About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unreadPage 0Page 1Forward one pageLast Page


Post 0

Sunday, April 5 - 10:06amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Of course we like to have our ideas put forward.  This case is problematic in that FSU is a publicly-funded institution.  What would be our response if a leftwing or progressive foundation made the same demands?  Imagine a $10 million dollar grant in physics and astronomy controlled by a fundamentalist Christian foundation insistent on creationism?  Again, FSU is a public institution.  Therein, of course, is the deeper problem.

 

From the article: "The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom."

 

Yes, now...  In fact, that kind of "academic freedom" was novel when the American Association of University Professors was created.

In 1900, when noted economist Edward Ross lost his job at Stanford University because Mrs. Leland Stanford didn't like his views on immigrant labor and railroad monopolies, other professors were watching. The incident stuck in the mind of Arthur O. Lovejoy, philosopher at Johns Hopkins. When he and John Dewey organized a meeting in 1915 to form an organization to ensure academic freedom for faculty members, the AAUP was born. At that time, the notion of "academic freedom" was still a novel concept. -- http://www.aaup.org/about/history-aaup

 

Before that, the bedrock of academic freedom was in diversity among institutions.  By 1850, Ohio had more colleges than all of Europe.  Many were founded by religious organizations.  Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, was founded by evangelical Lutherns who wanted to teach in English while Capital College in Columbus, Ohio, still taught theology in German.  Oberlin College was founded in 1835 by two Presbyterian ministers who explicitly sought to create a uniquely progressive school.   They admitted and graduated African-Americans and women long before other schools.   Therein was the foundation of academic freedom:  find the place that suits you.

 

We have some vestiges of this around the nation today: Southern Methodist University, Nortre Dame, Boston College...  Of course, they no longer effectively control what is taught in their classrooms because of the century-old tradition of a different definition of academic freedom.

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 4/05, 10:07am)



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 1

Sunday, April 5 - 12:21pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

This case is problematic in that FSU is a publicly-funded institution. What would be our response if a leftwing or progressive foundation made the same demands?

The first thing an Objectivist would say is, "There should not be any publically funded institutions."  The next thing that an Objectivist might notice is the moral relativism in equating a philosophy of reason, rational egoism, and free-enterprise with any philosophy deeply involving mysticism/emotionalism, altruism/collectivism and totalitarianism.  I don't know why Marotta sees those as equal contenders such that both have to be denied rather than to accept one over another.  When did we stop accepting reason because it would be an offense against mysticism, or deny freedom because it doesn't grant equal status to socialists or fascists?  We need to be partisans for the truth as opposed to being politically correct, intellectual eunuchs on behalf of falsehoods and idiocy.  They shouldn't be treated as equals.

 

Let's take a look at "academic freedom".  First, as I've mentioned, it needs to start with universities being private - no government funding, and no government regulations.

 

Now, having taken care of the legal/political side of things, any Objectivist would side with a university's right to hire anyone they wanted.  But they would object to the hiring of anyone who used the position to advocate for statism of any form, or for a moral system requiring sacrifice, or for a system of beliefs based upon faith.  Because something should be legal doesn't mean it is the smart or the right thing to do.

 

What is desired is someone who can teach, and do so from the most intelligent and reasonable set of beliefs.  An atheist is going to be the best teacher for understanding religion because they can place the subject matter in a logical context - and if they are good at their job, they can present the case of the theist so well, that it is almost convincing... until they step back and show where that case is weak.

 

When someone points to "diversity" in this context, they are either talking about a diversity of opinions being taught at one university, or they are talking about a diversity of opinions being available because there are different universities and the students are free to choose which to attend. This latter is no more than free enterprise and competition. The former is suspect. It may carry that bizarre notion that diversity is some sort of intrinsic value. It isn't. Or it may be trying to assert that it is good having advocates of, say socialism, as professors as well as advocates of Capitalism as professors. That is the wrong approach. What is needed are professors who recognize Capitalism as the best system and are fully capable of giving accurate, detailed descriptions of socialism's history, theories, and practices. Think about it... would you want to have a fundamentalist Christian teaching his version of epistemology, or have an Objectivist teaching epistemology - a teacher who can explain the other systems as fully and completely as needed?  Do we want to engineer a setting where nutritious foods and toxic poisons are competing on an equal footing as to which the young will eat?

