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Friday, November 25, 2005 - 7:00amSanction this postReply
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On p. 105 Valliant states that Objectivism “holds that honesty is a virtue of fundamental importance.”
I don't think, as Merriam-Webster appears to, that honesty and integrity are synonyms.    As you note there are times when telling a lie (a breach of honesty) is not a breach of integrity. 

Choosing the word honesty over the word integrity skews/cheapens the Objectivist argument. It is an unfortunate choice that in many ways poisons the well.





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Post 1

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 10:07amSanction this postReply
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Dr. Seddon,

I sanctioned your article. Thanks for a little breath of reason into this discussion.

I'm a little baffled by your conclusion however:

"Of the three, Nathaniel was certainly the worst, Rand the best, and Barbara somewhere in the middle."

I would say Ayn Rand was the worst, Barbara the best, and Nathaniel somewhere in the middle. I believe the very young Nathanial and Barbara were deeply moved by her writings and came to Ayn Rand looking for a mentor. The responsibility for how their relationship developed was largely on the older and much more experienced and worldly Ayn Rand.

To assign to Ayn Rand the reference point of moral perfection and then magnify the flaws of the two people closest to her as if there were some sort of moral "gravitational lensing" effect is simply silly and frankly stupid. It is also immoral in my opinion to continually trash the character and reputations of two very fine people, Nathanial and Barbara Branden.



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Post 2

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 10:18amSanction this postReply
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Fred:

     If one's going to hold Rand as having possibly betrayed the established O'ist 'virtue' of Honesty, one properly should clarify the context that *she* meant in her use of the term.

     In Galt's speech, she defines, describes, delineates, and practically extemporizes all fundamental aspects of her 'meaning'. Regarding your specific concern, most of that paragraph on Honesty is irrelevent, but for...
1-(def): "Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that [nothing] is a value if obtained by fraud."

2-(delineation): "---that honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others."
     Clearly, re 'others', the virtue of honesty is quite secondary...depending on what type of 'others' is meant. More pertinently, as a virtue, it's Primarily, if not ONLY, concerned with honesty-to-ONE'S-SELF.

     What this implies re honesty-to-others is not something that Rand spoke about at all, as far as I'm aware; ergo, any implications seen there by an arguer, should really be explicated by them...before analyzing a betrayal of the virtue per se as a 'possibility' to be considered..

     What honesty 'others' deserve from one is properly determinable by what (and, more importantly, why that) value-level that/those other(s) are held at, and, whether or not (as well as why) there is any 'obligation' considered as 'owed' them re the subject matter. --- Though, Rand never even said anything like that, to my knowledge, but, that's the way I see it.

     From what I see, your considerations that she didn't make her life an 'open-book' for her fans is innuended by you as relevent, but, that I see, really has absolutely nothing to do with her allegedly 'lying' to others (by inaction, as you also seem to innuend). --- Indeed, only if one can argue that she had some moral 'obligation' to spill all her life's-guts can this argument be made. However, where this kind of obligation would be based from you have not even hinted; you've merely presumed it as apparently a pointless-to-question assumption.

     Otherwise, Fred, quite thought-provoking. In spite of my reservations, sancted.

LLAP
J:D




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Post 3

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 10:19amSanction this postReply
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Fred,

That was a magnificent essay! Thank you!

I will let you have your evaluations, though I disagree with a few, and peace be with you.

What a relief to see some real research out in the real world.

I want to make a comment about honesty. I solved that issue for myself in Brazil many, many moons ago, though I don't ever remember it being explicitly stated in the literature the way I did to myself back then:

It is OK to lie to others within certain contexts. However, it is usually not OK to lie to others. It is never OK to lie to yourself.

That is one of the main principles I practiced that allowed me to hold onto my own sanity during the dark times.

Michael


Edit to John D - Our posts crossed and we essentially made the same point about honesty. I think Fred might have been sort of reacting to the barrage of "dishonests" in PARC. (If only I had a dollar for every time that word was used in that book...)

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 11/25, 10:26am)




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Post 4

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 10:37amSanction this postReply
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Fred,

It seemed clear to me that Rand's conception of honesty did not preclude lies told to protect higher values. In those American secondary schools that have classes on values, the examples of bounds on the applicability of the concept of honesty include such things, as hiding the fact that you are a resistance member sheltering Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. In the case under discussion, the affair started in the 1950s, a high point of conformity to intrinsicist-Christian morality in American culture. Not quite the Nazi occupation, but close enough for applicability of the same moral principle.

