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Freedom and Virtue

Posted by JohnBrown 6 years, 8 months ago to Philosophy
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Is a high degree of responsibility necessary for the people to live in freedom? Do the people have to be responsible, honest, and hard-working—in a word, virtuous—before they can handle freedom? It can be a chicken-and-egg argument, certainly. Do the people lose their virtue and then lose their liberty? Or, do they gradually lose their liberty and then lose their virtue, in proportion? The cause and effect is important, because it provides a clue about how best to restore freedom. If the former, then the people must be taught virtue again, presumably by the State. But this approach is hopeless and absurd. Or, the people might somehow be drawn again to religion and absorb the moral teachings therein.

To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.
—James Madison

In any case, if the people lose their virtue and then lose their freedom, there would need to be a moral revival before we could return to freedom. But if the people lose their liberty and then their virtue, the approach is more straightforward: set them free. When people are free to face the full consequences of making poor or immoral choices; when sloth, greed, envy, lying, cheating, stealing, unreliability, and broken promises have real social and economic consequences, they will be induced to become more virtuous. When the State penalizes saving and investment, when it taxes incomes and wealth away, and when it provides unearned benefits for free, it not only discourages positive, productive behavior, it rewards bad character at the same time. It subsidizes bad behavior.

To reward responsibility and penalize irresponsibility, we don't need a moral revival first. Just set everyone free. Let people make mistakes, let them live by their own choices. Let them learn, let them experiment, let them cooperate. Wards of the State are not self-reliant, competent, independent individuals. In freedom, individuals build good character. In freedom, relationships are strengthened; societies become more virtuous. Harry Browne wrote an article on this topic that addresses the issue quite well.



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  • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
    Why is it that only humans can have virtue or lack it? Be good or be bad? All other creatures stay true to their natures, which makes them what they are, loveable, horrible, beautiful, fearful. They have no choice. Only humans have a choice, i:e: volition. Free will. In order to have free will, it's pretty obvious that one must be free to exercise it. Volition is as essential to men as hunting is to a tiger, or spawning upstream is to a salmon. When freedom is taken away to any degree, so volition is diminished to the same degree. When that happens men become something other than mankind. Put a goldfish in a plastic bag filled with water that's not much bigger than the fish, and you won't expect it to have a long life. But men are smarter than fish and will find a way to survive -- but as what?

    The desire to be free in men is easily illustrated by prisons. Even though all their needs are attended to except for freedom, most prisoners would give anything to be free. Free will and the exercise thereof is why repressive societies inevitably crumble, but the question yet to be answered is why do people fall for societies that go against their very nature? The problem is freedom requires self-reliance. At this point, I will need more space than would be feasible in order to cover the difference between true humans and those who have given up their humanity for the chimera of dependence.
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    • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
      Herb; Excellent-your use of volition necessary to freedom hits the nail on the head. When freedom is restricted, volition is removed. When volition is removed, the very essence of humanity is no more. The examples throughout history are numerous and horrendous. +1
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      • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
        And as Rand said, Only if it is a choice is it moral.
        Sounds like something God might say.
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        • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
          Ehh, don't know about what God might say. As I understand it, no-one alive's ever seen him. Generally, people that claim to hear voices are determined to need medications.
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          • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
            I've always thought that for a schizophrenia with psychic powers Joan of Arc made quite a contribution to history. Mark Twain, that cynic, said Joan of Arc was easily the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced. And he it was who wrote the essay: Man's Interpretations of the Deity's Intentions.
            Some people have wondered if Joan of Arc was an accident of history. I reply, depends on if you're looking at it from man's perspective or God's perspective.
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    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
      I would just add one thing: with volition comes the ability to choose, but one must have CHOICES as well. There must be two roads to select from, and there must be some idea of what is down each road. The clearer the idea of the destination, the more informed is the decision.

      But reason is not everything. There must also be faith. I think many choices are clear and obvious, but people lack the faith to pick the road with the better destination because the path may be difficult or somewhat nebulous. Stepping into the great unknown can be a terrifying thing when one is relying on only a vision for a guide.
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      • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
        Faith is the absence of reason. It can be action without evidence. When you choose a path as you describe you are acting on evidence. It may be sparse or unconfirmed, but your brain has analyzed the two choices and chosen the one you thought would bring the best outcome. Faith is when you jump out of a plane expecting God will spare your life. Volition is when you've never used a parachute before and your choice is to ride the plane to the ground or jump with the parachute. An ape rides the plane into the ground. A human takes the parachute.
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        • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
          Yeah, that first jump can be very exhilarating.
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          • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 8 months ago
            I remember my first jump. I was the second man in the stick, and my stick leader was a pretty short guy. He was scared witless as he stood in the door waiting for a green light, Me? I was standing just behind him looking over his shoulder, thinking - "this can't be high enough." After my canopy deployed, I remembered to count to four. :-)
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            • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
              Good, for the count and it sure looks awfully close to that ground. The damned tower was hard enough. Then after that first one, I thought I was ready for anything, but what a rush.
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              • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 8 months ago
                Never got to drop with the tower - was too windy during tng.
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                • Posted by richkinley 6 years, 8 months ago
                  I was the second in line. As I'm putting on the harness, I sensed a great deal of commotion. I looked up, and my buddy from OBC is dangling in the tower, about 150 feet up. The wind shifted when he dropped, and blew him into the tower.
                  Naturally, my first thought was, "what in the heck am I doing here?"
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        • Posted by Solver 6 years, 8 months ago
          My sister has faith that every word in the Holy Bible is true. No reason or logic can convince her otherwise.
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          • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
            Trying to change her mind might well be an exercise in futility. However, you still can love her. I'm sure she has many other virtues. Without being nosily intrusive, I can say from experience, be sure to be there for her if her faith fails her.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 8 months ago
          Why, Herb? Why can't a rational and reasoning mind come to a conclusion that includes faith?

          What you describe as faith is nonsense. I've jumped out of a plane several times. Never did I expect God to spare my life (but the damned chute packer better have done the job right, or they would have had some 'splainin' to do).
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          • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
            You used the parachute, you didn't jump without it? Then you made a rational decision. If you are inclined to jump out of a plane, using a parachute is rational. Not using a parachute because you have faith you'll live through the experience is irrational, and downright stupid. Those believers who drank the Kool-Aid had a lot of faith, but I think the reasoning thing to do would be to say, "no thanks."
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            • Posted by richkinley 6 years, 8 months ago
              Going to Jump School is not a rational decision. Jump out of a perfectly good airplane five times? lol

              The training you receive during Ground Week and Tower Week builds one's belief in your training, your equipment, and yourself. By the time you hit Jump Week, you're ready to go, and it seems perfectly right, and rational.
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              • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
                Also, I was very much younger.
                I was driving to work one day and it occurred to me that living in the 20th century and not knowing how to fly a plane was absurd. Flying lessons led to parachuting. I achieved soloing but got too busy earning a living to carry either endeavor any further.
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            • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 8 months ago
              The army kinda frowns on jumping without a chute (although some Rangers and Delta do jump ultra low with no reserve, since there really wouldn't be any chance on deploying a reserve if the main didn't deploy - so in that case, putting yourself in the hand of God is quite appropriate).
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              • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
                The lack of a parachute could convert an atheist -- but only briefly.
                I did a parachute jump once. It was fun. Never got around to a 2nd time and now my legs are shot. Don't think I'd like it as a profession, though.
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              • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
                Well, as Mohammed is reported to have said, one of the hadith's, when asked if a man should tether his camel or trust in God: First, tether your camel, then trust in God.
                A lesson in taking personal responsibility.
                We are creatures of time and space. (Can't wait until someone tries to turn that sentence around!)
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        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
          "Faith is the absence of reason."

          I reject that definition as wholly false. The dictionary doesn't try to pigeon-hole faith in this manner and I would ask that you not do so either. Faith is action towards an anticipated but not yet realized result. That's it. It is simple and not mystic. Faith isn't limited to the sphere of the divine - it is a product of man's inability to discern the reality of the future and instead forces man to speculate on the possibility instead.

