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mpp

Please rationally support this decision

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I hold with the school of thought that everything that happens in the world of non-fiction has a prior cause (or multiple prior causes).

...

You seem to view determinism as the simplistic idea that a man is programmed only once by external forces, and that after that nothing can change his motives/actions. I don't know of any determinist who has taken that position. Of course, people change with changing conditions. New factors, including new knowledge, alter patterns of behavior. This is what child developmental psychology is all about.

"New factors, including new knowledge, alter patterns of behavior".

You must explain to me how this happens. Knowledge, which "knowledge"? How does it change anyone?

Example: knowledge that the bridge is washed out may change the route someone chooses to get home at night.

Does the "knowledge" of the existence (e.g.) of brute killers rampaging through countries enter one's mind and force an alteration in one's "patterns of behavior" to the extent of enlisting with them?

Possibly, depending on the alternatives.

What "new knowledge" convinced you to become a libertarian? And why? I suggest you were 'ready' or receptive to become one, in advance, from earlier thinking and observation..

Reading dystopian fiction such as 1984 and Brave New World convinced me. If I had been ready to change before reading those books, why didn't I change earlier?

I suspect that any argument from determinism is self-refuting. Realised or not, everybody has a sense of morality and conviction. Which is self-created by deeper convictions gained from reality (or unreality). This is the real meaning of what a being of volitional consciousness is all about - not: a 'hard volitionism' that whatever one wills and wishes for, will come into existence, or that external forces do not have any influence in one's life.

Then stop asking questions, and use any determinist's argument to refute him.

Self-created morality? One day, Max Stirner said "I shall be an egoist" without ever having previously heard a discussion of philosophy?

I think you became what you are by volition, FF. Your determinism is a cognitive self-indulgence, no more true to the nature of man, than altruism. Either of which, if practised assiduously would ensure a short survival.

The self-indulgence is imagining the existence of a Free Will, which unlike any other thing in the universe, is completely independent of external forces.

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Then stop asking questions, and use any determinist's argument to refute him.

Self-created morality? One day, Max Stirner said "I shall be an egoist" without ever having previously heard a discussion of philosophy?

Absolutely feasible. A rose is a rose is a rose, by any name, it smells as sweet...

If you question Objectivists (as example) of their first reading of Rand, you sometimes find it wasn't the learning of new knowledge that most excited their minds, it was the ~recognition~ of what they already knew to be true. They 'knew' the ideas. They were just given the words.

(Which begs the question: did newcomers to O'ism already have to be conceptualists?)

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It begs the further question, do they already possess independent minds?

And, do they already sense that they are beings of volitional consciousness?

If those are so, they are already incipient rational egoists.

If so, they are indeed already capitalists.

Did they already have a magnificent and benevolent view of man, as he ought to be, at liberty among men?

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The self-indulgence is imagining the existence of a Free Will, which unlike any other thing in the universe, is completely independent of external forces.

This self-indulgence comes from imagining that everything in the universe emerges. Determinism really should be called emergencism.

And frum whince due stuffs emerge, prey tell? (Scratching head like a doofus...)

Infinite regress.

Really?

Yup. Oh, they often say it all emerges from the big bang, but they qualify it so much it means infinite regress.

Why?

Just because.

Like I said:

Faith.

Those of this faith often get just as fanatical as the wildest backwater revivalist preacher. I've seen it over and over.

At least those who like this flavor of Kool-Aid can emerge in life as scumbags and take comfort that they had no choice about it--they ultimately emerged from infinite regress.

But those of this faith always seem to imagine they emerged as some kind of intellectual elite. Luck of the draw, so to speak, except for them, there is no luck.

They are inherently superior and don't have to do anything to stay that way. It's bigger than them. That's the great thing about emergence.

:)

Michael

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It's because Rand explicitly criticized philosophers for not giving us a "rational, objectively demonstrable, scientific answer to the question of why man needs a code of values" that we should expect from her something approaching real world evidence for claims about main's nature. But you argue that the "data" consists of a novel in which the heroes all seem to have faces constructed from the same mold of angular planes and the villains are each variations on the theme of drooling ghoul? Really?

