0610: "Sheeple"

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markfiend
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:58 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:
Bill of Rights wrote:Fourth Amendment
[...]
Fifth Amendment
[...]


OK because the US constitution is the final arbiter in all questions of law and morality. :roll:

You do realise that to those of us outside the USA, your constitution doesn't hold a great deal of relevance?
andrewclunn wrote:Arguing the semantics of what the words 'private property' mean is like arguing over the definition of the word 'torture' to legally justify acts that everyone knows are illegal.

I completely disagree. From context, (although IANAL), it is entirely possible to read "property" as used in your quotes from the 4th and 5th amendments to mean only land and buildings. (Indeed in UK English, the word "property" is commonly used colloquially in this sense.)

Also, taxation is taking your income, not your property. I believe that several people have challenged the constitutionality of income taxes in the USA, and it has repeatedly been held by judges and juries that taxation does not breach your constitution.
andrewclunn wrote:Rather than list several offenses, I think the followign link should suffice: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/23/AR2005062300783.html

From your link:
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that local governments may force property owners to sell out
Being forced to sell out is hardly "without just compensation" is it?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:06 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:You do realize that to those of us outside the USA, your constitution doesn't hold a great deal of relevance?


As I later posted, I believe all successful societies must have property rights exist as a precondition, I simply used my own country as an example because I am most familiar with it. Ethnocentrism had nothing to do with it.

EDIT - darn, you editted your post while I was responding. That interpretation lets 'gentrification' plans go through, forcing the poor out of their homes. I care about the poor, and that's WHY I want less government involvement in the economy, because in my experience when the government can interfere in private enterprise, it is usually just a tool for the rich to further subjugate the poor.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:10 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Rather than list several offenses, I think the followign link should suffice: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/23/AR2005062300783.html


That was a bad ruling, yes. But there's a strong difference between "this ruling defending an abuse of eminent domain was bad" and "any and all regulation and/or restriction on private property is bad".

It doesn't prove your assertion that this happens "without just compensation", however, as the government which exercises eminent domain is still required to pay fair market value for the property. And it doesn't prove "happens all the time", either. This was one case. The ruling was a bad one, and it opened the door to state and local governments abusing eminent domain for private interests, but it was still one case. I would note that many states, in response to this ruling, outlawed the use of eminent domain for private interests within their own jurisdictions, such as my home state of Minnesota, and our neighbors North Dakota and Wisconsin.

andrewclunn wrote:All you're proving is that private property wouldn't exist outside of society. Of course it wouldn't. If nobody else is around, then theft, trade and such does exist. You seem to be implying however, that society is the foundation of property rights. I believe you have your cause and effect mixed up. No society has approached anything resembling modernity without property rights existing as a basis for trade and human economic interaction.


No, I have my cause and effect just fine. Societies existed before notions of private property. Therefor, if one were to create the other, society would have to be causal to recognition of private property as an idea.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Math_Mage » Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:15 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:
I agree that we can't change history and undo all the injustices that have lead to many people being unfairly impoverished and others to have massive sums of ill-gotten riches, it really sucks that that ever happened.


Forgive me if that rings a bit hollow, in light of what you're saying.

It's really missing the point to blame those injustices on Objectivist thinking though, because honestly and freely trading value-for-value is what Objectivism holds as the ideal for interaction between people, NOT trickery,theft and exploitation.


Sure, those injustices predate Objectivism as a school of thought, quite significantly. However, Objectivism is basically saying "None of that matters, it's all beside the point, why are you oppressing me by wanting to take what I've earned fairly?"

You didn't earn it fairly, except by your own thinking. An awful lot of people had to be screwed over for you to enjoy those opportunities. Those of us who've endured that screwing aren't real sympathetic, especially when trickery, theft and exploitation (and worse) by the same privileged groups that Objectivism appeals to most, put us into this situation in the first place.


I'm a little confused. You aren't blaming objectivist thought for creating these injustices, from what I can tell. Is the fault then that objectivist thought actively perpetuates those injustices, or that it simply doesn't do anything to erase them? Is there a difference? Also, I can accept that people have a moral obligation to society, but your words tend towards the idea that the sons of tricksters and thieves and exploiters are morally obligated to make reparations for their fathers' sins, which doesn't make sense. I mean, your attitude is very much "we got screwed by them, so they owe us," but does that position hold when it's "we got screwed by their parents" or "our parents got screwed by their parents," even if the impact of that initial injustice carries the generational gap? Should the wealthy man apologize and make reparations for his advantageous starting point? IMHO, objectivism seems the objection to that philosophy, and its fault is primarily that its stance is too blunt. But then (just thinking out loud), how does one distinguish between a social responsibility to establish a baseline standard of living (for example) and a personal responsibility to make reparations for living well above the baseline? The former is legitimate, the latter insulting, and the difference miniscule...

Disclaimer: I'm not an objectivist, or a follower of any particular philosophy political or otherwise. I'm just confused.
Last edited by Math_Mage on Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:36 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:24 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Rather than list several offenses, I think the followign link should suffice: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/23/AR2005062300783.html


That was a bad ruling, yes. But there's a strong difference between "this ruling defending an abuse of eminent domain was bad" and "any and all regulation and/or restriction on private property is bad".

It doesn't prove your assertion that this happens "without just compensation", however, as the government which exercises eminent domain is still required to pay fair market value for the property. And it doesn't prove "happens all the time", either. This was one case. The ruling was a bad one, and it opened the door to state and local governments abusing eminent domain for private interests, but it was still one case. I would note that many states, in response to this ruling, outlawed the use of eminent domain for private interests within their own jurisdictions, such as my home state of Minnesota, and our neighbors North Dakota and Wisconsin.


Just look into gentrification programs. I've seen what they are first hand: blatant racism enabled by government force.

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:All you're proving is that private property wouldn't exist outside of society. Of course it wouldn't. If nobody else is around, then theft, trade and such does exist. You seem to be implying however, that society is the foundation of property rights. I believe you have your cause and effect mixed up. No society has approached anything resembling modernity without property rights existing as a basis for trade and human economic interaction.


No, I have my cause and effect just fine. Societies existed before notions of private property. Therefor, if one were to create the other, society would have to be causal to recognition of private property as an idea.


Oh yes. There are numerous cases of societies where people lived using "in-group out-group" morality. Family units or tribes killing each other, but sharing within their group. Sometimes they were justified through kinship (see racism) and other times by shared ideology (see marxism and theocracy.) So yes, societies can exist without property rights, under authoritarian rule. I should have been more clear that by 'society' I meant "free society" where individuals can pursue their own desires and choose what it is they believe for themselves (see modern society.)
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:05 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:False dichotomy, straw man. Altruism is simply a term for one voluntarily giving what one has to others expecting nothing particular in return. It's not an organized philosophy, though some organized philosophies, worldviews or religions do advocate it. Some of those may in turn be very missionary and obnoxious about it, but altruism doesn't inherently impose itself on anybody.

If this is how you define altruism, then it does not exist. Those who do good for others always get something in return. Some common forms of payment are:
A sense of moral superiority, reduction in guilt for being better off than others, satisfaction of self-esteem or self actualization needs, accumulation of moral capital, tax breaks for charitable giving, a name on a plaque, and positive PR.
Pazi wrote:
If I go up to someone and demand a small share of what they own, with a feeling of entitlement, fully convinced that I have every moral right to what they have for no other reason than that I need it, am I not being selfish? I'm saying "my need is more important than whatever claim you have to your property, I don't care about you, about how you managed to obtain what you have, about whatever skills you have put effort into cultivating, whatever personal sacrifices you have made, whatever loved-ones you want to provide a good standard-of-living to, I just care about me and my need.


Another straw man.

The idea that ownership is an absolute and sacred right is axiomatic in Libertarianism (which makes it rich when US libertarians don't give acknowledgement to the countless "violations of individual rights", termed "murder, rape, theft, cheating and genocide" by more sensible people, by which they've come to live on this land), but not everybody agrees. Furthermore, as it's axiomatic to your philosophy, to you it stands without question.

Usually when people invoke genocide, it is indicative of a straw man position. Irony?
Pazi wrote:People who can't compete in a system that requires everybody to survive on its terms, but overwhelmingly favors the white, the male, those with wealthy ancestry, without disability, who aren't queer or trans, *are not parasites*. We're people who don't get to believe in meritocracy, because most of us will work hard our entire lives and count ourselves fortunate if we someday manage to break into a more stable position in our lives. This isn't about demanding a reasonable price for our labor, either -- we *can't*, even with the help of minimum wage laws, because we're coerced by the risk of starvation or homelessness into accepting what we can actually find. What's more, employers can do more or less anything they like to us; even the existence of certain protected classes doesn't prevent abuses on the basis of race, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability.

Even *with* the help of unemployment payments, welfare for those who have a harder time getting work at all, educational grants that make it easier to get funds to go to community and technical colleges, and food stamps, many of us will find it very difficult to kick this cycle -- no matter what our talents, intelligence, abilities and efforts. Take that stuff away and we're in even more trouble. Nobody who's had to actually fall back on these services operates under the delusion that private, voluntary donations would take up the slack. It's not really enough even as it is, and the current welfare system is geared towards minimalist subsistence rather than really allowing people to get onto their feet and stop *needing* the help of such services. And as an aside, many of us who could benefit from these services will never even use them.