 

There is nothing problematic about this grant that is tied to making Atlas Shrugged required reading, unless you think that Objectivism is a religion and therefore shouldn't be taught because of the 1st amendment, or you think that Objectivism is just one of many systems - no better and no worse than those based upon mysticism and forced associations.  Don't we believe that a person should be free offer such a grant?  And don't we believe that a university should be free to accept or reject such an offer?  What legal regulation or moral stricture does Marotta propose to cover what he sees as "problematic"?

 

On the moral and practical level, every university should hire the most skilled teachers possible, but only if they have a strong bias towards reason, capitalism, individual rights, and an opposition towards mysticism/emotionalism, sacrifice and forced association.  The question is simple, which represents the core values we want the next generation to start their adult life with?  



Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Post 2

Sunday, April 5 - 9:21pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

@Steve Wolfer

On academic freedom:

 

But they would object to the hiring of anyone who used the position to advocate for statism of any form, or for a moral system requiring sacrifice, or for a system of beliefs based upon faith.  Because something should be legal doesn't mean it is the smart or the right thing to do.

 

What is desired is someone who can teach, and do so from the most intelligent and reasonable set of beliefs.  An atheist is going to be the best teacher for understanding religion because they can place the subject matter in a logical context - and if they are good at their job, they can present the case of the theist so well, that it is almost convincing... until they step back and show where that case is weak.

 

When someone points to "diversity" in this context, they are either talking about a diversity of opinions being taught at one university, or they are talking about a diversity of opinions being available because there are different universities and the students are free to choose which to attend. This latter is no more than free enterprise and competition. The former is suspect. It may carry that bizarre notion that diversity is some sort of intrinsic value. It isn't. Or it may be trying to assert that it is good having advocates of, say socialism, as professors as well as advocates of Capitalism as professors. That is the wrong approach. What is needed are professors who recognize Capitalism as the best system and are fully capable of giving accurate, detailed descriptions of socialism's history, theories, and practices. Think about it... would you want to have a fundamentalist Christian teaching his version of epistemology, or have an Objectivist teaching epistemology - a teacher who can explain the other systems as fully and completely as needed?  Do we want to engineer a setting where nutritious foods and toxic poisons are competing on an equal footing as to which the young will eat?

 

I strongly disagree with this.

 

You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire point of academia and academic philosophy. A student does not go to a university to purchase on opinion, nor does a professor get paid to disseminate his private opinions to his pupils, as you seem to believe.

 

The point of academic philosophy is to expose people to opposing viewpoints, and to participate in the philosophical discourse. In order to have that, disagreement and a diversity of opinions is absolutely essential. The only thing that should be required of professors and students is that they understand the material. What they do and don't believe in private should be no one's business but their own.

 

I speak from personal experience. I've taken several philosophy courses during my time at Uni. As students, we were expected to know what various philosophers said about this or that subjects and to understand all the ideas and arguments. We expressed our opinions in our essays and debates. At no point were we expected to demonstrate our faith in the professor's prefered political ideology or religion (most of the time, you had no idea what the professor actually believed), nor were we ever penalized for disagreeing with the professor or any philosopher. The only thing required of us was that we present well-reasoned arguments for our position and address the criticisms. (I had one professor who did like to express his opinions, and even though he wrote a note on one of my papers that said I was "pure evil" and "simply wrong", I still got an A on it).

 

What you are endorsing is nothing more than dogmatism and the transformation of universities into propaganda mills.



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 3

Sunday, April 5 - 11:07pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

What you are endorsing is nothing more than dogmatism and the transformation of universities into propaganda mills.

 

From the mouths of trolls....