If only it were true that all the looters and moochers and pull-peddlers in America 1890, 1917, 1933, 1945, 1965, 2008 got their comeuppance immediately, directly and on the chin. However, outside the world of Ayn Rand's wish-fulfillment fiction, trains do crash and bridges do collapse, but, sadly, not every victim is a mystic, an altruist, or a collectivist, getting exactly what he deserved, to use the stock phrase of the comic relief character on this website. Sometimes "the man in Bedroom A, Car No. 1" is actually a hard-working software designer and not "a professor of sociology who taught that individual ability is of no consequence."

FF,

I'll meet you on your epistemological turf a little--enough to say this.

I suspect you know very little about the neuroscience of narrative, mental model-building, mirror neurons that release dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, cortisol, endorphins, how primates learn by imitation, etc. If you did, you would see just how silly your comments come across in this post.

Models are excellent tools for analysis. But it would be a serious error to mistake the model for its real world counterpart. The absence of ultimately successful prudent predators in Atlas says nothing about their ability to exist and thrive in America, 2015.

But I prefer to go back to my epistemological frame. You are not going to help your argument by changing the goal post. Nobody, not Rand, not me, not anybody on this thread maintains that historical capitalism is only populated with good guys. That was never Rand's point.

Your caricature description and dismissal of Rand's "wish-fulfillment" shows just how little you understand what she is saying.

When Rand says "rational," she is not talking about the same thing you are.

I will not try to explain that in depth right here. But since I am writing for the reader's benefit and not for yours, I will make a few comments.

I see the essence as the following: According to what I have understood of your words so far, in your world-view, humanity is naturally divided between an elite class and an exploited class--or better, elite classes and exploited classes. Predators and prey. Eaters and the meals. I'm not talking about how humans have often behaved over history, where they did this a lot. I am talking about a metaphysical mold humans are trapped in and can never get out of. Ever.

That is how I see your notion of what human means.

And you claim Rand's ethics justify this exploitation of the exploited, or at least do not prove through a rational reason why everyone's life has value in a society, not just the lives of the elites.

So long as that is the perspective governing your discourse, there will be no data or argument or identification that will get you to look at it objectively, much less sway you. Your position is essentially based on faith for the physical part (all strict determinists are religious fundamentalists at root) and crossword puzzles for the mind part.

Your description of my world view is dead wrong. If my position were that predators and prey were inevitable features of social classes, that such a dichotomy is a metaphysical mold that humans are trapped in and can never get out of, then I could not be a libertarian. I would have to believe that libertarianism is impossible. But contrary to your fictional account (which like Rand's does not match the real world), I ardently support capitalism as the only practical and morally appropriate social system. I have been working for nearly a half century to bring that free society closer to reality. Furthermore, I have never written anything that remotely resembles what you attribute to me.

Don't forget, this stuff has to come before talking about theft.

(As an aside, I sincerely hope you are not engaged in anything sleazy. Normally, when people get passionate about justifying sleaze, they are doing sleaze on the side and feel guilty. :smile: I'm not saying this is your case--just saying I hope it is not.)

Allow me to introduce you to something called the Devil's Advocate: one can present a philosophical position without endorsing it.

According to my worldview, a lot of which I gained from Rand, man needs an identification more suited to his prefrontal neocortex, an identification that allows the prefrontal neocortex to operate correctly in all people who have a healthy one. She used the word, mind, but that area of the brain is the physical region where the mind, i.e., conscious volition, resides. Why should this part be the essence of man? Because no other life form has such an organ that is capable of overriding and instructing its own lower life processes in addition to producing the stuff it needs to survive.

The human species is the only one that has it.

The moment you claim a person has volition but is not suited to use it, however an elite class over there (thugs and thieves in your description) is suited, you are talking about an identification of human that is little more--and very little at that--than an ape. You are talking about humans who do not have a prefrontal neocortex as part of their essence.

In your world, thugs can create the cure for cancer. In mine, thugs will never bully that discovery out of any independent mind.

