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Post 40

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - 11:38pmSanction this postReply
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Since Diana has prevented me from replying on Noodlefood, I will respond to the rest of her criticisms here. (They are important because they mirror thinking errors and argumentative styles widespread in the Objectivist movement, not just among "ARI people" as some on this list like to think):

1. " [Phil] never says how his view integrates to the Objectivist view of moral judgment .... He never explains how various rifts are actually just a matter of 'misunderstanding or misstatement or misinterpretation'."

A single post is not a complete essay or a complete treatise on moral judgment. It is invalid to criticize it on those grounds. Sometimes it is a summary of views that I (or others) have argued for elsewhere. In my case, I have many posts on these issues.

2. "He [offers] empty insult. For example, he dismisses the Objectivist view of sanction as "STUPID," and describes those who accept it as 'socially immature'."

Diana has a repeated tendency (as do many people on this blog or on Solopassion) to use the word "insult" as a substitute for "strong criticism". An insult is an attack on a person, not on an argument...and that's why it is inappropriate. It's proper to characterize a misuse of the sanction argument as a stupid (or irrational) one, but not to call the person holding it a stupid or irrational person. The person may have made a dumb or irrational argument but that does not make him in toto a dumb or irrational person. Likewise, to say that people in the Objectivist movement widely lack social skills or are socially immature is not an insult but a strongly critical assessment of a whole movement. By using the label "insult", which is clearly something one should not do, one demonizes and removes from serious consideration any strong criticism. This is exactly what is being done by the Muslims calling the Danish cartoons insulting. They are focusing on their emotional reactions, not on the merits of the issue. And they want to be insulated from any criticism. An emotional word like "insulting" shifts the criticism back on the critic.

3. Diana claims that I only offer empty insult rather than any "argument". It's true that in my post I say "Placing Rand or Branden or Kelley or Peikoff on the level of brutes or genocidal monsters is a gross and unjust exaggeration", and "There may be a few cases where someone has done something totally immoral and unforgivable so that you can't appear in the same room with them, but my observation of all of these splits, schism, and fallings out over the years is that those cases are extremely few. Most of them fall short of major moral failure or evil."

But this is nothing more than a *summary* of my personal observations, a summation of an enormous amount of data on a wide range of people. I have made many posts on this list and going back to OWL days - which Diana has read - arguing for a more benevolent interpretation of people. Just to take two examples: on her own blog recently, I've argued for a benevolent or positive assessment of Peikoff and his lectures and of Hudgins and the details of an op ed essay she was critical of.

(Edited by Philip Coates
on 2/22, 11:39am)




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Post 41

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 11:08amSanction this postReply
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> he had to be someone so bad as to support someone like Hitler.

Did I say that in my sentence?
You said, "...or advocates of some totally vicious doctrines." In other words, doctrines as bad as Hitler's. If you advocate doctrines as bad as Hitler's, you are supporting someone as bad as Hitler. So, yes, you did say that, in so many words.

You see, this is what I mean by "hair splitting." You won't acknowledge the obvious implications of your statements. You continue to try to defend them with this kind of literalistic parsing. This reminds of Clinton. "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." Give me a break!

- Bill



Post 42

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 11:28amSanction this postReply
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Phil said:
...if I were ever to run a conference or a publication, I expect I would give exactly NO thought to jumping through hoops trying to evaluate the moral character of my speakers unless it is one thousand percent certain and not a disputed matter that they are on the level of Adolph Hitler...or some equivalent...or advocates of some totally vicious doctrines.  [Boldface emphasis added.]
It's a disjunction, Bill.  You have to try really, really hard to interpret this as "doctrines as bad as Hitler's".  I think there are some totally vicious doctrines that aren't as bad as Hitler's.
Glenn




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Post 43

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 11:43amSanction this postReply
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Not that Phil Coates needs or wants my support, but I think his statements have been perfectly clear and uncontroversial. I'm surprised that Bill Dwyer, who has previously championed the principle of "charitable interpretation" (in other words, not taking the worst-case reading of someone's words), is jumping on the bandwagon of the rabid Phil-haters.

It's appalling to me that someone as rational and nice as Phil could ever be the target of such vehemence and nastiness. But that, to me, is a clear sign that things are coming to a head over in the Noodle-Bashin' contingent. They seem to be on emotional overload these days, engaging in more reckless misrepresentation and throwing out more vicious labels than I've seen on places like the rowdy Atlantis list in a month of Sundays. Desperation? Could be. But they're not going to accomplish anything other than give themselves ulcers and make themselves look like overwrought cultists.

Here is what Phil said, followed by my take on it:
if I were ever to run a conference or a publication, I expect I would give exactly NO thought to jumping through hoops trying to evaluate the moral character of my speakers unless it is one thousand percent certain and not a disputed matter that they are [1] on the level of Adolph Hitler...or some equivalent...or [2] advocates of some totally vicious doctrines. What I will evaluate is their intellectual competence and the truth of their ideas.
Is it not crystal clear to RoR folk that Phil is distinguishing between (1) actions and (2) ideas? Is it not clear that if someone has done something morally monstrous, and that there was no question of it, that he would not include them in his conference or publication? Is it not clear that if someone has advocated something morally monstrous, and that there was no question of it, that he would not include them in his conference or publication?

Is it not also clear that, if there is any reasonable doubt that they have done or advocated something morally monstrous, Phil's main consideration instead would be "their intellectual competence and the truth of their ideas"?

