starrynightlife

Reconsidering Rand's Ethics

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But whether "OWL" was actually moderated, I cannot say.

OWL was moderated and I think there was a limit to the number of posts a person was allowed per day.

In any case, the 1997 debate occurred on OWL, not Atlantis -- a sublist of WTL that did not exist at that time.

OWL and ATL and other WTL lists were all started at the same time, though there was a bit of a delay getting ATL up and running.

If the debate occurred in 1997, it might have been on the old list which preceded the WTL group - Kirez Korgan's cornell-l list. Joshua Zader, who was good friends with Kirez, joined as moderator of that list. And then they decided to start a new set of lists. Jimbo eventually came into it and had the power to pull the plug because they needed a server when Kirez didn't have Cornell as a base any longer, so Jimbo provided server hosting.

Ellen

I am skeptical of your analysis. "OWL" rings a bell, loud and clear, in connection with the 1997 debate -- I can almost see it on the printouts I made -- whereas I had no knowledge of a Cornell list. In fact, I had never even heard of a "cornell-l" list until you mentioned it just now.

Ghs

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His name is Kirez -- this much I am certain of -- something or other. Korgan, maybe?

LOL. Something like that. See post #249 maybe.

I have never been good with names, Elaine.

Ghs

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I was up all night working, and I haven't gotten any sleep yet. My fatigue and poor memory for details (except where books are involved) may have caused me to misremember the business about OWL in 1997. If OWL did not exist in 1997, then it did not exist, and I was obviously mistaken.

I think I still have my original posts buried in my computer files. These are MS Word files, not emails, so they will not include headings that indicate the list involved. But I might be able to find an internal reference somewhere. I will do a search after I get some sleep.

Ghs

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Here's the history on the transfer and the selection of the name OWL.

This starts with my joining the cornell list.

It was called objectivism-l@cornell.edu.

The transfer to WetheLiving was April 7, 1999. See the fourth email below.

The name OWL for the new main list was suggested by Joshua Zader and instituted on 4/15/99. See the last email in the batch.

[ Color highlights added ]

2/6/99

To: Kirez Jinx Korgan <kjk6@cornell.edu>

From: "Laurence I. Gould" [actually, from ES] <lgould@...>

Subject: Cornell List

Cc:

Bcc:

X-Attachments:

Dear Kirez,

I'm a friend of Joshua Zader's, Ellen Stuttle.

I know that Joshua has posted a "Pillar Essay" on *Unrugged

Individualism* for a discussion of the monograph about to

occur on the Cornell list. I'd like to know your protocol

and method for signing on to (and later off of) the list.

Would be interested in receiving the postings for the term

of the Kelley discussion.

Yours truly,

Ellen

===

Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 02:32:17 EST

Reply-To: listproc@cornell.edu

Sender: listproc@cornell.edu

From: Cornell University Mailing List Server

<listproc@cornell.edu> To: lgould@...

CC: kirez@cornell.edu

Subject: SUBSCRIBE OBJECTIVISM-L Ellen Stuttle

X-Sender: kjk6@travelers.mail.cornell.edu

Welcome!

You are now a subscriber to the OBJECTIVISM-L mailing list.

Please save this message for future reference, because it

contains information you will need on managing your list

subscription and for obtaining documentation and assistance.

[....]

===

Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 15:56:22 EST

Reply-To: listproc@cornell.edu

Sender: listproc@cornell.edu

From: Cornell University Mailing List Server

<listproc@cornell.edu> To: lgould@...

Subject: REVIEW OBJECTIVISM-L

X-Sender: lgould@...

***

*** OBJECTIVISM-L@cornell.edu: philosophy of objectivism

***

*** Date created: Sun Nov 13 03:37:52 1994

--- The current list settings are as follows:

[....]

List Objectivism-L@cornell.edu is a moderated forum

for discussion of the philosophy of Objectivism.