In our world, that is, the realm of objective reality, intelligence can exist within the same mind that regards other humans as dirt beneath the boots. The Japanese germ warfare scientist Shirō Ishii is a leading example. Incidentally, because of his knowledge of microbiology, Ishii, like the German V-2 scientists received immunity from prosecution by the Allies.

When Rand says "rational," she means identification of reality into concepts. When you say rational, you mean the rules of logic like the rules of a board game.

Here's an example using a syllogism structure:

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

In both Rand's method and your method, that is logical.

However, let's change the syllogism:

All unicorns are immortal.

Socrates is a unicorn.

Therefore, Socrates is immortal.

In your form of logic, that is logical. It is rational. It follows the rules of logic. For Rand it is not logical.

Why?

Because unicorns do not exist and Socrates was not one. For logic to be valid for Rand, all premises had to be connected to reality--based on observation at root.

I have never expressed anything like the fallacious reasoning you attribute to me. You have now departed from the discussion of Rand and entered the Kingdom of Straw Men .

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Then stop asking questions, and use any determinist's argument to refute him.

Self-created morality? One day, Max Stirner said "I shall be an egoist" without ever having previously heard a discussion of philosophy?

Absolutely feasible. A rose is a rose is a rose, by any name, it smells as sweet...

If you question Objectivists (as example) of their first reading of Rand, you sometimes find it wasn't the learning of new knowledge that most excited their minds, it was the ~recognition~ of what they already knew to be true. They 'knew' the ideas. They were just given the words.

(Which begs the question: did newcomers to O'ism already have to be conceptualists?)

Feasible in the same way a seven-year old could write the fifth part of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage without ever having had access to Byron's first four parts.

Free will means independence from all causation, no?

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The self-indulgence is imagining the existence of a Free Will, which unlike any other thing in the universe, is completely independent of external forces.

This self-indulgence comes from imagining that everything in the universe emerges. Determinism really should be called emergencism.

And frum whince due stuffs emerge, prey tell? (Scratching head like a doofus...)

Infinite regress.

Really?

Yup. Oh, they often say it all emerges from the big bang, but they qualify it so much it means infinite regress.

Why?

Just because.

Like I said:

Faith.

Those of this faith often get just as fanatical as the wildest backwater revivalist preacher. I've seen it over and over.

At least those who like this flavor of Kool-Aid can emerge in life as scumbags and take comfort that they had no choice about it--they ultimately emerged from infinite regress.

But those of this faith always seem to imagine they emerged as some kind of intellectual elite. Luck of the draw, so to speak, except for them, there is no luck.

They are inherently superior and don't have to do anything to stay that way. It's bigger than them. That's the great thing about emergence.

:smile:

Michael

Thank you. Now that I know what emergencism is, I realize that I'm a determinist.

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... I have never written anything that remotely resembles what you attribute to me.

FF,

Actually you have. But it's mostly by logically extending your premises and I'm not going to argue it.

The part that amuses me is that you do this with Rand all the time, but get stung when you think someone does it with you.

Michael

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Mr. MPP has just provided us with a real world example of the logical gap in Objectivist thinking. Rand's ethics holds that a) it is proper for man to act in his rational self-interest, and b) man has certain property rights which others must not violate.

Objectivists routinely say the two principles are not in conflict. There cannot be a "prudent predator," they say. Why not? Well, because the prudent predator is not acting rationally. Why not? Well, because he might get caught, er, that is, the risks always outweigh the potential rewards when we steal from others.

Yet I've never heard an Objectivist advise a police officer or a firefighter to leave their profession because of the hazards.

When the "it's not really selfish" argument fails, Randians then rely on even flimsier defenses: you could make more money doing something else; you'll suffer psychological guilt for years to come; if everybody were a prudent predator, there would be no more hosts for the parasites, etc.

Francisco,

I haven't read the entire thread. I'll catch up eventually, but I would just reply that your prudent predator doesn't exist. I will simply assert, without proof at this point, that cheating, lying, stealing, murdering, etc., are never in a person's self interest. A person's expected payoff in leading a life that involves violating the rights of others is always less than his expected payoff in leading a rights respecting life.

