Philosophy: Who Needs It

Posted by jchristyatty 7 years ago to Philosophy
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Ayn Rand's address To The Graduating Class of The United States Military Academy at West Point New York — March 6, 1974
fare.tunes.org/liberty/library/pwni.html
"In the titular essay, “Philosophy: Who Needs It,” Rand shows why, in order to deal with concrete, real-life problems, an individual needs some implicit or explicit view of the world, of man’s place in it, and of what goals and values he ought to pursue. The abstract premises an individual holds may be true and consistent, reached by conscientious thought—and the purpose of the science of philosophy is to teach one how to achieve this—or his premises may be a heap of clashing ideas unwittingly absorbed from the culture around him. But either way, she argues, the power of philosophy is inescapable. It is something everyone should be concerned with."



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  • Posted by gafisher 7 years ago
    One fascinating point about this speech is that Ayn Rand was invited to present it, and at West Point. Our society has continued down the dark road she warned us of, to the extent that it is extremely unlikely she'd be *permitted* today to speak to a High School Commencement, much less at a Military Academy Graduation.
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
      Would an atheist be invited to speak at the Air Force Academy?
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 7 years ago
        Why would anyone be concerned one way or the other? The speech wasn't about religion, it concerned the importance of philosophy and it's study.
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        • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
          You know quite well how many times John Galt referenced God. If you do not, you can read it for yourself. Not only did Rand deny the metaphysical God, she overwhelmed the followers of God with the facts of the consequences of their action. That is why Ayn Rand was proud to have challenged the moral teachings of 2500 years.
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          • Posted by Zenphamy 7 years ago
            Now, now Mike; I really don't pay attention to what a fictional character says or doesn't say. As to Rand, I don't think she denied a metaphysical god as much as she rejected superstition and mysticism as a solid or realistic grounding for decisions in the world of reality. As to "moral teachings of 2500 years", I only point you to the Inquisition as an example of 'moral teachings'. Your morality has justified the killing, in atrocious ways, of millions of human beings and the total obliteration of dozens of other cultures.

            Her speech was at the Air Force Academy which is an institution based on science. There is no room for superstition when flying an airplane at Mach 3 or 4 against an enemy that wants to destroy you and your plane.
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            • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
              Galt's speech was written to present her philosophy in a fictional context. If you "don't pay attention to what some fictional character says" you are ignoring what Ayn Rand said, as you are when you claim that she didn't deny a "metaphysical god" as supposedly something other than "superstition and mysticism".

              From her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, appendix on the workshops:

              "Q: And what common features of particulars are retained in order to get the concept 'God'—

              "AR: I would have to refer you to a brief passage about invalid concepts [page 49]. This is precisely one, if not the essential one, of the epistemological objections to the concept 'God'. It is not a concept. At best, one could say it is a concept in the sense in which a dramatist uses concepts to create a character. It is an isolation of actual characteristics of man combined with the projection of impossible, irrational characteristics which do not arise from reality—such as omnipotence and omniscience.

              "Besides, God isn't even supposed to be a concept: he is sui generis, so that nothing relevant to man or the rest of nature is supposed, by the proponents of that viewpoint, to apply to God. A concept has to involve two or more similar concretes, and there is nothing like God. He is supposed to be unique. Therefore, by their own terms of setting up the problem, they have taken God out of the conceptual realm. And quite properly, because he is out of reality."

              Your false assertion equating Ayn Rand's morality to "the Inquisition" and claim that it "has justified the killing, in atrocious ways, of millions of human beings and the total obliteration of dozens of other cultures" is a disgusting smear with no basis in reality.

              Pay attention to what Ayn Rand and her characters say rather than making things up in irresponsible misrepresentations.
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              • Posted by Zenphamy 6 years, 12 months ago
                Nonsense: You'll find nothing in anything I think or have written to equate AR's morality to 'the Inquisition' or 'justified killing'. What you will find is the equation of a 2500 year old morality to the Inquisition and murder.

                As to AR's writing of Galt's speech, I would assert that she wrote AS in whole to entertain and to popularize her philosophy. Galt's speech was an incorporated portion of the whole. I respect her fictional writings but more so her scholarly writings, essays, and published interviews. I base my understanding of her philosophy on my personal experiences of life combined with personal analysis of her body of work. I don't waste much time in memorizing and quoting her work to footnote everything I say. This comment string began as a reply to bringing atheism into a conversation about AR's speech on the importance of philosophy. AR's atheism is one result of her philosophy, not the basis of her philosophy and I tire of the constant attempt to emphasize that one aspect over the import of all the other aspects.

                If you don't believe that AR's rejection of God was based on her reasoned and rational rejection of superstition and mysticism as a sound or logically rational basis of decision making or morality in reality, then you've missed the point.

                You're reply to me is arrogantly pedantic and obnoxious just to blow air up your own skirt/kilt. You're obviously well read and studied in AR's work, but your presentation strikes me more as rote than reasoned on your own.
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                • Posted by ewv 6 years, 10 months ago
                  You wrote, "Your morality has justified the killing, in atrocious ways, of millions of human beings and the total obliteration of dozens of other cultures." That was in response to Ayn Rand's rejection of traditional religious ethics of sacrifice and duty, which she explained in great detail.

                  You falsely asserted that Ayn Rand did not mean to reject a metaphysical god. The quote I gave you is one of many that refutes your claim. It is in fact her position, not irrelevant "rote quoting and memorizing". Your claim has been refuted by fact. You don't have to footnote everything you write, but you had better get it right if you don't want to be challenged.

                  To point out to you that Ayn Rand rejected mysticism in all forms does not mean that atheism is the "basis of her philosophy" and is not a "constant attempt to emphasize that one aspect". You brought it up yourself, and you have the response. That her rejection of god is a consequence rather than the starting point of her positive philosophy of objectivity does not mean that it is somehow dispensable. To reject a consequence while ignoring its meaning is to logically deny the basis from which it is a consequence. You can't have it both ways.

                  Reasoning on one's own does not mean that in discussing Ayn Rand one can ignore what she in fact said in the formulation and explanation of her own philosophy. You don't decide that. Rejecting your misrepresentations, based on the facts of what she wrote, is not "pedantic", "obnoxious", and "rote". It is a straightforward rejection, based on evidence, of your false claims misrepresenting her. Religion is not compatible with her philosophy. Ayn Rand did not waste her time constantly emphasizing going after religious dogma and neither do I, but when they try to insert it into her philosophy as supposedly "compatible" in a forum dedicated to discussing her philosophy by admirers of it, and do so in a dogmatic and insulting manner in addition, you had better expect it to be refuted. The emphasis and the obnoxious insults are all yours.
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            • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
              Zen, you and I are at loggerheads here: we do not disagree on _a_ point, but on several, all of which are underlain by a principle. To take the last point first, I never completed my private pilot's certificate before the FAA yanked my privileges for failing a medical - it happens - but I have 100 hours in the cockpit and 50 of those solo. I know that flying requires a commitment to reality. See my down-pointed post on "The Virtues of Aviation Culture" here in the Gulch: http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts/bc...

