George H. Smith

Thoughts on Rand, Government, and Anarchism

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"Collective actions exist in the real world, and they should be aimed to benefit the collective as much as possible."

And why would that be an existential or moral imperative assuming your premise?

--Brant

For the same reason an individual should do what is in his own best interest.

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"Collective actions exist in the real world, and they should be aimed to benefit the collective as much as possible."

And why would that be an existential or moral imperative assuming your premise?

--Brant

For the same reason an individual should do what is in his own best interest.

I'm not going to let you haul this discussion into your cave where we'll talk about what is "best" interests. "Collective actions" are individuals acting under a conceptual rubric. Same, same as "team," "society" and all that.

--Brant

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"Collective actions exist in the real world, and they should be aimed to benefit the collective as much as possible."

And why would that be an existential or moral imperative assuming your premise?

--Brant

For the same reason an individual should do what is in his own best interest.

I'm not going to let you haul this discussion into your cave where we'll talk about what is "best" interests. "Collective actions" are individuals acting under a conceptual rubric. Same, same as "team," "society" and all that.

--Brant

the assumption was only good for one post from me

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I'm not going to let you haul this discussion into your cave where we'll talk about what is "best" interests. "Collective actions" are individuals acting under a conceptual rubric. Same, same as "team," "society" and all that.

--Brant

Have you ever tried to raise a barn single handed?

ba'al Chatzaf

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An entity is still just an idea. When you say a person did something, really what you are saying is specific parts of that person did certain things to make up this "something" that was done.

A coach of a sports team certainly thinks of his team as a real thing. What is best for the team? That is a valid question, as is "What is best for society?"

Society is an abstract generalization of a group of individuals coexisting. Though all of these individuals are part of society, not all of them are equally represented. Collective actions exist in the real world, and they should be aimed to benefit the collective as much as possible.

If we are represented by society, then society is our friend. If we are not, then it is not. We should represent ourselves as best we can, meaning rational selfishness, but as we do that we contribute to the concept of society, and that concept should be referenced when making collective decisions--which are unavoidable.

"An entity is still just an idea".

No: one begins with 'entities' as building blocks for all further concepts, as the "only primary existents."

"Specific parts of that person" doing anything, is mystifying to me. Is this a metaphor for 'society' and its 'components', the individuals? It sounds vaguely reductionist.

As you say, 'society' is an abstraction - but it has no moral or legal force over the individual (a cultural influence, sure) and certainly has nothing to do with his "representation" within it. That is only the preserve of government, whether of proper individual rights, or something other.

There is a false alternative lurking about, in that citizens have either the choice of being beholden to government - or to 'society', or nothing.

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I'm not going to let you haul this discussion into your cave where we'll talk about what is "best" interests. "Collective actions" are individuals acting under a conceptual rubric. Same, same as "team," "society" and all that.

--Brant

Have you ever tried to raise a barn single handed?

ba'al Chatzaf

I use both hands.

--Brant

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I'm not going to let you haul this discussion into your cave where we'll talk about what is "best" interests. "Collective actions" are individuals acting under a conceptual rubric. Same, same as "team," "society" and all that.

--Brant

Have you ever tried to raise a barn single handed?

ba'al Chatzaf

I use both hands.

--Brant

Have you ever tried to raise a barn all by yourself with no help from anyone else?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Have you, Ba'al, or is it rhetorical?

Two ways, that I can tell. a) Hire the right people, per capitalist benevolence of value exchanged

b) Ask help from your neighbor, per friendly co-operation (of value exchanged).

What has this to do with the abstraction of 'Society'? You and your neighbors are known to each other, as individuals of good will (presumably), so you make my case.

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Have you, Ba'al, or is it rhetorical?

Two ways, that I can tell. a) Hire the right people, per capitalist benevolence of value exchanged

b) Ask help from your neighbor, per friendly co-operation (of value exchanged).

