0610: "Sheeple"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:41 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:I obviously did a very poor job of explaining that. Let me attempt again.


Disagreements aside, I appreciate your patience and willingness to expound. :)

Objectivism sees morality as filling a role roughly akin to instinct in animals.


*having read the whole paragraph already but wanting to reply to this bit in particular: *

But humans have instinct, and morality (as something likely produced by features of our brains) is merely another set of instincts. Hence why people report "just knowing" something is wrong, and why children under two (who haven't developed these specific features yet) behave as sociopaths. That's a key difference between our perspectives, it seems: You appear to consider morality a distinctly human category, whereas I consider it to be just a feature of human evolution.

EDIT: Let me try that again.

You appear to consider morality to be a capacity humans have which is unlike instinct and (by implication) unique to humans. I consider it to be a form of instinct relating to social interaction.

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.


That doesn't appear to be how morality actually works. It seems to trigger emotional impulses, follow certain patterns, and is subject to individual and group variations. A bit like any other biological trait.

If you'll forgive me for saying so, I don't think you've described morality accurately at all. It doesn't look like a bunch of pre-calculated truths; it looks like some basic situational heuristics that trip emotional cues, thereby influencing behavior. It's not about "truth" so much as behavior. I mean, there's a logic to it (mostly surrounding social cohesion and maximizing the benefits of group existence, while guiding individual interests therein), but it's not necessarily easy to express in terms of ethical statements. Describeable, but difficult to actually intercept and analyze.

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.


Why not nihilism? You can still strategize, and behave according to your innate moral impulses (or lack thereof). It doesn't waste time with metaphysical or ontological cruft, and it seems like you get about the same results (behaving in a way that reflects your personal motivations).

EDITED TO ADD: Also, lest I sound like I am condemning Objectivism for a resemblance to nihilism, let me hasten to add that I self-identify as nihilist and consider it the most sensible way of parsing the facts available to me, given the other philosophical approaches I've tried in the past (and found wanting).

Also, how is Objectivism *not* an abstract simplification of reality.

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.


It seems like your view of morality comes problematically close to something supernatural, from over here. You're taking what appears to be a facet of human psychology and then projecting it onto reality in general, even if in a loose and permissive way.
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.


Mm. I see.

And it would appear that we disagree on the nature of how "human beings think, feel or experience the world around them". Different perceptions, different bodies of knowledge, different starting worldviews.

I still don't agree, but I at least understand *why* I don't agree. I could go further into that, but I'm not sure if you'd be interested.

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


Mm, your segue makes sense to me (so long as you don't believe that anyone who understood your argument would perforce have to accept it and agree). It seems, however, that we disagree about what morality *is*, how human beings work, and some points of ontology that make it impossible to simply reconcile our two viewpoints. Still, it was informative and enjoyable to discuss it.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

User avatar
markfiend
Posts: 497
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:59 am UTC
Location: UK (Leeds)

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:31 am UTC

palam wrote: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.

OK, maybe not ad hominem, but now you're trying to poison the well with the accusation that would-be altruists "don't consider all the implications of a cause".
palam wrote: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.

I didn't mean to make any such implications, and I apologise. I plead guilty to an attempt at profundity. :mrgreen:
========
Back to the main thread:

I understand the Objectivist viewpoint, that morality is based around "rational self-interest", I just profoundly disagree with it.

Because humanity is a social species, morality is an evolved set of behaviours that has contributed to the survival of our species. Therefore I believe that morality is based on a recognition of our common humanity. On this basis, it seems obvious to me that the great divide between rich and poor -- that 75% of the world's resources are used by 25% of its population -- is an immoral state of affairs. The resources used by the defence industry (an Orwellian concept if ever there was one; defence used as a euphemism for warmongering) could provide food, healthcare, education and housing to the entire world's population. That they are used instead to kill, maim, starve, and subdue people, again, is immoral. (Quite frankly it astounds me that these things even need to be said.)

It seems to me that these immoral situations are exacerbated by capitalism rather than ameliorated by it, and therefore, capitalism is a profoundly immoral system. Those of us that benefit from the system (and I'm honest enough to include myself here) at the expense of many other people are culpable in this immorality, and have an obligation to do something about it.

(I don't want to go into what I do, because I don't want the thread to turn into a dick-waving contest.)
advanced, forthright, signifficant
pronouns: he/him

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:18 pm UTC

You know markfiend, your criticisms would be taken much more seriously if you hadn't segwayed into a "socialism will save us" speech. (I assume you mean socialism because I have never heard of any economic system that was not either a derivative of socialism or capitalism.)

Oh and Pazi, I'm very glad to hear that you're a nihilist. I'm not one myself, but nihilism is one of the three world views that I consider to not engage in wishful thinking. That said, at the end of the day I am a hopeless romantic. I am very much right brained, yet am unwilling to fool or lie to myself about the nature of the universe for my own piece of mind. Objectivism's appeal to me is that of the secular philosophies, it neither requires that I submit myself to some greater cause and group mentality and it endorses a very romantic view of humanity. Where other philosophies might simply accept things as they are, or see injustice in the world and call me to change it, Objectivism calls me to set my own standards, but then to live by them with integrity. It is Objectivism's view of people as heroic figures and masters of their own lives and destinies that I find inspiring about it. I know I've been making all the logical arguments and philosophical defenses of Objectivism for pages, but in all honesty it is its inherent passion for self and for truth that lead me to follow this philosophy.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
markfiend
Posts: 497
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:59 am UTC
Location: UK (Leeds)

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:16 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:You know markfiend, your criticisms would be taken much more seriously if you hadn't segwayed into a "socialism will save us" speech. (I assume you mean socialism because I have never heard of any economic system that was not either a derivative of socialism or capitalism.)

(Minor nitpick -- it's segue, not segway. Segway is that ridiculous two-wheeled thing.)

Anyhoo, way to avoid the point. Yes I'm a socialist, and I see nothing to be ashamed of in that. In no way does your dismissal make anything I have posted any less true.
advanced, forthright, signifficant
pronouns: he/him

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:33 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:You know markfiend, your criticisms would be taken much more seriously if you hadn't segwayed into a "socialism will save us" speech. (I assume you mean socialism because I have never heard of any economic system that was not either a derivative of socialism or capitalism.)

(Minor nitpick -- it's segue, not segway. Segway is that ridiculous two-wheeled thing.)

Anyhoo, way to avoid the point. Yes I'm a socialist, and I see nothing to be ashamed of in that. In no way does your dismissal make anything I have posted any less true.


I just don't want to get into ANOTHER capitalism vs socialism argument. Seriously, discussing economics with a socialist is like discussing evolution with a creationist.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

drazen
Posts: 87
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:35 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby drazen » Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:12 pm UTC

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".

Sales taxes would be levied on goods (or services that require the use of materials to perform), so they are also paying for what you use - in the materials contained in the item you're purchasing. Granted, you might need an adjustment for renewable vs non-renewable resources, or if the material can be recycled/disposed of easily or not, but how is that redistribution of income?

......

Now, on to deal with the most insufferable, arrogant prat I've ever had the misfortune to run across in my entire life:

irrespective of the fact that your education was paid for from taxes, your healthcare is paid from tax dollars (or at least would be if you lived in a country whose politics wasn't blighted by your kind of bullshit), your roads are paid from taxes

All but four years of my education - up through my Masters degree - were in private school, and my family never made more than about $40,000 a year at the time, so I was hardly among the privileged rich. I paid for college with loans (the government portion is only the INTEREST FREE part while you're in school - you still have to pay them back, so they're not "free," and I paid more in income taxes than I got in the free interest; it may have been a slightly better interest rate, but that only makes it a washout). The four years of public education in that mix were high school (USA grades 9-12), and were the LOWEST quality education and WORST social experience of my entire life. Paying taxes to government funded indoctrination centers is not a proposition where I receive something of value.

My health care is not paid from taxes NOR SHOULD IT BE. I pay for health insurance - damn good health insurance I might add! If there's a problem with insurance, it's that it's allowed to be for-profit, which is pretty silly, as that acts directly against the interests of the insured. But non-profit health insurance should be run outside of the government, not by it; you should still pay for your own medical care. The current plan in Congress dumps 50 million uninsured (including 20 million illegal aliens) into an overburdened system, adds no new capacity, and denies anyone with the ability to pay access to medical care by imposing wait lists and restrictions on allowable procedures, which is tantamount to pulling the trigger on the gun and killing them. Leaving a starving man in the desert to die may not be moral - but taking a healthy man and chaining him up in the desert and forcing him to starve, just so you can feed the other one, is pure evil.

As for my roads, they are paid for from gas taxes, DMV fees, and tolls, none of which I have expressed any objection to. I use them and I pay for them, fairly. I have no moral objection to even a $1 per gallon increase in the gas tax, although I would point out that it would utterly destroy economic productivity to do so. I only object to an increase that would prevent people from living and working where they choose.

I'm not hiring any armies; I just want you to pay your way.

Actually, you want me to pay for you to get YOUR way, over my objections. I don't owe you anything other than not harming you, and if you and your cronies keep oppressing me, I won't even owe you that much.

As for the army, that would be unions, government bureaucrats, and left-wing political groups. The biggest hypocrites of all: you claim that the majority oppresses the minority by controlling power -- then as soon as you gain power, you do the same frickin' thing. You wish to impose your views on the entire population. I have simply stated that a better option is a divorce. All the people who believe what you do can go one way, all of us who oppose it go another; splinter off into small areas that live how they want, whether it's hippies or libertarians or a coven of pot-smoking librarians... I don't care. All the people who believe you can follow you and make the society they want. But DO NOT drag the rest of us into it, and DO NOT use the force of government to prevent us from having our own society with our own values. I'm not talking about segregation, I'm taking about national land borders. And then everyone can go where they think it is best. If we have to have some taxes to fund relocation - fine. As long as it keeps you out of my pocket and out of trying to control my life, it's a small price to pay.