              (2) I have no idea what you mean when you say, "Your morality has justified the killing, in atrocious ways, of millions of human beings and the total obliteration of dozens of other cultures." When you speak of "your morality" what are you talking about? I must insist that you recognize (though not agree with) my assertion that all morality is choice. One does not choose morality. You can choose a moral CODE, and from that a catalog of ethical actions (or inactions).
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              • Posted by Zenphamy 7 years ago
                Mike, I'm sorry but I don't recognize that all morality is choice and while I suppose that one might choose a moral code with a catalog of ethical actions, that makes me very uncomfortable with the integrity of that person. Where does individual reasoning and logic fit with such an action?
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      • Posted by gafisher 7 years ago
        Probably not *as* an atheist; Rand was invited *as* a philosopher to speak on philosophy.
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        • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
          There is an interesting description of the circumstances and the event in an interview of Col. Herman Ivey, the philosophy instructor who invited Ayn Rand to give a public lecture, in Scott McConnell's 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, 2010. She was very well received and a transcript of her talk was included as the introduction to the West Point course textbook the next year.

          Col. said, "[S]he was first suggested to me by Kelly Weems, an officer who worked for me at West Point. When he made the suggestion, I immediately realized why it was a valuable idea: I'd read her work and knew that she could provide the kind of generalized overview of philosophy that we needed, and besides she was a very well-known person, and it would be great to have someone like that come to my program, so I invited her."

          "I had read enough and seen enough of life to know the quality and the value of her ideas, and that's exactly why I went to the authorities, the two people above me..."
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      • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
        we know some professors at the Academy who appreciate Rand's works. I don't know about the powers that be..I am confident that many cadets saw the movie...heard from friends. they're in uniform at the theater, which is coincidentally across the "street" ;)
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
      Well, at least through the mid 80's, WP brought in philosophy leaders to expose the corps to such thoughts. The army learned some very hard lessons from the Viet Nam era on where leadership without firm philosophy/morality leads. My concern today is that many of the current senior military leaders with certain philosophical/political leanings have been culled from the ranks leaving only one viewpoint. And not one that values freedom and self-reliance.
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      • Posted by strugatsky 6 years, 12 months ago
        Just read you comment and couldn't agree more. I've worked for and with the military for over 20 years and can see the culling of the brightest. Only the "yes men" are left on the top (now supplemented by the "yes women"). The overall degeneration is progressing fast...
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
    Thanks, counselor! It is a subtle point. Philosophy is inescapable. Similarly, we commonly speak of "choosing morality" but morality _is_ choice. We all have philosophies; and we all have moralities. The question is really: "What is yours?"
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    • Posted by gafisher 7 years ago
      Precisely so! A philosophy is much like a language in that we develop ours by nature, and then, if we choose, can refine it, learn to better understand it, or choose another; but in no case do we simply not have one.
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      • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
        A valuable complement to "Philosophy Who Needs It?" is the essay "Philosophy and Sense of Life" in her anthology The Romantic Manifesto (not in the anthology Philosophy and Sense of Life). This essay explains why everyone must have some form of philosophy, explicitly or implicitly and which may or may not be consistent. The question is whether one goes about consciously and consistently formulating what it will be.
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      • -1
        Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
        Perhaps, but many people have inconsistent philosophy/morality. Pro abortion, anti death penalty, for example.

        There are also those whose philosophy/morality seemingly changes on a whim. Blacks are killing one another in record numbers in the large cities, but let one white cop shoot a black guy (and seemingly with justification after being beaten himself) and people start raising holy hell. Or let a football player discipline his son (we can argue the merits of such a different time) and one would think that the kid had been strung up and beaten half to death, but in Milwaukee mothers are sleeping with their babies in their beds and rolling over on top of them and killing them (truly - look it up, something like 30 of them this year alone) and nobody says a peep.
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        • Posted by gafisher 7 years ago
          Agreed! There are very few who hold truly reasoned and fully consistent philosophies, one reason it's so important to study the discipline.

          I'm not convinced, by the way, that philosophies often turn on a dime. Those who seem to condone an action in one setting and condemn it in another have simply started from a premise which permits that. The example in your first sentence, for example, rests on the premise that one is a person and the other is not. The reverse - anti abortion, pro death penalty - assumes both are persons but one is innocent and helpless while the other is guilty and was able to mount a proper defense. The difference is in the premises.
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          • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
            I am an Objectivist. I am pro-abortion and anti-death penalty. We can debate them in a different discussion. I first read Anthem in 1966. I took the Basic Principles class the following year. I have been with these issues and problems for a lifetime. They require a lot of thought. What you cannot do is lump people together by their advocacies of specific and consequential policies. Rand Paul has allied with Cory Booker (D-NJ) to propose specific reforms in criminal justice and incarceration. You can begin with the conclusions, but you must of necessity trace back to different fundamentals. So, too, here. As an Objectivist of lifelong endeavor, I believe that the mother (and only the mother) has the power to know when to end a pregnancy. I also believe - as Ayn Rand suggested - that capital punishment is too final a penalty. Too many innocent people have been executed as it has been, and you have no way to prevent that. "Mount a proper defense?" I challenge you to learn about WHAT JENNIFER SAW about the Innocence Project here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...
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            • -1
              Posted by Jim1Wood 7 years ago
              Being pro abortion equals being pro murder. If one does not wish to have such a choice presented, one should avoid the cause that created the situation.
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              • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                Abortion is not murder. That ugly accusation and misrepresentation is a consequence of false religious ideas, not an excuse to morally intimidate people into going along with the false premises.
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                • -1
                  Posted by Jim1Wood 7 years ago
                  It is not religious. It is logical. There are other choices. Adoption is one.
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                  • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                    The notion that abortion, including contraception, is "murder" is based on the false religious ideas that there is a mystic "soul" prior to birth, that it has "rights" amounting intrinsic duties, and these entitlements are mystically granted by a god, all of which leaves the nature and source of man's rights undefined and unexplained and contradicts them. It leaves us with no way to objectively determine what rights are or why, asserted instead by arbitrary decrees incorporating meaningless verbiage and subjectively claimed in the name of the supernatural. It is nonsense, not "logical". The supposed "logic" is at best rationalization from false and meaningless premises. It contradicts the right of the individual and undermines the possibility of a civilized society in contrast to theocracy.

                    The potential presence of "other choices" does not make abortion murder, justify its prohibition, or justify a claimed duty for women and their families who do not choose your "other choices" to sacrifice themselves to your demands.
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              • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                If abortion is murder, then is a miscarriage manslaughter? Should there be a coroner's inquest? You cannot accidentally take a life without SOME investigation. If you want to be consistent, then you must insist, not just on a medical determination, but on a police investigation. The police may corroborate the doctor's decision, but police medical examiner, not an ER physician, would be the authority. And the mother who miscarried would still have a criminal record, just as you would if you accidentally killed someone with your car, but were found not culpable. Is that what you intend when you claim that abortion is murder? I mean: killing is one thing; taking a life is what it is; but murder is a legal action, with legal consequences.
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                • Posted by Jim1Wood 7 years ago
                  Legally it's intent that matters.
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                  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                    How do you determine intent without of a legal proceeding? The accused must be called. Evidence must be presented. Yesterday on NPR All Things Considered, they reported on a woman in El Salvador who had a miscarriage and - all abortion being murder there - was subjected to a police inquiry to determine if she aborted the fetus, or if it was a miscarriage. That is a logical consequence of assuming that abortion is murder.
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          • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
            Correct. It's not the philosophy that changes it's the inconsistency of the philosophy.
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            • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
              I agree 100% but it is political conservatives who bring their foregone conclusions to the works of Ayn Rand and fish about like Biblical scholars for the passages that prove what they already believe.