          The example about jumping out of a plane is pure hyperbole and especially ridiculous to anyone who believes in God. Faith would be jumping out WITH a parachute: you have full expectation that the parachute will open but until it actually does, you have only anticipation - not reality. Looking forward to a future event and acting to reach it is faith.

          Faith becomes reality once the goal is achieved. It is when you prove that A = A. Until that happens, you only theorize it. You act with faith to put forth effort and expend the resources necessary to test the theory. A person under the influence of fear doesn't act to test the theory - regardless of how logical the idea is. A fearful person never opens his own business despite a great idea. A fearful person never climbs into the plane to go skydiving. A fearful person never takes risks - despite the logic that tells him that the payout is worth it. Fear stymies logic.
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          • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
            I'll give you some definitions of faith by Rand and Peikoff and leave it at that.
            "Faith designates blind acceptance of certain ideational content, acceptance induced by feeling in the absence of proof. - Leonard Peikoff
            "The alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only is a short-circuit destroying the mind.
            --Ayn Rand
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            • Posted by Solver 6 years, 8 months ago
              One can reason that if they placed a single bet on Red, let it ride ten times, and won every time, they would have enough for their entire family.

              One can have faith that if they placed a single bet on Red, let it ride ten times, they would have enough for their entire family.
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            • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
              To claim that an atheist is an authority on faith is a contradiction in terms. Appeal to authority denied as a logical fallacy.
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              • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
                Don't be silly. Of course an atheist can be an expert on faith. So can a vegetarian be an expert on beef. A person's philosophy doesn't preclude his ability to learn about anything.
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                • Posted by conscious1978 6 years, 8 months ago
                  +1 Herb.

                  I'm pretty sure there is a faulty premise somewhere in the thought that an atheist is excluded from expert knowledge regarding faith—just because of their atheism. That kind of logic could eliminate knowledge of atheism by the faithful...an amusing thought, but not a fair one. :)
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                  • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
                    Why? You would not allow a Buddhist to present themselves as an authority on Objectivism - you would defer to an Objectivist. I use the same logic to deny Rand's claim to act as an expert on faith. Further, if anyone has listened to any of Rand's rants regarding religion, she can hardly be called an objective commentator in any case. She was very openly hostile and held nothing but contempt for those of faith. Her partiality is demonstrable and fatally biases her opinions in this realm.
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                    • Posted by conscious1978 6 years, 8 months ago
                      Why?...Because I think individuals can be very well studied on other religions and philosophies and/or been deeply involved with them in the past.
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                      • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
                        Studied, perhaps. Opinion, surely. But authority? One with permission to speak on behalf of others of a like mind? Absolutely not and I'm frankly quite stunned that you would suggest such a thing.
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                        • Posted by conscious1978 6 years, 8 months ago
                          Many have 'believed' with "all that was within" them (and able to speak with authority on their beliefs), then come to a different understanding of their beliefs and experiences later in their lives. It is not an uncommon human experience.
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                • Posted by Solver 6 years, 8 months ago
                  It seems that to believe that their can not be a God is to believe that a common or collective conciseness can not exist. That something like an Avatarian planet with alien creatures whose hair communicates with the collective mind of the planet, can only ever be fiction.

                  Can any human become an expert of the supernatural?
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                • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
                  To assume to speak on matters of faith is to presume the approbation of God to do so. Since she denies His very existence, she has explicitly rejected any such. Thus, her comments are opinion - not authority.

                  One is free to value her opinion on the matter or not. However, to assume that Rand speaks authoritatively on matters of faith would make her...

                  a prophet(ess). A person of faith. The same "faith" she derides and openly scorns. If she were here, I think even she would agree with me that that is not a role she pretends to.
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                  • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                    I don't think AR denied his very existence, she denied that their was any evidence or rationally derived proof that he existed and that it was irrational for a rational and reasoning mind to make any life decisions or choose actions based on such a thing as faith alone without such proof.
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                    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
                      If one begins with a hypothesis and finds no proof in the test, there are three possibilities: the underlying hypothesis is invalid, the test is invalid, or both the hypothesis is valid and the test is valid and the test confirmed both hypothesis and conclusion. Do you not agree?

                      Now, in order to create a hypothesis about something, one must begin by attempting to define the thing(s) in question. If a definition is invalid, no hypothesis formed or test created will verify the Reality of something that isn't real. I can't find anything in Rand's writings where she stops long enough to try to define the "god" she is looking to try to disprove. The YouTube videos of her conversations have her immediately dismissing God as irrational and moving on. Piekoff's work similarly spends about two sentences coming to the same conclusion. For a topic with such profound implications, that seems to me to be a grave and fundamentally flawed oversight.
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                      • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                        Attempting to apply rational logic to the superstitious is nothing more than a juvenile game, it cannot lead to any rational result.

                        As an example: "finds no proof in the test...both the hypothesis is valid and the test is valid and the test confirmed both hypothesis and conclusion", no wonder we can't communicate.

                        That's enough of this.
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      • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
        I respectfully disagree.
        "Stepping into the great unknown can be a terrifying thing when one is relying on only a vision for a guide." That's why man makes plans. To carry out his visions. You can build a plan from your faith, but without reason, you might as well have no plan. Faith, in and of itself, will not see you delivered from a concentration camp, build a tidy retirement, flee a police state. Look to History to see this. Even Joan of Arc had goals and worked to achieve them. I think for the wrong reasons, but...
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        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
          Faith is a principle of action. It is based on information and the reasonable expectation that the plan can be carried out. It does not replace reason, nor does it obviate reason. Faith is the motivation that moving forward with the plan will see you to your goal.

          It's very interesting that you mention Joan d'Arc, as she was a quintessential example of faith. She saw a vision and moved forward with the intent to carry it out. She had faith that she could accomplish the goal and dispelled the fear that prevents many from doing the same. Faith is the opposite of fear.

          I see people all the time who despite rationally acknowledging that one path is better, lack the drive or motivation (I call it faith) to change - to take the path. They are _afraid_. Reason is critical to identifying the path, but faith gets you moving down it.
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          • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
            I seriously doubt that Joan's plan included getting burned at the stake. I wonder if someone could have asked her as they were lighting the fire, 'How's that faith working for you?', what her answer would have been.
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            • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
              Yes, but the English were driven from France; no need and no desire for a British Empire. Instead, an urging towards nation-state and national identity within the European subcontinent. Too bad the 19th century European philosophers screwed that up.

              And perhaps her being burned at the stake was the motivation for the French to drive the English from France. How could the Maid of Orleans intuit the need for national identity after a millenium of constant attempts at power grabbing?
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            • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
              Zenphamy, you should really study Joan of Arc and how this episode in medieval european history relates to history in the long term.
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              • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                Carol; I wasn't concerned with the actuality of Joan, just how she felt at the moment they lit the fire. I doubt that she was thinking about the long term, but then again she was a believer, so maybe she was.
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                • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
                  Since she knew the English WOULD be driven out of France, I believe she knew she would be burned as a heretic.
                  Anyway, you should read her story, it is well-documented. Try to view her success within the context of the last 1,000 years of European history.
                  How do YOU explain Joan of Arc? Again, before answering, read up on it.--Her trial, and subsequent Reconciliation.
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            • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
              I'm not asking you people to convert to Christianity. Good grief. All I'm asking is that you stop trying to define faith (which you don't believe in) in terms that are ridiculous and attempt to see it in a rational light. Mocking is for those too blinded by their own point of view to consider anything else and is wholly unworthy of this forum.
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              • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                I'm personally sorry if it appears that I'm mocking any individual. But as to seeing faith in a rational light, that's a pure contradiction. That's a big part of my difficulty with many of the religious -- those contradictions.
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                • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
                  Thank you. It is often difficult in prose to convey the attitude under which a comment was made.

                  Yes, there are many religions that present very obvious contradictions, as I pointed out with the Nicean Creed. But one should be aware of two potential fallacies with declaring ALL religions to be absurd: 1) that you have categorically studied all religions and 2) that because they are called a religion they must be false. One is a fallacy of inclusion and the other is a fallacy of association.