 

You mistake truth for dogma.  I'm the one arguing for tossing out the teaching of Creationism or Intelligent Design, while you want "diversity" - which would include scripture being disguised as science.  You are the one who wants variants of totalitarian dogma taught as if it were reasonable political science.  (Totalitarianism should be taught the way pathological disorders are taught in psychology, the way disease processes are taught in medicine.  You wouldn't call those courses full of dogma or propoganda - I hope.)

----------------------

 

I advocated real freedom.  No theft of money from taxpayers to pay for universities, no government regulations, and every university totally free to hire anyone they want, offer any courses they want.  Let socialist universities pop up like weeds, if that is what people want enough to pay for it out of their own pockets.  And Christian universities.  I believe that those universities that engage in propganda will find competion weeds them out over time.  That you don't know that today's universities are already propoganda mills for progressivism tells me your experience is as shallow as the water on a wet sidewalk.

-----------------------

The point of academic philosophy is to expose people to opposing viewpoints, and to participate in the philosophical discourse. In order to have that, disagreement and a diversity of opinions is absolutely essential.

No, the purpose of a university is to teach ideas, principles and specialized skills.... but most of all to teach critical thinking.  "Diversity" is an empty and meaningless word the way that the left uses it.  It is a destructive variant of relativism and the enemy of the idea that some things are true and others aren't.  Differences, in an of themselves have no value.  Being able to understand different positions is important, but bringing in supporters of totalitarian positions or mystical thinking ares not values.  It is stupid and those that buy into it are being flim-flammed and don't know it.  I don't want my shoe store to have shoes that will fall apart sitting next to good shoes, and to have these flawed shoes  there purposely to give me "diversity".  

 

Differences of opinion and lively debate are valuable where we don't yet have a good answer.  But the debate between reason and mysticism has been settled.  Between slavery and liberty: settled.  Between real science and psuedo-science: settled.  I'm well aware that there are still people who want to argue these things, but I wouldn't send our young to be taught by those people.

-----------------------

The only thing that should be required of professors and students is that they understand the material. 

Wrong.  Professors should be masters of three things: their subject matter, the ability to teach well, and to teach what critical thinking is like in that subject matter.  Students should have to understand the subject matter, and to be able to think critically (in general, and in the subject matter.)  Today's students rarely grasp what good teaching is... they haven't had enough to compare.  They rarely even spot the ways in which the content is disguised propoganda.

-----------------------

What they do and don't believe in private should be no one's business but their own.

In what universe is a medical doctor who believes that the primary factor in healing the sick is prayer valued over the doctor that looks only to science and logic?  And if the doctor pretends to be like those doctors who practice scientific medicine, and goes to a medical school and teaches while hiding his real beliefs, does anyone think he is the best choice for that position?

 

It doesn't take a genius to recognize that someone who believes in mysticism is not ever going to be the best choice for teaching reason and logic, or that Capitalism will be best taught by a socialist.  And who wants to hear a professor whose lecture content is a lie when contrasted to his personal beliefs?  And, here is the sad part.  The students are the very beginning of their learning curve and will usually not realize how they are ever so slightly misled and fed misinformation.  Your personal experience doesn't begin to be enough.

  



Sanction: 9, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 9, No Sanction: 0
Post 4

Monday, April 6 - 1:12amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

@Steve Wolfer

 

You're so steeped in dogmatism that you don't even realize how steeped in dogmatism you really are. Reflect on the fact that you believe that so much as entertaining a thought that you disagree with is tantamount to an acceptance of all kinds of relativism.

 

I'm not promoting "diversity" for its own sake. Reason would be impossible and useless if there were not at least two alternative positions to decide on. You cannot understand the reasons why slavery is wrong unless you are willing to entertain the notion that slavery might be right.

 

Guess who said:

 

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
 
You still don't understand that a university is not a business, nor that an education is not a product. A university is a place where all ideas are tested solely by their philosophical merits, and not how popular or unpopular they are, nor how much money, nor how many guns are behind them. And especially not by what some dogmatist on the internet has decided has already been "settled" for everyone, forever.
 
And who wants to hear a professor whose lecture content is a lie when contrasted to his personal beliefs?
 
Oh wow, you seriously believe that being professional and impartial is a form of lying.

