Rebirth of Reason

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Post 0

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 12:41pmSanction this postReply
Hi all,

I have a question that's based upon an off-site communique that I just recieved from a participating member. To wit, I was informed of a large hostility to monetarism as advocated by Friedman. So is it correct to say that  Objectivism advocates Austrian school, no exceptions, or is this somewhat debatable within the ranks?

Now I believe that 'Monetarism' says that the 'only' function of the government is to address the amout of money in circulation by discounting rates up and down to banks that are underscribed within the Fed Res system--FDIC.

This simply means that banks who volunteer to participate in the Fed system will have their own interest rates fluctuate somewhat according to need as percieved to prevent either inflation or deflation.

OTH, my rather sparse familiarity with Austrain school suggests that they believe a 'no contact whatsoever' situation is for the best. Therefore the Fed must be abolished.

Might someone therefore kindly inform me if my assessment of  Austrain school is correct? if this issue has been--or is being-- discussed somewhere on RoR, perhaps I might be informed as to where I might find it?

Actually, I'm rather sympathetic to abolition as such; I'm interested if my own rather sketchy ideas somehow coincide with a real school of thought, or are similar to Objectivism--hopefully, yes!

Many Thanks, Eva

(Edited by Matthews on 1/07, 12:45pm)

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Post 1

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 1:35pmSanction this postReply
Post your question on the dissent forum.

Post 2

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 2:17pmSanction this postReply
I saw nothing in the original post suggesting dissent from Objectivism. The Federal Reserve came under harsh criticism in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Please explain why this question belongs in Dissent.

Post 3

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 3:39pmSanction this postReply
Rand was certainly opposed to the Fed, and I suspect that nearly all Objectivists would be. Rand advocated it being ended. She had both agreements and disagreements with Austrian Economics and her opinions often related to different advocates (she wasn't as fond of Hayeck as she was of Von Mises) - her disagreements were more about the epistemology or underlying ethics that were implicit in the writings of the key proponents. I think that her major objection with Austrian Economics as proposed by Von Mises was if the failure to have it sit on a philosophy of economics that grew out of Rational Egoism - thus giving it a moral foundation where man's life was an end in itself.

There are others here on RoR that are better suited to speaking on Von Mises, Economics as related to Objectivism, and on Austrian Economics.

I, personally, loved Milton Friedman. He was a powerful, energetic, and effective advocate for liberty - and a joy to watch. He and Rand were both major contributors to arguments that finally ended the military draft.

Post 4

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 3:50pmSanction this postReply

Thanks for the lead, as I do like to do my own research.

Thanks, Eva

Post 5

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 4:22pmSanction this postReply
Thanks, Steve.

I'm familiar with Hayek, having read and enjoyed his 'Roads To Serfdom'. It's about how markets coexist with personal freedoms--against the model in the USSR at the time of writing.

With Mises, not at all--although two hours or so down the road there's a 'von Mises Institue' in Auburn, Alabama. maybe I should check it out.

Might I presume that a philosophy of economics that's founded upon Rational Egoism might be found in ''Unknown Ideal' as suggested reading by Luke?

Classically speaking, epistemology means 'how beliefs are justified'. Its two large categories are coherentism (better off with than without) and foundationalism ( a search for basis).

Clearly, I believe that Rand falls within the later. Much to her admiration, she seeks the meaning of 'value' as the basis of what ecoonomics is really about.

Perhaps, then, as just a gander, what she sees even in the Austrians is a 'prices mean nothing' sort of attitude. For them (perhaps?) money doesn't represent hard work...

For Hayek, as read, property wasn't intrincially of value.  Rather, it merely cohered--we're simply off better with the institution than without.

To this extent, I'm interested in The Philosophy of Economics because the entire project, without a suitable epistemological foundation, is based on the observation of entities having no more status than the fact they are...observed.

This doesn't mean that economics as practiced is nonsense, or that their practitioners are 'idiots'. Rather, simply foreshortened.