                  The only way to test the validity of any proposed philosophy (or religion - which is philosophy by another name) is to test its tenets or principles. Speculation must be followed up with action.
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                  • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                    You bring up another contentious matter that I find in discussions with the religious. That being the conflation of religion and philosophy in what is often termed reverse semantics.

                    religion |riˈlijən| noun
                    the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods:

                    philosophy |fəˈläsəfē| noun
                    the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, esp. when considered as an academic discipline. See also natural philosophy.

                    While I can understand the natural desire to lend some gravitas to your faith and the extent of your belief in it, religion and philosophy are in no way the same or share in definition. That is not an insignificant matter, it only adds to the complications of an objectivist attempting to carry on a discussion with the religious or vice versa.

                    It would seem to me that it's an obvious matter, that in order to carry on a conversation with another, that the use of a common language is essential. Speaking only as a participant on this site, I personally have no difficulty with the religious also wanting to participate, but since it is not the objectivist going to the religious to initiate the conversation, it's in fact the opposite, the onus appears to be on the religious to learn the language necessary to converse here. IMHO
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                    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
                      If God is part of Reality, however, then so is theology/religion. If you want to section off philosophy from God, you study a microcosm - a mere piece of the whole. If you are content with that, I will leave you to it. I am interested in the whole.

                      For it to be wholly inclusive, a philosophy can not be complete without solid answers to the questions of man's existence, purpose, and ultimate disposition. These are questions that are part of the whole of truth - whether you call them religion or philosophy.

                      According to my conversations here, the Objectivist is concerned with Reality and the study of what constitutes Reality. That is Definition at its very heart. Understanding of the true nature of a thing means being able to Define something in abject detail so that there is no ambiguity, no sliver of doubt as to what a thing IS. Definitions are critical, and are the underpinning for EVERY rational or logical construct. The very simplest way to invalidate a theory is to show the definition to be flawed. Thus it should be of the utmost concern to every philosopher - especially Objectivists - to ensure that the definitions they employ are accurate and logically sound. We did not pigeon-hole the description of the atom to Niels Bohr's model, but delved deeper until we found quarks, and then strings. So too should we be willing to revisit definitions when called upon. To do anything else would be to render Rand's pronouncements equivalent to Bible verse, making her the "god" of the Objectivists - a title she would surely repudiate.
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                      • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                        The very first words you state, "If God is part of Reality, however, then so is theology/religion." Who admits such a statement? And it's not me that wants to section off philosophy from God, it's the very definition of philosophy and religion that does the separation. You're simply using reverse semantics to try to claim that your faith is as sound a reason to make decisions (or more often not) about life and your interactions with it as an Objectivist's rational reasoning using his own mind and actual, real evidence and proof.
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                        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
                          I simply put forth the conditional: the IF. There are two branches (binary logic): either the supposition is TRUE and therefore the conclusion may be independently judged for validity, or the supposition is FALSE. It is straight logical deduction - there is no deception involved and none intended.

                          Regardless of your opinion on the validity of my assertion, do you agree that the statement thus formed is rational and logical, and that barring the precedent being proven to be invalid, that the conclusion would in fact be valid?
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                          • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                            We live in an analog world, not a binary world. I don't think Boolean logic is going to provide any resolution to your proposition of a god.

                            Enough, until you're willing to accept a common language and proper applications of logic. Until then we're only babbling.
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
        blarman; "Stepping into the great unknown" is what a truly free man requires. Following the map and rules set forth by others for your life means that you are living the others' lives, not your own.
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        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
          Only if you do not believe that they are necessarily at odds with one another. My father wants me to succeed in life - to be a good husband to my wife and father to my children, be honest in my dealings, etc. Because I also want these things, does that mean that I am living for my father, and not for me?

          I think the thing that may be confusing to many who don't believe in God is the idea that God is controlling you - that you are only an automaton if you choose to believe and follow the dogma. Nothing could be further from the truth. This life is an understudy to prepare for the next. There are rules that govern it and we are given this probationary period in order to test our abilities to live them - or not. Call them the ultimate in natural law. How we fare on the test will determine our level of freedom in the next life - those who can not (or will not) live the principles of a free society will by those very choices live in a place not afforded all the freedoms of one who did. We build our own prisons - or mansions - through our actions here. The principles of God don't force me to live a certain way, they just tell me what I will have to do in order to secure the greatest amount of freedom hereafter.

          But then again, since you probably don't believe in the hereafter, all this to you is moot. But if we both live the principles of natural law here, why such animosity because I claim knowledge of something greater?
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          • Posted by conscious1978 6 years, 8 months ago
            "But if we both live the principles of natural law here, why such animosity because I claim knowledge of something greater? "
            _______________________________

            Your "claim" is derived from a contradiction to those natural laws. I know you likely don't believe it a contradiction. However, that logical error tries to place Consciousness (god or man's) in the position of creating Existence. Existence ceases to axiomatic because what it _is_, depends on who is telling the story. So, A doesn't equal A sometimes; other times it might; and other times it morphs back and forth in your mind.

            That crucial difference in whether reality IS, or was created, is not taken lightly in Objectivism. When someone asserts there is not any logical problem which has primacy, then that assertion must be challenged. If not, then the day will come when someone has enough power to try and force me to bow to his revelation/interpretation of reality.
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            • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
              " However, that logical error tries to place Consciousness (god or man's) in the position of creating Existence."

              I don't claim that. If you read the Hebrew account of Genesis and the creation of this world, the word used is more appropriately rendered "organized". "Creation" never meant something from nothing. It is a straw man fallacy.

              What I hold is that intelligence existed before this life and will exist after this life. It merely changes in form. You assume that there is a contradiction when there is none.
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          • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
            I think even a Christian will agree that you only get one life on this earth, whether you get your immortality later or not. Why would your god, or your ancestors, or your parents require that you follow a map and rules laid down some 1700 years ago by men trying to cement their influence and rule in this world by putting together a book? For the most part of the next 1200 years or so, they wouldn't even let the common man read it and do their own interpretations of what it said.

            Where you see life as a straight line with fences of your faith from birth to death, I see it as a tree starting at birth with all kinds of branches to be explored in a limited amount of time. Some of those branches may lead to something I don't like, so I back up -- some may lead to a great experience, and some may just be so-so. There's even some that won't support me if I go to far out on it, so I back up or jump to another. But they're all there as a part of the one life I have on this earth and this reality.

            The argument I have with the religious is their attempts to equate rational reasoning and life experience with faith, particularly on a site that supports AR, AS, and rational reasoning. Until and unless you can demonstrate a factual relationship between the two, why bring it up? You should know by now what response you're going to get.
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            • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
              "... follow a map and rules laid down some 1700 years ago..."

              If a principle is ageless, time matters not, would you not agree? If the principles are ones of natural law, they would have been in effect before we were born and would exist after we are gone.

              " I see it as a tree starting at birth..."

              I will use the analogy of a road instead. I am not a parallel being able to explore multiple branches of decisions simultaneously. There are certainly many side roads and exits we may take. As pointed out by Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat: if you don't know where you're headed, it really doesn't matter what road you choose.

              I have a goal in mind, however: to live my life in such a way that the consequences of my actions will promote me rather than hold me back in the next life. Some choices in this life very literally hold me back from opportunities in the hereafter. What you see as fences I view as reminders that if I stray, I may not reach my goal.

              "The argument I have with the religious is their attempts to equate rational reasoning and life experience with faith, particularly on a site that supports AR, AS, and rational reasoning."

              What I find highly ironic is that you place your faith in a definition of faith invented by a person who didn't believe in faith in the first place. The contradiction between logic and faith only exists because Rand created it. It is a straw man argument. If we toss out her definition and look at faith as I have explained, suddenly reason and faith are companions - not competitors. Fear is the true antagonist of reason. Fear is the basis of prejudice. Fear prevents change and opposes risk. I see the enemy of reason not to be faith, but fear.

