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Flaw in Rand's Argument

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Rand addressed this some, such as: "No, you do not have to live; it is your basic act of choice; but if you choose to live, you must live as a man-—by the work and the judgment of your mind" (Galt's speech). "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" (Causality Versus Duty).

Your last two sentences don't logically follow.

If you accept this conditional interpretation of Rand's ethics, then the last two sentences definitely do logically follow. Under this interpretation, the objectivist imperative has the logical form "If A, then B", more specifically "If you choose to live, then you ought to do so as a man." However, if you do not choose to live, i.e. you believe that "not A" is true and you also believe that the objectivist imperative is true (that "If A, then B" is true), then it does not follow that "B" or that "not B". You cannot rationally conclude that you ought to live as a man.

Thus, if we know that Hitler does not choose to live, then we cannot say that he ought to live as a man. In conclusion, we cannot say he was doing anything wrong since no moral "oughts" apply to him.

If you deny this anyway and believe that the objectivist imperative is true as well as that "Hitler ought to live as a man", then you're simply begging the question, and have no rational basis for ethics.

Hitler chose to live right up until the moment that he chose not to and took his own life. This is a choice that every person makes every day - the choice to live - and unless one chooses otherwise and takes one's own life, then one ought to live as a man. What else would one live as?

I don't know about objectivist imperatives and I can't speak logic-ese, but this seems practically self-evident, and I'm always bewildered when someone wants to needlessly complicate it.

Is there a relevant distinction here about "living as a man" and living as a man qua man?

It has been a while since I cracked open TOE.

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Hitler chose to live right up until the moment that he chose not to and took his own life. This is a choice that every person makes every day - the choice to live - and unless one chooses otherwise and takes one's own life, then one ought to live as a man. What else would one live as?

I don't know about objectivist imperatives and I can't speak logic-ese, but this seems practically self-evident, and I'm always bewildered when someone wants to needlessly complicate it.

But he did not "choose" in the Randian sense, i.e. making a conscious choice to live with life as his standard of value. Hitler wasn't actually living then, but merely surviving. Rand said that an animal could do as much.

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I don't know about objectivist imperatives and I can't speak logic-ese...

Deanna,

I don't speak "logic-ese" either, but I do know bullshit when I smell it.

This particular poster uses what I call the normative before cognitive system of arguing and it is the reason I lost my good will.

In order to judge something correctly, you have to identify it correctly first. Either that, or you peg it to a core storyline, judge it, then go about trying to justify your judgment (and your storyline at times).

Notice that this poster constantly judges first, then starts identifying. Look at this very thread. She claimed she was interested in learning something about Rand's thoughts, but she titled the thread "Flaw in Rand's Argument."

That's a judgment, not a question.

If her motivation were to understand first, then judge, she would have titled it "Is There a Flaw in Rand's Argument?" or something like that. She is very quick to say this is not rational or that is a contradiction before it is clear what she is talking about. And I mean clear to her, not just to others. Then she shovels out a lot of gobbledygook trying to back up her judgment.

Read through her stuff and you will see this pattern over and over. Oh, sometimes she will preface a judgment with a few of her own assumptions, but then she will act like those assumptions are what everyone else believes (even though it's clear they don't). Then the negative judgment comes. Then the gobbledygook.

I recently caught her using a Wikipedia definition about psychology, attributing it to math, but leaving out the link in order to sustain a normative before cognitive judgement where she had gone too far out on a limb. Rather than play the game, I simply asked her what she meant. That apparently threw her off and she messed up.

In short, it's all bullshit.

Why do people like that do what they do? Damned if I know. But I do know they never do it in the Principle of Charity. It's always to goad, destroy, take down, discredit, etc., with nitpicking and posturing. And it almost always starts with a negative judgment before the issue is properly identified and clear.

I know how to play discredit games like that (and much better than this young woman does, in both quality and quantity).