              Ayn Rand was pro-union and anti-gun.

              She was not supportive of the US entry into World War Two.

              She did say that the USA had the moral right to launch a first strike agains the USSR; but she also said that the USSR was wholly impotent to be a threat to the USA because communism is so hopelessly inefficient.

              On the matter at hand, Rand was pro-abortion, of course; and she also was not sanguine about capital punishment, begging to let the issue be settled by a future generation of jurisprudence scholars.
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              • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                Ayn Rand was "pro-union" only as voluntary association, not the collectivist and statist union laws and not for the motives for unions by socialists. She supported some political positions taken by some union leaders, such as anti-communism.

                She was not "anti-gun". Even Dagny used one at a critical moment. She opposed the use of force, including guns, in general for settling disputes and for government imposition of injustice. She did not oppose the police having guns or direct self-defense by individuals when required, but did oppose taking the law into one's own hands in retaliation. She stated that she did not know enough about the subject of gun control laws to take a position on what is appropriate, but did not think registering or prohibiting guns would prevent criminals from having them or that registering guns would be harmful to innocent citizens (in the context of the time).

                She supported the US "entry" into WWII after the attack at Pearl Harbor, but not before that, the same position as the vast majority of Americans at the time. She said that the US had nothing to gain from entering the war other than the necessity of self defense after the attack.

                She said that the USSR was "no threat" culturally and economically, not that it's nuclear weapons were not a threat. She said that a war with the USSR would be unnecessary if we stopped helping it economically because it would then collapse under its own evil system (which is ultimately what happened), not a non-threat due to "inefficiency".

                She wasn't "sanguine about capital punishment" and didn't "beg" anyone else to "settle" the issue. She said that murderers deserved to die as a matter of justice, but that she could not support the government imposing it because of the wrongful punishment by death of the inevitable innocent improperly convicted.

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                • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                  One would (with present circumstances considered) question whether or not the collapse of the Soviet Union was really as complete as many think...
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                  • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                    The communist empire did collapse, but with no cultural understanding of individualism it left a political vacuum in Russia ripe for the ex-KGB takeover in a stock ruthless dictatorship. Statism leads to aggression against other nations, with or without claims of "restoring" some prior empire.
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              • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
                AYN RAND WAS NOT ANTI GUN quit saying that. it is wrong and you keep posting it. even though you know it to be incorrect. did you watch the movie. "You didn't make a decision."
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                • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                  So, you do advocate going around with gun and killing people who cannot make up their minds? It was an element in a novel to dramatize a principle. Note that the other heroes all disabled their opponents without killing them. Galt's strike was to leave, not to shoot up the J. Edgar Hoover Building. Violence is the last resort of the incompetent. Dagny could have taken out the guard barehanded, the book being fiction. Rand chose to make a different point entirely. If the guard had even attempted to stop Dagny, he might still have lived through it. He gave up his right to life by refusing to think. That had nothing to do with a well-regulated militia.
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                  • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                    The second amendment is irrelevant to the climax of AS -- there was no Constitution left at all. The choice to write the plot the way she did was to make the philosophical point of what happens to those who don't think; it doesn't mean that the need to defend yourself when there is no government to do it means that one is incompetent -- and it doesn't mean that violence in general comes from incompetence, it comes from the evil portrayed in the novel, not mere incompetence. Rescuing Galt was just such an emergency. The scene did not represent running around shooting up everything in sight for the sake of 'freedom', and was not anti-gun either. The right to self-defense is delegated in a civil society, not surrendered.
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                  • Posted by LetsShrug 7 years ago
                    What is a well regulated militia mean, Mike? "The right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms." Didn't the guard have a gun? Wasn't he helping to hold someone against their will, and being tortured? If that is ever you I'll look at the guard and then at my gun that you so despise and say, "Nyaaaa, never mind." And let the guard do what he's told.
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              • Posted by LetsShrug 7 years ago
                Ayn Rand was pro union and anti gun? What??
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                • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                  Q: What is your opinion of gun control laws? A: I do not know enough about it to have an opinion, except to say that it is not of primary importance. Forbidding guns or registering them is not going to stop criminals from having them; nor is it a great threat to the private, non-criminal citizen if he has to register the fact that he has a gun. It is not an important issue, unless you're ready to begin a private uprising right now, which isn't very practical. [Ford Hall Forum, 1971]Q: What's your attitude toward gun control?A: It is a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people -- they are not carried for hunting animals -- and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don't know how the issue is going to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim. [Ford Hall Forum, 1973]” From Ayn Rand Answers: the Best of Her Q&A, edited by Robert Mayhew (New American Library, 2005) come two questions and answers.

                  In 1972, Edwin Newman interviewed Ayn Rand for his show “Speaking Freely” on NBC-TV. Among other statements, Ayn Rand said: “I am not an enemy of labor unions. Quite the contrary. I think that they are the only decent group today, ideologically. I think they are the ones who will save this country, and save capitalism, if anybody can.” She went on to say: “But the one flaw is that labor unions are government-enforced and become a monopoly and can demand higher wages than the market can offer. This union power creates the unemployable. It creates this vast group of people, the unskilled laborers who have no place to go for work. The artificial boosting of the skilled laborer’s income causes unemployment on the lower rungs of society. Every welfare measure works that way. It doesn’t affect the so-called rich, if that the humanitarians are worried about it, always affects the poor.”

                  "Ayn Rand versus Conservatives" here in the Gulch: http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts/b8...
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                  • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                    I heard both the Ford Hall Forum answers on gun control and maybe you did, too. I think the 1971 response in which she said she didn't know enough to have an opinion on how to formulate proper laws on citizen guns was prefaced by emphasizing her position against the use of force outside the law (except for direct self defense, which when properly delimited is not outside the law) by citing the old western movies in which the men were told "gentlemen, leave your guns at the door".

                    Her reference to "unless you're ready to begin a private uprising right now, which isn't very practical" was at a different time than Obama's pen, phone and guns -- even McGovern was overwhelmingly defeated except in Washington DC and Massachusetts -- but today it is still not practical to expect to take on the US government by force, nor would it help even if you could do it under today's widespread acceptance of statism and collectivism, which is worse than it was then. The chaos would only accelerate the decline and give them a concocted excuse to go after innocent people even more than they do now, especially against rational individuals who dare to speak out. We would not get another American Revolution, only a replay of the French Revolution.