Pazi wrote:Your *entire philosophy* is incoherent to those of us who have been forced to observe that the world really doesn't work that way, and that our lives mean more to us than your abstract principles.


Pazi, unless you are queer or trans, and disabled, and not a white male with wealthy ancestry, I think grouping those minorities into "we" is inaccurate. Different minorities have different problems.
Your world view of a dichotomy between the whites and the minorities is inaccurate. I'm pretty sure that blacks and Hispanics discriminate just as much if not more against gays and the transgendered as white people do.

A meritocracy is only fair if everyone has the same opportunity to prove their worth. The country we live in now does not allow everyone to have this opportunity however it gets us closer than we could hope to get in other parts of the world. One of our goals should be to increase the opportunity everyone has. When one wants to be given something not because of their merit, it's not that you "don't get to believe" in a meritocracy, you are actively destroying it.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Just look into gentrification programs. I've seen what they are first hand: blatant racism enabled by government force.


I'm not exactly sure what you're arguing here. I mean, yes, gentrification is racist, classist, and generally nasty business. And yes, corrupt conservative governments can encourage it in order to serve their own agenda. But how do you get from this abuse of government power in the service of wealthy whites, to saying that any government intervention of any sort is bad? It doesn't follow.

andrewclunn wrote:Oh yes. There are numerous cases of societies where people lived using "in-group out-group" morality. Family unites or tribes competing and killing, but sharing with one another. Sometimes they were justified through kinship (see racism) and other times by shared ideology (see marxism and theocracy.) So yes, societies can exist without property rights, under authoritarian rule. I should have been more clear that by 'society' I meant "free society" where individuals can pursue their own desires and choose what it is they believe for themselves.


Which is a laudable goal, but how is that what we have now? We don't have equal opportunity in this country. And there are powerful interests trying to keep it that way. Of course, you know this, so by your own words, you oppose government intervention in the economy to prevent those powerful interests from using government to entrench their own power. Which is fine, I'm also opposed to using government power to entrench the wealthy.

But government power can be used to help fix those problems, too. It can be used to help promote more equality of opportunity, instead of less.

Have you not noticed that in our society, the people who argue for less government intervention in the economy, less regulation, less social programs for the poor, less public assistance, and so on, tend to be the very people who have the economic power? Rich, white men. They are the ones who want less government intervention in the economy. Think about why that is.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:16 pm UTC

I'm a little confused. You aren't blaming objectivist thought for creating these injustices, from what I can tell.


Correct.

Is the fault then that objectivist thought actively perpetuates those injustices, or that it simply doesn't do anything to erase them? Is there a difference?


Mostly the former; there's pretty much no way for it *not* to do that under current circumstances, the way I see it.

As for doing anything to erase them, it definitely does not. For me, as someone who cares about the way social injustice and oppression continues to affect my life and the lives of others, the goal is ultimately to level the playing field. It is generally taken as a given that this is an imperfect process and not easily achievable, so I like to think of it in terms of harm reduction.

Also, I can accept that people have a moral obligation to society, but your words tend towards the idea that the sons of tricksters and thieves and exploiters are morally obligated to make reparations for their fathers' sins, which doesn't make sense.


What I believe is that those who've been privileged by society got to where they are on the backs of those who weren't. Furthermore, it is my belief that this process didn't occur in the dim recesses of history, but is ongoing even today. Sure, it's not possible to purchase black slaves anymore, but that doesn't mean the oppression of black people died with slavery. It's *changed*, but it hasn't *stopped.*

I think a functional welfare system is the *least* a just society can do, to support the existence of its members who've paid the costs for the privileged to attain their status (and it should be noted that privilege doesn't mean I think anyone who's white/male/hetero/etc owns a porsche and lives in a mansion or something; just being able to work toward your goals and meet them with the expenditure of appropriate effort is an incredibly privileged existence, from the viewpoints of the oppressed). You (generic you, here) benefit because we suffer. Your meritocracy is made possible by denying many more of us anything like it. We don't get to negotiate as equals; we have to live and eat just like anyone else. Our every interaction with the system has potential to be coercive. It didn't have to be this way. The historical roots of this may not be your fault, but you're complicit in the result and blind to how this system really works.

Without specific interest in reparations (although I won't dismiss out of hand those who make a case for them on the basis of some shared group experience), what I want is to see the gap between the haves and the have-nots narrowed enough that *we* don't have to be abused and expended in order for you to enjoy a high standard of living. It's *possible*, too -- look at Sweden.*

*I'm not saying the Swedish model would easily map onto the US, in a 1-for-1 sort of way, but it provides an example of something like what I'd prefer to see; you can be wealthy and even rich there, but very seldom does someone have to go hungry, die of easily-preventable conditions, forego an education if they want it or become a wage-slave in order to survive.

Should the wealthy man apologize and make reparations for his advantageous starting point?


The wealthy man should get some perspective and realize that his being taxed a share of income to provide for the existence of those who pay his share of the burdens is not "hiring armies of jackbooted thugs to steal [his] property."

IMHO, objectivism seems the objection to that philosophy, and its fault is primarily that its stance is too blunt.


Shrug. There's libertarianism/classical liberalism, and then there's Objectivism which adds on a lot of metaphysical cruft. Either way, it seems like the issue is a disagreement about what we consider to be ethical axioms.

I tend not to buy the idea that one has no ethical obligations one hasn't chosen, because in the much wider context of the world around me it becomes pretty clear that it's just not a functional model. And yes, it disagrees with my own ethical axioms as well (as hazy as those still are for me), but that's the *point* - Objectivists act like it's some big ineffable fact from on high that their axioms are true, and so in addition to just finding the code personally reprehensible, it also strikes me as almost missionary in nature.

But then (just thinking out loud), how does one distinguish between a social responsibility to establish a baseline standard of living (for example) and a personal responsibility to make reparations for living well above the baseline? The former is legitimate, the latter insulting, and the difference miniscule...


The baseline the haves experience is because others are forced to live and struggle well below that baseline, against their wishes. Given that, the question seems to be misleading.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:22 pm UTC

palam wrote:
Pazi wrote:False dichotomy, straw man. Altruism is simply a term for one voluntarily giving what one has to others expecting nothing particular in return. It's not an organized philosophy, though some organized philosophies, worldviews or religions do advocate it. Some of those may in turn be very missionary and obnoxious about it, but altruism doesn't inherently impose itself on anybody.

If this is how you define altruism, then it does not exist. Those who do good for others always get something in return. Some common forms of payment are:
A sense of moral superiority, reduction in guilt for being better off than others, satisfaction of self-esteem or self actualization needs, accumulation of moral capital, tax breaks for charitable giving, a name on a plaque, and positive PR.


And then there's the real world, where it usually doesn't get you any of that. You seem to have a skewed idea of how many altruists thinks it makes them better than others.


Usually when people invoke genocide, it is indicative of a straw man position. Irony?


Mentioning genocide is not a Godwin. What white people did to indigenous Americans fully counts.


Pazi, unless you are queer or trans, and disabled, and not a white male with wealthy ancestry, I think grouping those minorities into "we" is inaccurate. Different minorities have different problems.


I am queer, trans *and* disabled. I know very well that different minorities have different problems, from intimate firsthand experience. While I'm not entirely "white" by ancestry I do experience white privilege, so I don't feel comfortable claiming to be a person of color. Nonetheless, I do try to understand how racism affects peoples' lives as well, and my own.

Your world view of a dichotomy between the whites and the minorities is inaccurate. I'm pretty sure that blacks and Hispanics discriminate just as much if not more against gays and the transgendered as white people do.


I think I know rather more about it than you do.

A meritocracy is only fair if everyone has the same opportunity to prove their worth. The country we live in now does not allow everyone to have this opportunity however it gets us closer than we could hope to get in other parts of the world.


A traditional American notion, sometimes borne out by reality and sometimes not.

One of our goals should be to increase the opportunity everyone has.


I agree.

When one wants to be given something not because of their merit, it's not that you "don't get to believe" in a meritocracy, you are actively destroying it.


The privileged groups didn't get what they have because of their merit, but they believe they do, and they feel entitled to it. Meritocracy is a lie to begin with.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:36 pm UTC

WARNING: rant

...and for those who would not read past the first sentence unless this was stated...

From one minority to another

It makes me sick when I hear racial minorities whining about how hard their lot is because of their race. This particular minority culture is characterized by complaining about everything, claiming a moral prerogative, and clamoring for strikes. You are dragging down the image of other minorities that have joined society, work hard, and do not make excuses for their personal failure or lack of ability. How far did you go in school? How do you value education? When you were in high school, did you disturb the class and chat with your friends or were you the one studying hard in spite of the din? Claiming it "isn't fair" works only until your opportunity is restored. If then you do not seize your life by the horns, your continued lack of success isn't because life isn't fair, it’s because of you. It’s because you don't value education. It’s because you are afraid of change. It’s because you cannot accept that maybe it’s not everyone else, it’s you. It's because you don’t really want to live off the government, it’s just easier to.