===

Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 00:35:31 -0600 (MDT)

To: objectivism@wetheliving.com

From: Kirez Korgan <kirez@cornell.edu>

Subject: [O-L] Welcome to Objectivism@WeTheLiving.com

Sender: owner-objectivism@wetheliving.com

Reply-To: Kirez Korgan <kirez@cornell.edu>

Folks,

If you're receiving this version of the WeTheLiving.com

announcement, you

can be assured that you have been successfully transferred

to Objectivism@WeTheLiving.com and will continue to receive

email from the list just as you have received this one.

After 5 years of Objectivism-L@cornell.edu...

I've transferred the Objectivism-L list to its own

domain -- Objectivism-L

will no longer be hosted by Cornell Listproc.

I've created a majordomo list on the domain

WeTheLiving.com. The NEW ADDRESS FOR OBJECTIVISM-L is the

following:

objectivism@WeTheLiving.com

And instead of sending subscribe/unsubscribe commands to

<listproc@cornell.edu>, you will now send them to

<majordomo@wetheliving.com>. (Eg: unsubscribe objectivism

--- it's that simple.)

Many of you have spoken with me individually over the

past couple years about these plans... and thank goodness

they're finally being realized! This means some of you know

that I have been planning to create additional lists, to

enable people to tailor their interests in email discussions

with other Objectivists.

So this email will be followed by a few others, so that

I can explain some

of my plans for WeTheLiving.com.

For now, simply send your posts to

objectivism@wetheliving.com. The list

will be moderated as usual (except that I will have more

flexibility, which will enable me to help people with their

posts more efficiently -- posters will benefit from this,

with less inconvenience from 'noncompliant' posts.)

If you visit www.WeTheLiving.com, you will notice that

the list will now

be archived on the web. The website is still in its infancy

(at least it's no longer holding just my resume, as it did

for the previous two years!) and so you can expect a few

changes. For one thing, I will be putting up a password

restriction on the archives, so that only subscribers can

access the archives. I'll let you know about this at the

appropriate time, and I assure you it will be painless.

I've been preparing this for a long time, so I'd love to

show you that I've considered many, many facets of these

changes and of the possibilities -- but I simply cannot.

Instead I will keep this short and simple:

For conservative users -- you do not need to do anything

at all. You will

still receive posts just as you did with

Objectivism-L@cornell.edu; they will simply come through a

new address. Things should remain hassle-free in the future.

For posters -- simply send your posts to

Objectivism@wetheliving.com. I believe you will find my

moderation to be more accomodating in appropriate ways.

For more aggressive users... you will find new lists,

perhaps you will even be a participant in creating or

managing a list, available to and focused on our online

Objectivist community. You may think of this as an

opportunity for more specialized lists, or you may think of

it as enabling different styles or philosophies of list

moderation and management, or you may think of it as a way

to tailor the discussions you participate in according to

more specialized interests.... and all these interpretations

will be true.

I'll be happy to share more info with people who email

me individually about wetheliving.com.

Joshua Zader continues to be my partner in managing the

list, and you can

see his handiwork in designing the website. Let the record

show (Josh doesn't know I'm writing this!) that he would

have had me be more conservative in this announcement... at

leat to avoid overselling. He's good reason for this: our

efforts are pretty humble so far. All we're really doing is

using a new server and software to manage the same ol' list

in the same ol' way.

That's all for now. I'll send another announcement soon

to explain more about Majordomo, the software I'm using to

manage the list. The Objectivism-L@cornell.edu address will

continue to function for some time --- but I'll be the only

person receiving posts sent to that address, and I'll simply

post them to Objectivism@WeTheLiving.com.

