Jr.? -Kevin
  14. Hey Dustan, Thank you for your very civil reply. Here's what I got for ya: first of all, there is no promise or contract implicit in pregnancy. A girl of 14 can become pregnant, but what contract can she reasonably be held liable for? In fact, one can become pregnant with absolutely no knowledge of how conception is achieved. Also, pregnancy is not a definite outcome of sexual intercourse in any case, only a possibility. Even pregnancies reabsorb and miscarry on their own, not infrequently. So pregnancy is never a simple matter of choice. So we are gonna force a woman to accept full responsibility for an outcome that might or might not happen? Her bad luck being the cause of lifelong moral responsibility? Okay, and I see no need to suppose that a fetus "initiates force" on anyone--remember, my contention is that the fetus does not constitute an individual--separate it from the mother and it will cease to be. And, no, I will never accept that the mere act of penetration is an initiation of force! Yikes! And the difference between a woman inducing a miscarriage and a mother abandoning a child, is that the child is an individual, one that another person could care for and raise, for instance. Nobody can take over the pregnancy of a 2 month pregnant woman who wishes to opt out. There is no option for her but either to have the baby or abort the fetus. I hear you say "adoption, etc." but adoption does not solve the problems of a 2 month pregnant woman who no longer wants to be pregnant; a woman who's life is already being disrupted mightily, who's viability as a wage earner, for instance, may very well be at stake. Would you force such a woman to continue to carry an unwanted much of such force is okay with you? A week? A month? Six? I'm good with determining viability in the most obvious way--what's medically possible? As medical science advances, as younger and younger fetuses become viable, great! Viability is viability. Seems pretty simple to me. Why do folks find this stuff so mysterious? And good gravy, who's "grinding up" babies? What's with the pro-life horror jargon? You and I are not arguing about late stage abortions here. Most cultures throughout history have recognized that a baby exists upon "quickening"--not a bad start in my view. Again, seems pretty straight forward. Sure, a D & C is "aggressive," but you can say that of any surgical procedure. Initiation of force is not a categorical problem. A tonsillectomy is an initiation of force against the innocent tonsil and building a house is an initiation of force against the lot where it's built. Initiation of force is only a problem when it infringes upon the rights of one or more individual human beings--individual. No individual? No actionable force. And finally, as to your problem with folks saying no to Dr. Paul's candidacy based on his stance on abortion, I can only speak for myself. His stance on abortion is a huge disappointment to me, because I find his view (to coin a phrase) mystical. I find his reasoning marred--even ruled--by an emotional reaction. The same reasoning could drive a man to seek to outlaw red meat after visiting a meat processing plant. And for the guy to condemn all abortion because he witnessed a late stage procedure that prolly shouldn't be legal anyway looks like an hysterical overreaction. And finally, if he really thinks a fetus has individual rights at the moment of conception, he ain't being rational at all. That said, were he to get the nomination, I'd prolly end up voting for the man, because his personal shortcomings in this arena--which I don't take at all lightly--would have little weight in legal terms and his positions on other matters would recommend him ahead of pretty much everyone else in the field. -Kevin
  15. But Dustan, If a life is wholly dependent on another life for existence itself--I mean wholly and literally--do they truly have a separate, individual existence? Shouldn't a person have the right to say "no" to such an arrangement? Pull the plug, so to speak? The situation puts the mother in a position not so much to murder the fetus as to withhold her body from it--a strange form of murder, to say the least. Bringing a baby to term is also a risk and a personal sacrifice. What you're arguing seems to be a moral obligation of a pregnant woman to sacrifice a portion of her life for another individual. I disagree that the only reasonable debate is whether the fetus is "life" or not. If that were the debate, the pro-life folk would simply win (which is why such folk always frame the debate in such terms). The issue is not whether the fetus is alive or not (of course it is), nor even whether it is "human" or not (of course it is), but whether or not it is an individual (which it clearly is not for quite some time). Sure, if the fetus is viable, the mother is killing an individual and has infringed upon that individual's rights. But before the fetus is viable, I would argue, it is not an individual life separate from it's mother's and so lacks individual rights. -Kevin