You think the quality of work one does is determined by how hard it is? Wrong. So wrong. The quality of work one does is determined by what it adds; the results are all that matter. Physically taxing work is characteristic of work that any schmuck could do. Work that needs intelligence and mental ability is usually less physically and more mentally taxing. The world is becoming more and more a place where in order to add value one must add something intelligent to it.

A person can take challenge 2 ways: they can sit down, give up and complain, or they can stay the course and let it make them more resilient to the next challenge. Oh no, your life has been challenging. How successful one has the potential of being is in large part characterized by how they handle challenge and adversity. If you get knocked down, it is your responsibility to get back up.

To this hypothetical minority with a sense of entitlement: If this does not fit into your world view where you are not responsible for your own perceived failure, then you can ignore it. Cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant thing. People that will delude themselves into being comfortable instead of changing themselves are people that are not honest with the one person that matters. For example, when one believes from a young age that education isn't important, they will often make excuses their whole life as to why this is still true even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Being wrong is often accompanied by pain and a blow to the ego. The weak will forever temporize over this inevitable comeuppance because they are afraid of experiencing this very real pain.

Yes. You are weak. You are not worthy of respect and you know this. You have the same lot as a lot of other poor people that are not minorities, only there is more clamoring for something you want but do not deserve because of something that you claim shouldn't matter. A meritocracy is the only chance for those born into the bottom rung, and your horde of cupped hands are one of its biggest obstacles.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:01 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Just look into gentrification programs. I've seen what they are first hand: blatant racism enabled by government force.


I'm not exactly sure what you're arguing here. I mean, yes, gentrification is racist, classist, and generally nasty business. And yes, corrupt conservative governments can encourage it in order to serve their own agenda. But how do you get from this abuse of government power in the service of wealthy whites, to saying that any government intervention of any sort is bad? It doesn't follow.

andrewclunn wrote:Oh yes. There are numerous cases of societies where people lived using "in-group out-group" morality. Family unites or tribes competing and killing, but sharing with one another. Sometimes they were justified through kinship (see racism) and other times by shared ideology (see marxism and theocracy.) So yes, societies can exist without property rights, under authoritarian rule. I should have been more clear that by 'society' I meant "free society" where individuals can pursue their own desires and choose what it is they believe for themselves.


Which is a laudable goal, but how is that what we have now? We don't have equal opportunity in this country. And there are powerful interests trying to keep it that way. Of course, you know this, so by your own words, you oppose government intervention in the economy to prevent those powerful interests from using government to entrench their own power. Which is fine, I'm also opposed to using government power to entrench the wealthy.

But government power can be used to help fix those problems, too. It can be used to help promote more equality of opportunity, instead of less.

Have you not noticed that in our society, the people who argue for less government intervention in the economy, less regulation, less social programs for the poor, less public assistance, and so on, tend to be the very people who have the economic power? Rich, white men. They are the ones who want less government intervention in the economy. Think about why that is.


I don't think you're a stupid person or that you've got any ill intentions, but let me try to explain to you how your above comment looks to me. You started by asking for an example of when government has abused it's property rights. I linked to a court case that gave the government an unreasonable amount of power. You said that could be an isolated incident, so I pointed out gentrification as a common practice that exemplifies what I'm talking about. You then say that this doesn't prove that government intervention is wrong in all places. That appears to me like a moving goal post, where you're changing the standards by which you'll accept evidence as credible to justify a pre-conceived opinion (again, just how it looks to me.)

There's another thing about your comments that really strikes me the wrong way. Now, I self-identify as a conservative and I am a white male. I grew up in a poor home, but now make about the national average (which I know is well about the national median.) There was quite a bit of unnecessary (and often wrong) stereotyping that went on in your last post, and using language that paints me as the enemy isn't going to really help our discussion any.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:14 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:And then there's the real world, where it usually doesn't get you any of that. You seem to have a skewed idea of how many altruists thinks it makes them better than others.

palam wrote:A sense of moral superiority, reduction in guilt for being better off than others, satisfaction of self-esteem or self actualization needs, accumulation of moral capital, tax breaks for charitable giving, a name on a plaque, and positive PR.

"A sense of moral superiority" was only one of multiple listed reasons for helping others. You and I have a clearly different observed "real world." Walk around any college campus and you will see lots of plaques and named halls. When as a boyscout I sold my neighbor popcorn as a fundraiser, he got a receipt so he could write it off as a charitable donation. Companies often support charities to make them seem less "evil" in the public eye. The children of economic mavens often feel guilty for their windfall wealth that they did not work for; they often spend much of their time giving the money away (carnigie, peabody). The others are a more personal, introspective type of evidence.
Pazi wrote:
Usually when people invoke genocide, it is indicative of a straw man position. Irony?


Mentioning genocide is not a Godwin. What white people did to indigenous Americans fully counts.

The right to life is not a given. If so, natural selection would never have given rise to humans. Life must be earned. As long as Native Americans and Americans saw the dichotomy as "us and them," conflict was inevitable. I also think it is sad what happened to the Native Americans. However, one can not let sentimentality cloud their judgement.
Pazi wrote:
Pazi, unless you are queer or trans, and disabled, and not a white male with wealthy ancestry, I think grouping those minorities into "we" is inaccurate. Different minorities have different problems.


I am queer, trans *and* disabled. I know very well that different minorities have different problems, from intimate firsthand experience. While I'm not entirely "white" by ancestry I do experience white privilege, so I don't feel comfortable claiming to be a person of color. Nonetheless, I do try to understand how racism affects peoples' lives as well, and my own.

If you self describe as white, then you can not claim "we."
Pazi wrote:
Your world view of a dichotomy between the whites and the minorities is inaccurate. I'm pretty sure that blacks and Hispanics discriminate just as much if not more against gays and the transgendered as white people do.


I think I know rather more about it than you do.

Your category does not guarantee knowledge or enlightenment on your category. If you think you now rather more about it than I do, then please show, don't tell. As proof for my statement, I will propose the recent Prop 8 in California, where over 50% of both blacks and Hispanics voted for a ban on same sex marriage. the percentage for whites was lower than 50%. One cannot claim knowledge as a privilage; knowledge holds value by its own right.
Pazi wrote:
A meritocracy is only fair if everyone has the same opportunity to prove their worth. The country we live in now does not allow everyone to have this opportunity however it gets us closer than we could hope to get in other parts of the world.


A traditional American notion, sometimes borne out by reality and sometimes not.

duh? Are you actually saying anything directly here?
Pazi wrote:
One of our goals should be to increase the opportunity everyone has.


I agree.

What are you doing personally to increase opportunity for everyone? Or do you talk the talk but not walk the walk?
Pazi wrote:
When one wants to be given something not because of their merit, it's not that you "don't get to believe" in a meritocracy, you are actively destroying it.


The privileged groups didn't get what they have because of their merit, but they believe they do, and they feel entitled to it. Meritocracy is a lie to begin with.

Meritocracy, or rather, value placed on personal merit, can not be a lie as long as natural selection takes place. Things with greater merit by definition do things better than things with less merit. Something that by definition does things better than all others will succeed above and beyond that of its peers in the long run. Natural selection, along with the violence it entails, can not be denied.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:17 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:I don't think you're a stupid person or that you've got any ill intentions, but let me try to explain to you how your above comment looks to me. You started by asking for an example of when government has abused it's property rights. I linked to a court case that gave the government an unreasonable amount of power. You said that could be an isolated incident, so I pointed out gentrification as a common practice that exemplifies what I'm talking about. You then say that this doesn't prove that government intervention is wrong in all places. That appears to me like a moving goal post, where you're changing the standards by which you'll accept evidence as credible to justify a pre-conceived opinion (again, just how it looks to me.)


Ah, you misunderstood what I was doing. I asked you to demonstrate how government takes property from people without compensation all the time, as you had said. You linked to a bad ruling, which I said was one incident, and which was corrected by many states outlawing the very same practice. Also, I noted that eminent domain requires the government to pay for the land seized, which is not "without compensation".

You pointed out gentrification as a different means by which private interests make use of government power to serve themselves, at the expense of the poor. I said yes, that is an example, but it's still quite wrong to go from "this is an abuse of government power" to "all uses of government power to intervene in the economy are wrong".

andrewclunn wrote:There's another thing about your comments that really strikes me the wrong way. Now, I self-identify as a conservative and I am a white male. I grew up in a poor home, but now make about the national average (which I know is well about the national median.) There was quite a bit of unnecessary (and often wrong) stereotyping that went on in your last post, and using language that paints me as the enemy isn't going to really help our discussion any.


I don't think you're evil, although you seem to have a bad memetic infection. But I was trying to point out that the rhetoric you are using is in common with that used by the very people who, among other things, promote gentrification. And that since you state you care for the poor, it might be worth examining that rhetoric and considering whether it serves another agenda than the one you want.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby FoolishOwl » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:24 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:Your *entire philosophy* is incoherent to those of us who have been forced to observe that the world really doesn't work that way, and that our lives mean more to us than your abstract principles.

