Objectivism....

Thoughts? Opinions? I've always considered myself a libertarian so I've been reading some Objectivism stuff...I kinda likes...

I think it´s complete nonsense.

Read Nozick or something alike insted, at least it´s serious philosophy.

But here is a good intro do objectivism: http://andrej.com/objectivism/

;-)

I think people acting in theier self interest benefits everybody involved...

You need to learn John Nash´s theory of games.

And not even that.

The only 'libertarian' writer I really like is Max Stirner... but that reveals my affinity more for his anarchism work than for his libertarianism.

Is radical individualism pomo-compatible?

I think Objectivism can offer many positives, particular it's epistemology & theory of ethics. Ayn Rand was a profound yet controversial thinker, who's ideas can yield many benefits. When it comes to her continuing legacy, I prefer the approach taken by Nathaniel Branden & David Kelly, as opposed to that of Leonard Peikoff.

Here are some articles on the controversies surrounding interpretations of the philosophy:

"The Unlikeliest Cult In History"
www.2think.org/02_2_she.shtml

"What's Really Wrong With Objectivism?"
www.jeffcomp.com/faq/wrong.html

"Is Objectivism A Cult?" www.noblesoul.com/orc/essays/obj_cult1.html

For those who are hostile toward Objectivism, I'm curious as to which source material you have read by either Ayn Rand or her contemporaries?

Here's an additional article of possible interest. It's written by Rand's one time "intellectual heir", Nathaniel Brandon:

"The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand"

www.nathanielbranden.net/ayn/ayn03.html

I read Anthem and articles she wrote that are available. Most non-critical secondary info I have is from the Ayn Rand Institute.

I will follow your links later.

Personally, I find Leonard Peikoff & his puppet group the Ayn Rand Institute, an embarrassment.

For more on Peikoff & ARI:

http://www.jeffcomp.com/faq/peikoff/index.html

Thanks for the links McCandayass...

The thing´s you´ve presented haven´t changed my opinion. I think objectivism is simply illogical, a calculational mistake.

For example "A=A" doesn´t say that what things are is "ndependent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, judgments or opinions -- that existence exists". It simply isn´t there. And "existence exists" is just unnecessary nonsense, as Bertrand Russell explained back in 1905 in the founding paper of analytic philosophy "On Denoting"(1).

It is wrong that "a rational code of ethics is possible and is derivable from an appropriate assessment of the nature of human beings as well as the nature of reality;" This simply is a clssical confusion between ought and is, the so called naturalistic fallacy. A fallacy pointed out by Hume back in 1740. Rand knew this, but her response to Hum didn´t make much sense.

Defining "Well-being" is a problem in itself so it doesn´t help to say "That the standard of the good is [...] "Man's life," that which is objectively required for man's or woman's life, survival, and well-being;"

It is not clear what it means "That force is permissible only in retaliation and only against those who have initiated its use;", since the amount of retaliation isn´t specified. It´s also easy to find example where one get´s perverse results following this view.

Without the possibilty to derive "natural rights" from empirical facts, Rands philosophy breaks down like a card tower.

(1) http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Russell/denoting/

Dogbert, the links I provided weren't intended to change your opinion. If anything they show some of the problems those with an affinity for Objectivism have encountered in applying it.

As in every philosophy, there are holes & gaps in Objectivism. Yet I see Objectivism as an open system, with a solid base, & I think it has much that is good & practical to offer.

"For example "A=A" doesn´t say that what things are is "independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, judgments or opinions -- that existence exists". It simply isn´t there."

This is logic. A is A is the law of identity. What problem do you have with this?

"And "existence exists" is just unnecessary nonsense,"

It establishes that in her view of metaphysics, reality exists as a primary, as an objective absolute. While our senses interpret reality imperfectly & our thoughts are not infallible, the world we live in is a valid frame of reference and can be understood.

In building a philosophic system, there are of course alternative views on metaphysics. This was particularly true during the time & environment that she grew up in and reacted against.