And please be patient, should there be technical

glitches; I'm getting used to a new system and this has not

yet been tried with a list of 670+ people. I'm pretty

confident I can handle what comes up, but I won't bet my

life that I know exactly what that will be!

joie de vivre,

Kirez

===

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 12:55:14 -0600 (MDT)

To: Objectivism@WeTheLiving.com

From: Kirez Korgan <kirez@cornell.edu>

Subject: OWL: Okay, NOW Atlantis and ARF! (and other

announcements) Sender: objectivism-request@wetheliving.com

Folks,

The Atlantis@WeTheLiving.com and ARF@WeTheLiving.com email

lists are now functionally up, whistling and humming like a

couple young puppies. They're good to go. Everyone is

automatically subscribed to ARF; and a small group of people

who emailed me about their inability to subscribe to

Atlantis are already on that list and have tested it.

So if you try to subscribe to atlantis now, it will work.

Please try to prove me wrong.

Also, you all should have noticed the [O-L] subject-line

prefix on all messages coming from this list (a little

nicety I've been wanting for years). Well, I was a bit

confused about what to use as the prefix... This list is not

O-L anymore, but rather Objectivism@WeTheLiving.com. Why

perpetuate the confusion?

But we need a short, sweet acronym; for instance, for my

moderator's notes that so many of you sadly have encountered

when trying to post -- the subject line reads "Joe: Your

post to O-L" (replace "Joe" with your name). What was I

supposed to write? Continue to use O-L?

Fortunately, Josh came up with a brilliant solution, and

hereforth you will see the list's acronym appear on all

subject lines from this list: OWL.

Please adjust your filters accordingly!

And please join us now on Atlantis!

cheers,

Kirez

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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Here's the history on the transfer and the selection of the name OWL.

This starts with my joining the cornell list.

It was called objectivism-l@cornell.edu.

The transfer to WetheLiving was April 7, 1999. See the fourth email below.

The name OWL for the new main list was suggested by Joshua Zader and instituted on 4/15/99. See the last email in the batch.

Thanks. The "objectivism" part of the Cornell e-address is apparently what threw me off. I must have associated it with the Objectivism sublist on WTL.

This is an interesting bit of history. I wonder if anyone will ever write A History of Objectivism on the Internet. It would be a massive undertaking.

Ghs

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> I wonder if anyone will ever write A History of Objectivism on the Internet. It would be a massive undertaking.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

SNORE....

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> I wonder if anyone will ever write A History of Objectivism on the Internet. It would be a massive undertaking.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

SNORE....

LOL! Finally, after 22 years on the Internet and thousands of posts I've found a Phil post I completely agree with!

--Brant

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> I wonder if anyone will ever write A History of Objectivism on the Internet. It would be a massive undertaking.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

SNORE....

LOL! Finally, after 22 years on the Internet and thousands of posts I've found a Phil post I completely agree with!

--Brant

I wish an outsider would write an objective, investigative History of the Objectivist Movement in the 21st Century. It's real slow trying to piece it together from everyone's reminiscences here, I keep falling asleep.

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> LOL! Finally, after 22 years on the Internet and thousands of posts I've found a Phil post I completely agree with!

Brant, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

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> I wonder if anyone will ever write A History of Objectivism on the Internet. It would be a massive undertaking.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

SNORE....

I wasn't suggesting that such a history should include any of your ideas.

Ghs

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> I wonder if anyone will ever write A History of Objectivism on the Internet. It would be a massive undertaking.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

SNORE....

LOL! Finally, after 22 years on the Internet and thousands of posts I've found a Phil post I completely agree with!

--Brant

I wish an outsider would write an objective, investigative History of the Objectivist Movement in the 21st Century. It's real slow trying to piece it together from everyone's reminiscences here, I keep falling asleep.

Many socialists fall asleep when they try to read. That's why they are socialists.

Ghs

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> I wonder if anyone will ever write A History of Objectivism on the Internet. It would be a massive undertaking.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

SNORE....

LOL! Finally, after 22 years on the Internet and thousands of posts I've found a Phil post I completely agree with!

--Brant

There was a point to my passing remark, though the point certainly wasn't clear.

Conventional histories of ideas and ideological movements have relied on published sources, private correspondence, etc. Such sources are no longer adequate in the Internet Age.