Well said.

During the 2008 US presidential election campaign, there was a furor over comments by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of the Chicago church Barack Obama attended. While Wright made some dubious claims, what I found most remarkable about the controversy was that Wright was most attacked for saying things that are almost universally recognized as true: that the US has a long history of brutal racism.

In the societies in which we live, we are surrounded by reminders of past and ongoing suffering and injustice. A common response to this is a sort of moral fugue state, in which people simply refuse to see any connection between themselves and the injustice around them. Occasionally, this fugue state is reinforced by the powers-that-be, as in the case of the Wright controversy, but mostly it comes out of the feeling that people have that there are enormous problems that they can't do anything about anyway, so they're better off not thinking about them.

Of course, it's easier to pretend problems don't exist when they're not a problem for you, directly. No one can fail to encounter the problem of racism, but it's a lot easier to pretend that racism is no longer a real issue if you're white. Likewise, sexism and other forms of bigotry, poverty, colonialism, and so on.

I see Objectivism, then, as an instance of a moral fugue state. It's impossible to miss the basic fact of human interdependence, though it is possible to pretend to ignore it, at least for the brief period between one's dependence upon parents as a child and one's obligations to care for a child as a parent.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:26 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:There's another thing about your comments that really strikes me the wrong way. Now, I self-identify as a conservative and I am a white male. I grew up in a poor home, but now make about the national average (which I know is well about the national median.) There was quite a bit of unnecessary (and often wrong) stereotyping that went on in your last post, and using language that paints me as the enemy isn't going to really help our discussion any.


I don't think you're evil, although you seem to have a bad memetic infection. But I was trying to point out that the rhetoric you are using is in common with that used by the very people who, among other things, promote gentrification. And that since you state you care for the poor, it might be worth examining that rhetoric and considering whether it serves another agenda than the one you want.


Referring to my position as a memetic infection and using associative non-sequitur arguments as a means of attacking my position? That's how you respond to that? I'll post a response later, right now I'm way too pissed by that blatant ad-hominem attack to rationally discuss this. :x
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:29 pm UTC

palam wrote: "A sense of moral superiority" was only one of multiple listed reasons for helping others. You and I have a clearly different observed "real world." Walk around any college campus and you will see lots of plaques and named halls. When as a boyscout I sold my neighbor popcorn as a fundraiser, he got a receipt so he could write it off as a charitable donation. Companies often support charities to make them seem less "evil" in the public eye. The children of economic mavens often feel guilty for their windfall wealth that they did not work for; they often spend much of their time giving the money away (carnigie, peabody). The others are a more personal, introspective type of evidence.


I'll let Pazi respond to the rest of what you said, but as for the above, consider two things: first, altruism is giving without expectation of reward. If the people who give the donations you speak of to colleges did so in order to get a nice plaque with their name on it, that was not altruistic. If they did so because they wanted to support the college, and the college decided to name the hall or building after them, but this was not expected by the donor, you can call it altruistic. Or, if the name on the building is not, in fact, the name of the donor, but someone else the donor wanted to honor. Certainly, the corporations which do charitable work in order to improve PR are not acting altruistically, but I don't think anyone here said they were. The rich children who give money in order to assuage guilt (assuming that is the motivation), well, perhaps that's not really altruistic either.

But that's the other thing: all of the examples you cite above are examples of charitable giving by rich people.

What of charity done by people of more modest means? Have you observed the same motivations, the same kind of ostentation, in such cases? Because they do exist, I can assure you. A lot of local charities in my own town get most of their funding and supplies from middle class and lower class people, not from wealthy benefactors. Many of the people who help fund those charities are themselves past or present beneficiaries, and want to either see the charity continue to exist so that they can continue to get help, or in the case of past beneficiaries, want to see that others who need the help that they had will be able to get it. I know these motivations because I've spoken with many of the people in question.

There is a huge cultural gulf in our country between the wealthy, and everyone else. I suspect that the motives you ascribe to altruists are more those of the wealthy who want to appear altruistic, without actually being so. Not that you can't have altruism among the rich, but as I said, the cultural values of the very wealthy are quite different.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:30 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Referring to my position as a memetic infection and using associative non-sequitur arguments as a means of attacking my position? That's how you respond to that? I'll post a response later, right now I'm way too pissed by that blatant ad-hominem attack to rationally discuss this. :x


It's not an ad hominem or a non-sequitur to say "consider the goals of those who espouse the philosophy you have adopted". I'm sorry that you take offense.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:46 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
palam wrote: "A sense of moral superiority" was only one of multiple listed reasons for helping others. You and I have a clearly different observed "real world." Walk around any college campus and you will see lots of plaques and named halls. When as a boyscout I sold my neighbor popcorn as a fundraiser, he got a receipt so he could write it off as a charitable donation. Companies often support charities to make them seem less "evil" in the public eye. The children of economic mavens often feel guilty for their windfall wealth that they did not work for; they often spend much of their time giving the money away (carnigie, peabody). The others are a more personal, introspective type of evidence.


I'll let Pazi respond to the rest of what you said, but as for the above, consider two things: first, altruism is giving without expectation of reward. If the people who give the donations you speak of to colleges did so in order to get a nice plaque with their name on it, that was not altruistic. If they did so because they wanted to support the college, and the college decided to name the hall or building after them, but this was not expected by the donor, you can call it altruistic. Or, if the name on the building is not, in fact, the name of the donor, but someone else the donor wanted to honor. Certainly, the corporations which do charitable work in order to improve PR are not acting altruistically, but I don't think anyone here said they were. The rich children who give money in order to assuage guilt (assuming that is the motivation), well, perhaps that's not really altruistic either.

But that's the other thing: all of the examples you cite above are examples of charitable giving by rich people.

What of charity done by people of more modest means? Have you observed the same motivations, the same kind of ostentation, in such cases? Because they do exist, I can assure you. A lot of local charities in my own town get most of their funding and supplies from middle class and lower class people, not from wealthy benefactors. Many of the people who help fund those charities are themselves past or present beneficiaries, and want to either see the charity continue to exist so that they can continue to get help, or in the case of past beneficiaries, want to see that others who need the help that they had will be able to get it. I know these motivations because I've spoken with many of the people in question.

There is a huge cultural gulf in our country between the wealthy, and everyone else. I suspect that the motives you ascribe to altruists are more those of the wealthy who want to appear altruistic, without actually being so. Not that you can't have altruism among the rich, but as I said, the cultural values of the very wealthy are quite different.

My neighbor who bought popcorn was not rich.
You mentioned that some of those donors to your local charities were past beneficiaries themselves. By giving to the charities they are satisfying their need to "pay back" for what they have recieved. There should be plenty of people that feel this way because it is in line with the successful "tit for tat" behavior pattern. This was part of the "more personal...type of evidence" that I mentioned. There is an emotional payment here. Just because a payment is not tangible does not mean it does not exist.
Pazi wrote:Altruism is simply a term for one voluntarily giving what one has to others expecting nothing particular in return.

This was Pazi's original statement. I am merely stating that "expecting nothing particular in return" translates to "delude oneself into believing that there is not a transaction taking place." I would argue that it is important to make this distinction because if one actually wants to make positive change instead of just claiming to want it, he needs to see the world as clearly and truthfully as possible.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:00 pm UTC

palam wrote:This was Pazi's original statement. I am merely stating that "expecting nothing particular in return" translates to "delude oneself into believing that there is not a transaction taking place." I would argue that it is important to make this distinction because if one actually wants to make positive change instead of just claiming to want it, he needs to see the world as clearly and truthfully as possible.


My response would be, people are statisticians of their own experience. Is it, in fact, that nobody gives without expectation of reward, or just that you and those around you do not?

And you may well be using an overbroad definition of "reward", as well. Doing something good for someone else, and getting a good feeling about doing so, does not necessarily mean that you've been "rewarded" by that good feeling. It's arguable, but I would say it's a bit of a stretch to call that a reward per se. Emotional reinforcement, perhaps, but "reward"?

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:05 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:
Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:There's another thing about your comments that really strikes me the wrong way. Now, I self-identify as a conservative and I am a white male. I grew up in a poor home, but now make about the national average (which I know is well about the national median.) There was quite a bit of unnecessary (and often wrong) stereotyping that went on in your last post, and using language that paints me as the enemy isn't going to really help our discussion any.


I don't think you're evil, although you seem to have a bad memetic infection. But I was trying to point out that the rhetoric you are using is in common with that used by the very people who, among other things, promote gentrification. And that since you state you care for the poor, it might be worth examining that rhetoric and considering whether it serves another agenda than the one you want.


Referring to my position as a memetic infection and using associative non-sequitur arguments as a means of attacking my position? That's how you respond to that? I'll post a response later, right now I'm way too pissed by that blatant ad-hominem attack to rationally discuss this. :x

From the memetic and viral perspective, I don't think Objectivism can be considered an "infection" insomuch as Objectivists usually seek out their philosophy and develop it on their own. Successful memes usually have a spreading mechanism that could in fact be considered "viral" which would lend itself to the metaphor of "infection." I think that most can agree that Objectivist thought does not lend itself to spreading if Atlas Shrugged is its proselytizing device. (libertarian humor?)