The USA's prosperity is built on the back of theft, not individual rights

Well, not that there weren't a lot of bad things in the past, but it's impossible to determine who's owed what. But that doesn't apply to our country, it applies to all people in human history: nations were conquered in war, thieves stole and slipped away, people killed and maimed and did all sorts of horrible things. But unlike tracking down a stolen stereo, you can't "prove" who is owed what for something like this. I'm the descendant of Irish and Portugese and French immigrants - a long line of nobody peasants who owned nothing for hundreds of years, but finally came here and made something of themselves - yet you would hold me responsible for slavery, or segregation, or wars we never fought in (Oh, and in the case of the Irish, we had our own problems in Boston - but we don't bitch about them endlessly... or get ridiculed in the media - if ethnic stereotyping is wrong, then that includes us - I sure don't primarily identify as "white"). So your whole privilege thing is bullshit: we worked our ASSES off, for 100 years, to get where we are today. We were never CEO's or politicians or anything else that exploited others. NEVER. Not once. We earned what we got in life, struggling and sacrificing for an entire century, and we will never willingly surrender it to you, and we will hate you forever for trying to steal it from us.

You seem to wish to be the arbiter of what everyone in life deserves. That no matter how hard they work, or who they are, YOU are somehow so morally superior that YOU (collective you, i.e., lefties) and YOU ALONE will determine the quality of life of everyone in the country, or on earth. And that makes you no different than the people who owned slaves, or the people who supported Jim Crow, or the people who boxed in the native tribes, or Stalin, or Mao... you cannot justifiably complain that your people are oppressed, and then propose that the solution to it is for you to be doing the oppressing instead for a change. Yet that is exactly what you are.

I say: "Nobody owes anyone anything, without just compensation." You say "Everyone owes me [Markfiend and friends] something, WITHOUT just compensation." And saying that you give us a bunch of government that we don't want (in addition to the limited government that we actually do want - mostly to protect us from thieves like you) is not "just compensation."

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 4:14 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:You know markfiend, your criticisms would be taken much more seriously if you hadn't segwayed into a "socialism will save us" speech. (I assume you mean socialism because I have never heard of any economic system that was not either a derivative of socialism or capitalism.)


Socialism isn't a Godwin...

Oh and Pazi, I'm very glad to hear that you're a nihilist. I'm not one myself, but nihilism is one of the three world views that I consider to not engage in wishful thinking. That said, at the end of the day I am a hopeless romantic. I am very much right brained, yet am unwilling to fool or lie to myself about the nature of the universe for my own piece of mind.


You deny the privilege you have. You insist on adding unnecessary metaphysical layers to your worldview even though you claim to know better. (And you subscribe to outdated neurology, it sounds like). You may value consistency and parsimony in a worldview, but from over here in the nihilist's corner, it looks like you're still indulging in the very things you claim to abstain from.

Objectivism's appeal to me is that of the secular philosophies, it neither requires that I submit myself to some greater cause and group mentality and it endorses a very romantic view of humanity.


So why not just be honest about that? "I'm an Objectivist because it's emotionally appealing to me. I want to believe that I can be a great achiever and hero entirely on my own without any involvement from others." I'd still think you're deeply mistaken, but it'd be consistent...

Where other philosophies might simply accept things as they are, or see injustice in the world and call me to change it, Objectivism calls me to set my own standards, but then to live by them with integrity. It is Objectivism's view of people as heroic figures and masters of their own lives and destinies that I find inspiring about it.[/quote[

And it's fine that you want to tell yourself that story, but from outside your heroism and mastery of your life and destiny is only possible by robbing other people of the ability to live up to that very same standard. Your unwillingness to acknowledge that is noted, but asking others to tell you the same story about yourself is just crass.

I know I've been making all the logical arguments and philosophical defenses of Objectivism for pages, but in all honesty it is its inherent passion for self and for truth that lead me to follow this philosophy.


If you were really passionate about truth, you wouldn't so vehemently reject the truths that lie outside your acceptable domain.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 4:21 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:[
I just don't want to get into ANOTHER capitalism vs socialism argument. Seriously, discussing economics with a socialist is like discussing evolution with a creationist.


You say stuff like this, and yet you flip your lid if someone suggests that discussing economics with an Objectivist is like discussing morality with a sociopath in denial. You're deliberately being insulting, and incidentally reinforcing the impression of Objectivists and libertarians as delusional, selfish douchebags.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 4:38 pm UTC

Pazi, I am very disappointed. I thought we had reached a point where we could respectfully disagree based on differing beliefs regarding the nature of the human condition. Sadly, it appears that our differing world views have very real consequences regarding our attitude towards socialism, and so we are no closer to resolution than before. If you bother to read my conversation with Flewellyn from the previous page, you'll see that most of your accusations against my supposed 'elitism' are unfounded. And yes, socialism is a Godwin. It can never work and believing in it is nothing more than wishful thinking.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
palam
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:07 pm UTC
Location: CA

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Tue Jul 21, 2009 4:45 pm UTC

Once you throw a ball, it’s hard not to care where it lands.
Pazi, Andrewcullen is right. I do not self-identify as an Objectivist. I believe in a lot of what they offer, but by no means all of it (or even some of their defining elements). Emotionally infused arguments aside, I do not think you and I logically deduce things differently. I agree with you in that I think our disagreement boils down to axioms. Therefore, I will try to clear things up by listing a few of mine. Then we will see.

I. Emotion, like intuition, is a shortcut for decision making. While emotion and intuition most probably came first, when humans developed a conscious brain they de facto developed the ability to make decision making a cognitive process. Emotional decision making has not become uncompetitive for a number of reasons: 1. Emotions are usually right (in terms of what will help us pass our genes on). Emotions developed to help us make decisions. 2. Emotions are fast. Sometimes decisions are time sensitive. A fast usually right decision is often better than a decision that is marginally better but takes infinitely more time to arrive at. 3. Emotions are closer to our needs. Hunger, fear, loneliness, sadness and their emotional opposites are all directly connected to our basic needs. Love and jealousy are both connected to our reproductive needs. 4. Early on, humans do not have all the tools necessary to be successful conscious decision makers. Logical reasoning takes a while to get the hang of.
Intuition is our mind coming to logical conclusions without language. Intuition factors in all variables that we are cognizant of. Logical, conscious decision making has some advantages over intuition. When we analyze a problem, we inadvertently start naming aspects. So conscious decision making utilizes language. By naming things, we change the way we see them. This can help us see things that we did not with intuition. Also, with conscious decision making, we can factor certain things out of the equation. For example, people often factor jealousy out of the equation when making a conscious decision. With intuition, everything is factored in, including things we might deem irrational. I am not saying that people should make decisions void of emotion. We should use the tools that we have available. I am saying that by understanding why an emotion exists, what effect it has on us, and if it is clarifying or clouding our judgment, we can make better decisions.

II. Natural selection and its violence can not be denied. There are many aspects of natural selection; I am just saying that violence is the ultimate one. Sure, certain birds attract mates by being as beautiful as possible; I am just saying that an aggressive bird, other things equal, will have a better chance at mating because he will scare away all the other males. Natural selection is unavoidable; if you don’t play the game, someone that is playing will eventually suck you back into it (see military spending, genocide).

III. Everything in the “real” world is relative. Time is the catch all. Everything is relative to time. The only absolutes occur in the knowledge/mind/imagination (kmi) world. These two different worlds follow different underlying laws as well. The “real” world is subject to entropy, while the “kmi” world is not.

IV. Matter, life, and all their derivatives are always organizing up. Not all forms of organization are cut out for higher orders, therefore this progression is not linear but rather follows a boom-bust pattern. Think atom-molecule-cell-tissue-organ-creature-(family-society-species). As this runs counter to entropy, think of matter/life organization as an intersection of the “kmi” and “real” worlds.

I have other underlying beliefs, however I think this is sufficient to derive my perspective on a number of arguments on this thread.

We can not observe the world except through our perspective. Therefore, we can not see the world for how it really is. This is Truth. It is an unattainable goal that we must all strive for if we are to be successful. While we can not ever see Truth, we can broaden our perspective and see it more clearly than we did before. Claims on knowing a part of Truth is in degrees; some truths are closer than others to the real thing. If one claims to know the whole truth, they are most definitely a charlatan. Truth is a moving goalpost as it is relative to time.

By not observing the world for how it “is” but how we want it to be, we are mixing the “real” and “kmi” worlds. 1. This allows “absoluteness” to creep into a domain where it does not naturally exist. 2. By doing this we sacrifice our ability to change the real world. To change the world effectively, we must see it for how it is through evidence; only then can we make the logical connections in our head fit onto the real world.

Self-interest is strictly better than anti-self-interest from the perspective of natural selection. Therefore, we all must all be selfish by virtue of the fact we are here. “Blind” self-interest must at first be suppressed so that serving the common good (one’s group) can be achieved. Once it is realized that serving one’s group also serves one’s own interest, “rational” self-interest can take hold and self-interest no longer needs to be suppressed. In both instances, the individual serves the common good. Rational self-interest is better because suppression of instincts does not make them go away, it only makes them fester.

Education empowers us. Language helps us have access to information and label things. Math helps us analyze data properly and develop logical ability. History helps us see the world relative to time and derive patterns. Science helps us see the world clearly. To clammor against one of them is to do a disservice to the idea that education empowers us.

Equality of opportunity is a greater ideal to strive for than equality of outcome. If I am part of a society that wants everyone to produce the same level of work, I feel like I want to leave that society. A moron can not do what I can; just as I can not do what one more capable and productive than myself can do. If we are all to have the same outcome, the moron can not rise to my ability and mine to the more capable guy, so we must all stoop to the level of the moron. If we all have the opportunity to work to the best of our ability, then the moron will be self-actualized, and the capable people will have produced wealth. I will better myself by bettering my group, and the moron can share in that. He might be envious of the other things I have, but he has no right to those. He is better off now than if there had been equality of outcome. While he might not be able to perceive this, it is not our responsibility to cater to perspectives that clearly are narrower than others.