What has this to do with the abstraction of 'Society'? You and your neighbors are known to each other, individuals of good will (presumably), so you make my case.

A good old fashioned barn raising takes about 20-40 people who are handy with tools. A good barn raising team can get the exterior and roof of the barn up in about a half a day. A person working alone could not do it (by himself) in a year.

yes. I have participated in a barn raising. it was marvelous jolly fun. I was a runner and a gopher (go-for) and carried material to the guys who really knew how to use tools. I was well fed at the party the followed the barn raising.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Have you, Ba'al, or is it rhetorical?

Two ways, that I can tell. a) Hire the right people, per capitalist benevolence of value exchanged

b) Ask help from your neighbor, per friendly co-operation (of value exchanged).

What has this to do with the abstraction of 'Society'? You and your neighbors are known to each other, individuals of good will (presumably), so you make my case.

A good old fashioned barn raising takes about 20-40 people who are handy with tools. A good barn raising team can get the exterior and roof of the barn up in about a half a day. A person working alone could not do it (by himself) in a year.

yes. I have participated in a barn raising. it was marvelous jolly fun. I was a runner and a gopher (go-for) and carried material to the guys who really knew how to use tools. I was well fed at the party the followed the barn raising.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Yes, I've seen the pictures. Stirring team work. I'd bet however that it wasn't the team that designed the barn - but a single person. (I''ll bet too, that you didn't stop telling them how to design it better...)

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Yes, I've seen the pictures. Stirring team work. I'd bet however that it wasn't the team that designed the barn - but a single person. (I''ll bet too, that you didn't stop telling them how to design it better...)

No. It was really a team effort. There was a lot of constructive interactions when some difficulties were met with the wood and other materials. Work-arrounds flowed like water. It was wonderful to see how happy people can be when they put the mission above their individual egos. Team play does have a place in human affairs. But, you are right. Sometimes the singular vision is what is required. In some situations one must first see before the many can see.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Yes, I've seen the pictures. Stirring team work. I'd bet however that it wasn't the team that designed the barn - but a single person. (I''ll bet too, that you didn't stop telling them how to design it better...)

No. It was really a team effort. There was a lot of constructive interactions when some difficulties were met with the wood and other materials. Work-arrounds flowed like water. It was wonderful to see how happy people can be when they put the mission above their individual egos. On this occasion we all came away with a well earned pride and you could feel the love that everyone had for themselves and each other. I hope you have an experience like this sometime. You will learn that team play does have a place in human affairs. But, in a way, you are right. Sometimes the singular vision is what is required. In some situations first one must see before the many can see.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I wish somebody would tell that to the Maple Leafs.

A bunch of saps?

--Brant

Wellyeah, but lovable ones - at least by me!

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Yes, I've seen the pictures. Stirring team work. I'd bet however that it wasn't the team that designed the barn - but a single person. (I''ll bet too, that you didn't stop telling them how to design it better...)

No. It was really a team effort. There was a lot of constructive interactions when some difficulties were met with the wood and other materials. Work-arrounds flowed like water. It was wonderful to see how happy people can be when they put the mission above their individual egos. On this occasion we all came away with a well earned pride and you could feel the love that everyone had for themselves and each other. I hope you have an experience like this sometime. You will learn that team play does have a place in human affairs. But, in a way, you are right. Sometimes the singular vision is what is required. In some situations first one must see before the many can see.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Well yes: except. Nicely described, that pleasure of communal effort for a project without obvious reward, which we know from being involved in, or only observing, but consider this - it is precisely because we know, implicitly, that each person involved IS an individual, and remains one throughout. An individual who has come from his or her life to 'share the load', and will go back to it at the end of the task. Not termites or animals programmed to the common good of the species.

The explicit pleasure we find rests upon the implicit recognition of that fact, I think. Because humans tend to lazy thought, we tend to overlook the implicit, and therefore accept unquestioningly the premise that altruism-collectivism is an expedient and pleasurable virtue.