Andrewcullen, "bleeding-heart liberals" can not accept the idea that Objectivists might care for the state of the poor. I think that for many poor people who lift themselves up, they do so by adopting a stringent pragmatism that lends itself to libertarian thought. That pragmatism might be the solution to the plight of the poor is something that "Altruists" can not accept as that would strip them of much of what they stand for. Discussion does not win arguments. Only by going out into the real world and testing one's philosophy does one have the final say. The way I see it, bleeding-heart altruism has had its chance for too many decades with zilch to show for it. I'm willing to try another way.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:18 pm UTC

palam wrote:Andrewcullen, "bleeding-heart liberals" can not accept the idea that Objectivists might care for the state of the poor. I think that for many poor people who lift themselves up, they do so by adopting a stringent pragmatism that lends itself to libertarian thought. That pragmatism might be the solution to the plight of the poor is something that "Altruists" can not accept as that would strip them of much of what they stand for. Discussion does not win arguments. Only by going out into the real world and testing one's philosophy does one have the final say. The way I see it, bleeding-heart altruism has had its chance for too many decades with zilch to show for it. I'm willing to try another way.


Really? 'Cause, y'know, the Republican party's war on public assistance has been going on since the early 80s, almost unabated. They've been in charge for most of the last 40 years, and have done nothing but cut down the social programs that were starting to make something of a dent in widespread poverty and inequality. The monetarist policies of the "Reagan Revolution" and its inheritors were destructive to the lower and middle classes in this country, and the deregulation they pursued has ruined our economy.

If that's "bleeding-heart altruism", I shudder to think what you would not label as such.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:24 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
palam wrote:This was Pazi's original statement. I am merely stating that "expecting nothing particular in return" translates to "delude oneself into believing that there is not a transaction taking place." I would argue that it is important to make this distinction because if one actually wants to make positive change instead of just claiming to want it, he needs to see the world as clearly and truthfully as possible.


My response would be, people are statisticians of their own experience. Is it, in fact, that nobody gives without expectation of reward, or just that you and those around you do not?

And you may well be using an overbroad definition of "reward", as well. Doing something good for someone else, and getting a good feeling about doing so, does not necessarily mean that you've been "rewarded" by that good feeling. It's arguable, but I would say it's a bit of a stretch to call that a reward per se. Emotional reinforcement, perhaps, but "reward"?

I would argue that few to nobody start/s out as a "rationalist." I used to think that helping the unfortunate was great and it gave me a great feeling as long as those I was helping were less well off than I was. Only later did I come to identify that great feeling with a reward. When someone is given candy, is the reward the candy or how they feel when they eat the candy? If someone is given candy they don't like, is the reward the same because it's still candy, or is the reward worth less because it doesn't make them feel as good?
Reinforcement and "reward" are effectively the same thing. Behaviorism is sometimes called Reinforcement Theory. Rewards reinforce behavior. Is it so far of a stretch to say that that good feeling one experiences from helping others does not in fact act as a reward that reinforces behavior? How one perceives something changes it for them, even if the thing they perceive does not actually change. When I drew the parallel that I describe here, it changed my philosophy and my behavior. I came to see my volunteerism and bleeding-heart as a self indulgence. That feeling I was getting was changing the equations. Feelings can make people do things they otherwise would rationally not do. Now I try to help people (as I help myself) with that feeling of "good deed" factored in so that I can make a more rational decision that is better for everyone.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:30 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Referring to my position as a memetic infection and using associative non-sequitur arguments as a means of attacking my position? That's how you respond to that? I'll post a response later, right now I'm way too pissed by that blatant ad-hominem attack to rationally discuss this. :x


It's not an ad hominem or a non-sequitur to say "consider the goals of those who espouse the philosophy you have adopted". I'm sorry that you take offense.


I was raised in by parents who believe in democratic socialism. My father is a United Methodist pastor. I did NOT come to my views because of any time of memetic infection. I saw logical inconsistencies in the views and ideology presented to me, sought to educate myself about the natural sciences and expose myself to different positions, and establish a rational set of rules and standards by which to judge the effectiveness and integrity of those various positions. To declare that I may only have my views as a passive result of osmosis, or to advocate a false-dichotomy under which I am associated with people who desire to harm inpovrished individuals is belittling and arrogant (the same type of arrogance that we Objectivists were criticized of the the cartoon that started this thread.)

To assume that I am not willing to question my own views is both naive and wholly incorrect. When I enguage in a rational discussion I assume two things:

1) I may be wrong and could learn something.

2) The other person will hopefully also make the same assumptions I am making.

Your comments have made it clear that you are not making the second assumption about me, and I am insulted by this.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:38 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
palam wrote:Andrewcullen, "bleeding-heart liberals" can not accept the idea that Objectivists might care for the state of the poor. I think that for many poor people who lift themselves up, they do so by adopting a stringent pragmatism that lends itself to libertarian thought. That pragmatism might be the solution to the plight of the poor is something that "Altruists" can not accept as that would strip them of much of what they stand for. Discussion does not win arguments. Only by going out into the real world and testing one's philosophy does one have the final say. The way I see it, bleeding-heart altruism has had its chance for too many decades with zilch to show for it. I'm willing to try another way.


Really? 'Cause, y'know, the Republican party's war on public assistance has been going on since the early 80s, almost unabated. They've been in charge for most of the last 40 years, and have done nothing but cut down the social programs that were starting to make something of a dent in widespread poverty and inequality. The monetarist policies of the "Reagan Revolution" and its inheritors were destructive to the lower and middle classes in this country, and the deregulation they pursued has ruined our economy.

If that's "bleeding-heart altruism", I shudder to think what you would not label as such.


Huh? who was defending the Republican party? I may be an economic conservative, yes, but socially I'm a liberal. The Republican party doesn't even represent economic conservatism anymore... basically they are now the antithesis of everything I believe. I do not see how true Objectivists could identify with either major party of today. Drawing a parallel between them and Republicans is not accurate. However nothing the Democrats have proposed or done seems to be making permanent change either. Even Brown vs. Board is proving to have been a failure as far as eliminating observable school inequalities that correlate with race. Is trying something "rational" so bad? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think the problem goes all the way down to the root. There is a philosophical problem. Flewellyn, I think that in the end you and I want similar things. Only I am saying that what you propose has been done a thousand times. Would you really stand in my way if I tried to attain the same goals only through radically different means?

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:01 pm UTC

palam wrote:Huh? who was defending the Republican party? I may be an economic conservative, yes, but socially I'm a liberal. The Republican party doesn't even represent economic conservatism anymore... basically they are now the antithesis of everything I believe. I do not see how true Objectivists could identify with either major party of today.

And yet again, American parochialism. You are aware that in most European countries, the USA's Democratic party would be regarded as centre-right to right-wing? And the Republicans would be far-right. But that's kind of beside the point.
palam wrote:The way I see it, bleeding-heart altruism has had its chance for too many decades with zilch to show for it. I'm willing to try another way.

When has altruism (never mind the ad-hominem characterisation of "bleeding-heart") ever been tried in the USA? It works pretty well in a lot of Europe.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
palam wrote:Huh? who was defending the Republican party? I may be an economic conservative, yes, but socially I'm a liberal. The Republican party doesn't even represent economic conservatism anymore... basically they are now the antithesis of everything I believe. I do not see how true Objectivists could identify with either major party of today.

And yet again, American parochialism. You are aware that in most European countries, the USA's Democratic party would be regarded as centre-right to right-wing? And the Republicans would be far-right. But that's kind of beside the point.


That might have been true a decade ago, but the Democratic Party in the USA has definitely taken on a more center-left political stance recently.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:20 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
palam wrote:Huh? who was defending the Republican party? I may be an economic conservative, yes, but socially I'm a liberal. The Republican party doesn't even represent economic conservatism anymore... basically they are now the antithesis of everything I believe. I do not see how true Objectivists could identify with either major party of today.

And yet again, American parochialism. You are aware that in most European countries, the USA's Democratic party would be regarded as centre-right to right-wing? And the Republicans would be far-right. But that's kind of beside the point.

Of course I am very much aware of this. I am also aware of the trends that would suggest that the U.S. is headed in that direction (sorry conservatives). If you want it from a European perspective, "I am socially liberal and economically conservative when you consider outcomes, not means." I am glad you inserted the "besides the point" part because this tangent is entirely pointless.
markfiend wrote:
palam wrote:The way I see it, bleeding-heart altruism has had its chance for too many decades with zilch to show for it. I'm willing to try another way.

When has altruism (never mind the ad-hominem characterisation of "bleeding-heart") ever been tried in the USA? It works pretty well in a lot of Europe.
I take offense to your characterizing "bleeding-heart" as ad hominem. I used to characterize myself as such. Please propose a different term that would characerize people who want to "save the world" and don't consider all the implications of a cause before supporting it. Idealist? That would infringe upon other ideals.
We'll see about Europe. ;)

markfiend wrote:
FoolishOwl wrote:It's impossible to miss the basic fact of human interdependence, though it is possible to pretend to ignore it, at least for the brief period between one's dependence upon parents as a child and one's obligations to care for a child as a parent.