 

(Edited by Naomi Ludenberg on 4/06, 1:16am)



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 5

Monday, April 6 - 5:30amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

I encourage all to read Worthless by Aaron Clarey to overcome any delusions about the true value of a college education.

Now, if you think “evil” industries like “Big Oil” and the “Industrial Military Complex” are corrupt with their billions of dollars, do you think there’s any chance there might be some corruption in the $1 trillion education industry? I mean, nobody looks at that $1 trillion per year in education spending and thinks to take advantage of it right? And given the government accounts for over 75% of that spending, there’s absolutely no way there could be any corruption in the industry, right?

Clarey, Aaron (2011-12-12). Worthless (Kindle Locations 1179-1183). Paric Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.

Worthless by Aaron Clarey

"Amentibus" means "insane" which describes the atmosphere on too many college campuses these days.

 

See also Your Guide to Slide: The Slacker's Guide to College by Brady Lessard for insight into navigating the pernicious maze of a college curriculum.

 

In addition, College Guide provides an excellent overview of the good and bad on college campuses today from a conservative viewpoint.

 

Homeschooling for College Credit shows exactly how to make that happen and so bypass mind-crippling blowhard professors and wealth-crippling college costs.

 

Finally, one should remember the "intellectual feces" of so-called "groundbreaking" author Howard Zinn and understand that food and poison are opposites.

 

Howard Zinn's Theses Are Feces

 

Naomi Ludenberg aka Darth Clude lamented:

You still don't understand that a university is not a business, nor that an education is not a product.

Yes, it is and it is.

 

I sanctioned Steve Wolfer's posts on this thread to date.

 

Who sanctioned those of Naomi Ludenberg aka Darth Clude?

 

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 4/06, 11:48am)



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 6

Monday, April 6 - 12:28pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Naomie says to me:

...you believe that so much as entertaining a thought that you disagree with is tantamount to an acceptance of all kinds of relativism.

You'll note she doesn't quote where I say that. She can't, because it isn't true. A belief in relativism is where a person DECIDES that something is relative, or announces that things are relative, not where they CONSIDER or ENTERTAIN such a thought.
-------------

 

She says that she isn't promoting "diversity" for its own sake, but then makes the mistake mentioned above where she conflates "entertaining" an idea with "understanding" an idea or "supporting" and idea.  I think that most of us know that having Creationism presented for our 'entertaining' as if it were true and scientific, versus having Creationism presented in the full context of biological evolution by someone who doesn't believe that scripture isn't a literal truth would be preferable.  Why does someone who values reason want to give equal footing to proponents of mysticism? Why does someone who supports liberty (which she doesn't) want to give an equal footing to totalitarianism?  We tend not to teach science or business or engineering this way, why would we want to teach other things this way?  There is only one answer to that question: to encourage relativism in that area as a kind of Trojan horse for other agendas.
--------------

You still don't understand that a university is not a business, nor that an education is not a product.

I understand that it should be a business.  You don't understand that the best products tend to be those that are produced with least government regulation and the fiercest competition.  Perhaps you are a supporter of government health care.
---------------

A university is a place where all ideas are tested solely by their philosophical merits, and not how popular or unpopular they are, nor how much money, nor how many guns are behind them. And especially not by what some dogmatist on the internet has decided has already been "settled" for everyone, forever.

We shouldn't test reason versus mysticism... despite how popular various evangelical or Christian beliefs might be.  We shouldn't be chosing what ideas to promote based upon how many politically partisan, government grants are given or how politically correct an idea is.

 

As for guns, the only ones related to this discussion are the guns of government who take taxpayer money at gun point.  I'm the one calling for total freedom for any university to hire who they want and teach what they want... without any government money and without any government regulation.  Your disagreement with that makes you the internet dogmatist who want her ideas of diversity to be forced down everyones throats by having government deeply involved in the universities.
-----------------

Oh wow, you seriously believe that being professional and impartial is a form of lying.