I will admit that it is a difficult argument to make. It is probably as difficult as arguing about the economics of freedom versus big government. However, I think you will find that it is impossible to come up with real world examples where a person's expected long term payoff is greater by violating the rights of others. In fact, if the goal of morality is to preserve life, then the proper measurement is longevity. So, you would have to argue that a person's expected longevity is greater if he violates the rights of others than if he respects them.

Darrell

Impossible? In fact, there are many historical cases of people who survived difficult times by violating the rights of others. To cite one famous example, concentration camp kapos in Nazi Germany were prisoners who were spared the harshest conditions by supervising, often brutally, other prisoners. See in particular Elie Wiesel's autobiographical Night. Of the perhaps thousands who performed this function, only a couple of dozen were successfully prosecuted after World War II.

More recently, in the United States, arrested drug dealers are frequently given the promise of a lighter sentence or no prosecution if they serve as informants for the police.

As for the statement "the goal of morality is to preserve life," to be fair, that is not Rand's position. According to her "that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good."

I expected you to attempt to give examples that would disprove my proposition and you did not disappoint. The problem is that it is necessary to show that the expected payoff is greater, not the actual payoff in particular cases.

In the case of the kapos, the men involved had no way of knowing how long the war would last, whether they would survive or be eventually gassed or be prosecuted and executed after the war. The fact that only a few were executed doesn't mean much. Also, we don't know how those people fared after the war. Some might have done fine while others might have had a hard time finding people with whom to do business and might have suffered as a result. Since many were criminals before the war, they might have returned to crime and died in other ways.

I'm not sure what your example of police informants is supposed to show. An informant is arguably doing the right thing by helping to stop crime. An informant might receive leniency, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't suffered as the result of choosing a life of crime.

Man's existence --- his life --- is contingent upon pursuing a proper course of action. That is why he needs a moral code and that is it's purpose.

Objectivists often talk about thriving instead of merely surviving, but the purpose of thriving is to survive. That is, putting distance between oneself and the needs of every day survival increases ones odds of surviving. A poor person living in a poor neighborhood is more likely to be a victim of crime than a person living in a nice neighborhood. A poor person's car is more likely to break down or suffer a brake failure and crash. He is less likely to be able to afford medical care, etc.

Darrell

Edited by Darrell Hougen

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In your world, thugs can create the cure for cancer. In mine, thugs will never bully that discovery out of any independent mind.

In our world, that is, the realm of objective reality, intelligence can exist within the same mind that regards other humans as dirt beneath the boots. The Japanese germ warfare scientist Shirō Ishii is a leading example. Incidentally, because of his knowledge of microbiology, Ishii, like the German V-2 scientists received immunity from prosecution by the Allies.

I just grokked this.

1. The goal-post change. I never said intelligence can't "exist within the same mind that regards other humans as dirt." I said thugs could never create the cure for cancer, nor bully independent minds to do so.

2. In FF's world, an evil genius who creates weapons of mass destruction is the equivalent of a productive genius creating the cure for cancer. As per his own words right here, they both are the same thing to him.

No wonder we disagree on so much.

Michael

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... I have never written anything that remotely resembles what you attribute to me.

FF,

Actually you have. But it's mostly by logically extending your premises and I'm not going to argue it.

The part that amuses me is that you do this with Rand all the time, but get stung when you think someone does it with you.

Michael

No. I have not attributed any position to Rand that she did not take. I have not said that she argues for the prudent predator. To be precise, I have argued that the flaw in her ethics is that one cannot derive an argument against the prudent predator from her premises,

By contrast you have attacked thoughts I've never uttered and offered up not a single direct quotation in evidence.

I just grokked this.

1. The goal-post change. I never said intelligence can't "exist within the same mind that regards other humans as dirt." I said thugs could never create the cure for cancer, nor bully independent minds to do so.

2. In FF's world, an evil genius who creates weapons of mass destruction is the equivalent of a productive genius creating the cure for cancer. As per his own words right here, they both are the same thing to him.