What's worse, when I have tried to reverse normative before cognitive to cognitive before normative with people like this, they say, " But of course," but they keep doing it backward. It's a bad habit and I think they've done it so much, they don't even realize it's an automated routine to prop up their core storyline, that they use the very antithesis of critical thinking for their critical thinking.

There are times I call this preaching.

How do you get attention if you are someone like this? (btw - I'm not saying you, Deanna. :smile: )

Easy. Find people who are cultivating something important to them. Bash an aspect of it in a technical-sounding way, shovel a lot of bullshit after it, then challenge them to refute your mishmash. Then start playing snark-fest. You will get all the attention your neurotic little heart desires.

It sounds like ideas on the surface because of all the technical jargon and name-dropping, but it's a simple-ass hamster wheel of vanity. Round and round and round she goes, but it goes nowhere. That only becomes clear to most people once those interacting get so irritated they start snarling.

I prefer to cut this crap out at the root.

I will not allow this person (or anyone else who thinks like that) turn OL into a snark-fest. Someone really similar to her named "Eva" is doing a great job of destroying any interest intelligent readers may have of keeping up with discussions on RoR. (Check out any thread over there where the user "Matthews," who is "Eva," is goading intelligent people to waste a lot of time disentangling her stream of normative before cognitive mishmashes, that is before they start snarling. And try to keep interested. I invite anyone to try it. You can't do it for long. It gets boring real fast.)

I don't know if this poster and that "Eva" are the same, but they play the same game.

That won't happen here.

Chalk it up to my "exceedingly paranoia" thingamajig.

(The great thing about being a traffic cop--which is how I identify my role here on OL--is I don't have to speak "logic-ese" to keep it moving. :smile: The pain-in-the-ass part is dealing with snarky little power games by people who do and want to cause traffic jams. :smile: )

Michael

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Naomi, what leads you to believe that Hitler's choices were not made consciously? It seems to me that he quite consciously made a very deliberate choice to live with Aryan life as his standard of value.

PDS, I don't know about Rand's or Naomi's distinctions between the two (living as a man and living as a man qua man), but I don't see one.

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Thus, if we know that Hitler does not choose to live, then we cannot say that he ought to live as a man. In conclusion, we cannot say he was doing anything wrong since no moral "oughts" apply to him.

Maybe for you, but don't include me in your "we".

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Naomi, what leads you to believe that Hitler's choices were not made consciously? It seems to me that he quite consciously made a very deliberate choice to live with Aryan life as his standard of value.

PDS, I don't know about Rand's or Naomi's distinctions between the two (living as a man and living as a man qua man), but I don't see one.

I did not say that his choices were not made consciously, but rather that he did not make a specific conscious choice. Maybe you're right that he chose to live according to the principles of his Nazi ideology, but that's beside the point in any case.

The point is that, and Rand acknowledges, it is possible to not choose to live with life as one's standard of value, and according to the above argument this is problematic because it jeopardizes rational ethics.

Maybe for you, but don't include me in your "we".

Why not? Logic is the same for everybody. I can understand if you don't like (I definitely don't either) the conclusion, but if you disagree with it, you must do so with some rational justification.

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I don't know about objectivist imperatives and I can't speak logic-ese...

Deanna,

I don't speak "logic-ese" either, but I do know bullshit when I smell it.

This particular poster uses what I call the normative before cognitive system of arguing and it is the reason I lost my good will.

In order to judge something correctly, you have to identify it correctly first. Either that, or you peg it to a core storyline, judge it, then go about trying to justify your judgment (and your storyline at times).

Notice that this poster constantly judges first, then starts identifying. Look at this very thread. She claimed she was interested in learning something about Rand's thoughts, but she titled the thread "Flaw in Rand's Argument."

That's a judgment, not a question.

If her motivation were to understand first, then judge, she would have titled it "Is There a Flaw in Rand's Argument?" or something like that. She is very quick to say this is not rational or that is a contradiction before it is clear what she is talking about. And I mean clear to her, not just to others. Then she shovels out a lot of gobbledygook trying to back up her judgment.