                    But Ayn Rand's abhorrence of arbitrary force does not mean she was "anti-gun". It's important to keep the distinction clear, especially in today's context of a lot of people running around sounding as if they do want people with guns taking the law into their own hands, even if they don't always intend that literally. The answer to that is not "anti-gun". She wanted laws sanctioning direct self defense but not leading to "killing people at whim" in the name of that or worse. Today's statists want to squelch self defense and simultaneously do what they want to people "at whim" themselves, with the Constitution regarded as an anachronistic joke.

                    Also her statement on unions being the only ideologically decent group that will save the country should not be taken out of context to endorse everything unions were doing at the time (even aside from the bad economic affects she mentioned), let alone their ideological history or the kind of strong arm progressives they are today. At the time, some of the labor leaders were publicly making observations against Wesley Mouch-style statism and pandering to the Soviets in foreign policy.
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                  • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
                    this is a bunch of truncated, non-connected opinion. Rand never spoke directly on gun control. In her novels, her heroes had guns...LIKE BREATHING. but your urbane distaste is noted. grow up . self defense is essential and important-against the tyranny of YOUR government. stand and deliver. You can do this intellectually-but to deny those who would do it physically? that is to deny your resolve and what the truth is
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        • Posted by slfisher 7 years ago
          Anti-abortion, pro death penalty is also inconsistent.
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          • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
            Not at all. The first is giving a living entity their unalienable rights. The second is bestowing the deserved consequences for improper actions/behavior. Totally different.
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            • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
              Not every "living entity" has rights. Bestowing entitlements to the unborn violates the rights of the living.

              The death penalty inevitably bestows undeserved and irreversible execution on the accused innocent.

              So yes, these two religious positions are consistent, consistently unjust and irrational.
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        • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
          Robbie, you have posted more salient observations than that. Perhaps you really do focus on race. Perhaps you really think that mothers roll over on their babies. Maybe you have not thought through the premises and conclusions of violence against children. In that short paragraph, I see three strikes: you're out. Minus 1.

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          • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
            You argue against violence against children, yet can somehow support abortion? And you want to claim that those are somehow consistent positions? At BEST you are left with the slippery slope of attempting to define WHEN a child qualifies for protection as an individual. Far simpler and more consistent to simply take the stance against both: no grey lines to muddy the waters.
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            • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
              It _is_ consistent, not "somehow wanting consistency". A fetus, embryo or cell is not a child and has no "rights". Embracing mystical souls with "rights" in accordance with religious dogma does not create philosophical consistency or clear up "muddy waters". At best it is philosophical rationalism detached from reality, and otherwise outright mysticism. It results in injustice against human individuals who do have rights, not to be sacrificed to religion.
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              • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                At what point does it become a child - a human being with its own rights? That is the slippery slope.

                Is it at birth? I have a four-week old (among other children). You want to argue that he is any less dependent on his mother than he was five weeks ago?

                Is a child only human when it is self-sufficient? That rules out most children - and especially teenagers! And what about those with Asbergers or Trisomy 21 (Down's Syndrome)?

                THUS the slippery slope: WHEN does one qualify for protection as a human being? If not in utero, at WHAT arbitrary point and based on what arbitrary reasoning - because that's exactly what the argument then boils down to if you accept abortion as part of your philosophy.
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                • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                  You can vote at 18. You can drive at car at 16. You can fly an airplane at 15 and get a license within a year. You cannot get commercial driver's insurance for trucking until you are 25 (sometimes younger). You cannot become President of the United States until you are 35. You seek absolutes where none exist.

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                  • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                    The decision is either black and white, or it is a nebulous grey. You choose to support the nebulous grey and then complain when I ask you to tell me how you came to your decision about which shade of grey is the turning point. There is no need to get defensive. Simply explain your rationale. If it is arbitrary, simply acknowledge it as such. If it is grounded in logical deduction, lead me through your thought process.

                    Does the absolute exist? Absolutely. ;) It may not be what you want, but it nevertheless exists as an alternative.
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                    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                      You do not understand Objectivism. It is not Absolutism. Metaphysical truths and physical facts are absolute: the sun; atoms; even the statistical quanta fields. Human action is not Absolute: it is Objective.
                      Human nature is absolute, as an aspect of physical reality. A young child can find a police officer and lodge a complain against her parents. That is objective. An embryo cannot. That is an absolute.
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                      • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                        I am not talking about Absolutism. I am talking about the slippery slope you choose to live on when you accept abortion as a moral value.

                        I want to know where on that slope "personhood" begins and rights are obtained according to Objectivism. I want to know the standard. If you can not define it and draw a line in the sand for me to see, I would submit that you are not actually using an objective standard at all - but a subjective one.
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                        • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                          Blarman, I do not (as you claim) "accept abortion as a moral value." You are picking a fight, but I am not in the ring. You demand to know form me what the (moral) standard is. That is easy: it is the life of the person. You demand that I "draw a line in the sand" for you to see. I have said that perhaps no such line exists. Many hairless apes over the age of 21 apparently are not human. But last night, my wife found a cricket in the kitchen and put a cup over it; and in the morning, I tossed it outside. We even do the same for the Pre-Cambrian Cockroaches who wander in... It is our choice, based on our standard for our lives. You might disagree. Clearly _objective_ standards are not _absolute_ standards ... and neither are they subjective whims.

                          Note, however, that Nathaniel Branden identified "chocolate versus vanilla" issues for which no absolute or objective standards exist.

                          Rather than demanding that I provide you with a stuffed mannikin to whack with a stick of your choosing, it might be more fruitful for you to explain why an entity that cannot speak for itself is a human being.

                          I might say that the child is independently alive when it says the word "I". See Star Trek:Next Generation "Measure of a Man" courtroom scene here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PMlDidy...


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                            Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                            Perhaps you don't really recognize the stakes about why this is so important. When evaluating ANY philosophy/religion/etc., there are the values, and then there is the application of the values to the appropriate population. If no standard of application exists, then the philosophy in turn is subjective and arbitrary - not objective. That is why it is absolutely critical to any philosophy that it be explicit in defining to whom it applies. We don't apply Objectivism to nematodes or flowers, but to human beings. Rand's writings make it pretty clear that Objectivism should apply to everyone (unless I just completely misread it somehow), but you are trying to tell me that no objective standard exists for evaluating personhood - ie who is part of "everyone"? If that is the case, then there is no universal philosophy that holds water - including Objectivism. I somehow doubt that was ever the intention of Ayn Rand.

                            Look at it another way. Objects are defined and categorized according to their characteristics. There is an object behind a curtain and I want to know what it is. So I ask you to design a test - a list of characteristics that will tell me if the object behind the curtain passes or fails the test. If it passes the test by adhering to the definition so constructed, we categorize it as A. If not, it is A! (read "not A"). What you are trying to tell me is that there is a third state - neither A nor A!: a statement which defies epistemiology and reason entirely.

                            This is precisely why I warned about the slippery slope condition of pro-abortion advocacy. Such advocates by their own volition must either take an arbitrary position when defining personhood status or they take no position at all, and seriously undermine any other possible logical arguments they might endeavor to make.

                            "I might say that the child is independently alive when it says the word "I"."