Nope, what I said is that a person who chooses to hide his real beliefs and teach as if he held different beliefs - for the purpose of decieving - is engaged in a form of lying.  Maybe that's something a person who spends a lot of time being a troll doesn't want to look at to closely.



Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 7

Monday, April 6 - 1:15pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

@Steve Wolfer

 

Education is not a product which is diseminated to students. But since you seem to be incapable of thinking outside of your own little free-market box, let me explain it this way.

 

You seem to think of education as a kind of sandwhich, which may contain tasty or poisonous ingredients, and which is sold to students in ready-made form. You also seem to believe that I want to force people to put poisonous igredients in their sandwiches.

 

When I say education is not a product and that a university is not a business, I mean that it is in no respects like a sandwhich shop which sells ready-made sandwhiches. A university is simply a place where people learn to make their own sandwhiches by experimentig with lots of new and different ingredients. Which ingredients they choose to put in their sandwhiches is their business. All I'm saying is that every ingredient must be available. Not that every ingredient must be used, but that it simply must be available.

 

Nobody can sell or even teach the ability to think. It is something that one can only do for himself. The best that a professor or university can do is to facilitate that ability by exposing it to lots of new and different ideas. Restricting what ideas people are allowed to be exposed to in school, either through government censorship or by buying off the university (it makes no differrence), is fundamentally opposed to academic freedom and reason.

 

Academic freedom is about providing equality of opportunity for ideas. A university, as opposed to a propagand a mill or a church, is an institution where an idea lives or dies solely by its merits. Creationism is a completely worthless idea, scientifically. It is not taught in universities, not because universities are forbidden from teaching creationism, but because no scholars or scientists take the idea seriously.

 

If universities were forced or paid to teach creationism as if it was science, that would be a breach of academic freedom. If you pay or hire people to exclusively teach your beliefs and worldview, that would be a breach of academic freedom.

 

If you believe that your philosophy has the most merit, then it should succeed on that merit alone, and not because of how much money is behind it.

 

Who sanctioned those of Naomi Ludenberg aka Darth Clude?

 

I don't know, but whoever they are, they must be very smart.

 

(Edited by Naomi Ludenberg on 4/06, 1:17pm)



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 8

Monday, April 6 - 2:43pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

...you seem to be incapable of thinking outside of your own little free-market box...

I choose to value freedom over coersion. That a choice. I don't need to reconsider that choice everytime I'm thinking about things that relate to politics or economics or morality. That's why we learn things - so we can use them in the future. And only those who want to dominate others with force see this as a "little" box. Those of us who understand and value liberty see it as the largest of all 'boxes' available - the one with the fewest restrictions.

 

The smallest box people can climb into is the one chosen by believers in raw power of one person over another.  They seem to forget that a leash has two ends.  They ignore the hypocrisy of arguing for a system where they want to hold power, but would resist being the powerless.  They seem to be okay with being a master, but would run away like their hair was on fire before letting themselves become the slave.  How can these people speak about any kind of equality with a straight face?
------------

You seem to think of education as a kind of sandwhich, which may contain tasty or poisonous ingredients ... A university is simply a place where people learn to make their own sandwhiches by experimentig with lots of new and different ingredients. Which ingredients they choose to put in their sandwhiches is their business.

In otherwords, you are okay with laying out poison along with the edible ingredients as if they were of relatively equal value. I got that.  I'd rather that the young were taught the difference between poison and nutrious food sources b(y someone who is an expert in nutrition) so the students could make better choices and think more clearly in this area.
------------

Nobody can sell or even teach the ability to think. It is something that one can only do for himself.

That's half right. Thinking is something that one has to do for themselves.  But it can be taught, just as English composition 101 teaches one to write - but it does require that they pay attention and think, even if it is about how to think.  The student has to learn... they have to 'take' their education - but it can be made available as a course - including a course on thinking, and especially as a part of all courses (e.g, how to think about problems in geology, or political science). It is very telling that you don't know this.

 

When the service and products of universities are compared to sandwich shops, you should consider that competition between sandwich shops causes them to raise the quality of the sandwich, while holding down the cost, and making the purchase of these sandwiches easier. The same should be true of universities. They should be competing to provide the best classes, the best instructors, and at the best prices.  