Read through her stuff and you will see this pattern over and over. Oh, sometimes she will preface a judgment with a few of her own assumptions, but then she will act like those assumptions are what everyone else believes (even though it's clear they don't). Then the negative judgment comes. Then the gobbledygook.

I recently caught her using a Wikipedia definition about psychology, attributing it to math, but leaving out the link in order to sustain a normative before cognitive judgement where she had gone too far out on a limb. Rather than play the game, I simply asked her what she meant. That apparently threw her off and she messed up.

In short, it's all bullshit.

Why do people like that do what they do? Damned if I know. But I do know they never do it in the Principle of Charity. It's always to goad, destroy, take down, discredit, etc., with nitpicking and posturing. And it almost always starts with a negative judgment before the issue is properly identified and clear.

I know how to play discredit games like that (and much better than this young woman does, in both quality and quantity).

What's worse, when I have tried to reverse normative before cognitive to cognitive before normative with people like this, they say, " But of course," but they keep doing it backward. It's a bad habit and I think they've done it so much, they don't even realize it's an automated routine to prop up their core storyline, that they use the very antithesis of critical thinking for their critical thinking.

There are times I call this preaching.

How do you get attention if you are someone like this? (btw - I'm not saying you, Deanna. :smile: )

Easy. Find people who are cultivating something important to them. Bash an aspect of it in a technical-sounding way, shovel a lot of bullshit after it, then challenge them to refute your mishmash. Then start playing snark-fest. You will get all the attention your neurotic little heart desires.

It sounds like ideas on the surface because of all the technical jargon and name-dropping, but it's a simple-ass hamster wheel of vanity. Round and round and round she goes, but it goes nowhere. That only becomes clear to most people once those interacting get so irritated they start snarling.

I prefer to cut this crap out at the root.

I will not allow this person (or anyone else who thinks like that) turn OL into a snark-fest. Someone really similar to her named "Eva" is doing a great job of destroying any interest intelligent readers may have of keeping up with discussions on RoR. (Check out any thread over there where the user "Matthews," who is "Eva," is goading intelligent people to waste a lot of time disentangling her stream of normative before cognitive mishmashes, that is before they start snarling. And try to keep interested. I invite anyone to try it. You can't do it for long. It gets boring real fast.)

I don't know if this poster and that "Eva" are the same, but they play the same game.

That won't happen here.

Chalk it up to my "exceedingly paranoia" thingamajig.

(The great thing about being a traffic cop--which is how I identify my role here on OL--is I don't have to speak "logic-ese" to keep it moving. :smile: The pain-in-the-ass part is dealing with snarky little power games by people who do and want to cause traffic jams. :smile: )

Michael

MSK:

With due respect, I think you are being too hard on this new poster. She is raising an interesting issue, and a far more academic one than we usually discuss around here.

I just went and reread the back and forth between the two of you. I see a couple of places where her wording could be more delicate, but that's about it. I, for one, learned something new from the thread that I had missed for the past 51 years...Also, I sense far less snark towards Rand than you are attributing, especially in light of her choice of the title for this post.

I say this as a friend, and would ask that you go a little easy on a new poster who doesn't necessarily know the mores and nuances of the forum. For what it's worth, I don't detect the same level of ill-will that you do.

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With due respect, I think you are being too hard on this new poster.

David,

Isn't that something?

Because I don't.

I don't mind the issue, so if you want to discuss it, please feel free.

You're one of the good guys, even if you are a lawyer. :smile:

(To be fair to your perception, the snark-fest hasn't started rolling because I am throwing a monkey-wrench into the works.)

Michael

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I, for one, learned something new from the thread that I had missed for the past 51 years...

David,

That's an interesting link.

It doesn't hold true for rhetoric, though. Part of rhetoric is to exaggerate, either through framing (selective omission) or through non-realistic statements for emphasis, or through metaphors and the like.

Here is what I said earlier:

Nature will take care of you in pretty short order, anyway, and you will no longer exist. But since you gave up concern with that as your grounds for ethics, that's not a real problem. Or is it, even though you (meaning someone in your position) may say it isn't?