Telling the spouses was necessary for their informed (albeit clearly not uninfluenced) consent. There was no similar necessity with respect to anyone else. NB chose to keep his affair with Patrecia secret from Rand. This means that he was screwing Rand without Rand's informed consent. Sex without valid consent is rape. In this respect, Valliant's point about "rape" is entirely valid.

But yes, in Valliant's book there is a good deal of prosecutorial over-reach. Expected, accounted for, and without much impact on the analysis.




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Friday, November 25, 2005 - 10:52amSanction this postReply
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A person can lie even by telling the truth!
A lie is a lie only if the speaker thinks it to be so.
A lie must be consider a lie, in the real meaning of the word, only if  it involves intentional deception.

(Edited by Ciro D'Agostino on 11/25, 11:04am)




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Post 6

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 11:12amSanction this postReply
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NB chose to keep his affair with Patrecia secret from Rand. This means that he was screwing Rand without Rand's informed consent. Sex without valid consent is rape. In this respect, Valliant's point about "rape" is entirely valid.

 
Call me shallow, but I don't get that, Adam. I don't know what you'd call it. Can't be infidelity. An indiscretion running background to a sanctioned affair?

To me, nobody had all of their oars in the water with the whole basic setup.

The rape statement is one that I will never be able to accept on any terms. What this was was an arrangement doomed to cause hurt all around, and fail. That anyone drove their behavior further underground is not exactly the kind of thing that would suprise me.

It's a good thing that no one had any crotch cooties, that would've really whipped things up good.

rde
Yeast infections: the only real way to show you care.




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Post 7

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 11:37amSanction this postReply
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Adam said:

This means that he was screwing Rand without Rand's informed consent. Sex without valid consent is rape. In this respect, Valliant's point about "rape" is entirely valid.

For this to be a valid argument, you would have to show that an uninformed consent is not a valid consent.

 

By your reasoning, anyone who does not disclose a fact, that would upset their partner sufficiently that he/she would refuse to have sex, is raping their partner.  Is this really what you were aiming at?  Sort of diminishes the meaning of rape, don’t you think?

 

Glenn

 

P.S. I find myself in agreement with Rich.  Must be a Thanksgiving thing.





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Friday, November 25, 2005 - 11:38amSanction this postReply
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BTW,
Nice job, Fred.
Glenn




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Post 9

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 11:58amSanction this postReply
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P.S. I find myself in agreement with Rich.  Must be a Thanksgiving thing.
 
Turkey has a soporific effect. You'll get better. :)

That's my whole beef with the rape statement. Rape is a heinous act of physical and psychological violence, and I found the statement to be incredibly irresponsible and ill-put.






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Friday, November 25, 2005 - 7:06amSanction this postReply
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You didn't write about "Valliant Versus the Brandens" so why did you title this that?

--Brant




Post 11

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 12:45pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn - you write, "For this to be a valid argument, you would have to show that an uninformed consent is not a valid consent." Indeed. When one of the parties is ignorant of exactly what it is that she is "consenting" to, then what is done to her is simply not what she gave her consent to.

When one party withholds from the other information that would have caused the second to withhold her consent, then the "consent" has been obtained by a species of fraud, and is not actual consent at all.

The requirement for informed consent, like the more general argument against acquisition of values by fraud, rests on the contextual nature of knowledge and agreement. For the latter, review Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.




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Post 12

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 12:57pmSanction this postReply
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I have a few problems with what I read here (I did not read all of it):

1. Regarding the line in AS that said Dagny had only lied once, she had only lied once UP TO THAT POINT IN TIME. Unless I'm not remembering an earlier lie she made, the statement had to be put in its proper context, which it wasn't.

2. I realize Rand is important, as she was the founder of Objectivism, but are people really engaged in such hero worship that this article was necessary? No wonder there are cult accusations. Objectivists should stop bothering themselves so much about Rand unless they are historians.



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Friday, November 25, 2005 - 1:02pmSanction this postReply
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Mark, as I replied elsewhere on this: "...it's never going to go away as long as the Branden's accounts of Rand's personality cast doubts on the validity of the psychology. N.Branden himself claims that the holes in the philosophy are due to Rand's psychology, and that he can point to the holes."




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Post 14

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 1:15pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks everyone. Let me give a few specific replies.

Mike,

“I believe the very young Nathanial and Barbara were deeply moved by her writings and came to Ayn Rand looking for a mentor.”

Yes, this is true. But by the time of his affair with Patrecia he is hardly “very young.” If I may paraphrase a line from Jackie Brown, by the time your 34 you pretty much have to take responsibility for everything you do.

“To assign to Ayn Rand the reference point of moral perfection and then magnify the flaws of the two people closest to her as if there were some sort of moral "gravitational lensing" effect is simply silly and frankly stupid. It is also immoral in my opinion to continually trash the character and reputations of two very fine people, Nathanial and Barbara Branden.”