                            So you would support killing infants up to about two years of age, as well as anyone who is born mute or has cognitive issues such as Asberger's or Down's Syndrome? You realize that such an approach is used to justify genocide, right? You do realize that was Margaret Sanger's morality?

                            "it might be more fruitful for you to explain why an entity that cannot speak for itself is a human being"

                            Because you are judging it based on what it is at the moment and not on what it may become. The moment (pun intended) that you take time into account in attempting to define a human life, you will fail. If your definition of humanity depends on the moment, you then relegate any momentary dissonance as justification for termination. No room for error or imperfection. No room for improvement or discovery. No room for scientific inquiry or learning. No tolerance for life.
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                            • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                              "Asperger's Syndrome" is an example of Nazi pseudo-science. More on that here below. Blarman, I usually get paid to write at the level you demand here. If we were discussing why the government should not set prices by command, that would be pretty easy to write about off the top of my head. Here, you are demanding that I provide you with answers to the toughest questions - and in 25 words or less ... so that you can argue with me. I asked you for your definition of "human being." You provided none. I agree that is it is not an easy challenge.

                              Moreover, I am not an official spokesman for Objectivism. No one is. If you can find more cogent and insightful statements by David Kelley or Leonard Peikoff, I am willing to consider those as expert opinions.

                              Maybe your mother _always_ has the right to kill you. You turn out bad at 35 and she terminates you. Could be. (Here in the Gulch, khalling said that she would kill her adult daughter - an actress in AS3, in fact - to ensure her own happiness. So, you see, it cannot be settled in a thumbnail "dictionary" definition of human life.

                              Do not say "you brought it into the world by your actions." Benjamin Franklin's son, William Franklin, was the governor of New Jersey and a Tory loyal to the king. Should Benjamin Franklin not have attempted his demise, though he sought to hang his father? (What if your son joined the IRS? or fought for immigrant rights?) These are tough questions. You will not find them in the dictionary under "life, human (see abortion)".

                              Perhaps it does not matter what "human" life is. "I swear by my life never to live for the sake of another man or ask another man to live for mine." Even if the embryo is human, how is its claim to your life any more valid than the claim of a welfare moocher or bureaucrat looter?

                              You mentioned Asperger's Syndrome twice. The truth is that Hans Asperger's attempts to socialize "little professors" was approved of by both the German Nazi government and also the US occupation forces who interviewed him and - being Boy Scouts themselves - agreed that marching the little professors in to the wood, singing songs behind a flag was a good way to socialize them. That's why they called it "national socialism" and it did not die with Hitler.

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                              • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
                                gods hairy balls! quit saying that! you take me out of context! I never said I would kill my adult daughter! she has her own volition. I never said I would "kill" anybody. I said, my own life first and foremost. just like the stewardesses tell you-put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then your child...
                                what does Asperger's have to do with any of this?? well I can think of an angle...but
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                              • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                                "So, you see, it cannot be settled in a thumbnail "dictionary" definition of human life."

                                I disagree. Life can begin at conception. Black and white. No moral ambiguity whatsoever. No rationalization. No jumping through hoops or mental gymnastics of justification. An easy refutation for rationalized murder by categorization. If it has the potential to become human, it should be considered as such with all the rights therein contained.

                                Much of the rest of your argument belies the notion of owning one's self. If my mother always has a claim over me by virtue of maternity, then many of my natural rights cease to exist.

                                The reason I bring up Asberger's and Down's Syndrome is because I have relatives and close friends who are afflicted with these conditions. I could add in autism or a whole host of other conditions. The end effect is that their minds do not function within the full realm of reason you or I enjoy. The dangers, however, in claiming that these do not deserve protection or rights similarly brings on a whole host of justifying reasons for initiating force against these individuals. It is the same reasoning by which our current Administration is seeking to limit the access to firearms by anyone with a "mental condition" - an intentionally subjective conclusion. Am I arguing that these so afflicted are capable of acting on all their rights? No, as some rights infer a certain level of reasoning capability. But I would rather take the stand that the rights are there until taken away than the alternative - that they are only granted upon clearing an arbitrary bar.
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                                • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                                  You are continuing to equivocate on the meaning of the "begginning of life". What kind of "life"? Human genes in a living cell or aggregate of cells is not what is meant by "human life" in the context of morality. Morality does not apply to cells. The unborn should not
                                  be considered as born and with rights while it is still only a potential. The mental gymnastics and rationalization for violating rights by miscategorization is all yours.

                                  Your irrational demands to apply entitlements in the name of rights to the unborn lead to an unambiguous violation of rights.
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                            • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
                              the whole Aspergers/Downs is a specious argument. You refuse to address the risks to pregnant women and their moral choice to choose whether to assume those risks. I agree that we should try to persuade wherever we can-but you have no right to force a woman to carry a fetus to term
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                              • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                                I used to believe that too. Then I listened to this (among other things):
                                http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/...

                                The short version: a medical doctor who personally performed over 1200 abortions testified to Congress and laid out to them exactly what takes place during an abortion, including the 2-3 days of lead-up. One of the great myths he debunks is that abortions are carried out "for the health of the mother."

                                To consider: having sex carries the risk of pregnancy. Simple truth. To attempt to disassociate cause and effect is disingenuous. The whole reason women choose to get abortions (or are "persuaded" to by their boyfriends in most cases) is to avoid the consequences. If one does not wish to take the chance of being responsible for bringing life into this world, one should either forego sex or use contraception.
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                                • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
                                  that is an onerous responsibility to place on the female. YOU have decided the values of her choice. She gets to identify and assess the risks. There is risk in abortion as well. There is no such thing as a 2-3 day preparation for most abortions.Although I think it is sad when pregnant women choose abortion, it is not my right to force them to carry to term. that is what you advocate. gun at her temple. comply with MY morality
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                                • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                                  A description of an abortion is not a moral argument.

                                  The 'health of the woman" means in the context of the rest of her life, not a temporary difficulty of the abortion.

                                  The risk of an unwanted pregnancy means that the woman has the responsibility to herself to minimize the risk, not a duty to have a child versus the sacrifice of abstinence. An abortion is the last resort, whether or not more prudent methods have been selected first.

                                  "Cause and effect" has nothing to do with banning abortions or insisting on abstinence. There is "cause and effect" in stepping out into the street in front of an oncoming car, too. It does not mean that whether or not you looked first you have a duty to be run down rather than trying to jump out of the way.
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                    • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                      It has already been explained and you continue to pretend otherwise. There are ranges of the optional in formulating objective law. That is not "nebulous".
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                  • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                    They are contextual absolutes put into law from within a philosophical range of options so the everyone knows what the law is and can act accordingly. The religious mystics confuse absolutes with something supposedly intrinsic and revealed by their subjective faith. The subjectivity of that process in striving for the meaningless, promoted without benefit of cognitive standards, leaves no way to objectively communicate or resolve disputes, resulting in their imposition of force through authoritarianism as a substitute for objective law in civilized society.
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                    • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                      So draw the line for me. Tell me when personhood is achieved and rights are obtained.