EDIT: I forgot to explain morality. Morality is a set of beliefs that makes us more successful or less successful as a group. Morality has to take different levels of group into account if it is to be successful. Morality is usually the thing that defines a group. The Arabs of 500 A.D. were comprised of small bands that were constantly warring under "eye for an eye" law (tit-for-tat downward spiral?). Islam, through warfare and removing "eye-for-eye" benefitted all arabs. It made them one group. They went on to conquer lots of places... the conquering only stopped once the empire started to fragment. The same pattern can be seen with the Mongols only their belief system was not well defined so we don't see it as an intact meme today. "Morality" is part of a belief system. It is like DNA that defines a level of organization and the group. Constructing a moral code should be an exercise in creating a successful group.

This is the second time I’m writing this. The first version more elaborately describes my underlying beliefs. It was much longer. It took me so long to write that I was auto-logged out of the forum. I consider this dedication.

EDIT:
please consider this post a sum up response to this post:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=42498&p=1691858#p1691858
I don't think back and forth is very productive, so if you have issue with my statements, please take that issue to the source. And in the interest of Truth...
California Prop 8
Category_______Yes No
Black__________70% 30%
Hispanic_______53% 47%
White_________49% 51%
Asian_________49% 51%
18-29_________39% 61%
30-44_________55% 45%
45-64_________54% 46%
65+___________61% 39%
While age is undoubtedly a factor, the most significant determinant of whether or not one voted for Prop 8 was whether or not that person was black.
Last edited by palam on Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:20 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

IntentionallyLeftBlank
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:29 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby IntentionallyLeftBlank » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:07 pm UTC

In response to Andrew. In regards to altruism- your making what I feel is a bit of a stretch to accommodate genuinely altruistic behavior into the "self-interest" definition Rand would have liked. Isn't it much more likely that altruism has some species survival advantage and is (perhaps) some instinctual hold over from evolution? i.e. perhaps its simply not true that all behavior is motivated by self-interest?

As to funding research- I'm fairly sure (at least in the US) most scientific research is both publicly funded and publicly done. We have a number of national labs, and most of the large research universities are public. Further, I don't think you've addressed my point that where government isn't funding research,companies have not been able to step up,despite huge potential profits. The comparison with the industrial revolution is a bit off because the overhead and development cost of research is tremendous, orders of magnitude larger then it was then.

Further, in a world without government supported science, who builds something like the LHC? I look at the results that came out of Fermilab as the most important work mankind has done in terms of really understanding the universe. There is no obvious tangible gain, only pride as a species at what we have discovered.

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 what do you count as rights? Some would say you should include some right to healthcare (i.e. a right to life). What about something like fire service, where one house that doesn't pay for fire service endangers his whole neighborhood? Without government backed currency how does a society develop commerce? Also, doesn't protection against fraud require something like an SEC, or other regulatory body?

Rand did not believe that all people are equal.


In some sense she did, consider this quote from "We the Living": "No one is born with any kind of "talent" and, therefore, every skill has to be acquired."

This is an absurd view of human nature, and this equality at birth (and the fact that man can shape himself with his mind, i.e. actions follow rational thought) are foundational to her philosophy.

As you have said

Objectivism's view of people as heroic figures and masters of their own lives and destinies that I find inspiring about it


I would argue that Rand is developing people AS THEY OUGHT TO BE, and not as they are. I agree that Rand's "heroic masters of destiny" could thrive in a utopian society governed by Rand's rational self interest. They, however, are not human. A moral system should be based on people as they are, not the platonic ideal.

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:18 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Pazi, I am very disappointed. I thought we had reached a point where we could respectfully disagree based on differing beliefs regarding the nature of the human condition.


So did I, but I'm not the one who dismissed the other party as equivalent to creationists, with all the implications that carries.

Sadly, it appears that our differing world views have very real consequences regarding our attitude towards socialism, and so we are no closer to resolution than before.


We'd come as close as I felt able; disagreement about certain properties of our moral systems and the sources of that, but nonetheless there was a sense of understanding.

If you bother to read my conversation with Flewellyn from the previous page, you'll see that most of your accusations against my supposed 'elitism' are unfounded.


I never said elitism, why are you quoting that?

And yes, socialism is a Godwin. It can never work and believing in it is nothing more than wishful thinking.


UK
Sweden
Germany
France
New Zealand
Canada
The Netherlands
Denmark
Norway

To name just a few societies that implement socialism in various ways, at various levels. None of them are economic backwaters, nor totalitarian regimes. Given a conflict between your theoretical framework and the real world, I'm gonna pay attention to the real world.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

User avatar
palam
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:07 pm UTC
Location: CA

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:29 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:
And yes, socialism is a Godwin. It can never work and believing in it is nothing more than wishful thinking.


UK
Sweden
Germany
France
New Zealand
Canada
The Netherlands
Denmark
Norway

To name just a few societies that implement socialism in various ways, at various levels. None of them are economic backwaters, nor totalitarian regimes. Given a conflict between your theoretical framework and the real world, I'm gonna pay attention to the real world.

UK, Sweeden, Germany, France, Denmark, The Netherlands... none of those countries started out as Socialist states. They started out as "evil" imperialistic states in some form or another. Once they had created value, a high standard of living led to democracy, democracy led to socialism. To take those countries out of their historical context is to do a disservice to that "real world" which you ascribe to. The argument against socialism is that over time the value runs out, so the system is unsustainable. When it starts up, it's great! When it's waning, it's not so great. Socialism is not an absolute, it must be viewed in the context of time.

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:48 pm UTC

palam wrote:UK, Sweeden, Germany, France, Denmark, The Netherlands... none of those countries started out as Socialist states. They started out as "evil" imperialistic states in some form or another. Once they had created value, a high standard of living led to democracy, democracy led to socialism. To take those countries out of their historical context is to do a disservice to that "real world" which you ascribe to. The argument against socialism is that over time the value runs out, so the system is unsustainable. When it starts up, it's great! When it's waning, it's not so great. Socialism is not an absolute, it must be viewed in the context of time.


Which, ironically, is exactly what Karl Marx said about how it would develop: that first you had to go through capitalism to generate the means of producing value, and only then could you move to socialism of any sort. The notion that a country like Russia in 1917, which was still largely agrarian and hopelessly behind the times in terms of industrial capacity, would try to jump directly from agrarianism to socialism, would be laughable to Marx. The fact that they tried it, and it failed badly, did not disprove Marx at all.

This is not to say I think Marx was right; I disagree with several of his fundamental premises, especially adopting Hegel's notion of "history as a force", and turning Hegelian dialectic to the service of economic theory. Also, I deplore his notion that violent revolutionary change is the only means by which the people at large can gain control of their economic security. But while he may have been way off on predicting the solutions to unfettered capitalism's ills, he did a good job of analyzing the problems.

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:19 pm UTC

I. Emotion, like intuition, is a shortcut for decision making. While emotion and intuition most probably came first, when humans developed a conscious brain they de facto developed the ability to make decision making a cognitive process.


We disagree here.

Consciousness is an executive summary; your conscious mind doesn't make the decisions, it follows on after them. We've demonstrated this with neuroimaging on EEGs. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation, we can even intercept and subvert the process; it doesn't *feel* any different to the person on receiving end. The device operator can decide what your behavioral outcome will be, induce it, and you'll *feel like it was your decision the whole time.* Our everyday perceptions of what consciousness is are so far from the reality of it (as revealed by modern science) that it seems foolish to use them as starting points. Unfortunately, this stuff is still not widely known.

I am not saying that people should make decisions void of emotion. We should use the tools that we have available. I am saying that by understanding why an emotion exists, what effect it has on us, and if it is clarifying or clouding our judgment, we can make better decisions.


I agree, but we probably don't mean the same thing by this.

II. Natural selection and its violence can not be denied. There are many aspects of natural selection; I am just saying that violence is the ultimate one. Sure, certain birds attract mates by being as beautiful as possible; I am just saying that an aggressive bird, other things equal, will have a better chance at mating because he will scare away all the other males.


No. No no no no no. You cannot evaluate whether aggression of this sort improves fitness without doing so heavily in context. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it does not. It can't be generalized for all organisms of a type, for all possible conditions, in all possible relationships. The entire set of ecosystems in Australia prior to the arrival of humans on the continent was based around the fierce conservation of extremely finite biological resources. Marsupial and monotreme mammals outlasted the placentals that still dominate on other continents by eating less, burning with cooler metabolisms, evolving a wide variety of venoms and protective schemes that make predation risky, and making fantastically efficient use of what was available. The only placentals to gain a foothold there were very small rodents and bats.

Furthermore, the arrival of placentals, while it has severe ecological consequences for the continent, does not necessarily imply that the local fauna has been out-competed and supplanted over the long term (that is, in evolutionary time). The adaptations for living in such fierce bioregions are well-established among the native fauna, but the invasive species haven't yet had time to experience the long term evolutionary pressures that Australia forces on its inhabitants. What is more, the invasive fauna consumes those already-limited resources at a fantastic rate, and faces massive population crashes every time it exceeds the carrying capacity of an area.

Eventually, both the hard-pressed native animals and the introduced ones will come under the same pressures again, and in the long run, it's not placentals who carry the advantage. To suggest that the imported fauna were "more competitive" is to view evolution through the timekeeping standards of human lifetimes, and that is a serious mistake.

III. Everything in the “real” world is relative. Time is the catch all. Everything is relative to time. The only absolutes occur in the knowledge/mind/imagination (kmi) world. These two different worlds follow different underlying laws as well. The “real” world is subject to entropy, while the “kmi” world is not.


I'm sorry, but this is pretty well incoherent to me. What do you mean by absolutes, and how do they occur "in the kmi world?" Also, how do you view the "KMI world"; as something with tangible effects on reality?

IV. Matter, life, and all their derivatives are always organizing up.


No. There is a trend, but these things "organize down" too all the time, in response to environmental factors. Or they stay the same, sometimes for long periods. This isn't a useful axiom because it isn't true.