I don’t assign to Rand moral perfection, or were you referring to Valliant? 13 years of lies and deception are hardly compatible with moral perfection. I agree with your second sentence if it is directed against Valliant. And I agree with Linz that the Barbara he knows is not the Barbara Valliant describes. And thanks again for your reply.

John,

After reading your post I couldn’t help notice how, despite your intention, the “others” kept popping up. Maybe I’m reading against your text and should be horse whipped by a young nubile vixen, (don’t I wish—tee hee). But let me make my point and see what you think.
Notice that part of the definition specifies “fraud.” “[nothing] is a value if obtained by fraud.”

fraud n
1. the crime of obtaining money or some other benefit by deliberate deception
2. somebody who deliberately deceives people by imitation or impersonation
3. something that is intended to deceive people

All of these presuppose other people. But strange to say I agree with you that the primary meaning of honesty for Rand should be honesty toward oneself.

Notice also in the delineation you quote,

“his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others."

There are those “others” again. Rand was deluding the consciousnesses of others by appearance.

In fact, you can read you delineation this way. You tell the truth to others not for their sake but for yours. But this still involves telling the truth to others.

Also consider Dagny. When Rand tells us that “that is the only lie she ever told” surely we are meant to infer that telling the truth to others is something one should normally do. Here also, lying seems to be something that one does to or with others. How could one lie to oneself about a secret that is too precious to share?? Here the primary meaning seems to be “lying to others.” So I guess I disagree with you when you say, “Clearly, re 'others', the virtue of honesty is quite secondary…”

But thanks for the comments.

Michael,

“It is OK to lie to others within certain contexts. However, it is usually not OK to lie to others. It is never OK to lie to yourself.”

Sounds good to me.

Ciro,

“A lie is a lie only if the speaker thinks it to be so.”

Is this a variation on George Constanza from Seinfeld who says to Jerry, “It isn’t a lie if you believe it.” Tee hee.

Fred




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Post 15

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 1:30pmSanction this postReply
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O.K., folks.  How many out there have EVER had sex with someone without full disclosure of all facts about yourself?  Let's see a show of hands.  Now, be honest.  Full disclosure is required.  After all, you don't know what your partner might consider to be a deal-breaker.  O.K., maybe I'm being too demanding.  Let's just stick to things that you know your partner would not find acceptable.  How many of you put your hands down?

Well, if your hand is still up, you're a rapist.  It's that simple.  You defrauded your partner, and since fraud is a form of force, you forced your partner to have sex with you.  So, you raped him/her.

Did I represent your position correctly, Adam?  If so, then you're package-dealing.  I refer you to "The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made" or to "Clarity in Conceptualization", a taped lecture by Peter Schwartz.




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Friday, November 25, 2005 - 1:34pmSanction this postReply
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"that is the only lie she ever told."

Well, if that was the actual statement, then I guess I stand corrected. If only "had" had been in there, Rand would have been consistent.

Hm. So Branden says that Rand's philosophy is partially or wholly a product of her unique psychology? Would someone provide an example (I don't know where to search for one).



Post 17

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 1:36pmSanction this postReply
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I thought rape was just sexual contact without consent. Anything else would be, as was said, package-dealing. Sounds rather arbitrary.



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Post 18

Friday, November 25, 2005 - 1:36pmSanction this postReply
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Jesus, Fred, another effing Valliant thread!!

Just one comment: Withholding the truth from people whose business it is none of, or outright lying to them if they're impertinent enough to ask about it, is no sin in my book. It can't be lumped in with the opportunistic lies actively contrived by Branden to keep himself on Rand's bandwagon.

Linz



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Friday, November 25, 2005 - 2:03pmSanction this postReply
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I wrote, "When one party withholds from the other information that would have caused the second to withhold her consent, then the "consent" has been obtained by a species of fraud."

Glenn - you write, "Let's just stick to things that you know your partner would not find acceptable. How many of you put your hands down? Well, if your hand is still up, you're a rapist." "... you're package-dealing."

Glenn, you are. Package-dealing is misintegration by non-essentials. But when consent is essential, integration relative to absence of consent is not a "package deal." How many people here might have done it is a non-essential. Back when I was six years old, I snuck into a movie theater through the exit door without paying for the ticket. Does the fact that I did it affect the essential nature of the act??

Now, we all know that burglary by breaking and entering is different from forgery or fraud. But when a prosecutor tells the jury that a swindler has the soul of a burglar, he is not package-dealing - he is integrating the facts by their essentials.




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