I lke Friedman because of his direct criticism of Keynes in the 50's. No, Keynes, there are not two distinct class of people--investors and consumers. Rather, all consumers perform investment strategies with their assets, fat or meagre as they might be.

How this might fit into Objectivism peeks my curiosity....


Post 6

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 4:53pmSanction this postReply
Luke, Its not the post. Its the poster.


Objectivism vs Austrian Economics, my thoughts

Start with where the authors come from:
Mises is a response to Keynes using Kant worldview, but most entirely only in the economics domain of philosophy. Mises AFAIK never developed fluent English. Rothbard was much more of an anarchist than Rand.
Rand is a response to Communist Russia. She was interested in the entire domain of philosophy.

Austrian Economics does not assert that a rationally selfish producer is a "good" man. But it does recognize the nature of man, and recognizes what kind of actions should/shouldn't be performed (like productive work/NIOF principal) and what kind of government one should have (capitalism) in order to have peace and prosper. Austrian Economics completely avoids using the moral judgments "good"/"bad".

Objectivism asserts that a rationally selfish producer is a good man. So an Objectivist would assert actions in Austrian Economics as "good"/"bad" (with implied asserted ethical goal of living like a rationally selfish producer), but an Austrian wouldn't.

Here's a link for more details:
Mises and Rand (and Rothbard) by STEPHAN KINSELLA on JANUARY 16, 2010 This author refers to writings by Ed Younkins.

But anyways... separating the author's views from the philosophy, and recognizing that Austrian Economics is only the Economics branch of philosophy (and hence has no shoulds)... AFAIK Austrian Economics is 100% compatible with Objectivist Economics.


Milton Friedman/Monetarism/Chicago School: "Monetarism is an economic theory that focuses on the macroeconomic effects of the supply of money and central banking. Formulated by Milton Friedman, it argues that excessive expansion of the money supply is inherently inflationary, and that monetary authorities should focus solely on maintaining price stability."

This inherently contradicts Objectivist Economics / Austrian Economics: practitioners of OE/AE would say that 1: The Fed should not focus on "price stability", instead it should only focus on maintaining a constant ratio between FRN money supply and gold backing. 2: The FR should not have a monopoly on money, instead money/banking should be 100% determined and serviced by the free market.

Monetarists focus on and desire price stability. OE/AE focus on and desire supply and free trade.
(Edited by Dean Michael Gores on 1/07, 6:32pm)

Post 7

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 5:34pmSanction this postReply
The monetarists say that without price stability, supply and free trade are moot issues.
In this sense, there is no'contradiction'--rather, focus.

I am familiar with Kant: how, AFAYK, is Mises responding to him?

To the extent that economics is a science, its statements, by definition, must be subject- independent. That means no moral judgment can be attached to the actors. Outcomes are 'good' or 'bad' only to the extent that enable the system to flourish.

Retrospectively, of course, you can derive a moral sense from the actors in having participated in events that produce a favorable outcome. But retrospectivity is not what Hayak, at least, was all about.

In any case, no one disagrees that rational self-interest is the psychological impetus for making any system work. Here, again, the confusion would be taking this axiom of personal motivation and particularizing it with respect to any particular system.

In other words, people with evil intent can be rationally interested, too. What's important are the goals.

capitalism is good simply because it produces good outcomes.


Post 8

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 6:19pmSanction this postReply
Eva, Re Kant: woops I just fixed that sentence. Re monetarism: Please post on the dissent forum. Re good/evil/goals: Good is that which results in increased goal attainment.

Re: "capitalism is good simply because it produces good outcomes." This statement cannot be understood by us because we don't know what "good" means to you. We have no clue what your goals are.
(Edited by Dean Michael Gores on 1/07, 6:36pm)

Post 9

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 7:33pmSanction this postReply
My undeerstanding of Objectivism is that goodness is not a subjective term that depends, as you say, upon what it means to me, or what my goals are.

In other words, if my goals are wrong-headed, they can't be 'good' by Objectivist standards. neither can yours, BTW

Rather, Objectivist goodness is  'objective', or subject -independent.