              I put forth my alternative hypothesis in the hopes that even one person might seriously consider it. In my view, we all existed together before this life and agreed to work together to make it through. Why should I care? That's another definitional debate: the meaning of love.
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  • Posted by Retired24-navy 6 years, 8 months ago
    The bigger problem is socialist government. They bribe too many people with welfare, food stamps, free phones and free rent. The weak accept and loose all their virtue to the gov. This is happening now as the 47% have sold out to be taken care of. The riots are coming as the money is quickly running out and when it does there will be hell to pay for who is in charge. This might could be stopped in Nov, if the socialists (Democrats) are voted out. It might not be too late to save our nation. We will see.
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    • Posted by $ sjatkins 6 years, 8 months ago
      The big problem is that the majority do not understand the nature of humans, or that ethics it implies and necessitates, and thus not the politics and state it necessitates. So they fall for anything that sounds good at the moment. This is what allows socialism.
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  • Posted by $ Stormi 6 years, 8 months ago
    Freedom exists, we have choices, to accept being free, or flee from it. Virtue is learned. Freedom comes first. Even in communist countries, their are choices, albeit fewer than we have. One cannot be the most free without accepting the responsibility that comes with it. That in itself is the start of virtue. But virtue alone does not necessarily lead to freedom.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 6 years, 8 months ago
    I would argue that virtue has to exist for freedom to have beneficial results, in agreement with Madison. Somalia is an example of a collapsed state with essentially no government, and freedom there means survival by any means possible.

    Virtue is a hard-earned state, denying self-indulgence and requiring sacrifice. American minorities poured their blood in military service to secure the freedoms promised in our Constitution.
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    • Posted by $ sjatkins 6 years, 8 months ago
      Somalia is not freedom. A few moments examination would show why. You need some basic things upheld or in common yes. Like the right to live your life as you see fit respecting the right of others to do the same. And like basis for economic interactions like currency, dispute resolution (courts), stopping offenders of above rule efficiently and with minimal unintended consequences. But not a great deal more and it is not clear that you need a government, a body that legally can initiated force, to do all of them.

      Freedom is contextual. It does not mean a freaking jungle. It is freedom to live and thrive as the type of beings we are with gives rise to ethics. They are not a free floating abstraction.

      It does not require "sacrifice". That is exactly what is NOT required. [Re]read "The Virtue of Selfishness" and get back to us. :)
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      • Posted by DrZarkov99 6 years, 8 months ago
        You're describing an orderly, well-managed (by someone) society, which is usually established by a virtuous people. Freedom as you describe it is an end result of agreements between educated people.

        Historically, civilized societies grew from barbarian roots. A sense of ethical behavior developed that established rules by which everyone understood the bounds of freedom. The concept of freedom as we understand it is the result of a long evolution from the uncontrolled, no rules "freedom" of the wild to civilized society. Ethics have to evolve in order for freedom to have a firm existence.
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  • Posted by $ sjatkins 6 years, 8 months ago
    I agree.

    People are free because freedom is required for human beings, individually, to be the best they can be. Responsibility, honesty, productivity require freedom. So asking whether people have enough of these qualities to be free rather entirely misses the point.

    There is no such thing as virtue where there is no freedom to choose and act upon one's choice.
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  • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
    Whether or not you liked George W. Bush, his mistaken presumption in both Afghanistan and in Iraq was that a liberated people would be capable of being taught how to become a culture worthy of America's considerable effort and treasure. Iraq and Afghanistan then proved that no matter how much money was thrown at them, they could not improve into a country worthy of doing commerce with. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. - Francisco d'Anconia
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    • Posted by 6 years, 8 months ago
      Mirroring its rise to dominance in social and economic affairs, the State has become aggressively international in its ambitions, eager to flex its muscles to fix a world in need, driven to find great new challenges to take on outside its own territory. Not content with merely policing its own citizens, it now attempts to police the world. Through its unchallenged military might it would conquer the enemies of freedom, bestowing peace and democracy upon hostile lands whose grateful citizenry would welcome the marching troops with garlands of flowers strewn at their feet. So it was that a country blessed by the protection of two oceans and two friendly neighbors on its borders nevertheless went ‘abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’
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    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
      I think the naivete was that it would happen in a few short years. They obviously didn't do their cultural homework or they would have realized that it takes until the third generation (about 50 years) for a new culture to really take hold.
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    • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
      I disagree. President Bush allowed for a theocracy to be instilled not in line with US morals and values. Do we think our Constitution was good enough for anyone else? We did the same following WWII and both Germany and Japan focused on productive efforts. If your property rights and natural rights are protected, people thrive and focus on productive paths. In both Iraq and Afganistan, that was not the case. Property rights were limited and so were natural rights and there was no separation from religion. Have you seen pictures of a prosperous Iraq and Iran in the 60s? Prosperous cities, sound infrastructure, women enrolled in university and students packed in medicine, engineering classes. The need for war ends when people have a stake in their own production and person
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      • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
        Iran in particular was much better off under the Shah. I am not sure what we are in disagreement about, khalling. I don't think what we said was mutually exclusive.
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        • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
          "..was that a liberated people would be capable of being taught how to become a culture worthy of America's considerable effort and treasure..." A Constitution like the US would have worked and quickly. Part of their religious culture includes enforcement mechanisms for disobeying. Punishments are harsh. IF you strictly enforce separation between the church and the government, you would see a huge decline in supporting that culture. Reason and logic in systems lead to prosperity for a nation. The same is true in Gaza. Those who settle in Israel prosper compared to those under Hamas rule. The hatred is real but you also have thousands, millions of young men with no prospects. Give them prospects by a government set up to protect their rights. I guess I tend to rebel a little about people being liberated from slavery unable to stabilize. It is the rule of law, based on rights, that sets the stage for peaceful co-existence and production.I also make that point because I'm having discussions with other gulchers about NAP. The rule of law is not about coercion as much as self-defense. It allows people to concentrate on being productive for themselves and their families. It's as destructive to say a US Constitution is coercive as to say a US Constitution does not cover "rights" such as housing, education, retirement, healthcare.
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          • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
            So you're saying that we should have instituted a US-like Constitution in Iraq and Afghanistan? That could have been done, but wouldn't have worked because many of their citizens would have a) resented us for "imposing our will on them" and b) would have had all the same religious objections that you pointed out. I liked this thread precisely because I think the virtue has to come before the freedom. Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but I think you are saying that once freed and given a US-like Constitution that they could have become virtuous later. If so, then we do disagree.
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            • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
              The definition of virtue by the Japanese before surrender was to follow the Emperor's edicts, as he was the direct descendent of a god. Part of the surrender demands made by the US was that their religion was to be removed from any involvement in their government and education. It was strictly enforced by McArther. Had it not been done, Japan would never have evolved to a business reoriented culture in less than a generation (some 6 to <10 years.
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              • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                You and khalling are right about the situation in Japan with regard to their religion, and our not doing so in Iraq and Afghanistan did not help. However, do you think that Iraq and Afghanistan could evolve into a business oriented culture? Sorry, I don't. Saudi Arabia - possible. UAE - quite possible. Iran - definitely possible. Afghanistan - not in my lifetime.
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                • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                  jbrenner; Why not? The Japanese citizen before surrender living under the edicts and propaganda and enforcement of the ruling elite with authority from their living god, were little better than savages. The biggest problem I see with Afghanistan is that the country has very little in the way of resources from which to internally develop, but education vs. a theocracy and the corruption they live under couldn't help but improve their population's lives. Maybe a stable labor source and ingenuity for manufacturing as Japan accomplished, or as India has done for support services and valuable contributions of intellectual individuals.
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                  • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                    Japan had no energy resources whatsoever. For a country to emerge into the 20th, let alone the 21st century, that society must accept all human beings have value. In societies that are "backwards" by today's standards, you will see a leadership that views its lower classes as either pawns to be manipulated or serfs at best. The reason that America's greatest decade was the 1980s was because President Reagan recognized the dignity of all humanity.
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                    • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                      OK, but what's that got to do with the successes of Germany and Japan as examples that might have been used in at least Afghanistan or Iraq? MacAurther enforced that very same issue in Japan against a very ingrained culture and was successful.
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                      • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                        MacArthur did enforce that issue in Japan successfully, but no president since 1989 would have the guts to allow a general to do that. That part of American culture is at least a generation and probably is two generations past. The US is well down the multiculturalist path to national suicide. If the US had that moral superiority anymore, then I would still have hope for the US. The US doesn't, and so as a man of virtue, I have shrugged.
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                • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                  Why Saudi over any of the others? They are currently pumping out the jihads. If we had more oil independence...
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                  • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                    We could be completely independent of the Middle East if we wanted to be. Many of the Saudis, the Omanis, the Iranians, those from the UAE, and the Qataris realize this. They are courting commercial business and value money to diversify their economies.