No wonder we disagree on so much.

Michael

Since there is not yet a cure for cancer, how can one know in advance anything about the character of the person who will develop the cure? Like a cure for cancer. rocket science will probably prove to be a long-term benefit for mankind. But the motive of the developers of the first long range ballistic missile was to help a group of thugs destroy civilian population centers. Three times the number of people killed in New York's Twin Towers were casualties of the weapons.

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin of Great Britain, won the Nobel prize for chemistry for her work in protein crystallography. Her biochemical research helped science understand the structures of proteins, including insulin, resulting in more precise control of diabetes. She was also a devoted Marxist, friends with Ghanan dictator Kwame Nkrumah and the wife of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.

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Mr. MPP has just provided us with a real world example of the logical gap in Objectivist thinking. Rand's ethics holds that a) it is proper for man to act in his rational self-interest, and b) man has certain property rights which others must not violate.

Objectivists routinely say the two principles are not in conflict. There cannot be a "prudent predator," they say. Why not? Well, because the prudent predator is not acting rationally. Why not? Well, because he might get caught, er, that is, the risks always outweigh the potential rewards when we steal from others.

Yet I've never heard an Objectivist advise a police officer or a firefighter to leave their profession because of the hazards.

When the "it's not really selfish" argument fails, Randians then rely on even flimsier defenses: you could make more money doing something else; you'll suffer psychological guilt for years to come; if everybody were a prudent predator, there would be no more hosts for the parasites, etc.

Francisco,

I haven't read the entire thread. I'll catch up eventually, but I would just reply that your prudent predator doesn't exist. I will simply assert, without proof at this point, that cheating, lying, stealing, murdering, etc., are never in a person's self interest. A person's expected payoff in leading a life that involves violating the rights of others is always less than his expected payoff in leading a rights respecting life.

I will admit that it is a difficult argument to make. It is probably as difficult as arguing about the economics of freedom versus big government. However, I think you will find that it is impossible to come up with real world examples where a person's expected long term payoff is greater by violating the rights of others. In fact, if the goal of morality is to preserve life, then the proper measurement is longevity. So, you would have to argue that a person's expected longevity is greater if he violates the rights of others than if he respects them.

Darrell

Impossible? In fact, there are many historical cases of people who survived difficult times by violating the rights of others. To cite one famous example, concentration camp kapos in Nazi Germany were prisoners who were spared the harshest conditions by supervising, often brutally, other prisoners. See in particular Elie Wiesel's autobiographical Night. Of the perhaps thousands who performed this function, only a couple of dozen were successfully prosecuted after World War II.

More recently, in the United States, arrested drug dealers are frequently given the promise of a lighter sentence or no prosecution if they serve as informants for the police.

As for the statement "the goal of morality is to preserve life," to be fair, that is not Rand's position. According to her "that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good."

I expected you to attempt to give examples that would disprove my proposition and you did not disappoint. The problem is that it is necessary to show that the expected payoff is greater, not the actual payoff in particular cases.

In the case of the kapos, the men involved had no way of knowing how long the war would last, whether they would survive or be eventually gassed or be prosecuted and executed after the war. The fact that only a few were executed doesn't mean much. Also, we don't know how those people fared after the war. Some might have done fine while others might have had a hard time finding people with whom to do business and might have suffered as a result. Since many were criminals before the war, they might have returned to crime and died in other ways.

The case of the kapos is an interesting case. It is probably a toss up whether one would have been better off choosing to be a kapo or not. So, it is a borderline case that exists only in the most chaotic of conditions. In a state of constant warfare where a person's rights are constantly violated, no rights are possible. However, such conditions are rare and hardly indicative of kinds of kinds of choices people face under more peaceable conditions.

I'm not sure what your example of police informants is supposed to show. An informant is arguably doing the right thing by helping to stop crime. An informant might receive leniency, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't suffered as the result of choosing a life of crime.

Man's existence --- his life --- is contingent upon pursuing a proper course of action. That is why he needs a moral code and that is it's purpose.