Suppose someone were to write a book or an article about recent developments in O'ist ideas. To rely solely on published books and articles would leave out a good deal of the most important and interesting material. For example, the best discussions of the minarchist/anarchist controversy have appeared on the Internet, not in published sources. The same is true of controversies in areas such as free-will versus determinism (more than a few O'ist types embrace "soft determinism"), the philosophy of science, war, foreign policy, culture, and the history of ideas (e.g., the influence of Kant).

Ghs

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> I wonder if anyone will ever write A History of Objectivism on the Internet. It would be a massive undertaking.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

SNORE....

LOL! Finally, after 22 years on the Internet and thousands of posts I've found a Phil post I completely agree with!

--Brant

I wish an outsider would write an objective, investigative History of the Objectivist Movement in the 21st Century. It's real slow trying to piece it together from everyone's reminiscences here, I keep falling asleep.

Many socialists fall asleep when they try to read. That's why they are socialists.

Ghs

George: as the character in Dumb and Dumber would say, you have a rapist wit. :lol:

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Suppose someone were to write a book or an article about recent developments in O'ist ideas. To rely solely on published books and articles would leave out a good deal of the most important and interesting material. For example, the best discussions of the minarchist/anarchist controversy have appeared on the Internet, not in published sources. The same is true of controversies in areas such as free-will versus determinism (more than a few O'ist types embrace "soft determinism"), the philosophy of science, war, foreign policy, culture, and the history of ideas (e.g., the influence of Kant).

George,

This is one of the reasons I keep OL going--to contribute to that growing body of discussion.

Here is a very good collection of links to online discussions about Objectivism from the Objectivism Reference Center: Internet Forums Related to Objectivism.

It's not complete, but it's a great start.

The best part about reading online discussions is that there is no way any one person or group can control the message. For some goiddam reason, the people who tout Objectivism as a way of life the loudest end up being the very ones who betray the individualism in the philosophy by wanting to control the information and ideas others get to see emanating from the Objectivist world. Online forums and discussions are a wonderful tonic to these petty little power grubbers.

Michael

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Re Rand's ethics:

It is extremely problematic to base a moral code on an organism's life as the "standard of value", and to declare: "that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil" (Rand, TVOS, p. 17)?

For example, it collapses the Randian argument against "parasites". For not only are parasites extremely successful as organisms when it comes to survival; per Rand's own premises, she would even have to regard as "evil" that which threatens the life of the parasite (which, as a well-functioning and perfectly adapted organism is in no way different from the human organism who feeds on other life as well).

Rand: "that which furthers its [an organism's] life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil" (Rand, TVOS, p. 17)?

So from the perspective of the potato beetle, the pesticides the farmer puts on the field are "evil". For the roundworm, the nourishment provided by the body of its human host is "good" since it furthers the survival of the worm's organism.

Imo any ethical system based on an organism's need for survival will shoot itself in the foot, because "life as the standard of value" applies to all organisms, i. e. also to those which are detrimental to the human organism.

As for human 'parasites' (the term being used in a connotative sense here): they too can thrive and prosper.

Edited by Xray

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Suppose someone were to write a book or an article about recent developments in O'ist ideas. To rely solely on published books and articles would leave out a good deal of the most important and interesting material. For example, the best discussions of the minarchist/anarchist controversy have appeared on the Internet, not in published sources. The same is true of controversies in areas such as free-will versus determinism (more than a few O'ist types embrace "soft determinism"), the philosophy of science, war, foreign policy, culture, and the history of ideas (e.g., the influence of Kant).

George,

This is one of the reasons I keep OL going--to contribute to that growing body of discussion.

Here is a very good collection of links to online discussions about Objectivism from the Objectivism Reference Center: Internet Forums Related to Objectivism.

It's not complete, but it's a great start.