 

If sandwich shops were run by the government it wouldn't surprise me if the ingredients in them became worse and worse, the prices kept going up (or they were "free" sandwiches but the taxes went up, and it became harder and harder to get your sandwich - till it was like the DMV.
------------

Restricting what ideas people are allowed to be exposed to in school, either through government censorship or by buying off the university (it makes no differrence), is fundamentally opposed to academic freedom and reason.

You don't understand that free enterprise isn't "buying off" - it is a market place that creates the greatest amount of choice and where the changes tend to be a near continuous pattern of improvements.  And you also don't understand that government involvement is always to some degree a from of censorship and always a form of funding through taxpayer theft. And you think that having a gun at the head (government censorship) is the same as the voluntary association in a free marketplace (choice) - you see no difference there?

 

Academic freedom as the left uses that phrase, means we professors get to censor what is presented and to structure the university so that they are in control.  Real academic freedom means that there is no government involvement and the free market decides which universities provide what content and in what manner. That is... any university is free to present anything it wants in any way it wants and everyone is free to support them or free to take their money elsewhere.
------------

Academic freedom is about providing equality of opportunity for ideas. A university, as opposed to a propagand a mill or a church, is an institution where an idea lives or dies solely by its merits. Creationism is a completely worthless idea, scientifically. It is not taught in universities, not because universities are forbidden from teaching creationism, but because no scholars or scientists take the idea seriously.

If universities were forced or paid to teach creationism as if it was science, that would be a breach of academic freedom. If you pay or hire people to exclusively teach your beliefs and worldview, that would be a breach of academic freedom.

If you believe that your philosophy has the most merit, then it should succeed on that merit alone, and not because of how much money is behind it.

You contradict yourself.  Why isn't anyone providing "equal opportunity" for Creationism?  Who decided it's merits?  You say scholars or scientists. I happen to agree that creationism is religious crap, but there are so called 'scholars' and 'scientists' (put in quote marks for good reasons) who believe in those ideas. I believe that they should be able to teach that nonsense, but only if it is at a university that is not funded by tax dollars. Let those that want that in a university pay for it from their pocket. If there are people who are biblical scholars, or people who have credentials as scientist but none the less believe in scriptures, and want to teach that worthless idea, then in your scheme of academic freedom, it should be taught. You said it, "equality of opportunity for ideas" because people "take the idea seriously." Who gets to decide which people make these decisions?  The people who pay for the service, or some elite like Naomi who wants the taxayer to fund her choices and would be unhappy if government chose to go a different direction.

--------------

 

Here is the nub of this argument.  You act as if I, Steve wolfer, am trying to force my ideas on what people should study on everyone as if I were a gun-toting dictator, while you, Naomi, are arguing for freedom.  But that isn't even close.  I'm arguing that we take government totally out of the equation - no taxpayer funding, no regulations - that's freedom.  And you are arguing for "academic freedom" which in reality is a form of censorship by professors that arises out of taxpayer funding of universities.

 

(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 4/06, 4:28pm)



Post 9

Wednesday, April 8 - 7:10pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

So, in 2010, I had a graduate seminar in criminology theory.  Our professor was Gregg Barak, on old Berkeley leftist from the 60s.  In the class was a guy whom I describe (quoting line from "The West Wing") as "to the right of the Kaiser."  He advocated for US Imperialism and many other issues that I rejected. I distanced myself from him, even as I supported his right to espouse his Extremely Contrarian Opinion.  Gregg Barak saw himself as a "dialectictician."  In his own terms his own role in the classroom was first to provide us with new ideas and therefore to challenge our old ideas.  Criminology being a subset of sociology - and Gregg said that we could make it a subset of clinical psychology or something else - the narrative was generally progresssive or left wing or liberal or socialist.   You get the picture. 

 

So, we get our weekly papers back, and the Kaiser Guy, he holds his up.  The last page is missing.  No instructor comments.  "What happened?" he asked.

"I changed my mind," the professor said.