                      This is a critical point of philosophy, because if one chooses to take the view that one gets to apply an arbitrary standard to when a person obtains rights, it very literally throws any Objective measures out the window. If I judge another person NOT to have achieved personhood, all my Objective stance can conveniently be set aside and I can initiate force, I can be altruistic, I can do whatever I choose and I can rationalize all this behavior by claiming that I'm not violating my Objectivism because I wasn't really dealing with "people", but some lesser ... something.
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                      • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                        The standards are not arbitrary, and you don't get to decide that other people are non-people.

                        You don't have rights until you are born.
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                • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
                  According to these abortion believing O's, there is some mystical action that occurs when a baby passes through the birth canal (while I'll agree that there is something mystical about the birth canal itself, I'm not so sure what mystical ability it has to bestow "personhood" on a baby). And then they have no answer for caesarian births - which have nothing to do with a birth canal and in many cases have nothing to do with the natural process of childbirth. Thus, they cannot answer the question with rationality and logic as to when personhood begins. What makes the minute post birth any different from the minute pre birth? And what them makes the period 5 minutes prior to pre birth any different from the first minute before birth, and likewise 30 minutes, and 60 minutes and 24 hours and 30 days, etc. Their arguments and supposed rationality falls apart. And they revert to calling us "mystics."
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                  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
                    You created a strawman. It is obvious that life begins at conception. The question is whose life is more valuable - and to whom? The Objectvist Ethics of selfishness grant the mother the fullest possible expression of her right to her life regardless of any other considerations - whether that of the unborn child within her body or an unborn child in Nairobil
                    Does the unborn child value its own life? We might grant that it does, but we cannot ask. We can ask the mother because the mother is rational, sentient, intelligent, self-aware individual. The unborn child, howevet rmuch is it is alive is none of those things.

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                    • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                      There are no conflicts in rights. The unborn has no rights. Moral principles do not apply to it at all; it has not yet reached the stage of development where moral choice arises and there are no moral values to 'balance' between a mother and a potential child.

                      To say that "human life begins at conception" and deduce "rights" for a blob of cells equivocates on what is meant by "human life". The human genes in cells are not the source of rights, and neither is the outline of the shape of a human hand in a fetus. Religious conservatives relying on the supernatural have no idea what the nature and source of rights is. Their assertions of "absolutes" under the claim that a "god" provides certainty and stability are subjective decrees leading to anything but certainty and stability, and are mystic incantations that provide no understanding whatsoever, but lead to countless bloody battles between warring sects, each decreeing its own absolute in a realm in which cognitive standards are impossible.

                      To the extent that the unborn as a potential human has value to someone (which it certainly does), the _rights_ of the mother prevail, not the desires of someone else and not the noncognitive automatic biological process of development of the pre-human entity.
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                      • Posted by Hiraghm 7 years ago
                        "To say that "human life begins at conception" and deduce "rights" for a blob of cells equivocates on what is meant by "human life"."

                        I could make the same argument for the mentally disabled, or physically disabled. Because they're funny looking, dependent and inconvenient... we should be able to "abort" their lives at will, should one of them happen to be a relative of ours.

                        Hey, I'm all for denying the humanity of various human beings, but if you get to kill an unborn human because he's funny looking, inconvenient and dependent, then by God I'm going to expect you to defend me at my trial for slaughtering thousands of inconvenient, dependent and funny looking (fully grown) illegal aliens.

                        The unborn are not *potential* human beings. They *are* human beings. Either humanity is a matter of genetic pattern, or it is a superficial matter of looks and independence.
                        I choose the former.
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                      • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                        I have two nephews whose birth mother did hard drugs while pregnant with them. She was eventually forced to give them up to child protective services when she chose to do drugs rather than take care of her children. But as a result of her actions, those two children are growing up with serious mental issues of addiction, behavioral disorders, etc. My sister-in-law and her husband were unable to have children and took these two into their home - first as foster parents and finally in adoption. My sister-in-law is an RN, and she had no choice but to continue to give powerful drugs to these two from the time she assumed care for them. They are being gradually weaned off the drugs, but it will take some time before that happens and they have suffered some permanent brain damage as a result.

                        Do the actions of this mother constitute child abuse - ie did the actions of this mother contravene their rights? Please explain why or why not.
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                        • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                          You have some family, don't you? Your relative irresponsibly brought two children into the world she was incapable of taking care of and destroyed the possibility of them having normal lives in the process. Of course it was immoral. By the time they were born and became moral beings with rights it was too late. It has nothing to do with religious injunctions against sex and abortion, or claims of "rights" of the unborn. The woman has been irresponsibly been creating sub-standard individuals.
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                          • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 11 months ago
                            "The woman has been irresponsibly been creating sub-standard individuals."

                            Wow. So now you are a god - able to declare which people are really people: which people are eligible to even procreate. The arrogance and presumption in that statement is so staggering as to leave me shaking my head. You deny God exists because you would supplant Him with yourself.

                            If you can't (or refuse to) see the danger and pitfalls in your own reasoning after all this, I can only shrug and move on, hoping that at some point you will re-examine your arguments in the light of sanity.
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                            • Posted by ewv 6 years, 10 months ago
                              You just described someone who was breeding objectively physically damaged babies through her own irresponsibility. Your irrelevant railing over god and arbitrarily and falsely attributing motives is irrational. It is not "sanity".
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                    • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
                      So, was Mrs. Washington's life more valuable than George? How about Mrs. Jefferson - more important than Thomas? Mrs. Addams, Einstein, Ford, Jobs, Gates? Your definition is capricious, arbitrary, and totally refuted by history.
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                      • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
                        I am not sure why you bring this point up. If Mr. Washington would through his opinion force Mrs. Washington against her will to carry a fetus to term thenit would be immoral. The pregnant female gets to decide what she is willing to do with her body and who she is willin
                        Whom she is willing to support. When life begins is irrelevant to the moral obligation to care for and nurture. Earlier I think blarman said something about options. Yes, encouraging and persuading a pregnant female to consider adoption would be ideal -however to completely refuse to acknowledge the risks involved in pregnancy and delivery is irrational. That a pregnant female should be forced to put the life she carries above her own life i.e. abortion is murder, is morally abhorrent. That she finds herself in an unwanted pregnancy-the accident or bad decision on her part is irrelevant to her choice to carry the fetus to term. Doing everything possible to make that decision easier for her (reducing the risks, incentive) should be encouraged in a society. but claims of murder if she chooses not to take the risks of carrying a fetus to term?

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                        • -1
                          Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
                          The argument proposed was that one life was more valuable than another - to which my argument based on historical fact is that George Washington's life was far more valuable by any measure than was that of his mother. As were all those others cited. Thus value, as an arbiter of deciding such is fallacious on its face and is easily refuted by history (as I did). Imagine what has been lost due to 10's of millions of abortions. A cure for cancer? A modern Beethoven? John Galt himself?

                          Your other arguments are also fallacious. Anyone with the mental capacity to understand the possible consequences (pregnancy and disease) that can occur from intercourse but engages in same through their own free-will cannot claim a subsequent "right" to eliminate the creation of life that occurs. That would be akin to a bank robber stealing the money but once caught and facing jail time offers up to return the money and call it all even. Actions have consequences. Your position relieves the individual of responsibility for their actions - seemingly a very un-O position.