Now if you want to disagree with this basic axiom of rand, feel free top post on the dissent board.

Or perhaps, then again, I'm talking way over your head...

Post 10

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 7:58pmSanction this postReply
No, what you say doesn't go over my head. Its just a huge pain in the ass to wade through your scum.

When I say good it clearly means something. I'm saying that when we say something to one another (Objectivist talking to objectivist), our words have precise meanings and hence the message is preserved and one knows the original meaning of what the author says.

When you say good it means nothing to us. Your words do not have precise meanings. Or if they do to you, we don't know what definitions you are using. You are postmodernist socialist scum.

Post 11

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 8:50pmSanction this postReply
I'm requesting a third party to referee: For an Objectivist, is moral goodness an objective state of affairs, or rather, does it depend upon the values of a particular individual?

All of Gores' we-nees pronouns and juvenile name-calling aside, i'm sure you'll find that I, in reality, am far more an  Objectivist than he.

As for his obsession with group idenntity (we...), it's more than likely that he's aFrancophone--easy to discern by his garbled explanations laced with invective!-- feeling himself the consumate outsider. Quel domage! Putin! Bordel! Tabernac'! Mange la marde!

Most likely a Quebecois that was given a hard time in Paris.

Post 12

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 8:54pmSanction this postReply

Ludvig Von Mises was a brilliant man. And it is a pleasure to see his mind at work. That said, his writing is dense and his terminology is his own - at least to a degree. So reading "Human Action" is not a small project (you can download a pdf of the book on the internet, free - and I think at that Institute you mentioned). You'll have to decide if you want to make that investment of time.

Another tome that is very much in tune with Objectivism is Capitalism by George Reisman. Also a very large book, but a bit more readable. Human Action is a classic, and it will take some time to see if Reisman's work gains that stature. It can be downloaded for free from Reisman's web site.
Might I presume that a philosophy of economics that's founded upon Rational Egoism might be found in ''Unknown Ideal' as suggested reading by Luke?
Yes. It is a collection of essays by Rand (and a few by Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan, and others) - it is not a book on economics, but on the moral foundation that economics must rest upon. It takes on many of the arguments against capitalism - from a moral perspective. It is a bit dated - 1966 - but it is well worth reading - and it is a very quick read. Some people, particularly with time in academic harness are strongly put off by her style of presentation and consider it harsh... I love it, but that's me.

Eva, I admire your quickness of thought and the range of your thinking (even though we might not agree in many areas). I suspect that if you keep looking at the foundations of whole disciplines, like economics, while casting a sharp eye on the implied ethical base, and the implied epistemological principles you will sort things out in ways that set you apart from the cookie cutter 'thinking' we often see (especially in most Progressives and Conservatives). If you want to read a solid and bold presentation of a philosophy for psychology, read the first half of Nathaniel Branden's Psychology of Self-Esteem. I mention all of this because I don't think I'll ever have much respect for thinking that doesn't integrate logically with some philosophical base - floating abstractions might be fine for daydreaming, but not for something I want to take in make a permanent part of my world view.

Most people would not do well with the following recommendation, but you might. It is a very small book, but dense, and for me anyway, stunning. Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

I suspect that if you read some of Rand's non-fiction (Capitalism, Selfishness, and Intro to Obj. Epistemology) you'd be in a better position to know whether there is anything of value for you in a forum like this. Here, what we have for the most part, are people who are digging deeper into those basic principles (e.g., rational egoism vs altruism) and about the application to real world situations. You can also look at the short, but very well done articles on individual concepts that are the core of Objectivism: Objectivism 101. They were written by the owner of this site, Joe Rowlands.

Post 13

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 9:11pmSanction this postReply

You requested some input on moral goodness... I went to a web site with quotes by Rand to get the Objectivist position from her mouth.
There are, in essence, three schools of thought on the nature of the good: the intrinsic, the subjective, and the objective. The intrinsic theory holds that the good is inherent in certain things or actions as such, regardless of their context and consequences, regardless of any benefit or injury they may cause to the actors and subjects involved. It is a theory that divorces the concept of “good” from beneficiaries, and the concept of “value” from valuer and purpose—claiming that the good is good in, by, and of itself.