Not all forms of organization are cut out for higher orders, therefore this progression is not linear but rather follows a boom-bust pattern. Think atom-molecule-cell-tissue-organ-creature-(family-society-species).


Multicellular organisms as we know them wouldn't exist if not for the entirely chance evolution of eukaryotic cells. It is a mistake to suggest this was inevitable; a broad survey of the domains of life shows that Eukarya, or something like them, only evolved once. Vision is represented plenty of times in the biological record, but the development of organelles descended from the fusion of living species into a single system is not something we see in the much broader range of species found in the Archaea and Bacteria.

What this means is that your perception of a progression from atoms to humans is at best a loose, sort of artistic way of observing a truth that's much less profound than you're making it out to be (namely, that complexity can increase).

As this runs counter to entropy, think of matter/life organization as an intersection of the “kmi” and “real” worlds.


You're just making this up as you go, aren't you? It's quite evident you haven't studied ecology, biology, physics or complexity theory, at least not enough to really understand anything about them.


I have other underlying beliefs, however I think this is sufficient to derive my perspective on a number of arguments on this thread.


Like Aristotle, you think you can figure out the world just by reasoning about it. Your aversion to empiricism is the limit of your ability to understand the world around you.

Self-interest is strictly better than anti-self-interest from the perspective of natural selection.


I won't be responding to this point further, as I've adequately countered it above. You can take this as an axiom for all I care, but as an assertion about evolution it's misguided at best.

Education empowers us. Language helps us have access to information and label things. Math helps us analyze data properly and develop logical ability. History helps us see the world relative to time and derive patterns. Science helps us see the world clearly. To clammor against one of them is to do a disservice to the idea that education empowers us.


You in particular could stand to learn a bit of science.

The Arabs of 500 A.D. were comprised of small bands that were constantly warring under "eye for an eye" law (tit-for-tat downward spiral?). Islam, through warfare and removing "eye-for-eye" benefitted all arabs. It made them one group. They went on to conquer lots of places... the conquering only stopped once the empire started to fragment.


Ye gods, just...stop. This isn't how Islam developed; Arabs aren't one group even today, Islam spread by peace as well as by conquest, there was never just one Islamic empire, you're so confused and you're trying to tell Just-So stories based on guesswork, ones that you'd never entertained if you realized how utterly ignorant you are.

The same pattern can be seen with the Mongols only their belief system was not well defined so we don't see it as an intact meme today.


The belief systems Mongols adhered to were multiple, were well-known and still exist today. Your ignorance of it doesn't mean it isn't still there and intact.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

FoolishOwl
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:36 pm UTC
Location: San Francisco, California
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby FoolishOwl » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:19 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:And yes, socialism is a Godwin.

The point of Godwin's Law is that once you compare someone's views to those of the Nazis, it nearly always means that rational discussion is over, because very few people are not upset to be compared to Nazis.

On the other hand, frequently, the response to, "That's the sort of thing a socialist would say," is, "Yes, and I'm a socialist." (And by the way, I'm a socialist, and while I have some criticisms of Marx, I consider myself, by and large, a marxist.)

User avatar
palam
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:07 pm UTC
Location: CA

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:22 pm UTC

Pazi, wow. I expected a thorough analysis, but not so much insulting of my intelligence. You should reign in those emotions ;). I will respond last-in-first-out.
Pazi wrote:
palam wrote:The Arabs of 500 A.D. were comprised of small bands that were constantly warring under "eye for an eye" law (tit-for-tat downward spiral?). Islam, through warfare and removing "eye-for-eye" benefitted all arabs. It made them one group. They went on to conquer lots of places... the conquering only stopped once the empire started to fragment.


Ye gods, just...stop. This isn't how Islam developed; Arabs aren't one group even today, Islam spread by peace as well as by conquest, there was never just one Islamic empire, you're so confused and you're trying to tell Just-So stories based on guesswork, ones that you'd never entertained if you realized how utterly ignorant you are.


Muhammad "found" islam in about 610. In 630 he conquered Mecca. He then went on with his followers to conquer or accept acquiescence from the rest of the Arabs on the Arabian Peninsula. Muhammad died in 632. At this point, basically all Muslims were Arabs.
After his death, the War of Apostasy engulfed the Muslims. Khalid ibn al-Walid, Islam's most successful general, and the rest of the Muslims went on to defeat all the rebel Arabs once again. Then they went on to conquer half of Byzantium and all of Persia. At this point, other ethnicities have joined the fold. Later, the conquests would include Northern Africa, Iberia, Constantinople (under the Ottomans)... The conquering of the unified Muslim world did not end until the Hegemony of the Caliphate was ended. The wars of succession to the control of the Muslim world, especially the conflict between the Imams and the Caliphs that started growing when the Persians started adopting Shia Islam, fractured the Hegemonic state into many different empires, only nominally under the control of the Caliphate.
around 1200 (+-100 years)the Mongols Destroyed most of the Islamic world not on the African continent, and only by one of the Kahns switching to Islam did their path of destruction spare the rest of the Islamic world. Sure, Islam spread through peaceful means at times. However, during their first few centuries, conquest was the main method of proselytizing. Before you make accusations of ignorance, I suggest you accept some humility and realize that you do not have a monopoly on truth.

Pazi wrote:
palam wrote:Education empowers us. Language helps us have access to information and label things. Math helps us analyze data properly and develop logical ability. History helps us see the world relative to time and derive patterns. Science helps us see the world clearly. To clammor against one of them is to do a disservice to the idea that education empowers us.
You in particular could stand to learn a bit of science.

Ad hominem attacks do not add weight to your claims.

Pazi wrote:
palam wrote:IV. Matter, life, and all their derivatives are always organizing up.


No. There is a trend, but these things "organize down" too all the time, in response to environmental factors. Or they stay the same, sometimes for long periods. This isn't a useful axiom because it isn't true.

Organizing down is part of the boom-bust cycle. Boom-bust referst to an economic principle. This is not a monolithic endeavor, each creature is it's own pyramid reaching up. Things that do not organize up do not preclude other things from organizing up. If there was an equilibrium state where nothing moved up, (this goes against probability for a non-static world) then nothing would ever change. You have often made claims that because mutation is random and without direction, there is no "merit in biology." That random things happen and that those things just happen to give them some sort of advantage. I am saying that some attributes help organizims go on. There is "merit" in those attributes. That these attributes are probabablistically determined does not deny them of their value. If you do not see the correlation between probability and random events, then please do not attack before you do. I would also ask that instead of attacking, you ask about things you do not fully understand before you bash them based off of your own limited perspective. The fact that your perspective is limited on something like my personal philosophy should be obvious. People should only resort to attack in an intellectual discussion once they have realized their argumants hold no water.


Pazi wrote:
palam wrote:III. Everything in the “real” world is relative. Time is the catch all. Everything is relative to time. The only absolutes occur in the knowledge/mind/imagination (kmi) world. These two different worlds follow different underlying laws as well. The “real” world is subject to entropy, while the “kmi” world is not.


I'm sorry, but this is pretty well incoherent to me. What do you mean by absolutes, and how do they occur "in the kmi world?" Also, how do you view the "KMI world"; as something with tangible effects on reality?


If you are unfamiliar with the absolute/relative , please read the rest of the thread. A=A is an absolute. This is a construct of the mind, what I loosely referred to as the knowledge/mind/imagination world for lack of a better term for it (the Christians make the dichotomy the temporal and the spiritual... I agree with temporal but spiritual is obviously subject to implying religion). I am saying that this does not translate to the "real" world because the real world is always relative to time. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (Entropy) states that all order in the universe tends to disorder. Energy is derived from temperature differences which result in an average of those temperatures. Obviously, it should follow that if all temperature in the universe is averaging, then if this was the only force at work, eventually everything would be the same temperature and useful energy could not be derived. The human world of thought does not follow this pattern as our knkowledge is constantly organizing up. I claim that life does not follow this pattern either as it is constantly organizing up as well (billions of years ago complex life did not exist in our solar system... as time has gone on higher and higher forms of organization have come to be). Thus, life could be an intersection of this "kmi" and "real" worlds. That hypothesis is a hypothesis.

Second part coming soon!

User avatar
markfiend
Posts: 497
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:59 am UTC
Location: UK (Leeds)

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:37 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:[
I just don't want to get into ANOTHER capitalism vs socialism argument. Seriously, discussing economics with a socialist is like discussing evolution with a creationist.


You say stuff like this, and yet you flip your lid if someone suggests that discussing economics with an Objectivist is like discussing morality with a sociopath in denial. You're deliberately being insulting, and incidentally reinforcing the impression of Objectivists and libertarians as delusional, selfish douchebags.

Thank you for your support Pazi. (And not just on this point)

andrewclunn: It seems to me that you're more like a creationist; it's you who is ignoring the way the world is (massive injustice caused by capitalism) in favour of the way you wish the world would be (capitalism creating some kind of utopia).
=======
drazen wrote:Now, on to deal with the most insufferable, arrogant prat I've ever had the misfortune to run across in my entire life:

Your opinion of me is only slightly better than mine of you. :twisted:

Your view that you have no moral obligation to the rest of the human race is despicable. I'm not talking about your congress's current plans, I'm talking about the general principle of socialised healthcare; no-one should be left to starve, or to die, just because of the fact that they have no money.

I'm not proposing any kind of oppression. Paying a few fucking dollars out of your wages is not oppression. Get a sense of fucking perspective.
=======
palam wrote:II. Natural selection and its violence can not be denied. There are many aspects of natural selection; I am just saying that violence is the ultimate one. Sure, certain birds attract mates by being as beautiful as possible; I am just saying that an aggressive bird, other things equal, will have a better chance at mating because he will scare away all the other males. Natural selection is unavoidable; if you don’t play the game, someone that is playing will eventually suck you back into it (see military spending, genocide).

