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Post 180

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:06pmSanction this postReply
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Mike E.,
The true argument is about human nature. ANY philosophy that's going to "catch on" has to take into account mans true nature. Not the personal idiosyncrasies of the members of RoR, but the common traits of all humans. Else you'll never convince anyone besides the one or two thousand members of this website. "Activism" means selling to a market and knowing that market.
That's all bull. What are you trying to say? Define human nature. Define man's true nature. What are the common traits of all humans? That is surely not the definition of Activism I use.

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Post 181

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:09pmSanction this postReply
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Michael, you didn't answer any of my questions, nor did you refute my points. You don't give a shit about me, you just want to make sure the baby in the American forest doesn't starve.

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Post 182

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:11pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

Let's say you're a legislator with the ability to pass laws, and you want to put your Good Samaritan law into effect.  As succinctly and precisely as you can, please put the language of such a law into words so we can see what principle you're trying to put forth here.  


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Post 183

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:17pmSanction this postReply
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Dean,

UNDERSTAND human nature. Talking philosophy and activism without understanding people is what's bull. Human nature is what it is. NO ONE defines it. NO ONE changes it. Deal with it. Or forget activism.

People are RATIONAL by nature. People don't walk away from starving children BY NATURE. You DON'T NEED to make LAWS about things like that. The altruist LIE is that you do need to make laws to make people behave in a rational and benevolent manner.

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Post 184

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:18pmSanction this postReply
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The last paragraph of "The Ethics of Emergencies":

The moral purpose of a man's life is the achievement of his own happiness. This does not mean that he is indifferent to all men, that human life is of no value to him and that he has no reason to help others in an emergency. But it does mean that he does not subordinate his life to the welfare of others, that he does not sacrifice himself to their needs, that the relief of their suffering is not his primary concern, that any help he gives is an exception, not a rule, an act of generosity, not of moral duty, that it is marginal and incidentalóas disasters are marginal and incidental in the course of human existenceóand that values, not disasters, are the goal, the first concern and the motive power of his life.  [Boldface emphasis added.]

 


Post 185

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:24pmSanction this postReply
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Mike Erickson wrote:

People don't walk away from starving children BY NATURE. You DON'T NEED to make LAWS about things like that.

MSK claims that we do need laws about things like that.  His claim has driven the ongoing dispute in this thread.


Post 186

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:26pmSanction this postReply
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Mike E.,

Some life forms you refer to by the name "human" are not rational. Some life forms you refer to by the name "human" do walk away from starving children. You are making contradictions.

Everyone does what they do by nature. Because nature is reality and how reality works. Every individual's nature is different, every individual is different. Every individual thing has different things in common with every other individual thing, and you could do this when you compare every set of parts of reality-- hmmm maybe except for the most fundamental parts. Some things have more things in common then others.
UNDERSTAND human nature. Talking philosophy and activism without understanding people is what's bull. Human nature is what it is. NO ONE defines it. NO ONE changes it. Deal with it. Or forget activism.
I understand what things are and how things work to a great degree, including humans. I agree that its important to understand what I know. You are wrong on one point there, I do change my nature. I change the nature of many things. (Yet not the most fundamental nature of the most fundamental things).
(Edited by Dean Michael Gores
on 2/20, 5:38pm)


Post 187

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:40pmSanction this postReply
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I would like to believe Mike E's contention that "Michael is arguing that our individual reactions to certain situations have nothing to do with a supposed "philosophy" of altruism. It's just normal human behavior." But, I can't put this down to overstatement. I'm going to once again read all this to see if I've misunderstood.

 I personally beleive that any one involved in this discussion would help the baby Michael describes. I simply don't beleive that the anyone has any right to force the issue on anyone. In the latest version of the hypothetical it is an emergency situtation. Attempting to contrive everday legal issues from an emergency hypthetical is a red herring.

This exchange has been acrimonious from early on. That acrimony has been carried over from other threads where similar levels of discource have ruled. People here have built up feelings (learned from earier value judgments) about the type of moving target arguments that I beleive I've seen here. One cannot judge reactions to Michael based on one thread. Jason and Michael certainly have a history.

I'll say no more until re re reading.


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Post 188

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 5:47pmSanction this postReply
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Luke,

"MSK claims that we do need laws about things like that."

I tried to couch that in the terms of "aiding and abetting" a crime as applied to MSK's hypothetical. I think Pete's question in regards to the principle Michael is talking about is a good one.

Regarding your earlier comment:

"I find your reference to mental pathology puzzling."

I don't think I've ever known anyone who, given Michaels hypothetical example, would walk away from an abandoned child in the woods. Searching my own mind I cannot imagine even abandoning a starving kitten in the woods let alone a human child. So I would consider someone who would do that as probably having an "extreme mental disorder", yes. I can't imagine anyone on this website doing that. If there are any, I don't want to know them. I don't believe you can have the extreme high regard for human beings required for objectivism to resonate within you and simultaneously have the ability to abandon a human child to die.