Does that sound like a syllogism or rhetoric?

The fact is nature is going to take care of all of us in pretty short order. We all are going to have to die. If you look at my statement as if it were an exercise in logic, there is a lot more wrong with it than "appeal to consequences."

My point was to indirectly highlight that most people who make arguments as if they do not use life as a standard actually do use it. The observation "since you gave up concern with that as your grounds, that's not a real problem" grates on them like fingernails going across a blackboard.

That's why the deflection into logic. (At least I imagine it is one of the main reasons. I know I don't like it when I'm shown my shortcomings. :smile: )

Back to the "appeal to consequences," I wonder how all scientists will feel once they discover that when they report the results of their experiments and go into the comments part to establish causality and relevance, that they are actually committing the "logical fallacy of appeal to consequences." :smile:

Michael

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PDS, thank you for seeing things from my perspective. Your courage is greatly appreciated.

Michael, I'm being as respectful of you as I possibly can. I only ask that you do the same for me.

That being said, I would like to get back to the topic of the thread. If anyone takes personal issue with the things I say, I ask that you PM me and we can resolve our private dispute in private.

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I, for one, learned something new from the thread that I had missed for the past 51 years...

David,

That's an interesting link.

It doesn't hold true for rhetoric, though. Part of rhetoric is to exaggerate, either through framing (selective omission) or through non-realistic statements for emphasis, or through metaphors and the like.

Here is what I said earlier:

Nature will take care of you in pretty short order, anyway, and you will no longer exist. But since you gave up concern with that as your grounds for ethics, that's not a real problem. Or is it, even though you (meaning someone in your position) may say it isn't?

Does that sound like a syllogism or rhetoric?

The fact is nature is going to take care of all of us in pretty short order. We all are going to have to die. If you look at my statement as if it were an exercise in logic, there is a lot more wrong with it than "appeal to consequences."

My point was to indirectly highlight that most people who make arguments as if they do not use life as a standard actually do use it. The observation "since you gave up concern with that as your grounds, that's not a real problem" grates on them like fingernails going across a blackboard.

That's why the deflection into logic. (At least I imagine it is one of the main reasons. I know I don't like it when I'm shown my shortcomings. :smile: )

Back to the "appeal to consequences," I wonder how all scientists will feel once they discover that when they report the results of their experiments and go into the comments part to establish causality and relevance, that they are actually committing the "logical fallacy of appeal to consequences." :smile:

Michael

I said this earlier up-thread, somewhat tongue in cheek but somewhat not: isn't the entirety of the Objectivist ethics an appeal to consequences? I remember a strong debate about this with Objectivist friends when I was about our new friend's age when we were debating whether the OE was simply high-browed pragmatism. We didn't call it an appeal to consequences, but we called the Aristotelian concept of eudamonia (also an implicit part of the OE) as Dale Carnegie in a Greek robe.

Now that I think of it, isn't the statement implicit in the notion that "everybody should work" an appeal to consequences? If you don't work, you starve, right?

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Now that I think of it, isn't the statement implicit in the notion that "everybody should work" an appeal to consequences? If you don't work, you starve, right?

David,

Now you are seeing the bait-and-switch in arguments using only logic.

If you do not tie your premises to observations, you are doing nothing but word games.

If you want to do a pure-logic exercise and make an "appeal to consequences," that is a fallacy (or could be).

If you tell a child not to put his hand on a hot stove because he will burn it, you might commit the same fallacy depending on how you word it. But I doubt formal logic is your interest at that moment.

Logic is merely a tool for living. Our lives are not simple exercises in logic.

Do you think logic to live or live to think logic?

Besides, logic is not a synonym for rational thought. It is a category of rationality. At least in the meaning I use (and the one found in Objectivism). In other words, observation is included in rational thought, but it need not be included in logic.

And if you are going to observe things, if you don't start with an "appeal to consequences," how the hell are you going to choose what to pursue?