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."

Is this an attempt at being profound? I must admit, I am often guilty of this. However, adding this at the end of a response to my positions does not seem fair. Its position here implies that I disagree with the above statement of FoolishOwl, or that my positions are inherently contradictory to it. Both are untrue.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Eikinkloster » Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:08 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:
markfiend wrote:
palam wrote:Huh? who was defending the Republican party? I may be an economic conservative, yes, but socially I'm a liberal. The Republican party doesn't even represent economic conservatism anymore... basically they are now the antithesis of everything I believe. I do not see how true Objectivists could identify with either major party of today.

And yet again, American parochialism. You are aware that in most European countries, the USA's Democratic party would be regarded as centre-right to right-wing? And the Republicans would be far-right. But that's kind of beside the point.


That might have been true a decade ago, but the Democratic Party in the USA has definitely taken on a more center-left political stance recently.


andrewclunn, ou mean, in comparison to "most European countries"?

These things are complicated. Brazil, for instance, has no relevant "right wing" party. The main players are the Labor Party (far left) and the Social Democratic Party of Brazil (left). So we are left with the option of choosing left or lefter. It gets a bit complicated since the Labor Party got in power, because they were sort of coaxed into continue most of the (what we call) neo-liberal agenda of the Social Democratic Party (privatizations and restricting expenditure), since it had managed to stop our hyper inflation of decades, and Labor realized that to return to that would be political suicide, even though they managed to convince the population they would reverse the evil neo-liberal measures without breaking the economy (yeah right).

So, nominally, Brazil is a rather leftist country, and the Labor Party is connected to Chaves and the FARCs. But in practice... we've probably never been so to the right (economically), even in comparison with the Military government we had from 1964 to 1985. It would, of course, be reverted if Labor managed to pull a Chaves and drop the need to appease the population, but for now, this is how we stand.

Since markfiend specifically opposed the American view to his European view, we need to see that in context.

markfiend, wouldn't you be engaged in European parochialism? America is about as big as the whole of Europe. So let's throw in other developed countries such as Japan, the UK (yeah, I go with those who don't consider it part of Europe), Canada and Australia and see what we get.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:38 pm UTC

palam wrote:Huh? who was defending the Republican party? I may be an economic conservative, yes, but socially I'm a liberal. The Republican party doesn't even represent economic conservatism anymore... basically they are now the antithesis of everything I believe. I do not see how true Objectivists could identify with either major party of today. Drawing a parallel between them and Republicans is not accurate. However nothing the Democrats have proposed or done seems to be making permanent change either. Even Brown vs. Board is proving to have been a failure as far as eliminating observable school inequalities that correlate with race. Is trying something "rational" so bad? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think the problem goes all the way down to the root. There is a philosophical problem. Flewellyn, I think that in the end you and I want similar things. Only I am saying that what you propose has been done a thousand times. Would you really stand in my way if I tried to attain the same goals only through radically different means?


It's not accurate? Really? The program that I hear from the Republican party, of continually opposing the regulation of business or the economy, is very much of a piece with that of the Randian Libertarians. Socially, yes, you are very different, but economically, not so much.

In particular, Alan Greenspan and Milton Freidman were both very much Randians.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:54 pm UTC

palam wrote:"A sense of moral superiority" was only one of multiple listed reasons for helping others. You and I have a clearly different observed "real world." Walk around any college campus and you will see lots of plaques and named halls. When as a boyscout I sold my neighbor popcorn as a fundraiser, he got a receipt so he could write it off as a charitable donation. Companies often support charities to make them seem less "evil" in the public eye. The children of economic mavens often feel guilty for their windfall wealth that they did not work for; they often spend much of their time giving the money away (carnigie, peabody). The others are a more personal, introspective type of evidence.


You're giving examples of altruism as it applies in the lives of relatively wealthy, system-savvy folk. It's a mistake to generalize from that to everyone.

The right to life is not a given. If so, natural selection would never have given rise to humans. Life must be earned. As long as Native Americans and Americans saw the dichotomy as "us and them," conflict was inevitable. I also think it is sad what happened to the Native Americans. However, one can not let sentimentality cloud their judgement.


Sweet Cthulhu's tentacles, do you realize what you're saying?

First of all, *no* right is a given. Not the right to life, nor the oh-so-sacred right to property, not the right to happiness, none of it. There is no such thing as a right, in any metaphysical sense! Human morality is based around non-conscious wetware programmed into us by stochastic evolutionary trends. Unless you believe in some sort of weird-arse Platonic reality where abstract concepts underlie and inform the impure, "true" world, it's absurd to say that human needs, wants and so forth are in any way related to the universe. We happen to exist, but there's little real data to suggest we, or something like us, *had* to exist.

It isn't about rights following logically from abstract principles. It's about human behavior and how you treat people. Natural selection doesn't confer any rights either. Invoking it is just invoking the is-ought fallacy. Doing that in regard to the colonization of North America and its peoples is saying "might makes right", which seems like the antithesis of the idea that individual rights are supreme.

However, one can not let sentimentality cloud their judgement.


Ah, right -- you're "objective" and "rational." Despite the fact that human brains don't work that way, that emotion is utterly essential to decisionmaking and human cognition, that our brains form sloppy associative networks governed by a logic quite unrelated to anything philosophers have ever come up with and that consciousness functions as an executive summary, rather than the source of agency.

"It is sad what happened to Native Americans?" Why not actually say something about agency, actions and culpability? Oh, because owning it would force you to confront the idea that maybe you have some connection to those who were complicit, that your very existence (if you were born here) is only possible because of oppression, genocide and theft.

If you self describe as white, then you can not claim "we."


I can speak of the experiences common to oppressed peoples, regardless of the sources of oppression. I'm deeply aware of the complex, intersecting matrix of privilege that's involved with it, and while I wouldn't feel comfortable speaking for people of color as a group, there is nothing wrong with speaking about those experiences of oppression that their groups and my groups share. I own my privilege as a white person and I'm careful not try and tell other people's stories for them. This is something I share with those groups, and which I feel comfortable relating because I spend an awful lot of time *listening* when people of color (who may or may not belong to other minorities) share their own experiences with racism.



Your category does not guarantee knowledge or enlightenment on your category.


I never claimed it did. The original phrasing was "I'm pretty sure." We're not dealing with a formal claim-counterclaim here. ;p And I know a hell of a lot more about what my category experiences than you do, because I've lived that experience and seen it firsthand. That I don't have perfect omniscient perspective about it is a red herring. Nobody does.

If you think you now rather more about it than I do, then please show, don't tell.


Show my own experience? Nice and disingenuous there. Frankly, *no* group is very sympathetic to trans people, not even queer people. White queer and trans communities tend to be pretty icy towards queer and trans people of color. To my knowledge, there isn't polling data asking trans folk who most often harasses or threatens them. Just because there isn't neatly-packaged data doesn't mean it doesn't occur, isn't real. "Published" doesn't equal "objective", and you're simply trying to derail my argument by asking for it.

As proof for my statement, I will propose the recent Prop 8 in California, where over 50% of both blacks and Hispanics voted for a ban on same sex marriage. the percentage for whites was lower than 50%.


Except that black and Hispanic *first-time voters* followed the trend of other first-time voters, and opposed Prop 8 62-38. We're dealing with a generation gap here. Older voters supported prop 8 56-44. Latinos ages 18-29 opposed it 59-41. Data isn't available for first-time black voters on that.

The country we live in now does not allow everyone to have this opportunity however it gets us closer than we could hope to get in other parts of the world.


A traditional American notion, sometimes borne out by reality and sometimes not.



duh? Are you actually saying anything directly here?


Yes. That the idea that the US is closer to meritocracy/democracy/egalitarianism/whatever moral pinnacle one wants to uphold, than all other societies in the world, is a standard bit of nationalistic doubletalk. How you can actually have meritocracy when our country depends on such rigid stratification is beyond me.

Unless you think all of us disadvantaged folk just lack will or work ethic or whatever.

What are you doing personally to increase opportunity for everyone? Or do you talk the talk but not walk the walk?


Opposing racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ablism and so on in my own life. Supporting causes and organizations that exist for that purpose and meet my standards of credibility in the process (frex, I support environmentalism but would never give money to Greenpeace; I'm not sure they have a scientist among them and their members are spectacularly ill-informed and dogmatic) with my time and energy. Trying to build a career whereby I can take those ambitions into the public sphere. Microlending to people in the Third World who can use what little I'm able to donate to make a much more substantial increase in their lives (25 dollars of my meager disability paycheck is some used clothes or a few groceries to me, but it might allow a small business owner in Pakistan to become self-sufficient, when taken in concert with the loans of others). Supporting the people I know who suffer from these things. Trying to encourage my more privileged, less-clueful friends and loved ones to gain some perspective, in a gentle way.