The key concept is 'voluntarism'. That men and women may choose - selfishly - to assist one another.

Voluntarism presupposes egoism.

Extrapolate to those generations of slaves building the Pyramids under force, and compare with barn raising: both are communal projects towards the erection of a structure. Visibly, one is devoid of "individual egos", the other is full of them.

If somehow, you were pressured in to helping raise barns - without pay, for strangers around the country -every day for life, you'd find first it was a chore, then slowly a hateful duty. How would you see other people

then? and Society?

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"Specific parts of that person" doing anything, is mystifying to me. Is this a metaphor for 'society' and its 'components', the individuals? It sounds vaguely reductionist.

Yes, it's reductionist, but no more reductionist than saying society is not a real thing. Just because we cannot experience society in its entirety does not mean it does not exist objectively. It is no more than a concept to us because we have to fill in the blanks.

If we could not experience a human being as a whole you could just as well say human beings do not exist.

What is good for one part of the human body may be bad for another part--so you have to make a choice, based on the same standards as "the greatest good for the greatest number" utilitarian ethic.

The problem with utilitarianism is that it is ineffective, not that it is immoral. Why would collective actions not be intended to promote the maximum happiness of those involved? What kind of collective actions will achieve this, though? Protecting individual rights...

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"Specific parts of that person" doing anything, is mystifying to me. Is this a metaphor for 'society' and its 'components', the individuals? It sounds vaguely reductionist.

Yes, it's reductionist, but no more reductionist than saying society is not a real thing. Just because we cannot experience society in its entirety does not mean it does not exist objectively. It is no more than a concept to us because we have to fill in the blanks.

If we could not experience a human being as a whole you could just as well say human beings do not exist.

What is good for one part of the human body may be bad for another part--so you have to make a choice, based on the same standards as "the greatest good for the greatest number" utilitarian ethic.

The problem with utilitarianism is that it is ineffective, not that it is immoral. Why would collective actions not be intended to promote the maximum happiness of those involved? What kind of collective actions will achieve this, though? Protecting individual rights...

Society is real but not "a real thing." It is a collective generalization in our heads--a generalization of constituent people and things doing and not doing particular things.

--Brant

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"Collective actions exist in the real world, and they should be aimed to benefit the collective as much as possible."

And why would that be an existential or moral imperative assuming your premise?

--Brant

For the same reason an individual should do what is in his own best interest.

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"Collective actions exist in the real world, and they should be aimed to benefit the collective as much as possible."

And why would that be an existential or moral imperative assuming your premise?

--Brant

For the same reason an individual should do what is in his own best interest.

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"Specific parts of that person" doing anything, is mystifying to me. Is this a metaphor for 'society' and its 'components', the individuals? It sounds vaguely reductionist.

Yes, it's reductionist, but no more reductionist than saying society is not a real thing. Just because we cannot experience society in its entirety does not mean it does not exist objectively. It is no more than a concept to us because we have to fill in the blanks.

If we could not experience a human being as a whole you could just as well say human beings do not exist.

What is good for one part of the human body may be bad for another part--so you have to make a choice, based on the same standards as "the greatest good for the greatest number" utilitarian ethic.

The problem with utilitarianism is that it is ineffective, not that it is immoral. Why would collective actions not be intended to promote the maximum happiness of those involved? What kind of collective actions will achieve this, though? Protecting individual rights...

"...utilitarianism, [that it] is ineffective, not that it is immoral" - is sailing close to "Communism is perfect - but people aren't good enough for it yet". That both are immoral, is due to their common root, collectivism.

To promote "collective actions" as the means of "protecting individual rights" is mind-blowing!

When any agent (like government or 'society') is responsible for maximum happiness for a population, the nation is hardly free.

It isn't simply 'reification of Society', but also 'deification of Society' that you suggest: To revere an abstraction. (One that is a conceptual TOOL - to assist man's mental grasp of a populace, a large number of individuals living in the same geographical area).