                    Granted, there are radicals from each of those countries, but there are enough people who are virtuous that their societies will grow in stature over the next generation. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Lebanon are not stable enough to improve any time soon.
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                    • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                      but there are virtuous people everywhere in the world.
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                      • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                        In many places there are not enough such virtuous people, at least in positions of prominence within those societies. When a society is either a monarchy or dictatorships (with or without lesser chieftains), it takes a serious uprising to transform a society into one that values all human life. Societies fixated upon the elimination of other cultures or those within those societies will not soon evolve.
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                    • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                      All of those you mention are or have been in negotiations with Russia, China, and BRIC over conversion away from the petri-dollar and the Saudis and Iranians have to be one of the most severely restrictive of human and civil rights of any nation.
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                      • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                        The Saudis and Iranians that I have met who have come to the US and returned to their countries have what it takes to lead their societies in another ten to twenty years. Their cultures are restrictive, but are gradually becoming less so. There is a change happening for the better there. It will take time. The Iraqis and the Afghans are definitely the most socially insular of the Muslim students at my university. The Middle Easterners are very concerned with the stability of the dollar. I don't think it will be that long (< 20 years) before the dollar is no longer the reserve currency. This is why I am making escape plans.
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            • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
              I'm sure Japan wasn't too keen on it with their "exceptional culture." You ignore their griping. Heck-do we not think our own Constitution is superior based on reason and logic? Bush didn't obviously. or he caved to whiners. Part of teh virtue is in the ability to spend time gathering the knowledge. If you are constantly in a Malthusian situation, if you are fending off violence and theft constantly-where are you picking up much virtue? People develop codes of honor but often it is more from ritual than understanding. We are the virtuous and we won the war (or did). Our system has been objectively proven to be superior for you. Watch people get virtuous, as philosophers and freedom lovers keep battling out the war of ideas. The loss of virtue in our own society came as we took the good for granted and evil influences crept in and grabbed hold. that's why your average american on the street has no idea about the virtue of freedom, its importance to natural and property rights. We allowed schools and universities to become arms of a hungry government teaching how many generations of children concepts that are anything but virtuous. But that indoctrination would melt away quickly if we started upholding the Constitution and threw out bad legislators and quit taking from the middle class to give to moochers-both crony and those who stay under the poverty line who are able bodied to hold down a job or two.
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              • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                Japan wasn't keen on it. My dad served in Japan during the US occupation (during the Korean War). I agree with all of your last comments. However, even though I know our Constitution is superior based on reason and logic, I am willing to let others realize this, rather than dictate it. The time spent in learning the wisdom of our Constitution will have its rewards.

                Read
                http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Prime_Di...
                It is a reasonable evolution of AR philosophy.
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                • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                  ok, you sent me to a page that lays out some philosophical idea of Star Trek. Rand never agreed with this. People all share certain characteristics. Because of those characteristics, they should never be slaves. Any system that is inconsistent with the idea you own yourself is immoral. Having people be slaves is not in our interest. We have already expended military power and we should demand a government that protects freedom. Moral relativism is evil. Rand was clear. States who do not protect natural rights are like outlaws. We have the moral right to, but are not obligated to correct that at any time. Unfortunately, we are no longer free ourselves, and that is a MUCH bigger problem.
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                  • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                    The Prime Directive's prohibitions are as follows:

                    1. Providing knowledge of technologies or science
                    2. Taking actions to generally affect a society's overall development
                    3. Taking actions which support one faction within a society over another
                    4. Helping a society escape the negative consequences of its own actions
                    5. Helping a society escape a natural disaster known to the society, even if inaction would result in a society's extinction.
                    6. Subverting or avoiding the application of a society's laws
                    7. Interfering in the internal affairs of a society

                    Several of these, particularly 4 and 7 could have come right out of AS.

                    I don't get where you brought up slavery from. It has nothing to do with what I was discussing.

                    My point is the expense of the military power was a mistake. Iraq and Afghanistan are not developed enough countries. Our interactions with them could not have resulted in good for them. The virtue must come first.
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                    • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                      Which one of the aforementioned Prime Directive prohibitions are inconsistent with AR's writings? #7 is a restatement of the non-aggression principle, and #4 could have been stated by John Galt himself.

                      By the way, no US president has followed these principles since Calvin Coolidge, my favorite president.
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                      • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                        NAP is the result of the idea you own yourself. It is not the axiom. When people confuse it as the cause vs the result/effect, now you are short-cutting philosophically.
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                      • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                        Inconsistancy with AS.

                        #1. Business
                        #2 As a result of #1
                        #3 No problem
                        #4 No problem except as a result of #1
                        #5 Unless in self interest from #1
                        #6 Don't understand why one shouldn't avoid the application of other's laws.
                        #7 No problem except as a result of #1

                        Personally, I get uncomfortable with including the NAP under the heading of Objectivism. AR talked of not using force or coercion instead of your own productivity and as a response to others that attempted to use such against you or your property. But I still contend that pre-emptive action is allowable when it is obvious that some other has the means and intent to start such action. Nor do I necessarily agree that responsive force be strictly limited to some form of equitable force. If you're in a situation where you have to respond with force to get someone to stop or prevent them from using force against yourself, the rules are out the window. If you insist on only equitable force, you've obviously never been in an actual fight initiated by another intent on harming you.

                        As it applies to attacking Al Quaida directly and their supporters, Taliban. We were right. As to Iraq, I'll never agree that we had any business there, but once the reality of being there is brought in, then we should have stayed and finished it.
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                        • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                          If businesses want to help develop other societies, then that is their prerogative. It is different with nations, however. What we have done with most of the 3rd World is enslave them through getting thug dictators into debt via a cabal between the Federal Reserve, their banks, and their bought and paid for politicians.
                          The US has subtly enslaved much of the rest of the world (including itself) via debt.
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                          • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
                            It's not about developing other societies, it's just about doing business with them. As to our involvement in the IMF and other's dealings with debt, I don't doubt you.
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                            • Posted by $ jbrenner 6 years, 8 months ago
                              Doing business with those societies now means dealing with the IMF and the thug dictators. There just isn't a middle upper or upper middle class of businesspeople to deal with in so many of these countries. If you can find them, that's great.
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                • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                  hey! my dad too. AF Okinawa.
                  You and I will disagree where national treasure was used in a war. no choice. heck, as we showed in Germany, we'll help you rebuild. We like stable governments to trade with. No stable government was put into place in the hot wars over there.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 6 years, 8 months ago
    I strongly agree with your suggestion that most people will rise to the occasion.

    Maybe it happens like this. A few people don't rise to the occasion. Well-meaning people see we could easily force them to make a few better decisions and improve their lives. They sell these programs, though, as being for everyone. Once they're in place, people don't need to rise to the occasion. They start thinking, "if this investment, food, drug, or whatever were a bad idea for me, the gov't would stop me from using it." People's thinking shifts from what "what should we allow the gov't to do?" to "what should the gov't allow people to do?".

    I strongly agree with what you say: "Just set everyone free. Let people make mistakes, let them live by their own choices. Let them learn, let them experiment, let them cooperate." Yes!!!
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    • Posted by 6 years, 8 months ago
      It always starts with (apparently) well-intentioned reformers. They move on from their initial success to other pet causes. Meanwhile, what they have started takes on a life of its own, growing and mutating, expanding its depth and breadth to the point where a formerly free people are restricted by papers, permits, registrations, authorizations, approvals, and licenses, removing their capacity to act in accord with their natural talents and inclinations. For those who refuse to obey the orders, laws, mandates, acts, regulations, codes, and statutes, there is the punishing force of the State lying in wait, its fines, prisons, and brutality lurking just beneath the surface. Where once everything not expressly forbidden by law was allowed to the people as their prerogative, everything not expressly allowed becomes, in effect, forbidden.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 8 months ago
    Looks like I hit a hot button with my faith vs volition premise. It is an unresolvable argument since those who oppose faith are not arguing with someone applying logic. Faith by its very nature can be hung on to since it doesn't need facts or logic to believe in it. The discussion should end without enmity. Neither side will convince the other.