Glenn,

I agree with every word of your quote.

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Post 189

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 6:24pmSanction this postReply
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Dean,

Mike E.,

"Some life forms you refer to by the name "human" are not rational. Some life forms you refer to by the name "human" do walk away from starving children."

I refer to these individuals as "sociopaths". Such individuals are no more representative of human nature than emergency situations are representative of normal life.

"Everyone does what they do by nature."

Please refer to my post "my personal point of view":

http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/GeneralForum/0789.shtml#0

We are our natures and our IDEAS which may be in error. I believe our natures before any cultural learning are a given with some genetic variation in personality and intelligence. Some of our ideas are "broken". The purpose of philosophy to fix these broken ideas.

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Post 190

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 4:37pmSanction this postReply
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I guess abortion doctors in florida need to be on the look out for MSK.

Under his philosophy of O'michaelism...
-Its murder, they have a right to life- the mother could put the kid up for adoption and this stranger is murdering a child-


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Post 191

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 6:28pmSanction this postReply
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Pete,

Of all the sudden flame-ups and misunderstandings just now (with a grateful tipping of my hat to Mike E, but you see that it's hard to convince people of the obvious), you asked the only real intelligent question that throws this whole discussion into a proper light.

What kind of law would govern a situation like our wilderness situation? You mentioned Good Samaritan law. I don't believe in Good Samaritan laws as they are altruistic. I would discuss criminal law that defines what murder by starvation is. Once the parameters of that is set, then the rest of this discussion falls into place easily.

The crux of what is going on here is that people are trying to push me into a position that Rand defeated philosophically (but not legally) years ago. I am not in favor of any law obliging a person to act in such and such a manner because it is good (by altruistic standards) to do so.

I am STRONGLY in favor of laws that are against murder, since that is deprivation of THE basic right, the right to life.

I am not a legal professional. I only know my law from translating both Brazilian and USA law (about 10,000 pages or more of laws, contracts, jurisprudence, regulations, etc., and other reading.). I would imagine that such a law would (1) define a child as unable to care for himself, (2) define the child's minimum survival needs, (3) define what is to be done in the event that only one person holds power over the only food source in an emergency, (4) define the conditions for when withholding food from another is starvation as a crime and when it is not, and things of that nature.

(As an aside, I am sensitive to one of the good parts of USA law that most Americans take for granted. It is based on Common Law, with emphasis on intent and motive for crime. Brazilian law is based on Roman law, which is very paternalistic and overly-technical, almost distancing itself from the fact that people make choices. It covers intent and motive, but other issues like being caught in the act take much heavier precedence.)

I am frankly amazed that Rand called starving an adult "abuse" (much less a child) and everybody is completely ignoring what she said. Abuse is proper grounds for defining criminal law.

I am not talking in favor of altruism. I am talking against the murder of a child by starvation.

A child has a right to life. Murdering him violates that right.

Michael

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 2/20, 6:35pm)


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Post 192

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 6:30pmSanction this postReply
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Iíve been waiting for this debate to cool off, because I have some earnest questions on the article.  I hope you guys excuse me for having little useful to contribute to the tough debate (well, maybe I could pen some perfunctory lines) and dash off a quick reply or give a link or something.

 

Basically, Iíve just joined a group of young people that meets to discuss philosophy.  Iím pretty sure that some of my acquaintances there are subtle liberals, and that their response to criticism of the mixed economy and welfare, for example, would be that no one needs their uncompromised freedoms: it is no sin to give up just a fraction of them to help people in need.  Indeed, I think that while some of them might concede that liberty is essential but othersí suffering is our duty, others will value that duty over freedom.

 

This assertion acknowledges that altruism and liberty are incompatible, but that liberty is inessentialóand Iím afraid that when I talk to them next, Iíll resort to arm-flapping and simply yelling ďFrEeDOm!Ē which will win me no credibility.  So help: I donít know the principled position against someone who disvalues freedom (and independence, rights, integrity, self-reliance, and thus sanctions theft, force, and immorality).  (Oh, and I predict that one justification theyíll use is that itís just a small theft, or just a slight, meaningless marginalization of my rights that shouldn't matter to me, as if extent matters here, as if I should be ashamed for wanting all my rights.  What?  Apoplexy.)

 

Also, this may be the most basic of questions, but isnít hoarding money not in anyoneís self interest?  The liberal thought process is that if someone is making money, some people must be losing it.  This is true only if, obviously, the maker doesnít spend anything.  So is it not simply making money, but spending it that is a virtue?  Not only accumulation, but trade, too?  Money is useful only when itís exchanged, and this is the only way it benefits the holder, the consumer, the rest of society, etc.  (Of course, it can be saved [hopefully at interest] for expansion, inheritance, etc., but this too is towards the goal of spending it).