With respect, I think you're making the is/ought fallacy here; just because evolution and natural selection describe the way species change over time, does not mean that they are a prescription for how human society should be organised.
=======
IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:I would argue that Rand is developing people AS THEY OUGHT TO BE, and not as they are. I agree that Rand's "heroic masters of destiny" could thrive in .a utopian society governed by Rand's rational self interest. They, however, are not human. A moral system should be based on people as they are, not the platonic ideal.

Hah. I think you've hit the nail on the head here. With the caveat that I would replace "as they ought to be" with "as SHE THOUGHT they ought to be"!
advanced, forthright, signifficant
pronouns: he/him

User avatar
ellbur
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:31 pm UTC
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:59 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:It is Objectivism's view of people as heroic figures and masters of their own lives and destinies that I find inspiring about it. I know I've been making all the logical arguments and philosophical defenses of Objectivism for pages, but in all honesty it is its inherent passion for self and for truth that lead me to follow this philosophy.

I really like this image of people, that we are able to make more of our lives than nature gave us, that we have the power to change our own condition. But it leads me in a very different direction. I cannot see myself as truly mastering my own life when other people in the world suffer, even if the suffering is no fault of mine. I guess I see the whole human race as a heroic figure in itself, not just individuals. But permit me to say that the heroism of the individual is tainted by the imperfections of humanity as a whole.

drazen wrote:Sales taxes would be levied on goods (or services that require the use of materials to perform), so they are also paying for what you use - in the materials contained in the item you're purchasing. Granted, you might need an adjustment for renewable vs non-renewable resources, or if the material can be recycled/disposed of easily or not, but how is that redistribution of income?

Sales taxes still incur a deadweight loss, which implies that prices do not accurately reflect the cost of production, and that the taxes cause people to behave as the economically "shouldn't". So some of the cost of a taxed item is being redistributed.
Now I must clarify that I have no problem with redistribution of income. But I don't think it's fair to use redistribution as an argument against specifically the income tax, since it applies to most taxes. In fact, if roads are exclusively paid for by tolls, then the tolls themselves probably incur a deadweight loss and would thus count as redistribution, because road transportation probably experiences declining marginal costs (high initial investment to build the road, cheap to let somebody drive on it).

palam wrote:UK, Sweeden, Germany, France, Denmark, The Netherlands... none of those countries started out as Socialist states. They started out as "evil" imperialistic states in some form or another. Once they had created value, a high standard of living led to democracy, democracy led to socialism. To take those countries out of their historical context is to do a disservice to that "real world" which you ascribe to. The argument against socialism is that over time the value runs out, so the system is unsustainable. When it starts up, it's great! When it's waning, it's not so great. Socialism is not an absolute, it must be viewed in the context of time.

Well, yes, it is not an absolute, and if you view it in the context of time it's temporary. And, well, so's the whole human race, all life on earth, the earth itself. But I think you mean that the life cycle of socialism is actually short on human timescales. Well, I guess we'll see, but the countries on that list aren't exactly suffering.

palam wrote: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.

I'm worried that this is too close to a "proof by definition". You can define self-interest in a broad way, but that doesn't mean that actions that fall under that category can't also be altruism.
I don't think you realize that for me this is real.

User avatar
palam
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:07 pm UTC
Location: CA

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:59 pm UTC

Part 2

Pazi wrote:Eventually, both the hard-pressed native animals and the introduced ones will come under the same pressures again, and in the long run, it's not placentals who carry the advantage. To suggest that the imported fauna were "more competitive" is to view evolution through the timekeeping standards of human lifetimes, and that is a serious mistake.

I never suggested that imported fauna were "more competitive." Nor did I suggest that evolution can be directly observed in a human lifetime. The more competitive fauna are the fauna that survive and go on, and maybe supplant the other fauna. That is the only determinant of merit. Thus, "evolution can not be denied." If imported fauna overload the system and are unsustainable, eventually they'll all die or adapt. Then fauna of a type similar to those that were initially supplanted can develop again, or thirive again. I add the last part about violence because people think that natural selection can take place without it. It shouldn't have to be stated, but I do it because one has to know their audience. Violence also isn't an absolute, is subjective; look at the abortion debate.
I am also not stating that violence is always better. Violence is almost always not better within the group. however, different individuals will define the group different ways. The most "fit" size and dynamic of a group will be context specific. Violence is often better between groups. If you have a group of pacifists and a violent group, the violent group will dominate the pacifist group. Don't forget economics though, productivity of a group also plays a part.

Pazi wrote:
I. Emotion, like intuition, is a shortcut for decision making. While emotion and intuition most probably came first, when humans developed a conscious brain they de facto developed the ability to make decision making a cognitive process.


We disagree here.

Consciousness is an executive summary; your conscious mind doesn't make the decisions, it follows on after them. We've demonstrated this with neuroimaging on EEGs. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation, we can even intercept and subvert the process; it doesn't *feel* any different to the person on receiving end. The device operator can decide what your behavioral outcome will be, induce it, and you'll *feel like it was your decision the whole time.* Our everyday perceptions of what consciousness is are so far from the reality of it (as revealed by modern science) that it seems foolish to use them as starting points. Unfortunately, this stuff is still not widely known.


I am not using consciousness as a starting point. This is not one of my main tenets as it is merely a statement of "come to decisions logically" which for most people is self evident. I listed this first because we argued most about this specifically.
I can not make any statements about your statement as I am not fully versed in it. However, I would state that to take a new experiment at face value of what those involved in it percieved is not very safe. Too many unknown factors or assumptions are playing at this. One can not generalize one study or group of studies to philosophy until those studies are fully understood, and only then with extreme caution. As far as I am aware, brain science is a developing one. Jumping to conclusions often leads to incorrect conclusions. I see not logical fallicy in my view of emotion, intuition, and consciously controlled decision making. I do not even see it as contradictory to what you just claimed might be the case about the relationship between controlled decision making and intuition.

Pazi, you elevate yourself inappropriately if you believe that my stating of my beliefs was an attemt to get you to agree with them. The fact that we all have different perspectives is widely accepted. I feel it is ofen helpful to know where those you communicate with are coming from so that impassess are reached only on beliefs, not on miscommunication. While some people are able to do this quickly without aid, I believe that being upfront and honest about it usually facilitates the process.

Most people do not have the courage to make public their underlying beliefs as the best defense is often staying hidden. Before you rail onto someone who states his beliefs, please make sure that first you would feel comfortable doing the same and having the same be done to you. Is this a legitimate appeal to your morality? I do not mind you disagreeing with my beliefs. However, claiming that because I have my beliefs I am ignorant in either science and/or history... is itself an ignorant act. I would ask that you reflect on that. Science derived from neuroimaging is not an excuse to act without reason and rely on your emotion to fuel your vitriol infused borderline-rants. While I will be looking into that tidbit, I will never use it as an excuse to act so hatefully. If there was any validity to your claims that I am ignorant in history and science, then I would gladly present myself to a jury to decide. However, I would argue that I am reasonably versed in all academic fields, much more so than the average person.

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:02 pm UTC

palam wrote:If you are unfamiliar with the absolute/relative , please read the rest of the thread. A=A is an absolute. This is a construct of the mind, what I loosely referred to as the knowledge/mind/imagination world for lack of a better term for it (the Christians make the dichotomy the temporal and the spiritual... I agree with temporal but spiritual is obviously subject to implying religion). I am saying that this does not translate to the "real" world because the real world is always relative to time. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (Entropy) states that all order in the universe tends to disorder. Energy is derived from temperature differences which result in an average of those temperatures. Obviously, it should follow that if all temperature in the universe is averaging, then if this was the only force at work, eventually everything would be the same temperature and useful energy could not be derived. The human world of thought does not follow this pattern as our knkowledge is constantly organizing up. I claim that life does not follow this pattern either as it is constantly organizing up as well (billions of years ago complex life did not exist in our solar system... as time has gone on higher and higher forms of organization have come to be). Thus, life could be an intersection of this "kmi" and "real" worlds. That hypothesis is a hypothesis.

Second part coming soon!


I'll let Pazi deal with the rest, but man alive, this is one of the most amazingly incoherent pieces of pseudointellectual rambling I have ever seen. I want to put it under glass in an inert preserving gas in a museum, or something.

I note the invocation of "A=A", as if this was proof of, well, anything. Logical tautologies like the law of identities are always true, yes, but the thing about tautology is that it's uninteresting. It's useless. If a logical statement is always true, no matter what the constituent propositions, it has no value in real-world use. Why so many Objectivists (and your protestations to the contrary, you look like one, you talk like you, you quack like one, so I'm calling a duck a member of the family Anatidae) rely on tautologies, and in particular the law of identities, as though they were profound truths instead of trivial statements, is beyond me. For instance, saying "that hypothesis is a hypothesis". Umm, of course it is. Saying that a thing is what it is, is the most uninteresting statement to make about anything. It says literally nothing.

Onward, this business about the real world being relative to time...what does that even mean? That time exists? Again, duh. What is it supposed to say? And especially, how does it connect to the rest of what you said? Good lord.

Now, about the second law of thermodynamics...your understanding of the basic physics of entropy is correct, up to a point. Yes, over time, entropy always increases...in a closed system. The universe, as far as we know, is a closed system; can't add energy to it from "outside", because there is not, as far as we have observed, an outside of any sort. So, in the closed system that is the entire universe, total entropy always increases.

However, in an open system, where there are external sources of energy, it's very very easy to decrease the local amount of entropy: all you have to do is use some of that external energy to create a more ordered, complex state. Now, the Earth, where all of the life that we know about, and certainly all of humanity, exist, is obviously not a closed system. It receives energy from the sun in massive quantities, and small amounts (not significant to life, generally speaking) from other celestial bodies. It also generates energy internally, from radioactive decay of heavy elements formed in ancient supernovae. Life uses energy from the sun, or from geothermal sources, to organize itself and produce the complexity we see. Of course, the passage of energy through the complex system of a lifeform has a tendency to degrade the system, and increase its local entropy, as the second law would predict, so a lot of the energy a lifeform uses goes into maintaining complex cellular structures.