                          This particularly in an age when so many pre-conception options are available to reduce/eliminate the possibility of the life being created.
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                          • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
                            what it is akin to, is an argument for welfare. or for having certain skills you owe to others. IF you didn't want to owe it, you should not have developed the skill. fetuses are parasites by definition. Precious parasites, but parasites nonetheless. A pregnant female should not be forced to carry it to term against her will. Neither you or I can make that choice for her. We can and should influence however.
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                          • Posted by Hiraghm 7 years ago
                            The value of a human life is subjective. The humans whose lives I value I'm sure differ both in identity and proportion to the humans who lives another values.
                            Hell, I valued the life of my dog more than the life of most people...
                            But, the people I *value* I'd kill or die for... or in one case, willingly walk eternity through hell...

                            Value, as always, is subjective.

                            You make an interesting point, since George Washington's life couldn't have been valuable without his mother and father (both in creating him and in making him into the man he became).
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                    • -2
                      Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
                      I reject O ethics on this point. When one states that any one life is "more valuable" you set yourself in the position of god. If you choose to accept such, than I declare my life more valuable than yours and demand that you post-birth abort.
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                      • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                        And such demands are exactly what faith and force lead to.

                        It is not a matter of 'one life is more valuable than another', but what kind of life is more valuable to whom for what purpose. The concepts of morality and rights do not pertain to the unborn and only _potential_ human.
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                        • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                          So define human. If you can.
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                          • Posted by Hiraghm 7 years ago
                            Someone with a human genetic pattern.
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                            • -1
                              Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                              The definition of man, which distinguishes him from other creatures, is the "rational animal". It means that he relies on his rational faculty as his primary and fundamental means of survival. The necessity of making choices that make a difference gives rise to the need for moral standards. If it made no difference what you choose there would be no need for a moral code. That does not apply to cells or aggregates of cells that have human genes but which have not yet developed into a human being. They don't think and choose on behalf of their continued existence.

                              To claim that cells, embryos and fetuses have "rights" because they are "human life" equivocates on the meaning of human, dropping the context of the basis of morality and rights. You are a moral being and have rights because of the necessity to choose, not because you have gentetically human cells or appendages that are shaped like fingers and arms.
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                              • Posted by Hiraghm 6 years, 11 months ago
                                This would grant individual "rights" to space aliens... even naturally collectivist organisms.

                                No, human is someone with a unique human genetic pattern. Period. The definition of Man is the species known as homo sapiens.
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                                • Posted by ewv 6 years, 10 months ago
                                  You don't have to understand genetic science to know the difference between man and the lower life forms, nor does it help to formulate a morality. The fundamental characteristic that explains the difference in what we are and how we live is the use of our rational mind in order to make choices to live. It is the basis of morality. This has nothing to do with your imagined "space aliens" and "collectivist organism". If our choices didn't matter there would no possibility of morality. Having particular kinds of genes tells you nothing about morality, or, for that matter, your irrelevant tangent into "space aliens".

                                  The religionists who advocate mystic faith as the basis for a literally meaningless concept of morality cut off from reality drop the entire context of what makes morality possible and necessary, while pretending to appeal to science with irrelevant verbiage about "genes" cut off from the discussion.
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                        • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
                          Only if you so define it. Others have rationality that leads to another definition, wholly outside of mysticism.
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                          • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                            There is no rational justification of moral standards not based on the nature of human beings living and choosing by means of their rational minds. Concepts and definitions are not arbitrary.
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                  • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
                    "Abortion believing Objectivists" is a redundancy, and Objectivism does not advocate "mystical actions when a baby passes through the birth canal". These religious proselytizers trying to hijack Ayn Rand, plagiarizing some of it and contradicting the rest, for their own religious conservativism have no idea what the source of morality and rights is.

                    Being born means no longer being a biological parasite; it is the point at which the new human begins to directly perceive the external world and use his mind to understand it. But at that level of 'timing' it is most important to specify an objective standard within a range of options so that everyone knows what the law is. That standard is not at the level of embryos, fetuses and cells.

                    The mystics ascribe "rights" to a "soul" in a cell, with no idea of where rights comes from in a rational philosophy, then outrageously call cell-biology and medicine "murder" while trying to ban contraception (as they once did), then try to pretend that they are only trying to deal with a border line case distinguishing birth at the last moment -- and proceed to argue like medieval scholastics counting angels on the head of a pin while ignoring essentials in the name of a supposed "precision".

                    The source of rights is through recognition of the nature of man and his mind, and objectively formulating and defining legal rights accordingly, not an out of context decree of 'intrinsic value' gleaned from subjective revelation of the supernatural promoted behind a smokescreen of last minute "precision" while accusing others of mysticism.
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                    • Posted by $ Mimi 7 years ago
                      When does a thought take shape? Who bears witness to it? Only the bearer. When does a thought become action? My thoughts are my own, they form in my mind. That’s what it feels like being pregnant. something is forming in a private, personal space within me.
                      Birth is not a mystical moment that gives status and rights to an individual. but it is in that moment, for a lack of a better way to describe it-- I am no longer thinking, I am acting.
                      I create life. Could care less when the cosmos claim credit. Life doesn’t happen unless I say so. Know one thinks for me.
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                    • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago
                      By that reasoning, those with Asberger's, Down's Syndrome, etc. have no rights. What about others who only later on in life lose their ability to reason, such as with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's? Do they then devolve into non-humans?

                      You truly do choose a slippery slope as soon as you start saying that some life is intrinsically more valuable than others - especially when you have no idea what that life is going to achieve later.
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                      • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                        This has nothing to do with what someone, once born, may or may not achieve later, after being born. The notion that rights depends on how much someone is valued by others, couched in your metaphors of "slopes", is all your own fantasy. The potential to be a human is just that, only a potential, and has no rights.
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                        • Posted by $ blarman 6 years, 11 months ago
                          But if you declare that embryos have no rights, you are claiming that their value IS derived by someone else's evaluation of them. That is precisely why I bring up this parallel as a rebuttal. If a human is not a human until granted this by someone else's say-so, what would then exclude that same judge from using the very same reasoning to revoke personhood status - and its accompanying rights - once the criteria is no longer met? If one is rational and consistent, would not he/she be forced to make these very conclusions in order to avoid bias or whim?