    However, Galt's Gulch is is dedicated to Atlas Shrugged, the movie based on the book by Ayn Rand which is her philosophy in novel form. She was, and it is expressed in her writings, a non-militant atheist. So, there is always going to be some friction as far as the believers in any form of faith is concerned. She completely rejected faith to the point of hatred.
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  • Posted by $ ObjectiveAnalyst 6 years, 8 months ago
    "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."Thomas Jefferson
    The people lose their virtue as the state gains power and corrupts them with cronyism, graft and re-education through state controlled education. For a people to remove the shackles and regain their virtue they must apparently feel the lash, find a few virtuous unrelenting leaders who inspire and once again... "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Thomas Jefferson



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  • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
    Virtue: Another of those so mis-used and mis-understood words to be meshed with different human's concepts of what morality is.

    A truly free man doesn't need such a word or concept since he measures his life and achievements with rationally applied logic. It is a word that only applies to those wishing to be accepted by others, that relies on his image as reflected in the eyes of others to determine his worth, rather than his own happiness. That type of person, rather than the free man, never leaves his home without his mask of 'virtue' and lives in constant fear of being 'found out'.

    The free man lives his life without concern or regard for the moral definition of others, confident in his own decisions and actions. Be mistrustful of any man that describes himself as virtuous and search behind his mask.
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    • Posted by 6 years, 8 months ago
      "Without concern or regard for the moral definitions of others."

      Is that the same as living without concern or regard for others? It sounds like it isn't; the distinction being in how others define morality. A free person wouldn't care how others define morality. But his own concept of morality could include concern and regard for others. Do I have that right?
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      • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
        Actually, a free person cares not how others define morality, but that is only in regard to how they conceive of one's value to himself. A free person does care about how another would define morality as it involves that person's actions, or ethical behavior. I would want to know how you, the other, are going to behave given a certain set of circumstances, and therefore I would need to have a modicum of knowledge of your morals. Otherwise, this thread is going to devolve into the same kind of existentialism and moral relativism prevalent in Sartre's philosophy.
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
        Good understanding and of course, as a free man, you have the right to believe as you determine, you just don't have any right to control or subjugate or expect me to pick you up if your belief fails you.
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    • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
      Good point. And therein lies the lament of the Second-hander. Someone who feels he has value only if others give it to him. Another reason I am against Common Core. That a child can only feel worth if he is the same as another child. Can give rise to bullying.
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  • Posted by Robbie53024 6 years, 8 months ago
    It is empirically clear that people lose their virtue first and then their liberty. The opposite would be impossible, as a free and virtuous people would not allow their freedom to be taken from them. Only a corrupt, yet free people, will allow that freedom to be taken from them.

    Thus, as you identify, the solution is readily apparent.
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    • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
      Food for thought, Robbie. But mayhap a little too idealistic.
      I was thinking of the Russian peasants, who so much wanted nothing to do with the "collective"
      that they ate their seed grain and slaughtered their animals; then were sent to the Gulag.
      Listen to Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini; the feelings are written into the music.
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  • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
    America was founded by a people, having already learned independence of thought, who were required to rely on themselves in a very practical way--if they did not work hard, and use their own foresight and intelligence, they would not have survived. There was no dependence on an already existing government.
    (In fact, most immigrants to the US in the 19th and 20th century were tired of the paternalism prevalent in Europe. Although I had heard the Irish brought with them the idea that gov't should take care of people, but I don't know if that is true!--My Italian grandparents were given a book by Customs, stating that the streets in America were not paved with gold, as they might believe, but if they worked hard and saved for the future, they would do well)
    Anyway, it's obvious the French Revolution degenerated in "The Terror" and "The Paris Mob" (Mob Rule) and eventually a takeover by someone who was needed to establish order out of chaos. The fact that he then set out to conquer the rest of the world might teach us something of the psychology of those whose dominance is at the same time necessary but can lead to a concentration of power.
    Our founders were perplexed at the difference between the two revolutions, Madison thinking it might be that individuals, acting alone, can show restraint, whereas people acting as a group--mob, do not have the same restraints
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  • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
    Virtue is based on adherence to unchanging principles. In order for society to have virtue, they must first be in agreement over what constitutes "good" vs "evil" - what principles should be the underpinnings of society. The problem I see in the breakdown of virtue in our current society is because people refuse to say that there IS "good" and "evil" at all! As soon as society as a plurality begin to discard the notion of good and evil, virtue will erode and society will degrade into a cacophony of mixed messages.

    After good and evil are clearly delineated, then we must have a society that values the good and encourages the good.
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    • Posted by $ Technocracy 6 years, 8 months ago
      +1 for you Blarman

      Refusal to make judgments over right/wrong, good/evil is pro-chaos stagnation. A stagnant society is a dying society. The chaos becomes more and more prevalent as a society's order comes unravelled.
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  • Posted by m082844 6 years, 8 months ago
    Man's basic tool of survival is his mind. Take a look around. Everything that makes man's life possible and better long range was discovered and created by someone's mind. The faculty of the mind has many prerequisites before it is able to function -- freedom from physical force is one of them. Freedom makes life long range possible. If man's life (long range) is the standard, then man has a right to be free -- it is wrong for physical force to shut down his basic means of survival. If some men are unable to survive long range by the virtues of a rational being (rational, productive, independent, etc.) shackling those who can won't solve the problem of survival -- he is eliminating the basic means. With this understanding, it is no surprise that less free states have more issues with prosperity long range than more free states do.

    If life is what we want to achieve (long range) for ourselves than it is the source we must secure and it must be our focus; to hell with the would be tyrants and the unvirtuous if it is the source of life they wish to cut off as their means of short range survival.
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  • Posted by $ jlc 6 years, 8 months ago
    In "The Better Angels of our Nature.." Steven Pinker points out that when a cobbled-together peace was put in effect in Ireland and a generation of children grew up expecting NOT to be shot at, a true peace began to emerge.

    With respect to JohnBrown's question, it may be a matter of custom rather than virtue. We have lost the custom of independence and the methods of coping with personal freedom (which our parents' generation had). This is what was has been wrong in Somalia (per DrZarkhov) - they have no custom of civilization. Obama's brother, Malik, wondered out loud (in "2016") if it would have been better for the British to have retained their Imperial Empires in Africa for a couple of generations longer - develop an expectation of civilization (as opposed to tribalization) in the people - before they left. (Though I will note that this did not work in Yugo.) As it is, many countries are trying to leap from the barely Neolithic to the 21st century in a generation...and they have not had time to develop the skills to cope with civilization.

    Similarly, if Americans suddenly became free of restraints, they would not behave well. People (and companies) are not inherently benign and polite. It is only after seeing the repercussions of bad decisions that we develop internal guidelines. I would therefore expect a generation (or several) of opportunism (as in Russia) before we got back to the cultural customs of the first quarter of the 20th century.

    This could probably be mitigated by making specific laws (Amendment?) that pointedly made an individual (corporation) responsible for the direct consequences of their actions (but not implausible - no Hot Coffee! - or collateral) before releasing all of the tens of thousands of burdensome regulations with which we are beset.