 

You see the professor intended to "rip him a new one" -- then realized that the problem was complicated... and the student was not 99.44% wrong after all.

 

The post modernists claim that right and wrong do not exist - heck, you do not exist... at least, you cannot prove that you exist...  The strongest argument against them came not from Objectivists, but from a commited leftist, Alan Sokal ("The Sokal Affair" is a cultural icon but see my blog entry here: http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-sokal-affiar.html

 and the follow-up here: http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2013/08/reflections-on-sokal-affair.html.

 

The point is that leftists, liberals, and progressives can have moral integrity, just as Howard Roark granted that Rolston Holcombe had integrity for his commitment to the archtiecture of the Renaissance.  We like to think that we take a higher moral ground.  That does not deny the commanding heights of the conflict to those who share our commitment to the methodology of truth.

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 4/08, 7:16pm)



Post 10

Wednesday, April 8 - 9:08pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

In Post 4, Naomi wrote, "Reason would be impossible and useless if there were not at least two alternative positions to decide on. You cannot understand the reasons why slavery is wrong unless you are willing to entertain the notion that slavery might be right."

 

I don't think this is correct, for I can no more entertain the notion that slavery might be right than I can entertain the notion that 2 + 2 might equal 5.  There is no way that slavery could be right, or that 2 + 2 could equal 5.  But that does not mean that reason cannot say that slavery is wrong or that 2 + 2 equal 4.

 

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by our senses.  The ability to identify and integrate sensory information does not require accepting the possibility that our grasp of that information is false or illusory.  Reason says that human beings cannot fly by flapping their arms, but recognizing this fact does not require that one entertain the alternative idea that human beings might be able to fly by flapping their arms.  For a rational human being, that idea is impossible, because it contradicts the facts of reality.  

 

Similarly, reason says that human beings are a product of evolution, but recognizing this fact does not require that one entertain the possibility of creationism.  For a rational human being, creationism is also impossible, because it too contradicts the facts of reality.

 

(Edited by William Dwyer on 4/08, 11:10pm)



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 11

Thursday, April 9 - 2:26amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Naomi wrote: 

Reason would be impossible and useless if there were not at least two alternative positions to decide on.

Bill was correct.  That isn't right.

 

There are times where we take two or more alternatives and reason between them before choosing.  The way that we go about reasoning between them is to reason about each separately to understand it, and to see which fits our purpose better.  If we are trying to decide which of two contradictory theories are true, we examine aspects of each with reason, separately, and then compare our results.

 

But it isn't the only way to reason.  I can take any assertion and reason about it without any alternative.  We look at the presence and nature of a subject and something predicated about it in each sentence and can reason about the completeness and the logic of that thought.  It takes reasoning just to grasp the logical relations in an assertion and we have to understand that before we could even conceive of a comparison with an alternative.

 

It is choice that requires alternatives.  The only sense that reason always has two alternatives is in to exercise reason or not to (but that is a choice), or reasoning can return a conclusion of true versus false,  ending the reasoning with certainty or not, a judgment of logical or illogical.  But those aren't alternatives in the sense that Naomi was using them.

 

There is another problem with claiming that reason is impossible without alternatives.  That is saying that a true assertion, if truth is ever a possible product of reason, can only come from the selection between alternatives.  Doesn't that also say that we never arrive at any truth of any kind when using reason if there is still another possible alternative after we make that first comparison?  I say that one can demostrate with reason that 2 + 2 = 4 and that reasoning may or may not involve alternatives, but if a comparison to an alternative is required, then do I have to also compare 2 + 2 = 5, then 6, then 7.... ad infinitum.  Or with the question on slavery, do I have to examine if slavery might be right if restricted to young people, or if restricted to agricultural activities, or if restricted to people who have commited a felony, or to people who have black skin, or..... You get the idea.  To me that seems like a way to make truth relative to infinite imagine alternatives, which is equivalent to saying either that there is no truth, or that reason is unable to discover the truth.



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 12

Thursday, April 9 - 9:39amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Excellent, Steve!