At any rate, tying entropy and thermodynamics to the realm of human knowledge is...er, problematic. Not because your assertions about knowledge not following the laws of thermodynamics are wrong, necessarily, but because from what I have read on the subject, they are still very much open questions. That you assert as facts what experts openly state are unresolved questions does not help your hypothesis.

User avatar
palam
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:07 pm UTC
Location: CA

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:27 pm UTC

ellbur wrote:
palam wrote: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.

I'm worried that this is too close to a "proof by definition". You can define self-interest in a broad way, but that doesn't mean that actions that fall under that category can't also be altruism.


This is the second or third time this partiular quote of my has been invoked, and not at all in the proper context. Let me see if I can frame this properly (again).

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=42498&p=1690624#p1690624

palam wrote:
Pazi wrote:
palam wrote:
Pazi wrote:
Kisama wrote:The rational self-interest promoted by Objectivism is what I would call "passively selfish" because it's completely live and let live. The belief that altruism is a moral ideal is in fact the most heinous selfishness I can imagine because it imposes itself on others.

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.

"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.

Then we have these:
palam wrote:
Flewellen 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.


And then we have...

palam wrote:
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.


palam wrote:Self-interest is strictly better than anti-self-interest from the perspective of natural selection. Therefore, we all must all be selfish by virtue of the fact we are here. “Blind” self-interest must at first be suppressed so that serving the common good (one’s group) can be achieved. Once it is realized that serving one’s group also serves one’s own interest, “rational” self-interest can take hold and self-interest no longer needs to be suppressed. In both instances, the individual serves the common good. Rational self-interest is better because suppression of instincts does not make them go away, it only makes them fester.


Ellbur, this is an issue of perspective. I claim that by helping one's group, it also helps onself. If you want to call it Altruism, then we are debating semantics.

User avatar
palam
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:07 pm UTC
Location: CA

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:45 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
palam wrote:If you are unfamiliar with the absolute/relative , please read the rest of the thread. A=A is an absolute. This is a construct of the mind, what I loosely referred to as the knowledge/mind/imagination world for lack of a better term for it (the Christians make the dichotomy the temporal and the spiritual... I agree with temporal but spiritual is obviously subject to implying religion). I am saying that this does not translate to the "real" world because the real world is always relative to time. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (Entropy) states that all order in the universe tends to disorder. Energy is derived from temperature differences which result in an average of those temperatures. Obviously, it should follow that if all temperature in the universe is averaging, then if this was the only force at work, eventually everything would be the same temperature and useful energy could not be derived. The human world of thought does not follow this pattern as our knkowledge is constantly organizing up. I claim that life does not follow this pattern either as it is constantly organizing up as well (billions of years ago complex life did not exist in our solar system... as time has gone on higher and higher forms of organization have come to be). Thus, life could be an intersection of this "kmi" and "real" worlds. That hypothesis is a hypothesis.

Second part coming soon!


I'll let Pazi deal with the rest, but man alive, this is one of the most amazingly incoherent pieces of pseudointellectual rambling I have ever seen. I want to put it under glass in an inert preserving gas in a museum, or something.

I note the invocation of "A=A", as if this was proof of, well, anything. Logical tautologies like the law of identities are always true, yes, but the thing about tautology is that it's uninteresting. It's useless. If a logical statement is always true, no matter what the constituent propositions, it has no value in real-world use.

Flewellyn, I think you did not actually read the whole thing, only stopped at A=A. What you stated pretty much summs up belief III. that everything in the "real world" is relative. A=A is an absolute, and only has relavence in the realm of the mind.
Flewellyn wrote:Why so many Objectivists (and your protestations to the contrary, you look like one, you talk like you, you quack like one, so I'm calling a duck a member of the family Anatidae) rely on tautologies, and in particular the law of identities, as though they were profound truths instead of trivial statements, is beyond me. For instance, saying "that hypothesis is a hypothesis". Umm, of course it is. Saying that a thing is what it is, is the most uninteresting statement to make about anything. It says literally nothing.

I think part one of my response relegates this to "inappropriate." If I do not believe man can know an absolute truth in the "real world," that "A=A" as Objectivists state it, then my belief is conradictory to one of Objectivism's core tenets.


Flewellyn wrote:Onward, this business about the real world being relative to time...what does that even mean? That time exists? Again, duh. What is it supposed to say? And especially, how does it connect to the rest of what you said? Good lord.

Are you math litterate? Acceleration is "Change (in velocity) with respect to time." relative to time is kind of like saying "with respect to time." It's another variable. This is saying that Absolute truth only occurs in a world where time stands still. Duh. Do not try to make your lack of understanding appear to be my lack of intelligence.

Flewellyn wrote:Now, about the second law of thermodynamics...your understanding of the basic physics of entropy is correct, up to a point. Yes, over time, entropy always increases...in a closed system. The universe, as far as we know, is a closed system; can't add energy to it from "outside", because there is not, as far as we have observed, an outside of any sort. So, in the closed system that is the entire universe, total entropy always increases.

However, in an open system, where there are external sources of energy, it's very very easy to decrease the local amount of entropy: all you have to do is use some of that external energy to create a more ordered, complex state. Now, the Earth, where all of the life that we know about, and certainly all of humanity, exist, is obviously not a closed system. It receives energy from the sun in massive quantities, and small amounts (not significant to life, generally speaking) from other celestial bodies. It also generates energy internally, from radioactive decay of heavy elements formed in ancient supernovae. Life uses energy from the sun, or from geothermal sources, to organize itself and produce the complexity we see. Of course, the passage of energy through the complex system of a lifeform has a tendency to degrade the system, and increase its local entropy, as the second law would predict, so a lot of the energy a lifeform uses goes into maintaining complex cellular structures.

At any rate, tying entropy and thermodynamics to the realm of human knowledge is...er, problematic. Not because your assertions about knowledge not following the laws of thermodynamics are wrong, necessarily, but because from what I have read on the subject, they are still very much open questions. That you assert as facts what experts openly state are unresolved questions does not help your hypothesis.


Thank you for elaborating more on Thermodynamics. Splitting work up does have its advantages (but it's a far cry from socialism). Everything I stated I stated as fact because I stated at the beginning that this was what I believed in. The "I believe" is implied when one is talking about their "underlying beliefs" and I feel does not need to be stated in such a context. If you disagree with my assertions because you feel that there is not enough evidence, that's fine. These are my beliefs, not yours. If you want to make them your beliefs at a later date, that is fine too. You are welcome to them. However, please do not imply that I do not understand entropy (stating it in elaborate detail does imply this).

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:53 pm UTC

I'm just going to respond to IntentionallyLeftBlank for now because I am not going to be dragged into yet ANOTHER socialism vs capitalism debate. An online discussion of that subject is pointless and stupid and leads to the end of any real discussion that was occurring (it is currently leading this thread to become nothing more than emotionally driven attacks.)

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:In response to Andrew. In regards to altruism- your making what I feel is a bit of a stretch to accommodate genuinely altruistic behavior into the "self-interest" definition Rand would have liked. Isn't it much more likely that altruism has some species survival advantage and is (perhaps) some instinctual hold over from evolution? i.e. perhaps its simply not true that all behavior is motivated by self-interest?


I don't believe that all behavior is motivated by self-interest. I believe that self-interest indirectly influences all behavior (through evolutionary means or logical rules that in most cases serve one's self-interest). I will again link to the Dawkin's special that (he's definitely on the left mind you) shows how science should lead all of us, regardless of political views, to recognize and accept this. What we take away from it however, is something to discuss and debate. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3494530275568693212

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:As to funding research- I'm fairly sure (at least in the US) most scientific research is both publicly funded and publicly done. We have a number of national labs, and most of the large research universities are public. Further, I don't think you've addressed my point that where government isn't funding research, companies have not been able to step up, despite huge potential profits. The comparison with the industrial revolution is a bit off because the overhead and development cost of research is tremendous, orders of magnitude larger then it was then.


I believe I have stated that the government takes the money to do so from private owners, who would otherwise be able to fund the research themselves. Also, one can not deny the powerful influence of private donations on R&D, especially in the medical field.

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:Further, in a world without government supported science, who builds something like the LHC? I look at the results that came out of Fermilab as the most important work mankind has done in terms of really understanding the universe. There is no obvious tangible gain, only pride as a species at what we have discovered.


That is a matter of opinion. Personally, I believe physicists are putting theory ahead of practicality, and that we are putting WAY too much money into space exploration that would be much better served at expediting genetic research. But I don't get to decide which forms of research my tax dollars go towards. I might even be okay with government funded research if I were at least given the right to choose what form of research my money were spent on.

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:
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 what do you count as rights? Some would say you should include some right to healthcare (i.e. a right to life). What about something like fire service, where one house that doesn't pay for fire service endangers his whole neighborhood? Without government backed currency how does a society develop commerce? Also, doesn't protection against fraud require something like an SEC, or other regulatory body?


You're missing an important part of the first sentence, "... defend the rights of its citizens form other individuals and peoples... " I do not have a right to be given life. i have a right to not have my life taken from me by others. Or rather, in the words of Batman, "I won't kill you, but that doesn't mean I have to save you."

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:
Rand did not believe that all people are equal.


In some sense she did, consider this quote from "We the Living": "No one is born with any kind of "talent" and, therefore, every skill has to be acquired."


I encourage you to watch the following interview of Rand. She gets a bit flustered at one point by a guest who calls her a cult leader (And keep in mind that she is not a native language speaker, so when she is being sarcastic it can be very hard to tell), but overall I think it should make clear that she does not believe that all people are equal. Certainly she believes that all people would have equality under the law and equal freedom, but that under that system those who are more capable will thrive. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzGFytGBDN8

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:I would argue that Rand is developing people AS THEY OUGHT TO BE, and not as they are. I agree that Rand's "heroic masters of destiny" could thrive in a utopian society governed by Rand's rational self interest. They, however, are not human. A moral system should be based on people as they are, not the platonic ideal.