Objectivists often talk about thriving instead of merely surviving, but the purpose of thriving is to survive. That is, putting distance between oneself and the needs of every day survival increases ones odds of surviving. A poor person living in a poor neighborhood is more likely to be a victim of crime than a person living in a nice neighborhood. A poor person's car is more likely to break down or suffer a brake failure and crash. He is less likely to be able to afford medical care, etc.

Darrell

You asked for an example of a case in which "a person's expected long term payoff is greater by violating the rights of others." The kapos of Nazi Germany are such an example. That they had no way of knowing how long the war would last (no one did) or whether they would survive or be eventually gassed is irrelevant to the issue. The fact remains that they expected that being brutal to other prisoners would help extend their lives and at the same time make them a bit more comfortable. It proved to be a safe bet.

A drug peddler is a businessman who deals in a commodity that the government has outlawed. The sale of heroin violates no one's rights. Thus to serve as an accomplice to those who would steal from the dealer and place him in a cage for many months or years, is to be a rights violator.

Rand's ethics does not derive the conclusion to respect the rights of other from its premise that an organism's life is its standard of value.

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I just grokked this.

1. The goal-post change. I never said intelligence can't "exist within the same mind that regards other humans as dirt." I said thugs could never create the cure for cancer, nor bully independent minds to do so.

2. In FF's world, an evil genius who creates weapons of mass destruction is the equivalent of a productive genius creating the cure for cancer. As per his own words right here, they both are the same thing to him.

No wonder we disagree on so much.

Michael

Since there is not yet a cure for cancer, how can one know in advance anything about the character of the person who will develop the cure? Like a cure for cancer. rocket science will probably prove to be a long-term benefit for mankind. But the motive of the developers of the first long range ballistic missile was to help a group of thugs destroy civilian population centers. Three times the number of people killed in New York's Twin Towers were casualties of the weapons.

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin of Great Britain, won the Nobel prize for chemistry for her work in protein crystallography. Her biochemical research helped science understand the structures of proteins, including insulin, resulting in more precise control of diabetes. She was also a devoted Marxist, friends with Ghanan dictator Kwame Nkrumah and the wife of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.

This could not have proved my point better.

This guy has no clue about Rand, especially the part about integration.

He just gets some surface stuff and that's about it.

Michael

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Mr. MPP has just provided us with a real world example of the logical gap in Objectivist thinking. Rand's ethics holds that a) it is proper for man to act in his rational self-interest, and b) man has certain property rights which others must not violate.

Objectivists routinely say the two principles are not in conflict. There cannot be a "prudent predator," they say. Why not? Well, because the prudent predator is not acting rationally. Why not? Well, because he might get caught, er, that is, the risks always outweigh the potential rewards when we steal from others.

Yet I've never heard an Objectivist advise a police officer or a firefighter to leave their profession because of the hazards.

When the "it's not really selfish" argument fails, Randians then rely on even flimsier defenses: you could make more money doing something else; you'll suffer psychological guilt for years to come; if everybody were a prudent predator, there would be no more hosts for the parasites, etc

I'm a late comer to this thread, but this is worth a response. A point which was missed was becoming a predator is what makes you prey to other predators.

There is a predator/prey food chain in the "dog eat dog" world... and the only way to free yourself from it is to become a man instead of a dog.

The belief that predation is "prudent" is exactly what makes you such easy prey whether it be by others or the government...

...and of course, following your same flawed premise, your equally flawed conclusion is that the consequences of your own imprudent belief that the fault lies in others and the in government... but not in you. :wink:

Greg

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Greg, you sure take a lot of words and posts to say, "If you lie down with dogs you'll get up with fleas."

--Brant

even if you don't get up, that's okay with the dogs (unless they don't know how to use the can opener)

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Greg, you sure take a lot of words and posts to say, "If you lie down with dogs you'll get up with fleas."

...or even more concise.

"Being a dog also means being dog food." :wink:

Greg

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Ah my thread has been hijacked! I do not appreciate this. FF, start your own thread.