 

Oh, and thank you Joseph, for the fine article.  clarified much for me.  Also, I hope I don't divert any discussion too dramatically.  A PM would be fine for this struggling student; I've only recently been really getting everything, and it's thrilling.

 
Michael Allen Yarbrough


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Post 193

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 6:59pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

Isn't the real criminal the person who left the child to die in the wilderness? 

Also, in requesting that you write out the law, I was trying to see the underlying principle you're arguing with because it's not clear to me.  Is it merely the rights of children? Or is it more broad than that?   Seems to me one could imagine an infinite number of situations apart from starving abandoned kids in the wilderness (child tied to railroad tracks with no train in sight...wounded victims of terrorist attack and you have the only cell phone to notify authorities, etc, etc).  The law would have to be based more on a more generic principle than "starving children", and as best I can tell, here's the principle that you seem (to me at least) to be putting across:
  • An individual is in a dire emergency through no fault of his own. 
  • A bystander has the ability to help with virtually no risk to his own well being. 
  • Therefore, the bystander is obligated to lend assistance to the distressed.
  • Failure of the bystander to lend assistance under these circumstances is punishable by law.   
In the extreme examples we're discussing, you could apply the law somewhat objectively, but there are so many interpretive aspects of this that it seems likely that absurdities and misapplications of the law would far outweigh good uses of it.  Sort of like the Americans with Disabilities Act or hate crime laws.   For example, who will determine what a dire, life threatening emergency is?  Does someone's death have to appear certain?  What is the criteria for such certainty?  What if the risk to the distressed is merely a few broken bones or chipped teeth -  are the bystanders then off the hook?

How will it be determined if the bystander is not risking his own life in the process of trying to help?  What if the bystander has food, and feels 75% certain that he has enough to share with the child but also enough to feed himself before he can make it back to the base camp?  If he's mostly but not 100% sure he can spare food, is he obligated under the law to do so?  This is why I see nothing but problems with your position from a legal standpoint.

Forgive me if I've set up a straw man here, but this is my honest take on what you seem to be arguing here.     

(Edited by Pete on 2/20, 7:01pm)


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Post 194

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 7:12pmSanction this postReply
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I am not talking in favor of altruism. I am talking against the murder of a child by starvation.

Through altruistic means. No getting around it, Michael

A child has a right to life. Murdering him violates that right.
No matter how many emotion packed, context evading terms you stuff in.


Post 195

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 7:14pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,
Pete... you asked the only real intelligent question that throws this whole discussion into a proper light.
I asked you a more specific question than that back on Post 175 which on Post 181 I noted you failed to answer. I'll note that you failed to answer Pete's question too. You just say "I am not a legal professional." What do you think? You are saying the person is murdering the child. You could at least suggest an general idea of what the type of punishment might be.

I have an idea. How about an eye for an eye? We'll make that person suffer through the same treatment, we'll throw him in a Capitalist society! Muaahhahahhahaha! : )

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Post 196

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 7:15pmSanction this postReply
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Mike Erickson wrote:

I don't think I've ever known anyone who, given Michael's hypothetical example, would walk away from an abandoned child in the woods. Searching my own mind I cannot imagine even abandoning a starving kitten in the woods let alone a human child.

I could tell you some stories about the sorry fate of various stray cats, dogs and other mammals that made the mistake of wandering onto our farm in my childhood.  More important was the business of the farm itself, which raised not only grain crops but beef cattle.  Suffice it to say that I learned early in life to steel my heart against animal suffering and death.

I would walk past the starving kitten in the woods and not assist it.  Do you still want to know me?


Post 197

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 7:24pmSanction this postReply
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Michael M.,

Here's the problem with your posts.  There was a context to the question about politics and esthetics.  It wasn't to identify whether there was any connection at all between them.  It was whether this "pyramid" graph, resting esthetics on politics, made sense.  What were the fundamental connections between them?  When someone says that the graph makes sense, I respond with asking what is the connection between them.  From all the answers so far, there's no justification for graphing it that way (and in fact, others have mentioned that the graph has changed or never was like that). 

The Pop Tarts example was supposed to show you that a connection, if it's minor and not important, does not count as justification.  Unfortunately, instead of seeing it as a minor and unimportant connection (degrees of importance), you dismissed it as random (a difference in kind).  The point is that you can't simply show any connection at all.  You have to argue it based on the importance of the connection, it's relative strength to other connections, and the overall usefulness of the model.  You haven't.