One of the most common criticisms of Objectivism that Rand dealt with was people claiming that individuals could not live up to the standards that she had set. I would state that all moral ideals are simply that, ideals. I do not imagine that I can ever fully attain the integrity of vision and action that Objectivism advocates, but I aspire to it and surely admitting that does not discredit my morality or the philosophy that I hold.
Last edited by andrewclunn on Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:59 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:58 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:Thank you for your support Pazi. (And not just on this point)


And thank you. It's been a bit frustrating participating in this argument, and your posts have gone a long way towards keeping me involved. I think I may be done (Palam isn't really worth replying to; he sounds about like I did at age 19 and that's a strong disincentive to feed into it; Andrew is at least coherent and doesn't pretend to marshall vast reams of knowledge he doesn't have), but it was certainly much easier to discuss this alongside your persistent and coherent posts.

andrewclunn: It seems to me that you're more like a creationist; it's you who is ignoring the way the world is (massive injustice caused by capitalism) in favour of the way you wish the world would be (capitalism creating some kind of utopia).


Andrew, I wouldn't make the creationist comparison myself, but otherwise this is pretty much how I see things: You want to believe that unfettered capitalism is the best way to awaken the true potential in people and create the most functional, most-liberated society possible...so you believe it. Firmly, deeply, and against any and all countervailing arguments. If we stood here all day and showed you the things that disconfirm your stance, you would be under no obligation to believe them, and on a personal level it doesn't seem likely you would.

There is no eschaton so removed from reality that one can't be dissuaded from trying to immanentize it. And I know that applies all around, and I don't think there's a hard distinction between mine and yours in that respect, but such is life. I try to at least acknowledge that fact.

I'm not proposing any kind of oppression. Paying a few fucking dollars out of your wages is not oppression. Get a sense of fucking perspective.


This. So much.

Socialism is not police states and socialized economies, nor are those inevitable results. As a member of several distinct oppressed classes it's tiresome to hear taxation held up as state brutality.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

User avatar
ellbur
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:31 pm UTC
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:00 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:I believe I have stated that the government takes the money to do so from private owners, who would otherwise be able to fund the research themselves. Also, one can not deny the powerful influence of private donations on R&D, especially in the medical field.

You're right that private money can fund research. Unfortunately, information is a public good and so private money probably won't fund it sufficiently. Now you could be OK with that, after all it's probably not tragedy if science is underfunded. But it leaves a lot of room for public money to make things better.
I don't think you realize that for me this is real.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:08 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:Andrew, I wouldn't make the creationist comparison myself, but otherwise this is pretty much how I see things: You want to believe that unfettered capitalism is the best way to awaken the true potential in people and create the most functional, most-liberated society possible...so you believe it. Firmly, deeply, and against any and all countervailing arguments. If we stood here all day and showed you the things that disconfirm your stance, you would be under no obligation to believe them, and on a personal level it doesn't seem likely you would.

There is no eschaton so removed from reality that one can't be dissuaded from trying to immanentize it. And I know that applies all around, and I don't think there's a hard distinction between mine and yours in that respect, but such is life. I try to at least acknowledge that fact.


Clarification, when somebody says they are indeed a marxist, I assume that means they advocating the complete elimination of private property, as pure Marxist socialists do. if you in fact advocate some kind of mixed economy, then please do not say that you are a Marxist, as this is misleading. And so you know, Objectivists do recognize the necessity of a state, and of taxation to fund protection of its citizens, so we do NOT advocate the anarcho-capitalism of some Libertarians. Ayn Rand spoke out against this at several points and it's very clear and obvious (to me) why she did so. So Objectivists 'technically' advocate a mixed economy, but one that is very much near lessie fair. (Ayn Rand initially advocated for lessie fair until she saw that some people thought that meant that she wanted no government at all, then she had to clarify that she meant something more akin to the United States economy in the 1800s.)

EDIT -
It's like Dawkins scale of religious belief. You might be inclined towards theism or atheism, but we can all agree that people who state that they KNOW with 100% that God(s) do or do not exist are full of shit. Anyone who advocates absolutely no state or absolutely no private property is delusional and wrong.

As an aside, I'm a 4 myself and don't really care if there is or are God(s) because I'd have no way of proving or disproving it or of knowing what 'their will' was even if they did exist and were (for some reason) the slightest bit interested in humanity.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:29 pm UTC

Clarification, when somebody says they are indeed a marxist, I assume that means they advocating the complete elimination of private property, as pure Marxist socialists do.


Hmm. From the many Marxists I've spoken to, I've learned that Marxists are quite a bit more ideologically diverse than you present them here. Given that, I'm going to listen to Marxists describe what they believe.

Can Marxism be criticized? Oh yeah, in all sorts of ways, depending on formulation. Marx's original formulation has some serious issues. But Marxists aren't limited to that original formulation, and someone identifying as a Marxist gives a best a cursory outline of what they believe. Here it seems like you're trying to force us to use your definition of "Marxist", and that's problematic because that doesn't seem like a fair representation of those who use the label.

(That is what we call a straw man.)

if you in fact advocate some kind of mixed economy, then please do not say that you are a Marxist, as this is misleading.


I didn't say I was a Marxist. You seem to have assumed it. The only label I really claimed was "Nihilist."

So Objectivists 'technically' advocate a mixed economy, but one that is very much near lessie fair. (Ayn Rand initially advocated for lessie fair until she saw that some people thought that meant that she wanted no government at all, then she had to clarify that she meant something more akin to the United States economy in the 1800s.)


I think you mean laissez-faire.

And the economy of the US in the 1800's brought us such joys as hiring children for a penny per day to work 10-hour shifts in coal mines.

No thanks. Society makes things hard enough for me already.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

User avatar
palam
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:07 pm UTC
Location: CA

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:30 pm UTC

palam wrote:People should only resort to attack in an intellectual discussion once they have realized their argumants hold no water.


Pazi wrote:(Palam isn't really worth replying to; he sounds about like I did at age 19 and that's a strong disincentive to feed into it; Andrew is at least coherent and doesn't pretend to marshall vast reams of knowledge he doesn't have)


I have not attacked your person while you have repeatedly engaged in ad hominem arguments. I marshall only the knowledge that is available to me, but I do marshall it. I am proud of the knowledge I have and that knowledge shapes my perspective of the world. When I am unknowledgeable about something I concede it. However, I will not be bullied into submission. This is especially true when I believe someone is behaving unethically (such as misrepresenting data) and when I feel that I have a better understanding of "fact." The only instances in this discussion that I would consider "fact" were the statistics on Prop 8 and the history of Islam/Mongols. If you wish to refute either of these claims, I will ask you to cite sources and present a logical argument free of ad hominem.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:41 pm UTC

Pazi wrote:
Clarification, when somebody says they are indeed a marxist, I assume that means they advocating the complete elimination of private property, as pure Marxist socialists do.


Hmm. From the many Marxists I've spoken to, I've learned that Marxists are quite a bit more ideologically diverse than you present them here. Given that, I'm going to listen to Marxists describe what they believe.

Can Marxism be criticized? Oh yeah, in all sorts of ways, depending on formulation. Marx's original formulation has some serious issues. But Marxists aren't limited to that original formulation, and someone identifying as a Marxist gives a best a cursory outline of what they believe. Here it seems like you're trying to force us to use your definition of "Marxist", and that's problematic because that doesn't seem like a fair representation of those who use the label.

(That is what we call a straw man.)

if you in fact advocate some kind of mixed economy, then please do not say that you are a Marxist, as this is misleading.


I didn't say I was a Marxist. You seem to have assumed it. The only label I really claimed was "Nihilist."


You weren't the one who identified yourself as a Marxist (that was FoolishOwl) and also I was stating this to show that I had perhaps missinterpretted what people's real economic positions were and I wanted clarification. Please stop calling out "Straw MAN!" when I'm not arguing for or against anything, but merely attempting to clarify people's economic stances (including my own) so that we can have respectful intelligent discussion. Cut back on the combativeness or there's no way we'll be able to meaningfully talk about anything.

Pazi wrote:
So Objectivists 'technically' advocate a mixed economy, but one that is very much near lessie fair. (Ayn Rand initially advocated for lessie fair until she saw that some people thought that meant that she wanted no government at all, then she had to clarify that she meant something more akin to the United States economy in the 1800s.)


I think you mean laissez-faire.


yes, I ran my post through a quick spell check and messed up. Other people have made plenty of spelling errors. i don't correct them because it's usually seen as a backhanded attempt at attacking their intelligence. If you continue to see your goal here as to attack me rather than discuss things, then why should I even bother trying to respond to your comments?
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:47 pm UTC

ellbur wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:I believe I have stated that the government takes the money to do so from private owners, who would otherwise be able to fund the research themselves. Also, one can not deny the powerful influence of private donations on R&D, especially in the medical field.

You're right that private money can fund research. Unfortunately, information is a public good and so private money probably won't fund it sufficiently. Now you could be OK with that, after all it's probably not tragedy if science is underfunded. But it leaves a lot of room for public money to make things better.


A valid point. And as I said, I might be willing to see government funded research as somethign positive IF I were given the right to determine what type of research my particular tax dollars would go towards.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:51 pm UTC

I assume that means they advocating the complete elimination of private property, as pure Marxist socialists do.


Please stop calling out "Straw MAN!" when I'm not arguing for or against anything, but merely attempting to clarify people's economic stances (including my own) so that we can have respectful intelligent discussion.


The way you defined Marxist above does not accurately represent the beliefs of the self-described Marxists on this thread, nor of many Marxists more generally. Given that you insist on using that specific definition for Marxist, it *is* a straw man fallacy, or at best a No True Scotsman fallacy. This isn't trivial; if you insist on defining Marxists your way and refusing to acknowledge anyone who doesn't fit as Marxists, why should anyone else bother to argue with you?