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"Specific parts of that person" doing anything, is mystifying to me. Is this a metaphor for 'society' and its 'components', the individuals? It sounds vaguely reductionist.

Yes, it's reductionist, but no more reductionist than saying society is not a real thing. Just because we cannot experience society in its entirety does not mean it does not exist objectively. It is no more than a concept to us because we have to fill in the blanks.

If we could not experience a human being as a whole you could just as well say human beings do not exist.

What is good for one part of the human body may be bad for another part--so you have to make a choice, based on the same standards as "the greatest good for the greatest number" utilitarian ethic.

The problem with utilitarianism is that it is ineffective, not that it is immoral. Why would collective actions not be intended to promote the maximum happiness of those involved? What kind of collective actions will achieve this, though? Protecting individual rights...

Society is real but not "a real thing." It is a collective generalization in our heads--a generalization of constituent people and things doing and not doing particular things.

--Brant

Not true. Our concept of society is a generalization--yes--but so is our concept of everything else. We do not remember, or can we even experience, every detail of every entity we perceive.

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It isn't simply 'reification of Society', but also 'deification of Society' that you suggest: To revere an abstraction. (One that is a conceptual TOOL - to assist man's mental grasp of a populace, a large number of individuals living in the same geographical area).

You're misunderstanding me. I am not saying anyone should revere society, they should worry about themselves and what matters to them (which they will inevitably do); and as a part of society every individual must do this or else, as Rand put it in We the Living, society would just be a "line of zeroes".

When it comes to society, though, systemic preferences for the collective over any particular individual is actually what rights are all about. Individual rights are not about you, they are about the principle that it is more beneficial if nobody has special privilege.

If you only cared about your own individual rights, we wouldn't be having this discussion. You'd take your rights however you could, and that would be that. But the fact is that individualism is what makes a healthy collective... when people are not threatened to behave a certain way, but instead do what seems rational to them, obviously we all benefit from that.

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"Specific parts of that person" doing anything, is mystifying to me. Is this a metaphor for 'society' and its 'components', the individuals? It sounds vaguely reductionist.

Yes, it's reductionist, but no more reductionist than saying society is not a real thing. Just because we cannot experience society in its entirety does not mean it does not exist objectively. It is no more than a concept to us because we have to fill in the blanks.

If we could not experience a human being as a whole you could just as well say human beings do not exist.

What is good for one part of the human body may be bad for another part--so you have to make a choice, based on the same standards as "the greatest good for the greatest number" utilitarian ethic.

The problem with utilitarianism is that it is ineffective, not that it is immoral. Why would collective actions not be intended to promote the maximum happiness of those involved? What kind of collective actions will achieve this, though? Protecting individual rights...

Society is real but not "a real thing." It is a collective generalization in our heads--a generalization of constituent people and things doing and not doing particular things.

--Brant

Not true. Our concept of society is a generalization--yes--but so is our concept of everything else. We do not remember, or can we even experience, every detail of every entity we perceive.

You simply keep confusing entities with their parts and do not grasp that society is not an entity. It's an idea encompassing entities which in turn have parts, of course. The fact that society has parts doesn't turn it into an entity or more than an idea. An automobile is an entity, a whole. Take it all apart and spread it out on the floor. It's no longer an automobile, just a bunch of smaller entities which previously had been smaller entities part of a bigger one. A human being is an idea and an entity. A society is an idea consisting of entities, a collective generalization only. You are implicitly positing the primacy of epistemology over metaphysics turning a collective idea into a singularity by thinking it into existence. Singular ideas are physical entities, collective ideas are composites of singular ideas, at least for the purpose of this discussion. Now, when we think of humans in a society there is no point in thinking about the parts (entities) that make up the human. That's for medicine.

--Brant

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In short, society is a -system-. Taken down to its components it no longer functions. Society is more like an ant-colony than a singular thing.

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