Is there any one who cares to reply to my last post here? That I would appreciate.

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-how is the word wrong in this context in objectivism to be understand? how do you prove, by what standard and by what usage of wrong, that stealing is wrong? what does accepting that stealing is wrong imply?

This issue is simplified in the Old Testament.

(Hebrew) sin: to miss, to be absent

So to sin means to act without being aware.

In my opinion, all evil acts arise from angrily and unjustly blaming others. It takes an abysmal lack of self awareness to do evil. Anger is the smokescreen.

Acting without awareness is dangerous because that's how you hurt yourself (not to mention others). And since self harm is not in your best interests it is therefore wrong for you.

Notice that the focus is not on what you do...

...but on how you do it.

Greg

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You asked for an example of a case in which "a person's expected long term payoff is greater by violating the rights of others." The kapos of Nazi Germany are such an example. That they had no way of knowing how long the war would last (no one did) or whether they would survive or be eventually gassed is irrelevant to the issue. The fact remains that they expected that being brutal to other prisoners would help extend their lives and at the same time make them a bit more comfortable. It proved to be a safe bet.

A drug peddler is a businessman who deals in a commodity that the government has outlawed. The sale of heroin violates no one's rights. Thus to serve as an accomplice to those who would steal from the dealer and place him in a cage for many months or years, is to be a rights violator.

Rand's ethics does not derive the conclusion to respect the rights of other from its premise that an organism's life is its standard of value.

The fact that the kapos had no way of knowing how long the war would last or whether they would survive or eventually be gassed is germane to the issue. In fact, it is the issue.

Part of Rand's philosophy is that in order to survive, a person must control his own destiny. The scenario of the kapos is similar to the following simpler scenario:

Assume that a wealthy man came along and told you that he would guarantee you a life without want for as long as you lived as long as you agreed to be his prisoner.

It is tempting to conclude that the rational man would accept the deal because he would no longer have to worry about his worldly needs. His food, shelter, clothing, and the best medical care money can buy would be guaranteed to him for the rest of his life, guaranteeing him a long and healthy life barring some unforeseen problem such as an untreatable illness. At least, he would be guaranteed to live at least as long as he would have on the outside.

The problem is that there is no way of knowing what the guarantee is worth. The prisoner of the wealthy man would be at the latter's mercy, never knowing when or whether he might decide to end the deal and eject prisoner out into the world penniless or worse, kill him.

The kapos faced a similar situation. What if Germany had won the war? The Final Solution was to exterminate all the Jews and that would presumably include the kapos.

I have read that the Germans used the kapos to help control the other prisoners, thereby allowing the Germans to use far fewer SS guards at their prisons. If that is true, it might have been possible for all of the prisoners to escape if the kapos had joined with the other prisoners and staged a prison break.

Alternately, if all of the prisoners had refused to be kapos, the German Army would have had to assign more soldiers to guard their prisons which would have removed some of the soldiers from the front line, increasing the likelihood of German defeat and bring that defeat more quickly, allowing all of the prisoners to be freed.

Why would someone agree to be a kapo hoping to briefly extend his life when refusing to be a kapo might extend his life for another 50 years by helping to bring the war to an end?

Thank you for clarifying the issue of the drug dealer. Now, I understand your point. However, I still disagree with your conclusion.

If the drug dealer believes that the drug laws are justifiable, then he is not consciously violating his principles, if he has any, because he is acting to reduce crime. However, if he believes as you believe that he is helping to steal from a legitimate peddler, then he is violating the principle that one should not steal --- he is violating the principle that one should respect the property of others.

Part of Rand's philosophy is that men must live according to principles. It is impossible to know with any kind of certainty when one can get away with something immoral and when that is not possible. Therefore, if the dealer can justify violating one man's property rights, there is nothing to prevent him from justifying the violation of another man's property rights. If it is ok to steal from one man, it is ok to steal from another whenever the opportunity presents itself. But, such a philosophy is a prescription for disaster in the long run. The probability of continuously getting away with rights violations is small.