My reserves of money and energy are quite limited, but I'm aware that my actions can make a difference either way. It may be small, and require aggregate action to become noticeable, but I'm not alone in doing so.

Meritocracy, or rather, value placed on personal merit, can not be a lie as long as natural selection takes place.


Because merit has anything to do with natural selection. Are you a proponent of Eugenics too?

There is no "survival of the fittest." There's "reinforcement of the traits that lead to reproductive success." What defines that is so context-sensitive that you can't generalize it. Sometimes an r-strategy works best, sometimes a K-strategy. A mutation in one context is neutral; in another it's an asset, in yet another it's a liability, and whom those statements applies to shifts depending on whether you focus on populations or individuals.

Things with greater merit by definition do things better than things with less merit.


There is no merit in biology.

Something that by definition does things better than all others will succeed above and beyond that of its peers in the long run.


Sometimes, you get lucky. Or unlucky. Why are the eyes of vertebrates wired up arse-backwards? It's not because that design has "merit" or is even more efficient than the competition. There wasn't competition among vertebrate ancestors to develop different eye designs; they were simply built over time out of what was there to work with.

Something like 90% of the oceangoing species on Earth at the time died out during the Permian extinction. Did they have less merit? No, that's not even a biologically useful concept. They survived because they could endure the new conditions, while everything that couldn't died off. That was simply a factor of happenstance evolutionary pathways. Those same traits could have been extreme limiting factors, mere geological moments before.

There are no specific "things" to "Do better." It's entirely dependent on a lineage's evolutionary history (the tools it has to work with) and the environment. Dinosaurs were pretty damn successful by our criteria, until the end of the Cretaceous. There was no *progress* involved.

Natural selection, along with the violence it entails, can not be denied.


Competition doesn't drive natural selection more than things like kin selection, sexual selection, and so forth do. In fact, those other forces are *much more prevalent*. Niches frequently pass to successors who didn't actually oust the ones who already occupied them, but rather took advantage of a sudden vacancy. Competition effects aren't irrelevent, but they're not the only game in town. The overemphasis on them is pretty typical of those who seek to use evolutionary ideas to justify their worldview, though.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:39 am UTC

Pazi wrote:
palam wrote:However, one can not let sentimentality cloud their judgement.


Ah, right -- you're "objective" and "rational." Despite the fact that human brains don't work that way, that emotion is utterly essential to decisionmaking and human cognition, that our brains form sloppy associative networks governed by a logic quite unrelated to anything philosophers have ever come up with and that consciousness functions as an executive summary, rather than the source of agency.


I think it's important to point out that palam does not self-identify as an Objectivist. palam appears to represent a world view where morality is subjective only in the sense that it must change to match the environment, but is still objectively derived by way of natural selection. This differs from Objectivism, which relies on emotionally valued directives (one's happiness and such) as it's basis. Objectivism is not the 'perfect' morality from an evolutionary standard. It makes several concessions to emotions in determining one's values and is therefore a distinctly human morality. Where Rand thought that any morality that sought to further one's happiness must (by its nature) also seek to benefit one's survival, this is an indirect consequence, and therefore if one were simply looking to maximize evolutionary survivability, Objectivism would fall short of that goal.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby IntentionallyLeftBlank » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:54 am UTC

Like a few others on this list, I registered just for this thread. There has been some back and forth about the nature of altruism on this thread- and I think the obvious needs to be pointed out. Plenty of people donate money to charities anonymously. At the charity I worked for a few years, a full third of our money was donated anonymously. This removes many, if not most, of the alternative motives that many of the Randians are ascribing to altruistic people.

Now, for Randians I have a question. Many of us on this board are technical, and work in technical fields: fields that basically only exist because of the rapid growth of technology. Technology that has largely boomed because of government spending in science. Where the government has not been investing in science (embryonic stem cells) the private market has proven unwilling or unable to pick up the research slack. In a Randian "utopia" is there to be no government funded science? In this world, who does the fundamental research?

And finally- much of this discussion has revolved around property rights, which in the US are protected only up to eminent domain. Your property can be taken by the government for just compensation, which is not well defined. Is access to federally and state subsidized universities just compensation for the taxes that fund these? Is access to federal student loans just compensation for the taxes that fund those? How do you draw the line between taxes for funding police and military, and taxes for funding scientific research, or hospitals?

It seems to me that the fundamental flaw in Rand's philosophy is that it assumes people are equally gifted, and equally talented. She goes out of her way to assume a tabula rasa for the human condition. This simply isn't true, much of what we are and what we become is determined by influences outside our control. She further assumes people are capable of behaving purely on reason i.e. the mind is completely dominant over the body, which also is simply not true. Without these assumptions, the arguments she uses to build up her ideal simply do not work. Her conclusion that so many (perhaps all) of the world's ills are based on "altruistic morality" no longer follow, rather many of the world's ills follow from poorly rationalized, greedy decision.

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:31 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:I think it's important to point out that palam does not self-identify as an Objectivist. palam appears to represent a world view where morality is subjective only in the sense that it must change to match the environment, but is still objectively derived by way of natural selection. This differs from Objectivism, which relies on emotionally valued directives (one's happiness and such) as it's basis. Objectivism is not the 'perfect' morality from an evolutionary standard. It makes several concessions to emotions in determining one's values and is therefore a distinctly human morality. Where Rand thought that any morality that sought to further one's happiness must (by its nature) also seek to benefit one's survival, this is an indirect consequence, and therefore if one were simply looking to maximize evolutionary survivability, Objectivism would fall short of that goal.


Mm, I see. I am rather accustomed to people arguing for this claiming that their views are entirely derived from objective principles, so I probably assumed too much there.

To me it seems ultimately like a disagreement about fundamental moral axioms. As best as I understand it, morality is a human feature the way tool use is; methods vary widely and the expression of such behavior varies between times, places and cultures, but the basic neurological hardware that allows for it is common to all human beings. In addition to cultural variations, there may be individual ones (sociopathy seems like a condition where the moral hardware doesn't fit the same profile; I recall seeing a study somewhere suggesting that sociopathic behavior might correlate to a deficiency in oxytocin uptake, but the reality is probably much more complicated). The point is, the capacity for morality, whatever form it may take, seems to be an aspect of human psychology.

Here I include an assumption integral to my worldview: that reality has nothing to do with that moral capacity, other than that said capacity evolved, in context, due to an evolutionary process (that was by no means inevitable). From there, it seems to follow that any attempt to formalize ethics or morality requires one to make an implied statement: "Supposing you take these statements as moral axioms, what follows?" Yet there equally seems to be no a priori method of sorting between ethical systems, outside of those axioms. People wind up giving preference to moral and ethical systems that reflect their pre-existing biases, from the various influences that cause those biases (internal and external). This is not to say one's biases (values, if you will) cannot change. Hell, *I* used to identify as libertarian. People's minds change all the time.

And there's no value judgement in particular I attach to that; it just appears to be the case.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:33 am UTC

Some very important questions, some of which are very valid and some reflecting a misunderstanding of Objectivism. I'll attempt to answer without dragging on.

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:Like a few others on this list, I registered just for this thread. There has been some back and forth about the nature of altruism on this thread- and I think the obvious needs to be pointed out. Plenty of people donate money to charities anonymously. At the charity I worked for a few years, a full third of our money was donated anonymously. This removes many, if not most, of the alternative motives that many of the Randians are ascribing to altruistic people.


I offer to explanations, belief in the afterlife and learned heuristics.

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:Now, for Randians I have a question. Many of us on this board are technical, and work in technical fields: fields that basically only exist because of the rapid growth of technology. Technology that has largely boomed because of government spending in science. Where the government has not been investing in science (embryonic stem cells) the private market has proven unwilling or unable to pick up the research slack. In a Randian "utopia" is there to be no government funded science? In this world, who does the fundamental research?


Much of that research is publicly funded, but privately done. Why should companies bother to fund research, when they can apply for government grants and still keep the patents themselves? Universities are big business now, and not because of the teaching. They use the government to get tax payers to fund their research and then still keep the proceeds for themselves. As to the issue of those of us in technical fields, okay so we're in technical fields. I decided to work as a computer programmer largely because there is a demand for it. If technology had progressed differently, who knows what I would have decided to become? The reason governments could fund so much research is because they had access to so much money (through taxation.) With less taxation governments would be smaller and companies would be bigger (simplification yes, but you get the gist.) The industrial revolution was a nearly entirely free market endeavor, so who's to say what could be possible in a world where private companies and individuals of means were able to decide what type of research got funded?

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:And finally- much of this discussion has revolved around property rights, which in the US are protected only up to eminent domain. Your property can be taken by the government for just compensation, which is not well defined. Is access to federally and state subsidized universities just compensation for the taxes that fund these? Is access to federal student loans just compensation for the taxes that fund those? How do you draw the line between taxes for funding police and military, and taxes for funding scientific research, or hospitals?


By stating that the sole role of government is defend the rights of its citizens form other individuals and peoples (or other citizens for that matter.) The role of government is to stop individuals from using force, compulsion or fraud against others (basically, to stop bullies, cheats and liars.) That is the only valid purpose of a government UNLESS all parties are voluntarily agreeing to cooperate. But if you have complete agreement on something, then you don't really need the government to run it then do you?