Eenie meenie miney moe?

:smile:

Michael

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Naomi, what leads you to believe that Hitler's choices were not made consciously? It seems to me that he quite consciously made a very deliberate choice to live with Aryan life as his standard of value.

PDS, I don't know about Rand's or Naomi's distinctions between the two (living as a man and living as a man qua man), but I don't see one.

I did not say that his choices were not made consciously, but rather that he did not make a specific conscious choice. Maybe you're right that he chose to live according to the principles of his Nazi ideology, but that's beside the point in any case.

The point is that, and Rand acknowledges, it is possible to not choose to live with life as one's standard of value, and according to the above argument this is problematic because it jeopardizes rational ethics.

It seems you're arguing over semantics in that first paragraph, but that's okay, I guess, if it's beside the point anyway. I'll just remind you, though, that you were the one who used Hitler to illustrate your point. :smile:

What Rand acknowledged is that the only other choice besides life is death. That is clear in the passage that Merlin quoted. Unfortunately, a great many people who make that choice are not content to go down alone. If one does not choose life, fine, so be it, but go away and die (merely survive, if you will) somewhere else and let me live.

I think I understand that you are attempting to describe Objectivism in an academic way. I would suggest that you take a more practical approach, if you can. Is it so important right now that you win this argument with your friend?

Edited to add an important not.

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It seems you're arguing over semantics in that first paragraph, but that's okay, I guess, if it's beside the point anyway. I'll just remind you, though, that you were the one who used Hitler to illustrate your point. :smile:

What Rand acknowledged is that the only other choice besides life is death. That is clear in the passage that Merlin quoted. Unfortunately, a great many people who make that choice are content to go down alone. If one does not choose life, fine, so be it, but go away and die (merely survive, if you will) somewhere else and let me live.

I think I understand that you are attempting to describe Objectivism in an academic way. I would suggest that you take a more practical approach, if you can. Is it so important right now that you win this argument with your friend?

I agree with the attitude you're taking toward ethics. However, to answer your question, it's not about winning an argument with my friend. I am a rational person and that means that I need to have rational justification for beliefs before I can honestly believe them.

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It seems you're arguing over semantics in that first paragraph, but that's okay, I guess, if it's beside the point anyway. I'll just remind you, though, that you were the one who used Hitler to illustrate your point. :smile:

What Rand acknowledged is that the only other choice besides life is death. That is clear in the passage that Merlin quoted. Unfortunately, a great many people who make that choice are content to go down alone. If one does not choose life, fine, so be it, but go away and die (merely survive, if you will) somewhere else and let me live.

I think I understand that you are attempting to describe Objectivism in an academic way. I would suggest that you take a more practical approach, if you can. Is it so important right now that you win this argument with your friend?

I agree with the attitude you're taking toward ethics. However, to answer your question, it's not about winning an argument with my friend. I am a rational person and that means that I need to have rational justification for beliefs before I can honestly believe them.

How much more rational can you be than to declare that instead of choosing death you have chosen life? How much more rational can you be than to declare that others who have chosen death should not be allowed to take you down with them? Do you need to write an equation to convince yourself of this? Or can you intuit it?

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How much more rational can you be than to declare that instead of choosing death you have chosen life? How much more rational can you be than to declare that others who have chosen death should not be allowed to take you down with them? Do you need to write an equation to convince yourself of this? Or can you intuit it?

Well, it is only rational to believe that one ought to choose life if and only if it is true that one ought to choose life. But ought one to choose life? Now I don't know. That's the problem.

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How much more rational can you be than to declare that instead of choosing death you have chosen life? How much more rational can you be than to declare that others who have chosen death should not be allowed to take you down with them? Do you need to write an equation to convince yourself of this? Or can you intuit it?

Well, it is only rational to believe that one ought to choose life if and only if it is true that one ought to choose life. But ought one to choose life? Now I don't know. That's the problem.

Hmm, well yes, if you're wondering whether or not you should live, that's a really big problem. Fundamental, I would say.

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