    Jan
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    • Posted by Solver 6 years, 8 months ago
      Most caged or shackled people "would not behave well" if they "suddenly became free of restraints."
      Americans included.
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      • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
        you must have a strong system of property rights in place. Even with the end of the civil war, those blacks who remained in the south continued to struggle because the enforcement mechanisms were not working for them. I point out after Apartheid the socialist system in place encouraged the people to not respect property rights. Most blacks were in a better economic place before its removal. The police were just as bad after as before-maybe worse under Mandela. In the US slaves were better treated than the immigrants from Ireland and elsewhere who were indentured or sharecropping. You go from some stability to no stability. It is disruptive and you have to have a way to seek economic stability. But I don't think people are just mob rule mentality in general. I think if they see opportunities to better themselves they go for them. If they see property is protected they behave less chaotically. I do think education (ability to read) helps in this regard. It's how you mentor, learn about philosophers, find others who think like you think-or if they don't why not?
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        • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
          Education is very important. I think after the civil war, the slaves were easily taken advantage of because of their lack of education, giving rise to a unreasonable "reconstruction".
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    • Posted by 6 years, 8 months ago
      An interesting question. When slaves are suddenly liberated, what happens to them? When the American slaves were liberated after the Civil War, how did they cope? Were there slave customs and norms that allowed them to create a working, civilized society?
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    • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
      Although I live in a country with many laws and endless regulations on some things, I enjoy an incredible amount of de facto freedom. People setting up little food stands or gift shops along the streets, bike helmets few and far between, people piled in the back of pickups, goods unaccompanied by lengthy warnings on the packages, relatively few liability lawsuits, don't get me started on chicken parts sold in open bins, the police so bored they are the school crossing guards, no police DUI checkpoints, etc. um, the people aren't falling dead in the street, mayhem doesn't ensue across communities. There is violence not that far away, mostly due the US's obsession with drug trade due primarily to a War on Drugs which makes trafficking of them highly profitable for violent and evil thugs.
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  • Posted by empedocles 6 years, 8 months ago
    Ayn Rand was an atheists. Just saying.

    I do think that responsibility gets in the way of profit unless your Sea World. Then, you have to come up with a clever way to make up for your irresponsible behavior.

    Business will be responsible if consumers vote with their dollars. However, when it comes to things like oil, we're pretty much screwed. I can't teleport to work.
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  • Posted by CarolSeer2014 6 years, 8 months ago
    Are you saying, perhaps, do people evolve, or devolve?
    But your question as to cause and effect is interesting, and decidedly hard to answer.
    Perhaps if we compare the American Revolution (unique in the history of mankind) and the French or Russian Revolutions, we can at least obtain some of the understanding needed to add focus to your question.
    France had a large population of dependent people, unused to self-reliance, and choice-making.
    (To Be Continued)
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    • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 8 months ago
      To pose the question of evolution is to presuppose the idea of origin, destination, and relative position. One would find if difficult to navigate unless one had a pretty solid idea of all three.
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  • Posted by CharlesRAnderson 6 years, 8 months ago
    The greater the extent or the greater the time a nation operates under an individual rights abusing government, the more the morality of the People suffers and the less capable they are of moral behavior even when given a chance for greater freedom.

    We see these effects in the degree of recovery in the Communists nations. Those that were taken over at the end of WWII, but had a good measure of freedom before that, have much more freedom now in general (Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) than is found in countries with a longer history of communist control, such as Russia, Belorussia, and Ukraine. Even many Russians who have come to the USA have a very hard time with truly respecting the property rights of others in my experience as an example of the moral conditioning they had living under communism. It is not that they thought that communism was right so much as that there was no reason to respect the value of property when all of it was owned by the state.
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  • Posted by johnpe1 6 years, 8 months ago
    I would suggest that the probability that *a virtuous
    people would beget a free society* is about 50%,,,

    and that *a free people would beget a virtuous
    society* is about 10%;;;;;

    thus, we should value our virtue as we sustain freedom,
    for freedom -- at any cost -- is an illusion like the utopia
    sought by the left. -- j

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  • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
    sharing this on Facebook here:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/tolfa/
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    • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
      This site supports anarchism. Objectivism is against anarchy. It is a strong supporter of property rights.
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      • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
        From the tone of your post, you seem to consider yourself the voice of objectivism. So pray tell, how does objectivism define anarchism, which you say it is against.
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        • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
          no, just expressing fact. It's important to distinguish the two on this site, many are new to the philosophy of Objectivism here. Please start a post and discuss it. I'd like your opinion along with the link.
          "Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction: . . . a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government." AR, The Virtue of Selfishness
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          • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
            Your comments are so full of assumptions and personal opinions that I don’t know where to begin. But let me try to deal with just a couple of them.

            &amp;gt;&amp;gt; Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction; &amp;lt;&amp;lt;
            Of course it is. Why? Because it is NOT a political concept. Anarchy is a state of nature. For something to be a political concept, it must be a concept of government, the absolute opposite of anarchy. So anarchy as a political concept is not only a floating abstraction, it is complete and utter nonsense.

            &amp;gt;&amp;gt; a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along &amp;lt;&amp;lt;
            You appear to be making a rather startling assumption. Where do you get the idea that in anarchy people will somehow remain unarmed and incapable of self defense, incapable of evolving market driven arbitration and dispute settlement mechanisms and more. What silly assumptions.

            There is much more, but I just don’t have the time to regurgitate the same tired old minarchist platitudes. I have read ALL of Ayn Rand’s work and intensively studied much of it. Have you read even one chapter of “The Online Freedom Academy” found at http://www.tolfa.us? Or are you just making assumptions about its content? If you wish to argue specifics of the tolfa.us curriculum after studying it, I’ll be happy to oblige. Until then, “Ciao”.
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            • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
              agreements which are not enforceable are nonsense. agreements which are enforceable mean you have a form of government. Ayn Rand, the most significant philosopher of the 20th century, showed property rights are based in Reason. Anarchists want to focus on pragmatism without philosophically deriving that property rights come from owning oneself. Without those foundations, the whole theory of NAP is not consistent with property rights. NAP is the RESULT of property rights not the cause.
              "Your comments are so full of assumptions and personal opinions that I don’t know where to begin. But let me try to deal with just a couple of them."
              SHOW me do not LABEL me. I quoted Ayn Rand. You want to shunt me to a website. That's a bit propagandist. People come of their own free will to this site to learn more about Ayn Rand's ideas. You are using this site to springboard to push your propaganda. I'm challenging you to offer your OWN thoughts and and reasoning to the posts here or make your own. shunting people to a FB page continuously shows that you have no interest int eh ideas of AR
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              • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
                Funny thing is that I have much admiration for and a pretty good understanding of Ayn Rand's work. Her writings were without a doubt among the greatest formative influences of my life. From what you write about anarchism, it is clear that you have little if any understanding of it. You appear to have defined its meaning in an arbitrary way that best suits your particular beliefs and left it at that.

                I continue to be very interested in Ms. Rand's writing, both fiction and scholarly. A few months ago I read Atlas Shrugged again; for the 4th or 5th time? I visit Galt's Gulch and other sites, read and listen to other philosophers, economist and commentators to expand my understanding of this crazy world we live in.

                Rest assured that when I express an opinion, it is my own; one arrived at from decades of study and contemplation, not just a dogmatic repetition of of something I read. Shown an unfamiliar concept, I will attempt first of all to examine its merits, not to get into dead end arguments with others so I can hang on to old beliefs, but for the pure pleasure of intellectual discovery. Hey, even at my ripe old age, I might learn something! LOL

                With that, I wish you all the best, keeping in mind not our differences over petty semantics, but the fact that we are traveling the same road, driven by our shared desire for freedom and a better world.
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                • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                  You don 't follow some of the rules set up by your own group. The forms of argument you use are personal attacks, without commenting on where anarchists and objectivists would disagree. I already spent some time at your sites and read the articles you posted. I do not need decades of study to understand the concepts. Ultimately, anarchism either shortcuts the moral foundations for prooerty rights or ignores that contracts must have an enforcement mechanism in order to be valid. Simple agreement between two individuals does not have a remedy if there is a dispute. Once everyone agrees to an arbiter you have a form of govt whether privately funded or not. That 's not anarchism then. I wish you would just discuss the point and leave off the personal jabs.
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                  • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
                    Please, I mean no disrespect, but the rub is a simple one, namely your apparent assumption that every person you label an "anarchist" conforms to your definition of what that means and then you proceed to do the same with certain key words such as "government". This a frequent problem in these types of discussion. You are not alone in overlooking such semantic but crucial differences. Even after 50+ years of study, I still fall prey to it myself on occasion.

                    Your assertions not withstanding, I am NOT an anarchist as you would apparently define that word. I am a student of "anarchology", a word which I carefully define as "The study of why and how spontaneous order arises in societies without coercive rulers." This is a most fascinating subject for which much empirical data is available in addition to the many scholarly works by Rand and numerous equally worthy thinkers such as von Mises to name just one.