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:It seems to me that the fundamental flaw in Rand's philosophy is that it assumes people are equally gifted, and equally talented. She goes out of her way to assume a tabula rasa for the human condition. This simply isn't true, much of what we are and what we become is determined by influences outside our control. She further assumes people are capable of behaving purely on reason i.e. the mind is completely dominant over the body, which also is simply not true. Without these assumptions, the arguments she uses to build up her ideal simply do not work. Her conclusion that so many (perhaps all) of the world's ills are based on "altruistic morality" no longer follow, rather many of the world's ills follow from poorly rationalized, greedy decision.


Rand did not believe that all people are equal. She did not believe that all people were even capable of living as Objectivists, and did not expect those who tried to live it out perfectly. As with most moralities, it is something to aspire to, but I *and I'm sure every other Objectivist) screw up all the time. She does not hold that all the world's ills are caused by altruistic morality,' just many of them. This last paragraph of yours shows leads me to believe that your understanding of Objectivism is fairly basic. I don't mean that as an insult. It's just that those are the kind of assumptions people usually make when they've only had a brief exposure to Objectivism and attempt to extrapolate the whole of it from there.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:40 am UTC

Pazi wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:I think it's important to point out that palam does not self-identify as an Objectivist. palam appears to represent a world view where morality is subjective only in the sense that it must change to match the environment, but is still objectively derived by way of natural selection. This differs from Objectivism, which relies on emotionally valued directives (one's happiness and such) as it's basis. Objectivism is not the 'perfect' morality from an evolutionary standard. It makes several concessions to emotions in determining one's values and is therefore a distinctly human morality. Where Rand thought that any morality that sought to further one's happiness must (by its nature) also seek to benefit one's survival, this is an indirect consequence, and therefore if one were simply looking to maximize evolutionary survivability, Objectivism would fall short of that goal.


Mm, I see. I am rather accustomed to people arguing for this claiming that their views are entirely derived from objective principles, so I probably assumed too much there.


Well Objectivism actually is. It's simply that for a morality to be effective it most be ascribed to, and any morality that lacked any attempt to connect with people on an emotional level, to inspire them, would fail miserably. The differences between palam's 'survivalism' (just throwing out a term as a placeholder) and Objectivism may seem sparse in result but because Objectivism leaves space for emotionally driven goals, it becomes tenable as a morality that human beings would be capable of ascribing to. I could explain further, but that would require that I go into Objectivist theories on art and aesthetics, and I don't want to bore people.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:01 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:
Pazi wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:I think it's important to point out that palam does not self-identify as an Objectivist. palam appears to represent a world view where morality is subjective only in the sense that it must change to match the environment, but is still objectively derived by way of natural selection. This differs from Objectivism, which relies on emotionally valued directives (one's happiness and such) as it's basis. Objectivism is not the 'perfect' morality from an evolutionary standard. It makes several concessions to emotions in determining one's values and is therefore a distinctly human morality. Where Rand thought that any morality that sought to further one's happiness must (by its nature) also seek to benefit one's survival, this is an indirect consequence, and therefore if one were simply looking to maximize evolutionary survivability, Objectivism would fall short of that goal.


Mm, I see. I am rather accustomed to people arguing for this claiming that their views are entirely derived from objective principles, so I probably assumed too much there.


Well Objectivism actually is. It's simply that for a morality to be effective it most be ascribed to, and any morality that lacked any attempt to connect with people on an emotional level, to inspire them, would fail miserably.


But that requires us to assume that what connects with us morally and emotionally is encoded somewhere in the universe. That doesn't seem very parsimonious. Natural selection isn't the basis for morality except insofar as natural selection developed the neural architecture that allows us to experience morality in the first place. That's a bit like worshipping your parents because they created you.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:09 am UTC

Pazi wrote:But that requires us to assume that what connects with us morally and emotionally is encoded somewhere in the universe. That doesn't seem very parsimonious. Natural selection isn't the basis for morality except insofar as natural selection developed the neural architecture that allows us to experience morality in the first place. That's a bit like worshipping your parents because they created you.


Objectivism does not claim to be the objective morality of the universe, it claims to be the objective morality of human beings. This is one of the reasons that Objectivists are strongly against state controlled genetic engineering. Governments would then have the power to alter humanity in ways that might gear us towards compliance to authoritarian hierarchies and collectivism to validate altruistic morality (toward the end of making humans more easy to control.) This would invalidate Objectivism as a moral philosophy as it would fundamentally alter what it means to be human. However, we do not fear free market genetic engineering as this would most likely leads to stronger willed and more cognitively capable human beings, reinforcing Objectivism as a standard for moral values.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:21 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:
Pazi wrote:But that requires us to assume that what connects with us morally and emotionally is encoded somewhere in the universe. That doesn't seem very parsimonious. Natural selection isn't the basis for morality except insofar as natural selection developed the neural architecture that allows us to experience morality in the first place. That's a bit like worshipping your parents because they created you.


Objectivism does not claim to be the objective morality of the universe, it claims to be the objective morality of human beings.


...that doesn't appear to actually *mean* anything.

This is one of the reasons that Objectivists are strongly against state controlled genetic engineering. Governments would then have the power to alter humanity in ways that might gear us towards compliance to authoritarian hierarchies and collectivism to validate altruistic morality (toward the end of making humans more easy to control.)


*blink* If you'll forgive me for saying so, that's quite a non sequiter

This would invalidate Objectivism as a moral philosophy as it would fundamentally alter what it means to be human.


Yeah, I think I've spotted the category error here, and it isn't mine...

However, we do not fear free market genetic engineering as this would most likely leads to stronger willed and more cognitively capable human beings, reinforcing Objectivism as a standard for moral values.


I respectfully ask to be shown how you evaluated these probabilities.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:40 am UTC

I obviously did a very poor job of explaining that. Let me attempt again. Objectivism sees morality as filling a role roughly akin to instinct in animals. Essentially morality is a heuristic of pre-calculated truths because we are not always capable (either by our own ability, time restrictions or other variables) of recalculating all the variables all the time. Essentially Objectivism views philosophy as a strategy for life. A danger with many philosophies is that while they provide many good lessons, because they are abstract simplifications of reality, they sometimes lead their followers toward undesirable consequences. Objectivism attempts to avoid this by merely providing the most basic outline of morality (Objectivism sets up far fewer rules and guidelines than most other philosophies) and then encourages rational thought on the part of the Objectivist to then determine morality based on the principles that Objectivism has pre-calculated.

There are a few assumptions that underly Objectivism though. One obvious one is that 'supernatural' forces should play no part in ones understanding of the universe or the decisions one makes. But another one (one that is implicit and not outright stated) is that the morality is design specifically for humans. An Objectivist ant (supposing such a thing could exist) would not last very long, as the pre-calculated principles of Objectivism are in no way beneficial to the life of the ant. Therefore, fundamental changes in the way that human beings think, feel or experience the world around them could invalidate Objectivism.

Was that more clear, or should I just quit this particular segway before I dig myself into a hole of obscurity?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:00 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Objectivism does not claim to be the objective morality of the universe, it claims to be the objective morality of human beings.

This makes me wonder: if it turned out that the moral principles derived from human nature (I think that's where you get them, right?) turned out to work really bad on a large scale (say, the entire planet) would they still be considered right?

Pazi wrote:To me it seems ultimately like a disagreement about fundamental moral axioms.

This does seem to be complicating things a bit. Since there was some discussion earlier of why do people perceive Objectivists (more) negatively (than they should), I think I'll answer that by saying there's an implicit circular argument going on, collectively.

Camp 1 derives the self-interest-based society from moral axioms, and uses this to say that the resulting individualistic society is good. Camp 2 (different people, as far as I can tell) think that the individualistic society is good, and use that to derive the axioms that would make it work. No one's being circular by themselves, but it doesn't look so good to a confused outsider.

I must say I like the approach of Camp 2. Camp 1 troubles me. Is it really enough to base what you consider "good" around rules that seem to be all about single-person interactions? I guess it's not an awful way to measure "good" as ways go. Heck I don't know how I measure good. But using microscopic rules to build a big society doesn't feel right to me.

drazen wrote:The poster said forced income redistribution. This doesn't cover any other form of taxation: sales, gas, tolls, subway/bus fares, etc., all of which - while I can't speak for the previous poster - I am perfectly fine with. Pay for what you use. That's the ultimate in fairness.

I just want to point out that sales taxes do involve redistribution, and don't fall under the category of "pay for what you use". As a flat tax rate they involve less redistribution than the income tax, but we seem to be dealing with moral absolutes here. The other ones you mention can, if priced correctly, fall under "pay for what you use".

Is it OK, in the Objectivist worldview, to consider the income tax as a contract between the employing corporations and the government? As in, can the right to do business in country XYZ be seen as a property right (conferred historically, as are many property rights) owned by the government of XYZ, which may be sold in exchange for taxed income?
I don't think you realize that for me this is real.


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