Not all Objectivists hold to the "pure" Randian formulation of Objectivism, but I wouldn't deny that they were Objectivists simply because the philosophy has covered new ground since its inception.

So I'm sorry that the claim of "straw man/no true Scotsman" annoys you, but it's accurate here.

Other people have made plenty of spelling errors. i don't correct them because it's usually seen as a backhanded attempt at attacking their intelligence.


My apologies, and point taken.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

Flewellyn
Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:04 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:A valid point. And as I said, I might be willing to see government funded research as somethign positive IF I were given the right to determine what type of research my particular tax dollars would go towards.


Dude, you can. You can vote, and lobby your representatives to direct funding towards various forms of research. We all have a say in how tax money is spent, by those mechanisms.

User avatar
ellbur
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:31 pm UTC
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:13 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:A valid point. And as I said, I might be willing to see government funded research as somethign positive IF I were given the right to determine what type of research my particular tax dollars would go towards.


Dude, you can. You can vote, and lobby your representatives to direct funding towards various forms of research. We all have a say in how tax money is spent, by those mechanisms.

Well, he did say "my particular tax dollars".

(I guess you'd still have to have some kind of restriction on it, otherwise it would amount to private funding and you'd still have the externality problem. But with twerking your andrewclunn's proposal would work).
What troubles me, is, would you make that a precondition for public funding of research? Given that public funding can still provide some benefit, wouldn't it still be better to have democratically-chosen funding than no public funding at all?
The reason it would bother me to make your suggestion a precondition for public funding is that it feels like putting a lot of emphasis on abstract things like property rights, and not as much on real things like the results of scientific research.
I don't think you realize that for me this is real.

IntentionallyLeftBlank
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:29 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby IntentionallyLeftBlank » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:49 am UTC

Rather than respond point by point, I want to rephrase my arguments in a way that I think gets to the heart of what I am talking about. This will hopefully avoid dull arguments about tangential points.

Rand's morality is entirely based on her projection of man AS HE OUGHT TO BE. i.e. Rand starts with the idea that no man is born with talents, and that everything we do and are is created by us from the mind. She then argues for her moral imperatives based on this starting point. If this starting point fails, the whole edifice fails.

Further, lets define morality as a set of self-consistent rules that govern decision making. From this definition, we can see that there are clearly more than one set of rules, and hence more than one morality. Given this, it becomes helpful to establish criteria to measure moralities against each other. How should we judge? I propose the utilitarian greatest good for the greatest number of people. In this case, lets define good as "material comfort and wealth" as it is an easy yardstick. The "best" moral system maximizes wealth across the population. I do not think the Randian morality succeeds under this criteria.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:17 am UTC

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:Rand's morality is entirely based on her projection of man AS HE OUGHT TO BE. i.e. Rand starts with the idea that no man is born with talents, and that everything we do and are is created by us from the mind. She then argues for her moral imperatives based on this starting point. If this starting point fails, the whole edifice fails.

Ah, well where Rand says talent here, think of her as saying the word skill. I know it's a change, but the meanings of words can change over time and she was not a native english speaker. When you recognize that by the word 'talent' she meant it to mean developed ability or skill, then you will see why this is not a contradiction.

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:Further, lets define morality as a set of self-consistent rules that govern decision making. From this definition, we can see that there are clearly more than one set of rules, and hence more than one morality. Given this, it becomes helpful to establish criteria to measure moralities against each other. How should we judge? I propose the utilitarian greatest good for the greatest number of people. In this case, lets define good as "material comfort and wealth" as it is an easy yardstick. The "best" moral system maximizes wealth across the population. I do not think the Randian morality succeeds under this criteria.

And I do not agree to that standard as a valid one. You know what 9 out of 10 people enjoy? A gang rape. To say that something is for the "greater good" is to justify actions that we all should know to be wrong because one believes the ends justify the means, I believe such morality will often be used as a guilt-based means of rationalizing evil.

ellbur wrote:What troubles me, is, would you make that a precondition for public funding of research? Given that public funding can still provide some benefit, wouldn't it still be better to have democratically-chosen funding than no public funding at all?
The reason it would bother me to make your suggestion a precondition for public funding is that it feels like putting a lot of emphasis on abstract things like property rights, and not as much on real things like the results of scientific research.

And I believe that there is significantly more to be gained by a society defending and protecting property rights. It's not that I'm opposed to research, but it cannot be done immorally. (I don't believe Godwin's law applies to this next point, as I am not attempting to establish a similarity between taxation and the Nazis, but simply showing how research may be done in such a way that we would find it deplorable) The Nazis learned quite a bit by experimenting on people that they regarded as sub-human. In fact this research progressed medical science quite a bit, but I certainly do not think that the results justified the research.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
Pazi
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:48 am UTC
Location: Lake Wobegon, out on the prairie

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Pazi » Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:42 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:
IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:Further, lets define morality as a set of self-consistent rules that govern decision making. From this definition, we can see that there are clearly more than one set of rules, and hence more than one morality. Given this, it becomes helpful to establish criteria to measure moralities against each other. How should we judge? I propose the utilitarian greatest good for the greatest number of people. In this case, lets define good as "material comfort and wealth" as it is an easy yardstick. The "best" moral system maximizes wealth across the population. I do not think the Randian morality succeeds under this criteria.

And I do not agree to that standard as a valid one. You know what 9 out of 10 people enjoy? A gang rape. To say that something is for the "greater good" is to justify actions that we all should know to be wrong because one believes the ends justify the means, I believe such morality will often be used as a guilt-based means of rationalizing evil.


...right. Okay, I think it's pretty clear there's nothing to be gained in arguing with you any further. Your response to basic utilitarianism is to assert that 90% of humanity enjoys gang rape.

And I believe that there is significantly more to be gained by a society defending and protecting property rights. It's not that I'm opposed to research, but it cannot be done immorally. (I don't believe Godwin's law applies to this next point, as I am not attempting to establish a similarity between taxation and the Nazis, but simply showing how research may be done in such a way that we would find it deplorable) The Nazis learned quite a bit by experimenting on people that they regarded as sub-human. In fact this research progressed medical science quite a bit, but I certainly do not think that the results justified the research.


Actually, I think you just Godwin'd yourself, above.
Pretend you're a scrambler.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:53 am UTC

Pazi wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Blah blah blah...
You know what 9 out of 10 people enjoy? A gang rape...
blah blah blah


...right. Okay, I think it's pretty clear there's nothing to be gained in arguing with you any further. Your response to basic utilitarianism is to assert that 90% of humanity enjoys gang rape.

Some more stuff I said.


Actually, I think you just Godwin'd yourself, above.


Um, no. If you think that statement means that 90% of people enjoy gang rape then it went completely over your head. Here, this link will explain all http://www.xoxideforums.com/jokes/83531-what-do-nine-out.html
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

User avatar
ellbur
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:31 pm UTC
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:36 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Clarification, when somebody says they are indeed a marxist, I assume that means they advocating the complete elimination of private property, as pure Marxist socialists do.

Well, if you are referring to Marx's original ideology, then not quite. Marx more specifically wanted to eliminate existing property relations, not the idea of private property in general. In other words, a massive changing-hands of property.

(CAUTION: I am not endorsing the following quote. I do not subscribe to the following ideas. I am using it to clarify Marx's position)
Karl Marx wrote:The distinguishing feature of communism is not the abolition of property in general but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.
In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
(In the last sentence, "Abolition of private property" is a snarky way of saying that forms of property that Marx is not interested in eliminating are of little consequence to society) What Marx is really getting at is that property will change hands on a large scale, which, because certain property plays such a big role in the economy, can be read as elimination of private property.

Now if you'll bear with me, I'll explain why that was not entirely irrelevant to our discussion.

First, another clarification. I do not mean to pull a Godwin by comparing Objectivism to Marxism. I am rather fond of Marx and consider myself a socialist. What follows is not meant to portray Objectivism in a negative light, but is, I think, one of its finer features. However, I still disagree with Objectivism's prescriptions for society.

I'll talk about the US here, because that's where I live, and I think you do too. The way our government runs things right now can be phrased in terms of property rights. The government owns the right to tax income, as an example, among many, many other things. Many of these rights are conveyed at birth, by virtue of being born in the US, but ultimately people and corporations can exit these agreements by leaving the country.

Phrased in this way, the Objectivist goals amount to a massive redistribution of property rights. In particular, much of the right to tax and redistribute income will be removed from the government. Other rights, such as the right of sick people to public money, will be redistributed. I think it is commendable of Objectivists to not take property rights as they stand to be fixed, and to see solutions for the general welfare that go beyond existing property structures. However, Objectivists should keep in mind that altering property rights opens the door to a discussion of what is a prudent way to distribute property, and that there is no obvious answer to this question. Furthermore, since Objectivists wish to dissolve many existing property rights, this makes it natural to consider all property rights as suspect, and none as particularly sacred.
I don't think you realize that for me this is real.

IntentionallyLeftBlank
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:29 am UTC

Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby IntentionallyLeftBlank » Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:46 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Ah, well where Rand says talent here, think of her as saying the word skill. I know it's a change, but the meanings of words can change over time and she was not a native english speaker. When you recognize that by the word 'talent' she meant it to mean developed ability or skill, then you will see why this is not a contradiction.


You should read the quote in context in the introduction of "We the Living." Also, I am confused, because you yourself has said that Rand's image of man is essentially idealistic. I am merely pointing out that basing a moral system around the behavior of an ideal might not be the best decision.

On utilitarianism as a criteria for deciding between moral philosophies:
And I do not agree to that standard as a valid one. You know what 9 out of 10 people enjoy? A gang rape. To say that something is for the "greater good" is to justify actions that we all should know to be wrong because one believes the ends justify the means, I believe such morality will often be used as a guilt-based means of rationalizing evil.


Define evil? It is a loaded word. If you don't like my yard stick, suggest another yard stick. How can we compare two moral systems? What criteria should we use to decide between two self-consistent, reasonable approaches to morality? By what objective measure does Randian morality rate highly?


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 23 guests