I'm not sure how to make this any clearer. If you can't put your ideas into practice, there's nothing virtuous about them. We call it mental masturbation. You seem to think it's good in and of itself, regardless of the fact that it has no practical impact. That's called an intrinsic value, and Objectivism rejects that explicitly.
You gave a bunch of examples, trying to prove that people can still think for themselves while not being financially independent. But my argument was that it's pointless if it doesn't amount to anything. Of course people can still look at reality and analyze it while being dependent. But there's no point to it.
You then opened the door to real independence by saying that a person who's dependent can figure out a way of getting out of that dependence, so he can make decisions for himself. Welcome to my world. That's what I said is the virtue of independence. But if the person decides that he'll just stick to his life of dependence in action, why do you maintain he's being virtuous?
If you're stuck in dependency, say a young Objectivist child living with his religious family, you don't practice the virtue of independence by accepting your lot in life, but thinking for yourself. You practice it by gaining the necessary skills or money or whatever it takes to get out on your own so you can make your own choices. Independence, as a virtue, does not necessarily mean being in the state of total independence and control. It's a means to your ends. It recognizes the importance of thinking for yourself, and consequently being able to act upon that judgment. It then provides guidance to how to achieve that. Practicing independence means moving towards a position of being able to think for yourself.
I seriously can't understand what the problem is here. If you have to accept the judgment of others in practice, what value does thinking for yourself gain? Are you really trying to say that complete dependence on another person is a good thing? Have you actually read my previous article? Try here!
Perhaps you can explain what value there is in thinking for yourself when in practice you have to obey the will of another person?
Btw, only such scenarios as concentration camps make virtues "pointless."Interesting thought, but not right at all. It might be true that in that scenario the virtue might always be pointless, but that doesn't mean in regular day to day situations a virtue can be invalidated. That's what the use of force does. It doesn't matter if you want to spend your money rationally on improving your life if a robber takes it away. Every act of force invalidates the virtues to some extent, and in particular ways.
But, as I said in the article I have doubts that you read, if you voluntarily put yourself in a situation where someone has control over you, there's little difference. Figuring out what you would do if you had your own money serves no purpose when you don't have the money. You don't get to put your ideas into practice. Or are you suggesting that thinking what you would do if you had the choice is just as good as doing it? I certainly hope not.
Rand's definition specifically relates productivity to the production of goods and servicesI've heard this argument before. But let's take a closer look at it, shall we?
Why goods and services? Why is it that things you can buy or sell are given a special status in Objectivist ethics? Is there a fundamental difference between material wealth and other values? Isn't the issue fundamentally about the achievement of values? You may believe that Rand intentionally or unintentionally created an artificial distinction between material wealth and other values, such as friendship, love, sex, etc. But morally speaking, the virtue involved in seeking one is the virtue involved in seeking the other. Both are about the achievement of values. If you want to argue there should be a fundamental distinction between material wealth and other values that is so vast that a virtue aimed at one is inapplicable to the other, I'd love to see you try. What is this moral distinction?
In other words, we cannot say that when we are thinking independently that we are being "productive," per se.We agree! Finally! Except somehow I don't think you grasp the point anyway. You seem very hooked on this idea that thinking for yourself is good in and of itself, regardless of consequences. But how is that a means to achieving values?