"It is wrong that "a rational code of ethics is possible and is derivable from an appropriate assessment of the nature of human beings as well as the nature of reality;" This simply is a classical confusion between ought and is, the so called naturalistic fallacy."

I don't see her as "confused" about anything here. Her theory of ethics flows from her metaphysics & epistemology. It's entirely consistent with the axioms of her system.

"Defining "Well-being" is a problem in itself so it doesn´t help to say "That the standard of the good is [...] "Man's life," that which is objectively required for man's or woman's life, survival, and well-being;"

Here's a quote from Atlas Shrugged:

"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists--and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these."

In Objectivism, a moral code is considered as a requirement to live, because life is not automatic. She defines "life" as the standard of moral value, as what a person aims to maintain and keep. Acting in ways that enables a person to "flourish" as a living & functioning person, would be considered good. In that way, I've always seen Objectivist ethics as Eudaimonistic.

Rand first established in her axioms that people are:

1. capable of experiencing an objective reality (Existence exists)

2. Can use reason to deal with reality (A is A)

From there, what comprises "well-being" is open to infinite interpretation.

"It is not clear what it means "That force is permissible only in retaliation and only against those who have initiated its use;", since the amount of retaliation isn´t specified. It´s also easy to find example where one get´s perverse results following this view."

This flows from her theory of morality. As individuals, people have a right to live without interference. Since the concept is applied universally, those who "initiate force" are a problem & must be dealt with in some form.

The problem of individuals "initiating force" is what leads to Rand sanctioning the establishment of a government. The specifics of how the government would be financed, how criminals would be sentenced & other details have always been an area of weakness in the Objectivist system.

"Without the possibility to derive "natural rights" from empirical facts, Rands philosophy breaks down like a card tower."

It doesn't breakdown at all if you use the words & terms within the context she herself defines them. Ayn Rand made the mistake of misinterpreting conflicting theories, just as her critics misinterpret her today. I would doubt this is done purposely, but is reflection of how different people can honestly reach different conclusions by way of defining words & terms differently.



Socrates, why do you find the idea that people have a right to live without others initiating force against them repugnant?

"What is Rand's counter to "might makes right"? If I am bigger and stronger (or perhaps better in some less obvious way), why don't I have the right to interfere with whomever I choose?"

People "rights" begin & end with their own lives, meaning that they never have "rights" over other people. Her response to those who feel "might makes right" is an established government that provides protection against the initiation of force.

"I suspect that it betrays a base, weak morality. Although Rand supposedly condemns Christianity, I would bet that she is actually a sheep in wolf's clothing, or perhaps I should say a Christian in atheist's clothing..."

That's quite derogatory Socrates. Could you please site a specific statement that she has made that leads you to this assumption?

""People "rights" begin & end with their own lives, meaning that they never have "rights" over other people.""

"I hope you realize that this is NOT an argument; it is merely an assertion (and I suspect an assumption on Rand's part)."

It's best understood in context of her fuller system.

"I could just as easily assert that every man has the right to do anything that is good for him, and that includes harming other people. Or I could assert the aristocratic position that some people are by nature better than other people, and the better people have a right to do whatever they feel like to their inferiors."

Of course you could. Morality & moral theories are social constructions. Because morals do not exist in nature, subjective assertions is all we will ever have. Yet the standards Rand sets for her own however, are internally consistent.

"My original question was, what does Rand say to these counter assertions? What is her philosophic argument in support of her egalitarian (as opposed to aristocratic) view of human rights?"

LOL I already told you exactly what she would say. Yet perhaps a more detailed explanation would be more helpful. BTW, her views are neither "egalitarian" or "aristocratic". They are Objectivist. They can only be understood in context of the axioms which underlie her system. Any out of context separation will lead to a misrepresentation of what she is trying to say.