The subjectivist theory holds that the good bears no relation to the facts of reality, that it is the product of a man’s consciousness, created by his feelings, desires, “intuitions,” or whims, and that it is merely an “arbitrary postulate” or an “emotional commitment.”

The intrinsic theory holds that the good resides in some sort of reality, independent of man’s consciousness; the subjectivist theory holds that the good resides in man’s consciousness, independent of reality.

The objective theory holds that the good is neither an attribute of “things in themselves” nor of man’s emotional states, but an evaluation of the facts of reality by man’s consciousness according to a rational standard of value. (Rational, in this context, means: derived from the facts of reality and validated by a process of reason.) The objective theory holds that the good is an aspect of reality in relation to man—and that it must be discovered, not invented, by man. Fundamental to an objective theory of values is the question: Of value to whom and for what? An objective theory does not permit context-dropping or “concept-stealing”; it does not permit the separation of “value” from “purpose,” of the good from beneficiaries, and of man’s actions from reason.

[taken from Ayn Rand's "For the New Intellectual," pg. 120]

You can get a quick read on the Objectivist take on many concepts from the Ayn Rand Lexicon web site I used for the quote above. Just click on the letter of the alphabet at the bottom of the page to jump to the concept you're interested in.

Post 14

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 10:20pmSanction this postReply

Many sincere thanks for all your valuable input & suggestions.

Actually, I've discovered lots of value in this forum. You're helpful, stimulating and intelligent, as is Michael...have  forgotten someone? Well, most everyone is!

As soon as I re-read 'Atlas'--in order to discover who the real villans and heroes were (!?)--I'll get right on Branden and Rand's introduction.

What I'm beginning to see of Rand's work  is that it is highly integrative. Yet perhaps because I'm young (turned 20 in October) integrativeness doesn't really seem that necessary. In other words, with most of what Rand writes I agree in content; my minor disagreements are somewhat formal.

For example, I agree that ethics cannot be just a matter of intent, good will or duty, per Kant.. That's because outcome is important as to how one assesses action, too. To this end, the philosopher Bernard Gert writes that we should hold people accountable for willfull ignorance.

That the average German draftee fought for his side is ethically ambiguous. Moreover, there is no need to call Kant 'evil'. That I can say, 'I disagree' and describe why without resort to invective is quite sufficient.

Lastly, this site offers intelligent opinion not of the conservative/liberal cookie- cutter axis which, I feel, is precisely the problem with contemporary discourse. Individualism begs for more than two. Otherwise, they always become sides of the same coin.


(Edited by Matthews on 1/07, 10:23pm)

Post 15

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 11:10pmSanction this postReply
Thanks Steve,

As cited, by Rand:

"The objective theory holds that the good is neither an attribute of “things in themselves” nor of man’s emotional states, but an evaluation of the facts of reality by man’s consciousness according to a rational standard of value."

My understanding is thus:

*Nothing is intrinsically good prior to evaluation.
* 'A' rational standard of value means a singular standard of evaluation that's invariant, or in other words. one that's not determined by any particular individual.
* Therefore, people who value the wrong things cannot do good.
* No one is good in their 'own way' because the standard is rational, and fixed.

. Re my citation: "capitalism is good simply because it produces good outcomes."
>>>>>This statement cannot be understood by us because we don't know what "good" means to you. We have no clue what your goals are.<<<<<<<

Again, ny goals and sense of goodness are irrelevant  because Capitalism is 'good' regardless of my feelings for or against it. Either one grasps the value of capitalism, or not.

Either my English is clear or it is not. I believe that it is, as cristal. That said, Objectivism isn't about a bunch of Inspector Cleuseau's galavanting around, second guessing intentions.

To summarize, like the above writer marked >>>> <<<< many groups of people feel that goodness is subject-sensitive, saying that it's important to know what people's goals and values are.  

