Based on an recent email post by Stoly in a Chicago area Objectivist forum, I see that Stoly considers himself a "puritanical individualist". I am not sure if this is exactly in line with the Mr. Postema's New Puritan article, as Stoly would definitely agree that individuals should be free to engage in any behaviors that don't violate the rights of others, and that private property should reign supreme. For example, Stoly would be very opposed to banning smoking in private places, regulating junkfood etc. Here is his position in his own words:
I will be quite occupied in the next several weeks, so I expect my opportunities to respond to posts to be rather sporadic during that time. However, I would like to presently continue this interesting discussion with Richard Latimer.
Of the definitions of "puritan" that Richard provided, my favorite one is, "disdaining openness in carnal and social matters". Indeed, I hold this viewpoint. I consider carnal matters (i.e., intercourse and its related practices) to be just about the most private matters of them all. If they are indeed indicative of the highest form of love possible, then this realm must necessarily be exclusive of the presence of anybody else but the parties so romantically involved. To introduce a lesser ("lesser" with regard to the relationship itself) third party to the details of the relationship is to devalue the relationship's significance.
I believe that there are two mutually separate sferes of individual existence; the public and the private, and I have created a rather systematic, non-ambiguous delineation between the two. Those who are interested can read my now somewhat infamous treatise, "The Public-Private Ethical Distinction:" http://www.geocities.com/rationalargumentator/publicprivate.html.
Richard wrote: "My problem with the choice of this word 'puritan' is with its adverse
connotations, - - e. g., 'self-righteous', 'preachy', 'dogmatic',
most often 'faith-based', 'elitist', 'pompously "aristocratic" ', and
'inappropriately excessive' (within specific contexts). Also, such
connotations seem so very incongruent with (political) individualism
[as contrasted with collectivism], which advocates freedom of action
for oneself, AS WELL AS FOR ALL OTHERS (with reasonable bounds,
I disagree with the statement concerning the incongruency of political individualism with puritanism. My earlier post in response to Mr. Kaiden made the distinction between the desirable sfere of legality and that of morality. One can politically tolerate a wide array of distasteful behaviors while personally disapproving of them and acting, on a voluntary, private-property level, to remedy those ills. We all do this to an extent when seeking to promote any viewpoint whatsoever. The puritanical individualist simply does this with greater conscious recognition, intensity, and rigor.
Furthermore, the freedom to criticize others' behaviors, and even to bar said behaviors from one's own property and association, is as integral to political individualism as is the freedom to display behaviors that others might find objectionable. When private property is supreme, there is truly no great ambiguity about this. Those who approve of certain behaviors can allow them on their property, while those who disapprove of them can bar them from theirs. Hans-Hermann Hoppe has an excellent discussion of this in Democracy: The God that Failed. He contends that, were private property to become fully supreme, many "socially left-wing" behaviors would simply die out with no coercion necessary. Some individuals will create voluntary communities excluding such behaviors, and others will be faced with the choice of either changing their ways, or not interacting with residents of said communities. In the meantime, the attitudes of greater propriety, frugality, and restraint from
recklessness will win on the free market of ideas, because they are indicative of a longer time-preference, and will therefore result in greater returns for those who practice them.
What you write, Richard, about the need to accurately identify others' attitudes, premises, and behaviors, even and especially if they diverge from one's own, is true. Context helps to understand why a given behavior is displayed, and to give a better idea of how one should approach it. However, the need for accurate identification and knowledge of context should not preclude the equally great necessity of passing judgment. As Ayn Rand would have said, "Judge and prepare to be judged." Furthermore, there are some behaviors that cannot be approved of, even if one fully understands why they were performed. Murder not in self-defense is one of them, for example. One could learn all one wishes about the killer's past, his motives, his mind, his emotions, and this might help with the understanding of the particular case. Yet it cannot excuse the murder. Now, I am not comparing the use of profanity to murder; it is not nearly as egregious. Yet, I am of the opinion that any profane
expression, in any context, could be frased more effectively in different terms. One can seek to understand the context, and then use it to pass judgment on what the better alternative would be.
G. Stolyarov II