What is the problem here? Why are presumably decent people so ready to jump down one another's throats that they will leap to the most damaging interpretation of the words of someone they know is a thoughtful, ethical person? What the hell is in the water these people are drinking?

REB




Post 44

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 1:27pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Roger.



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Post 45

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 2:20pmSanction this postReply
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Roger, Phil --

Who was it that said something like: "Don't bother to examine a folly: ask yourself what it accomplishes"?




Post 46

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 2:45pmSanction this postReply
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Well said, Robert - ye beat me to the quote... ;-))



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Post 47

Thursday, February 23, 2006 - 5:25pmSanction this postReply
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Roger wrote,
Is it not clear that if someone has done something morally monstrous, and that there was no question of it, that he [Phil] would not include them in his conference or publication? Is it not clear that if someone has advocated something morally monstrous, and that there was no question of it, that he would not include them in his conference or publication?

Is it not also clear that, if there is any reasonable doubt that they have done or advocated something morally monstrous, Phil's main consideration instead would be "their intellectual competence and the truth of their ideas"?
Yes, it's clear. And it's also clear that anything less than that would not merit Phil's rejection, which is what I was objecting to -- that he would make a moral judgment against someone only in the most extreme cases. This is why I said in my original post on this subject
To say that you should tolerate anyone who isn't a monster is no better than saying you should treat anyone who isn't perfect as if he or she WERE a monster.
Diana and company don't want to tolerate anyone with whom they have even a minor disagreement. Phil commits the opposite error; he wants to tolerate anyone who is anything less than a moral monster or less than an advocate of some totally vicious doctrine. Both sides are wrong, because both lack a sense of perspective in the realm of moral judgment.

I think Phil's position is an over-reaction to the intolerance of the other side -- a kind of backlash -- and to that extent understandable. But I still think it is tragically wrong, and simply gives the other side grist for the mill.

- Bill



Post 48

Thursday, February 23, 2006 - 10:44pmSanction this postReply
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I'm with Bill on this one. He's been quite forthcoming about even his own errors of interpretation (post 39). What I see here is that seemingly-ineradicable human scourge:

Come out of the blocks accusing your opponent of what you are about to do to them.

Bill is a real stand-up guy, folks. Honest, chock-full of integrity, willing to admit mistakes (curiosity: how many mistakes has Phil ever admitted here?), willing to engage in honest and fair meta-discussion (discussion of the dynamics of the discussion itself -- again, see post 39 for details), a transparent interest in the truth of just about any matter of discussion engaged in, and a patience with interpersonal idiosyncracies that is without parallel in an online world.

Ed
[some banter now, to lighten the mood: In a boxing ring, just Bill and myself could probably take all 3 of you scrawny philosophers: Roger Dodger; Bobby B. -- "Bid-not"-on-my-opponents Bell-ringer; and You're-going-to-need-a-"Doctor Phil"]

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 2/23, 10:47pm)




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Post 49

Thursday, February 23, 2006 - 11:26pmSanction this postReply
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> Phil....wants to tolerate anyone who is anything less than a moral monster or less than an advocate of some totally vicious doctrine. [Bill]

Once again!!!, that's not my position!!!:

See this-->I didn't completely list every type of case worthy of condemnation or disassociation (or not inviting to a conference) [post 22, paragraph 3]

And this---> Bill extrapolates incorrectly from my statements about conferences that I have a general and sweeping view in all areas of life that "it is wrong to condemn someone who is blatantly immoral by refusing to validate and support his activities". Or that I would associate with them: "tolerate anyone who isn't a monster". [same post, paragraph 4]

And this----> I touched on a lot of different issues in one condensed post and so didn't completely describe or qualify each one. [same post, second paragraph]

Finally, the context of my original post as indicated not once but in five out of the eight paragraphs of that post was: launching an investigation of 'fishing expedition' when you don't already know something bad -and- Objectivists at Objectivist conferences who are already a better class of people (not any kinds of associations in any kinds of undertaking).

How many times do I have to repeat this?? Jesus F** Christ!!



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Post 50

Friday, February 24, 2006 - 1:03pmSanction this postReply
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Phil, you wrote:
How many times do I have to repeat this?? Jesus F** Christ!!
Apparently until your opponents' testosterone level decreases to the level where they are able to read what you wrote and comment on that, instead of what they would like to comment about. But don't hold your breath.

You don't understand, Phil: you are being purged from the post of resident Voice of Reason and Civility in the Objectivist movement. You have been judged as evil and/or seriously deluded by a critical mass of Judgmentalists. Welcome to Purgatory.

REB





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Post 51

Friday, February 24, 2006 - 1:41pmSanction this postReply
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> don't hold your breath.

Thanks for reminding me: I just went to look in the mirror and my skin had a faint bluish-purplish tinge.

Also my permanent scowl had deepened.



Post 52

Friday, February 24, 2006 - 2:06pmSanction this postReply
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Is that from wearing the sheet over the head? ;-))



Post 53

Monday, February 27, 2006 - 12:00pmSanction this postReply
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I tend to steer away from conventions for the simple fact that it is often for showboating in my opinion. I'm not saying neither Peikoff or Kelley don't know what they're espousing nor do I think them incompetent, I just prefer to learn on my own. It's rather odd I guess, to figure things out for yourself, but I've found I understand the workings of concepts better this way since I can divorce myself from any emotional underpinnings as found amongst groups, conventions, and such.

-- Bridget



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