Here is a link that will hopefully provide a more helpful perspective for your question. Click on Individual Rights for her comments:

http://snow.prohosting.com/rights/indexphilo.htm




"Indeed, my statement was meant to be derogatory. I am led to it, in part, by the fact that she thinks, as you say, that everyone has the "right to live without others initiating force against them".

This is her view, one that I agree with. I still don't understand what you find derogative about it.

"I seriously doubt this; I hope you can show me the error of my ways..."

My advice would be to read her source material with an open mind. She is the best exemplar of her own views.

"First off, I respectfully disagree with just about everything you said. Morality is a "social construction"? Who exactly is the architect, and how do they determine their designs?"

First I'd like to point out my views on this are different from that of Objectivism. As I see it, the so called architects of moral theories are of course human beings. The design comes through establishing subjective standards. Actions being "good" or "bad" are evaluated against these standards, which are the product of social construction. What is morally "good" or "bad" can just as easily be judged differently by creating another set of standards. Neither system would be better without the implication of these imaginary standards.

"But please, don't answer that. Let's assume you're right. Morality is a subjective choice. So, now it's time to pick my morality. The question still remains, "what makes Rand's morality a better choice?"

To me personally, it's merely a matter of preference. For her answer, read the previous link.

"The aristocratic principle is also "internally consistent". The better man can consistently do what is good for him, consistently enslaving, raping and killing his inferiors. If consistency is the criteria of choice, isn't it just as good as Rand's?"

Views on what is "good" is the product of a subjective standard. For me personally, your aristocratic principle is not attractive, so it wouldn't be as good.

"They certainly are "egalitarian". According to her, everyone has EQUAL rights not to be interfered with, just because they are human. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that egalitarian."

In that specific example, with regards to negative liberty, you are correct Socrates.

"Lastly, isn't it IRONIC that a system which, as you say, is based on the SUBJECTIVE assertion of morality is called OBJECTIVIST?"

I hope I didn't cause confusion. You said in previous thread that you could make certain moral propositions at will. I replied that moral theories are subjective. I was speaking for myself, not Ayn Rand. My apologies if my comments were misleading about what her views are.




"But again I say to you the opposite! Every man has an individual right to do what makes his life the best possible, and THEREFORE he has the right to enslave, rape and kill whomever he is able. Rand seems to have no defense against this, except to blindly assert that it's somehow wrong. Like I said, she merely assumes the answers to actual philosophic questions."

Socrates, using your example, if EVERY man has the right to make his life as best as possible, then wouldn't it be a contradiction for any one man to inhibit this right in others?

If the principle is universal that "every man" has a right to make his life as best as possible, , then wouldn't it would imply the necessity of an absence of the enslaving, raping & killing of other men?

"Would you be so kind as to cut and paste what you think is the argument for her morality in that link?"

Her source material would of course be the most comprehensive frame of reference. I honestly don't know of any full lengths essays of hers that are available in entirety online. Here is a brief essay she did write on her philosophy, along with a more suggestive reading list. I hope that is somewhat helpful:

www.aynrand.org/objectivism/io.html

""Socrates, using your example, if EVERY man has the right to make his life as best as possible, then wouldn't it be a contradiction for any one man to inhibit this right in others?""

"No. That's simply false reasoning."

Socrates could you be so kind as to walk me through how this is false reasoning?

""If the principle is universal that "every man" has a right to make his life as best as possible, , then wouldn't it would imply the necessity of an absence of the enslaving, raping & killing of other men?""

"See above."

Again please. Could you expand on this?

"To illustrate my point, please answer this question. In a game of soccer, every player has the right to score as many points as he can. Does that mean that a player doesn't have the right to steal the ball from other players?"

Well if every player has a right to score as many points as possible, the right is universal. Infringing on such a right in others would yield a contradiction. In any attempt to apply the rule, limits on the scope of action would be necessary. In other words, you would establish rules of engagement. The specifics would have to accommodate the principle, but would not necessarily make the principle untenable.