A person that constantly violates the rights of others soon finds himself morally lost and uncertain about what to do on a daily basis. His world turns into a frightening series of calculations about when to lie, or cheat, or steal, and how to evade detection, and the end is usually disaster.

It is said that when an honest man is arrested and placed alone in an interrogation room, he paces up and down, worried about what will happen to him and how he can fight it. A criminal falls asleep. For an honest man, his fight is just beginning. A criminal is exhausted from the constant struggle to avoid detection. His battle is over.

BTW, similar considerations apply to the kapos. If it is ok to mistreat another man under one set of circumstances, is it not ok to do so under others? And, if he goes down that path, it is hard to see how he could have a decent life even if the conflict ended.

Darrell

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I hold with the school of thought that everything that happens in the world of non-fiction has a prior cause (or multiple prior causes).

...

You seem to view determinism as the simplistic idea that a man is programmed only once by external forces, and that after that nothing can change his motives/actions. I don't know of any determinist who has taken that position. Of course, people change with changing conditions. New factors, including new knowledge, alter patterns of behavior. This is what child developmental psychology is all about.

"New factors, including new knowledge, alter patterns of behavior".

You must explain to me how this happens. Knowledge, which "knowledge"? How does it change anyone?

Example: knowledge that the bridge is washed out may change the route someone chooses to get home at night.

Does the "knowledge" of the existence (e.g.) of brute killers rampaging through countries enter one's mind and force an alteration in one's "patterns of behavior" to the extent of enlisting with them?

Possibly, depending on the alternatives.

What "new knowledge" convinced you to become a libertarian? And why? I suggest you were 'ready' or receptive to become one, in advance, from earlier thinking and observation..

Reading dystopian fiction such as 1984 and Brave New World convinced me. If I had been ready to change before reading those books, why didn't I change earlier?

I suspect that any argument from determinism is self-refuting. Realised or not, everybody has a sense of morality and conviction. Which is self-created by deeper convictions gained from reality (or unreality). This is the real meaning of what a being of volitional consciousness is all about - not: a 'hard volitionism' that whatever one wills and wishes for, will come into existence, or that external forces do not have any influence in one's life.

Then stop asking questions, and use any determinist's argument to refute him.

Self-created morality? One day, Max Stirner said "I shall be an egoist" without ever having previously heard a discussion of philosophy?

I think you became what you are by volition, FF. Your determinism is a cognitive self-indulgence, no more true to the nature of man, than altruism. Either of which, if practised assiduously would ensure a short survival.

The self-indulgence is imagining the existence of a Free Will, which unlike any other thing in the universe, is completely independent of external forces.

Determinism is self-refuting, for to state "I am a determinist" also states "I have a conviction". To own convictions is to say, "I have come to believe in this, not that". So: a being of volitional consciousness.

With all the myriad of ideological possibilities to be convinced of and by, you were persuaded towards libertarianism by two novels. And if you'd read Das Kapital before those? Would that have met with your approval, too, persuaded you and changed your direction? No, because - I think - you had already half-formed your own inductions of society and economics.

(I have to feel sorry for professed determinists - there is so much enjoyment they deny themselves. To a greater or lesser degree, whatever they may do and achieve they, in essence, believe was written in the stars. How to take full pleasure and pride in one's original thought, accomplishments and discovered certainty... while denying one's free will? How, in fact, to be able to assert "I" with conviction, when everybody and everything before you supposedly made you what you are? Rather than being only contributory factors).

FF, you say "Possibly, depending on the alternatives" - in reply to joining with murderous brutes. Besides the inherent contradiction of their anti-libertarian ideology sharply opposing yours, this is particularly amoral. It is skeptical of ~any~ standard, whatsoever, which is the core of your disagreements here. It indicates a pragmatic and subjective "self-interest" which varies with any situation as you please. But if you can't accept "man's life as the standard of value", it logically follows.

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Assume that a wealthy man came along and told you that he would guarantee you a life without want for as long as you lived as long as you agreed to be his prisoner.

Gee, the government made that same offer,

and hundreds of millions of suckers took it. :laugh:

Greg

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