The best part about reading online discussions is that there is no way any one person or group can control the message. For some goiddam reason, the people who tout Objectivism as a way of life the loudest end up being the very ones who betray the individualism in the philosophy by wanting to control the information and ideas others get to see emanating from the Objectivist world. Online forums and discussions are a wonderful tonic to these petty little power grubbers.

Michael

Michael, I completely agree with you, except I think you mean "antidote," not "tonic"! :-)

God bless the Internet, and God bless Stephen Boydstun and Chris Sciabarra for creating independent publishing avenues for Objectivist writers.

REB

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Michael, I completely agree with you, except I think you mean "antidote," not "tonic"! :-)

Roger,

You're right.

I was thinking something like the following when I wrote that phrase:

"Online forums and discussions are a wonderful tonic
against
these petty little power grubbers."

Thanks for catching that.

Michael

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Re Rand's ethics:

It is extremely problematic to base a moral code on an organism's life as the "standard of value", and to declare: "that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil" (Rand, TVOS, p. 17)?

For example, it collapses the Randian argument against "parasites". For not only are parasites extremely successful as organisms when it comes to survival; per Rand's own premises, she would even have to regard as "evil" that which threatens the life of the parasite (which, as a well-functioning and perfectly adapted organism is in no way different from the human organism who feeds on other life as well).

Rand: "that which furthers its [an organism's] life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil" (Rand, TVOS, p. 17)?

So from the perspective of the potato beetle, the pesticides the farmer puts on the field are "evil". For the roundworm, the nourishment provided by the body of its human host is "good" since it furthers the survival of the worm's organism.

Imo any ethical system based on an organism's need for survival will shoot itself in the foot, because "life as the standard of value" applies to all organisms, i. e. also to those which are detrimental to the human organism.

As for human 'parasites' (the term being used in a connotative sense here): they too can thrive and prosper.

Ah, but that is its virtue. In O’ist ethics, Value judgments are intelligible and grounded only insofar as they identified in respect to the need of an organism. Values are subject-dependent, yet they remain objective in that they are relational facts regarding survival. Subjective has a very different meaning than how Austrian economists use it in light of this fact. The harmony of interests principle only argues that the rational ends of some organisms are generally compatible, not identical. This structure escapes many naive notions of morality.

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Values are subject-dependent, yet they remain objective in that they are relational facts regarding survival. Subjective has a very different meaning than how Austrian economists use it in light of this fact.

But you forget that Rand's own exclusively negative view of "subjective" throws a spanner in the works here.

For Rand condemned subjective as such: "The subjective means the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional."

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/subjectivism.html

But labeling everything subjective as "the arbitrary, the irrational, the blindly emotional" can easily be exposed as a mistake, given the fact that there exist many instances where "subjective" is neither arbitrary, nor irrational, nor blindly emotional.

In failing to give the subjective a productive place in her philosophy, Rand had to regard all her own decisions and value judgements as call her own decisions as rational

So in labeling the subjective as "the irrational", she then HAD to regard her own decisions as "rational" of course. Thus for example, she erroneously presented her emotional decision to engage in a love affair as a "rational" decision, and those who were opposed to it were considered as "irrational" .

In many instances, it boiled down to that others ought to value what Rand personally preferred.

While we would of course course all like for others to share our moral values, to speak of them as "objective" would be an error.

For moral values ("oughts") cannot be derived from an "is" in the sense that they conclusively/necessarily follow from an "is".

For example: from the fact that stray dogs exist, it does not conclusively follow that these dogs ought to be helped.

Every moral "ought to" is the expression of an already existing value system in the mind of the valuer, and not the result of objective discovery.

In O’ist ethics, Value judgments are intelligible and grounded only insofar as they identified in respect to the need of an organism.

Since the needs of an organism conflict with the needs of other organisms, how do you solve this problem?

If what threatens an organism's life is the "evil", this means that what is "evil" for organism A is "good" for organism B, as in removing and killing a tick from your dog's body.

"Good" and "bad/evil" then merely signify "suited/unsuited to purpose", and these are no moral categories.

Edited by Xray

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