But objectivism is different, saying, "Here are the truthful values, take it or leave it, We're not relativists who assess morals by permitting individuals to expostulate on their own values".

Now it's not so much that people who do not accept this should go elewhere. Rather, they should try other sites to compare.
Two great examples would be 'Quoi que', and ''Canailles postmodernes"'--translated from the French as "whatever' and postmodern scum".  Herein, various 'frustrees' expostulate away on 'their' values (sex), and 'their' sense of goodness (invariably a wine /cheese match).

'Had a fun summer over there, but glad to be back!


(Edited by Matthews on 1/07, 11:16pm)

Post 16

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 11:13pmSanction this postReply
But objectivism is different, saying, "Here are the truthful values, take it or leave it..."
I like that. Reminds me of the old Spanish proverb, "God said, "take whatever you want, and then pay for it.'"

I look forward to hearing your reactions to the reading you will be doing. You are far beyond where 20 year olds are often found... and where you go should be interesting.

Best Wishes,

(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 1/07, 11:19pm)

Post 17

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 11:54pmSanction this postReply
Yeah, I was raised as a campus brat. 'Not so much smarter than anyone else, 'just a fast head-start.

I'll keep you abreast of my progress, which might start slowly 'cause I just got hit with my class load: Neurosci 400, Epigenetics (yes, finally!!), Lab (ugh!) & Modern French Thought (in French, for giggles).

Mom's doing Psy Method (avoid) & Dad's starting his 2nd part Hist of Theory class with S-matrix problems application to string (say what?). Everyone's abuzz 'cause their grad assistants are swarming in our abode as if this was a dorm.

Thinking of which...maybe it's time to bunk up with my younger sis, poet extraordinaire, on campus. Hey, I'm boy-friendless now, thin, blonde, look 16 & everyone says I'm 'pretty'& so it's about time,  I start acting like a college kid. Join a sorority, start an Objectivist club...whatever...


Post 18

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 8:27amSanction this postReply

Perhaps I've mis-characterized you.

You criticized objectivists, sound postmodern, have a cocky attitude, show lack of understanding of Objectivism... what am I to conclude?

Your first posts here were exclusively cocky ivory tower criticism. You never introduced yourself. You never said "I like Steve Jobs." You never said "I like Austrian Economics." You never said "I like the idea of people using evidence and reason to take actions that enhance their own long term self interest." You only came with criticisms. You said things like "I have no strongly-held beliefs of the black vs white variety" which is something a postmodernist would say.

At last here we finally get an idea of where you are coming from. So you lean libertarian. That is good (to me). I consider most libertarian thought a subset of Objectivism.


Know that I consider this website like a sacred refuge. The world is full of forums where moderators permit socialists, postmodernists, mid-argument definition switchers (commonly done by Christians) etc to post rampantly.

So... please forgive my mis-characterization of you as a "postmodernist socialist". I apologize for calling you such.

Your new characterization by me is "Nose in the air because I've got lots of formal education, ignorant on important philosophy because I have done little study of Objectivism and Austrian Economics... yet still leaning towards individualism and capitalism."

I'd appreciate it if you showed more respect towards Machan and others here.

I'd also like you to apologize to me for suggesting your ivory-tower-big-word-non-layman-sentence-structure speech is "over my head". I think you should also reconsider your characterization of me as being "red"/Republican. I am socially "democratic" on subjects like drug legalization and supposedly their anti-war position, and economically "republican" in their supposed wanting less forced redistribution for welfare. I say "supposed" because this what pandering politicians promote during elections, but do not necessarily vote or act on during their term of office.


Given your ignorance and cockyness, I still think you should post your criticisms on the dissent forum. But if you have respectful questions you are free to post them elsewhere. Not that you have to obey what I say... just keep this in mind, maybe if Joe (the owner) does put you under moderation you might wish you heeded my suggestion.

Post 19

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 9:00amSanction this postReply
You're completely off thread. as the initiator of this conversation, I've lodged my complaints accordingly.

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