Post 13

Thursday, April 9 - 9:47amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

I will respond to Wolfer's last post as soon as I can (I'm very busy these days), but for now I will just quickly address the last two posts.

 

Yes, it is possible to entertain the notion that 2 + 2 = 5 or that humans can fly by flapping their arms.

 

I could simply assert that 2 + 2 = 5, and then seeing what happens from there. If we define 2 as (1 + 1), and 3 as ((1+1) + 1), and so on, then the equation becomes

 

(1 + 1) + (1 + 1) = ((((1 + 1) + 1) + 1) + 1)

 

using the associative law on the left, we get

 

(((1 + 1) + 1) + 1) = ((((1 + 1) + 1) + 1) + 1)                                 Theorem 1.

 

or

 

4 = 5.

 

Which is a contradiciton if we also except the axiom that x does not equal x + 1. But there's no a priori reason to accept that axiom, and so we could remove it in order to get a new, consistent theory of arithmetic. In that case, 4 = 5 is not a contradiciton. We just get a weird arithmetic, where the biggest number is 4 since, any larger "number", say 6 can be simplified to it using theorem 1.

 

6 = 5 + 1,

 

but 5 = 4,

 

so

 

 

6 = 4 + 1

 

but 4 + 1 = 5

 

so

 

6 = 5

 

but 5 = 4

 

so

 

6 = 4.

 

Alternatively, we could reject the associative law, and that would also prevent us from concluding that 4 = 5. Now, instead of getting an arithmetic where 4 is the biggest number, we get another weird arithmetic where

2 + 1 does not equal 1 + 2, which contradicts the commutative law, but we can throw that out as well, and get a consistent theory again.

 

And so on.

 

There is nothing impossible about entertaining the notion that 2 + 2 = 5. If you can't entertain the idea, then it's simply because you don't know enough math.

 

Nor does any of this mean that reason cannot arrive at truth. If there are lots of alternative hypotheses remaining which we have not decided on one way or the other, it just means that we don't know a lot about the subject matter yet, and not that truth is impossible or non-existent.



Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Post 14

Thursday, April 9 - 10:00amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Naomi sounds like an advocate of pancritical rationalism which we might also call mental masturbation.



Post 15

Thursday, April 9 - 2:49pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Naomi: (((1 + 1) + 1) + 1) = ((((1 + 1) + 1) + 1) + 1) 

 

Me: GIGO.



Post 16

Thursday, April 9 - 3:57pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

If we define 2 as (1 + 1), and 3 as ((1+1) + 1), and so on, then the equation becomes

 (1 + 1) + (1 + 1) = ((((1 + 1) + 1) + 1) + 1)

No it doesn't.  1 = 1

                       2 = 1+1

                       3 = (1+1) +1

                       4 = ((1+1)+1)+1

 

You added another +1 at the end for no reason!  ((((1 + 1) + 1) + 1) + 1)   Where did the fifth +1 come from?



Post 17

Thursday, April 9 - 5:17pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

You added another +1 at the end for no reason!  ((((1 + 1) + 1) + 1) + 1)   Where did the fifth +1 come from?

 

It's the assertion that 2 + 2 = 5, and 5 has five 1's in it.



Post 18

Thursday, April 9 - 5:49pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

You have proved that you don't need to create a false assertion for comparison, or even have an alternative, since the assertion that ends in "= 4" is sufficient on its own.



Post 19

Thursday, April 9 - 7:09pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

@Merlin Jetton

Me: GIGO.

Shows how much you know.

 

It's not garbage. It's abstract algebra.

 

There is a number system where 1 + 1 = 1, and x + (-x) = 1, and x*(-x) = 0, for all x. And it isn't garbage. It's boolean algebra, whose laws govern the circuits of the computer you're using.

 

You have proved that you don't need to create a false assertion for comparison, or even have an alternative, since the assertion that ends in "= 4" is sufficient on its own.

 

Proved how? Which assertion that ends in "=4" are you referring to, and what is it sufficient on its own for?



Post to this threadPage 0Page 1Forward one pageLast Page
User ID Password reminder or create a free account.