"I think that there is confusion lurking in the choice of words. Try this. Isn't Rand's position...

Here's a direct quote:

"The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that no man has the right to seek values from others by means of physical force -- i.e., no man or group has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others. Men have the right to use force only in self-defense and only against those who initiate its use.

"She doesn't think, for instance, that it's a violation of someone's rights if that person doesn't own a TV because he is too lazy to work (even if a TV would make him happier). He doesn't have the right to the thing, but he the right to TRY to get the thing, although he might fail."

She'd argue that a person has a right to act in ways that will enable him to earn money & then purchase a TV. He doesn't have any inherent right to a TV in & of itself, until the moment it becomes his property.

"She wants to say that it follows from the "right to try" that a person can not be hindered by another person. But it simply does not follow!

Her theory goes deeper than a right to try. It subsumes the universal right of each individual to live as a free rational being. It goes to her views on what it means to be human, and the right to both experience & fulfill human potentialities.

"Just like in sports, it is no contradiction if one person fails his attempt because he has been hindered by another person. Everyone can have the "right to try to be happy", and one man can enslaves another and makes him fail in his attempt, and there is NO contradiction."

If everyone has a right to try to be successful in a sport, rules of engagement can be established that both accommodate & limit actions universally. In your example, the principle of "everyone" attempting their best implies establishing negative liberties. The essence of being able to play the game remains, with-in the limits of what rules the game demands.

Under the sanctioned conditions of enslavement, rape & murder, the ability of all people to live as a free rational beings would be negated. Your proposition contradicts her principle of what it means to be free to live the life of a rational being. There-in lies the contradiction.









"I assume that it is clear that there is no contradiction when a lion kills another lion in the animal kingdom. IF men are like animals with respect to rights, men could kill, rape, and steal with no contradiction. Is this clear?"

I don't accept your premise that men are like animals. I see humans and lions as fundamentally different from one another in a myriad of ways. In particular, on a conceptual level, and the products that result their-of. Perhaps you can show me the errors of my ways...

"***HERE'S THE QUESTION: what is her proof that men have "human rights"? What is her argument?

If you want to know her arguments in detailed form, the best source would be to read her works. Yet here's a quote regarding the issue:

"An organism's life depends on two factors: the material or fuel which it needs from the outside,... and the action of its own body, the action of using that fuel properly. What standard determines proper in this context? The standard is the organism's life....

"Life can be kept in existence only by a constant process of self-sustaining action. The goal of that action, the ultimate value ... is the organism's life.

"Now in what manner does a human being discover the concept of 'value'? ... By means of the physical sensations of pleasure and pain... Man has no choice about the standard that determines what will make him experience... pleasure and pain. What is that standard? HIS LIFE."

Chapter 1 The Virtue of Selfishness

Her view as I see it, is the fact that an individual exists, gives him the "right" to act in a ways that maintain his life. The source of human rights is the state of being alive. I'd suggest reading the book for a more detailed explanation.

"I believe that she doesn't have one. She merely asserts the existence of "human rights". If I am mistaken, please summarize her argument and prove me wrong."

Socrates, if you want to learn about her theories & arguments, you should read her source material. As you know, I've already provided a link to suggested reading list of both her work, & that of her contemporaries.

"Again, I would just say that a human is no different than a lion."

That quite an assertion. Could you please elaborate?

"Human has the same right to fulfill human potentialities as a lion has to fulfill lion potentialities. There is no contradiction in killing."

How do you support this assertion? I see you divide human potentialities & lion potentialities as opposed to grouping them under one heading. Would you care to define the essentials that make humans & lion potentialities exactly the same without contradiction?

"Rand has to prove that "human rights" exist. Empty assertions make for a very shallow philosophy or, I should say, no philosophy at all."

Again, I'd suggest the best method to evaluate her arguments would be to read her source materials. BTW, you can also find an audience who could perhaps aid in the discussion at the newsgroup: humanities.philosophy.objectivism

I hope that helps!