                    You apparently lump both coercive and non-coercive governance (the latter also frequently being referred to as voluntary cooperation) under one moniker - "government". Both I and Wikipedia would disagree, but hey, if that works for you, knock yourself out.

                    So, in the hope of finding some common ground, let me be clear about this. I have no objections to voluntary governance (let's just call it "objectivist government", if you will). It is only the coercive kind which I object to on the basis of both reason and the seemingly overwhelming empirical evidence of its abject failure.
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                    • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                      as long as there is a enforcement mechanism: some form of police and adjudication, that is a form of governing. The phrase "non-coercive governance" is either enforceable (govt) or not (anarchy). This is that short-cut I was talking about. I am well-read on von Mises. What is your stand on intellectual property rights?
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                      • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
                        There is a huge difference between coercion and contract enforcement. The former is aggressive and a clear violation of the LONA, the latter is defensive and therefore no violation of the LONA.

                        All property rights are the same in principle. Differentiating "intellectual" as a special class is a red herring. If I make a painting, that is a priori my property. If I choose to let you take a photo of it without attaching any conditions, then the painting remains my property and the photo of it is yours. If, before allowing you to photograph it, I obtain your agreement to refrain from showing the photo to anybody else or to distribute copies of it to your friends, then I have an enforceable contract, voluntarily (not coerced) entered into by you. If you subsequently break your promise, then you are committing a fraud upon me in violation of the LONA and my subsequent enforcement efforts are therefore defensive in nature, not a violation of the LONA.

                        This is no different from me letting you stay in my cottage for the weekend on condition that you refrain from bringing strangers or throwing a party.
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                        • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                          "my subsequent enforcement efforts are therefore defensive in nature." that's government. It makes no difference whether it is privately contracted or not. Why is it coercion that everybody knows this is going to happen up front? How are you not voluntary in agreeing to pay for said enforcement. What stops the majority of your society from breaking agreements right and left? If you just kick the abusers out, well we are in a fiefdom situation. small pockets of cooperaters agreeing to trust on e another. How do I get remedy from the person who walks into my gallery and starts taking pictures of all my stuff? Tehy didn't agree to anything. How efficient is it, that everytime someone wants to browse in my gallery I have them sign a release agreeing not to take pictures and use for their own gain. Property rights should be uniform and and enforced uniformly to have value.
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                        • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                          Oh and let's get even more specific. What about patents? I can hardly sign a contract with millions of people to enforce my ownership. This is a good example, not "a special class" of rights.
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                          • -3
                            Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
                            Patents are a coercively created monopoly. Not factual property, but fictional "legal" property.
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                            • Posted by dbhalling 6 years, 8 months ago
                              You clearly do not know what property rights are. Patents are founded on Locke's idea of Natural Rights, which starts with the fact that you own yourself and therefor own those things you create.
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                              • -1
                                Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
                                What is it that compels you to always want to quote some higher authority rather than relying on your own ability to reason?

                                It is your own assertion which, if not entirely wrong, is certainly incomplete. Yes, what you create, you initially own exclusively. That however changes dramatically the moment you share even so much as the knowledge of its existence with another person. From then on, your ownership is no longer absolute. As far as having exclusive ownership under natural law of the idea or thought behind your creation, that’s just plain silly. There have been many documented occasions in history where at roughly the same time two or more individuals invented and created similar things based on virtually indistinguishable ideas, but completely separate from and unaware of one another.

                                How would you propose to solve that little conflict under natural law? And please don't yell "patents" because that would be circular reasoning now, wouldn't it.
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                            • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 years, 8 months ago
                              So by your definition, only physical things can be property?
                              What would inspire someone to develop new things, if they can be simply copied the day after they are developed? The sole driver for success would be to be the best manufacturer, and advancement would end in a few business cycles.
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                              • -2
                                Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
                                Guys I'm enjoying what is turning into a lively exchange and would gladly reply to this, but the column width is just getting ridiculous. On FB we can continue a private group discussion if you like. I'm game.
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        • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
          The largest difficulty I experience when observing or participating in discussions of anarchism or even objectivism is the tendency by both to argue from the position of the ideal or principles of the ism rather than from the rational reality of either system.

          I find for the most part that the anarchist, in their reliance on the NAP and voluntary association, neglect to consider that the reality of resolving the issue that might arise between two free individuals, requires that the two not only agree to submit to an arbiter but must actually do so. It may be and probably will be, that one party just refuses to attend the arbitration, or refuses to comply with the results of the arbitration. So, what happens then? What happens when someone murders or rapes?

          At the other hand, the objectivist recognizes by relying on the protection of property rights (on the basis that the individual owns himself and the fruits of his productive activities, both physically and mentally) provides for a minimalist governmental enforcement of those rights. The only difficulty that I find with the objectivist (including the founders) is that they neglect to provide for the iniquity (in a realistic manner) of those that gravitate to filling the positions of government and of those in the population that are gullible or self centered enough to support that iniquity.

          This site is intended for those that support the art, writings, and philosophy of Ayn Rand which allows for discussion and debate of the parts or whole of the subject matter, but arguing for other ideals or principles without discussing or detailing why that is relative to AR's ideas or concepts is non-productive for this site. IMHO

          I don't pretend to be the voice of objectivism, I'm just an individual that finds that for the most part, that objectivism fits who and what I am.

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          • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
            Well written to be sure. As far as the questions you ask about the practical aspects of living by the NAP, i.e. ethics, arbitration and dealing with vilent crime, the tolfa course devotes 2 entire chapters to this, so I am obviously not going to answer it all in a few short sentences here.

            I totally grok that you seek a comfort zone and if objectivism gives you that, good for you. For my part I am not a follower of any *ism. I have concluded that my comfort zone is found in adhering to the NAP before all else. This means that I have no choice but to figure out - by my own capacity to reason - how to make that work as opposed to trying to argue it out of the way so I can remain true to the "one true faith". That is who and what I am.
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            • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 8 months ago
              Fair enough, but because of your comments, I must answer that for me it has little to do with a 'comfort zone' nor being a 'follower of an ism' nor remaining true to the "one true faith". Who and what I am developed before I discovered Objectivism or AR. But I recognize AR for putting into words and into a complete philosophy and art, what was an essential component of my identity and actions in my life.

              For your adherence to the NAP and the ideas of tolfa, I wish you well in your endeavors.
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      • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
        Last time I checked, property rights are something supported with equal vigor by objectivists and anarchists. What am I missing here? Oh, and while we''re on the subject, the FB tolfa group does not "support" anarchism, it is dedicated to studying it and objectivism among many "freedom" philosophies.
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        • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
          "an introductory course in anarchcology"
          whatever anarchology means
          anarchists come in all stripes. they come from a socialist point of view to a Rothbard point of view. How can they be for property rights, because they don't ultimately support enforcement. I know this well. I argue with them all the time about intellectual property rights.
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          • Posted by helidrvr 6 years, 8 months ago
            In a state of anarchy, ALL variants of property rights are a matter of restrictive covenants voluntarily entered into between the parties involved. Other than that, please refer to my comments above and to www.tolfa.us for more.
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            • Posted by khalling 6 years, 8 months ago
              But the minute someone decides to not adhere to the covenant (btw a covenant is a form of government) restrictions are bogus and ignores them your property right could be weakened. The same is true in a neighborhood where no one locks their doors. The neighbors have an understanding but as soon as a thief finds out the whole neighborhood has unlocked doors
              , he sees an opportunity. To assume people will behave rationally and morally in all cases would be naive. Heck, even locks on doors don 't keep thieves away, they just deter
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  • Posted by wiggys 6 years, 8 months ago
    you are asking in essence that the state shut up and go away, which I believe that it should however, it is not going to happen and freedoms have been lost and more freedoms will be lost and that is the way it is going to be for a very long time.
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    • Posted by RonC 6 years, 8 months ago
      Well said JohnBrown. This is kind of like channeling the founders. The Nation could benefit from the debates found here, but they are too buzy to be bothered.
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