Esthetics deals with bringing abstractions down to the perceptual level, so you can better understand them. They can create a view of the world, which is normally your most abstract idea, and bring it before your eyes.  This branch deals fundamentally with an epistemological issue, as it hinges on the hierarchical theory of knowledge.  I would be okay with someone arguing it rests on ethics, since it deals with metaphysical value-judgments, although I see that as secondary.  But politics, the use of force, is so disconnected from the field of esthetics, only someone trying to justify a graph would try making that claim.

Yes it's true that a government can outlaw art.  But that doesn't change the nature of esthetics.  If anything, your argument would imply that politics must rest on esthetics, not the other way around.  The additional problem is that government can outlaw entire philosophies as well.  They can outlaw metaphysical views, epistemological views, and ethics views.  They can arrest you for saying any of it or believing any of it.  So if that's a fundamental connection between esthetics and politics, it must be true for all of the others.  And of course, there's the slightly more interesting point that within the Objectivist political framework, the government has no right to judge what is and is not art.  An Objectivist wouldn't argue that something really is or is not art and therefore should be legal, they would claim that the question is not relevant.

As for your belief that Objectivism can be derived from the axioms, I'd love to see where Rand said that.  And how you would integrate that with respect to her emphasis on induction.



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Post 198

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 7:26pmSanction this postReply
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Michael Allen Yarbrough,

First, its extremely difficult to change a person that more wants to be lazy more than they want to live, or a person who will live longer by looting and guilt trips than off their own production. And some people actually enjoy destroying what others produce, and they enjoy destroying others. For that type of person, pretty much all you can do is defend yourself and your loved ones from them by protecting your own body, your loved one's bodies, your property, and your loved one's property. You protect it by making sure that the former people suffer a net loss, and the latter are made impotent.

Also, this may be the most basic of questions, but isnít hoarding money not in anyoneís self interest? The liberal thought process is that if someone is making money, some people must be losing it. This is true only if, obviously, the maker doesnít spend anything. So is it not simply making money, but spending it that is a virtue? Not only accumulation, but trade, too? Money is useful only when itís exchanged, and this is the only way it benefits the holder, the consumer, the rest of society, etc. (Of course, it can be saved [hopefully at interest] for expansion, inheritance, etc., but this too is towards the goal of spending it).
You have been mislead. People who keep money (earn but do not spend) actually increase the value of money other people have, AND they produce value for others but only have fiat money in exchange! I'd suggest Jean-Baptiste Say's Law of Markets: A Fundamental Conceptual Integration by Edward Yonkins for a starting point on further reading.

Its the government that "creates" more money by inflation that destroys the economy. The savers do the opposite. Why is it criminal for individuals to create "legal tender" but not criminal for the government to do it? The government should only create a new dollar bill when it receives an old dollar bill to replace.
(Edited by Dean Michael Gores
on 2/20, 7:37pm)


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Post 199

Monday, February 20, 2006 - 7:49pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Yarbrough, thank you for changing the course of this discussion.  I want to respond to you as well with the hope that the previous discussion will come to an end as the result of a newer and more useful one.

"

Also, this may be the most basic of questions, but isnít hoarding money not in anyoneís self interest?  The liberal thought process is that if someone is making money, some people must be losing it.  This is true only if, obviously, the maker doesnít spend anything.  So is it not simply making money, but spending it that is a virtue?  Not only accumulation, but trade, too?  Money is useful only when itís exchanged, and this is the only way it benefits the holder, the consumer, the rest of society, etc.  (Of course, it can be saved [hopefully at interest] for expansion, inheritance, etc., but this too is towards the goal of spending it)."

 

 

Money itself (especially in our economy in which we deal in government created paper money) is not what drives the economy.  What drives the economy is productivity.  Productivity is increased by a variety of things.  Much of it is due to the creation of new technology.  New technology can only be implimented if there is investment capital to allow it to be implimented.  This comes from savings and reinvestment from profits.  Newer technology creates an environment where more and better goods are available in relation to the quantity of money and volume of spending in the economy as a whole.   Less money chasing after more and better goods.  

 

What ultimately allows this to happen is the accumulation of capital goods.  Capital goods are an entirely different set of goods then consumer goods.  If everything is saved with the goal of consuming there will not be any capital goods to expand the amount of consumer goods that are produced.  On the individual level the goal might be to consume everything that is saved but the health of the economy as a whole is dependent on the accumulation of more and better capital goods.

 

The falacies you refer to here are common.  The first is the result of a flawed understanding of the role of consumer spending in driving economic growth.   If you've taken a college economics course no doubt you've learned about the Keynsian multiplier doctrine.   This is a nonsensical concept.  The second falacy is the idea that wealth is the same thing as money and third that wealth is zero sum -- that there is a set amount available and that "one man's gain is another man's loss".   The key thing to understand is that wealth is created.   And there must be saving and investment in order for its creation to take place.  If you would like me to clarify these issues further you are welcome to write me a private email.

 

 - Jason

(Edited by Jason Quintana on 2/20, 8:25pm)


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