                          The reason a slippery slope exists is because if you deny that an embryo is human, you must then declare at what point and upon what rationale humanity begins because rights begin at the same time. I claim zero authority or ability to be able to make such a judgment? Do you claim such ability or authority?
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                          • Posted by ewv 6 years, 10 months ago
                            The facts that give rise to morality and rights do not occur for embryos. This is not anyone's aribitrary "say so". The irrational and ignorant do in fact deny and ignore rights and morality. They do it all the time. That does not make reason and understanding "bias" and "whim". The "authority" is not political decree, it is the authority of the reasoning mind to understand and judge for its own benefit. No one else can do your thinking for you. That is not a "slippery slope". Having "no such ability" to decide is no justification for decreeing that embryo's have "rights"; it is nonsensical in both method and content.
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                    • -1
                      Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
                      "That standard is not at the level of embryos, fetuses and cells" - Why? Because you say so? How capricious and arbitrary. That is no more a valid and rational reason than one that bestows such at conception. You just don't like the fact that a voluntary act (in most cases, rape is a different situation) has consequences that the participants should take into account prior to engaging in such act. If they cannot abide by the potential outcome, then they shouldn't participate.
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                      • Posted by slfisher 7 years ago
                        If I go skiing and break a leg, does that mean you think I shouldn't go to the hospital to have it treated because that's a consequence of the act and I should abide by the potential outcome?
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                        • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years ago
                          Stupid strawman and utterly fallacious.
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                          • Posted by slfisher 7 years ago
                            Because you say so? How capricious and arbitrary.

                            How is it different?

                            We say things like, “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” You're saying that doesn't apply to women? We have to live our lives for the sake of what might become a child?
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                          • -1
                            Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                            He has applied your own non-logic of "causality", as allegedly implying a duty to suffer results that can be changed, to an equally ridiculous example. There is no duty to suffer a "potential consequence". Choices can be made to alter consequences with new causes. A supposed duty to suffer pain and suffering as "god's will" is a reprehensible dogma of the Church, right out of the Dark Ages, and has ranged from opposing anesthesia to opposing contraception.
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                      • -1
                        Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
                        There is no rational basis for ascribing morality and rights to entities that are only potential human beings. Cells, fetuses and embryos can no more make rational choices in accordance with standards to further their lives than a rock. Rights cannot be "bestowed" as arbitrary entitlements.

                        If a woman chooses to have a child, she is responsible for what she has created. There are many ways to avoid having children, including as a last resort abortion. She has no duty to have children as the price of enjoying sex. There is no duty to actualize "potential outcomes". An alleged duty to have children with no other purpose for sex is a mystical, nihilistic Catholic dogma that does not deserve survival past the Dark Ages, and it didn't deserve it then either.
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  • Posted by $ jlc 7 years ago
    I have Rand's pamphlet by this name, easily accessible. (OK. It is in the bathroom - but that is a good place to read, eh?) It did make a difference to me to read it, as I had always considered any philosophy except 'natural philosophy' (ie science) to be just vague artsy hand waving. Now I think that having a fabric background (philosophy) to your approach to the bright but yet patchy embroidery of reality (the sciences) is important. It is my _philosophy_ that says that empiricism and iterative research are meaningful approaches to reality. It is _science_ that gives specific content to that statement.

    I would like to put a word in for the philosopher Susanne Langer (Philosophy in a New Key) who wrote in the 1st half of the 20th c. and did a good job of integrating art and science (using the sonata format).

    Jan (Good morning!)
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    • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
      Ayn Rand's philosophy is more than an "approach", it has content. See Leonard Peikoff's book: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand for the whole content in once place.
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      • Posted by $ jlc 7 years ago
        Thank you. I think I have read that - but it was sooo long ago I have no recollection of it. I will see if it is in my library or if I need to acquire it.

        I like the 'approach' approach (!) because, like most of the folks on this list, I rarely agree with anyone 100%...but if the underlying principle is strong, then I can alter the content to some degree without altering the philosophy.

        Jan
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        • Posted by ewv 7 years ago
          The content of Ayn Rand's philosophy does not go away by declaring that it is only an "approach", followed by "altering" the content. Objectivism is Ayn Rand's philosophy, which anyone can agree with or not, in part or in whole, but it doesn't change in accordance with what someone wants it to be just by vaguely calling it an "approach".

          Much of the Leonard Peikoff's OPAR (as it's called) was assembled from presentations he gave in previous lectures on philosophy, mostly in the 1970s, and you may have encountered some of it in that form.
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          • Posted by $ jlc 7 years ago
            But of course it does. You said so yourself in the next sentence: "...which anyone can agree with or not, in part or in whole..." I can agree with the general approach and futz with the content to my little heart's delight. Its that 'free will' thing.

            Jan
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years ago
      Thanks for the perspectives, Jan! Allow me to suggest that empiricism is only half of the coin. The other side is rationalism. Your "iterative research" may be philosophically inconsistent. Have you read David Harriman's _Logical Leap_? It has some flaws, but is indeed a presentation of the philosophy of science from an Objectivist perspective. With lower-case letters, objectivism is rational-empiricism, what we call "the scientific method." But you need both halves: you must explain facts with theories; and you must prove your theories with facts.

      An anomaly is a fact that cannot be explained by science, i.e., an empirical observation for which no theoretical explanation exists. Pure empiricism - and I know that you did not intend that - leads to a bewildering array of anomalies: the sun rises, but no one knows why; heck, it might not rise again...

      Thanks also for recommending Susan Langer. I just requested her book from the UT Library. In fact, early editions are stored at the Rare Books Archive, but two can be had from the Architecture Library. I got a later, third, edition from A&S.

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      • Posted by $ jlc 7 years ago
        My 'iterative research' is the scientific method - or at least that is what I meant. As you note when you read scientific publications, the culmination of an experiment is often a victorious, "But the trans version of that molecule does not have the same metabolic effect!" and 3 people on Earth yell "Whoopee" and have a party. The typical increments by which science grows are often both tiny and boring - a published experiment is repeated with a small variation...then one day all of the little changes add up and we have people regrowing arms and legs and organs or living til 500 or something.

        So you see, I agree with you. I was just focused on the 'tinyness' of science vs the 'pervasiveness' of philosophy. The contrast between the two made an image for me.

        I am looking up The Logical Leap now.

        Jan
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  • Posted by Zenphamy 7 years ago
    I find that AR's statement "or his premises may be a heap of clashing ideas unwittingly absorbed from the culture around him." to be one of the truest and strongest that she ever made. It's interesting to see how much of that very circumstance exists throughout the current citizenry and drives so much of today's political discourse.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 7 years ago
    The problem, as I see it with many who are into philosophy yet get it wrong is that they hold incorrect premises. The incorrect premises often comes from a lack of clear definitions. Before you can build a personal philosophy, it is necessary to discover truths. Definition of truth: that which corresponds to reality. Armed with that, is when the adventure begins. Define man, define freedom, etc. Then, from that create premises. Over and over, teachers of Objectivism in the past would say, "Check your premises." The thing that causes the most questioning by those who explore Rand's philosophy is that they never are clear on their premises. If you start in the middle or near the top it's like looking at a close-up of the side of a pyramid. All you see is a stone wall.
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  • Posted by DaveM49 7 years ago
    If I recall correctly, Rand's answer to her own question as; "YOU DO!" I entirely agree. Why do you think what you think? Why do you do what you do? If we fail to ask ourselves those questions....who is in charge of our minds?
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  • Posted by $ blarman 7 years ago in reply to this comment.
    Responsibility is on both partners - male and female. I do not exempt "sperm donors" simply because they don't face 40 weeks of inconvenience. Both partners need to take responsibility for their actions and the potential repercussions.

    And I would encourage you to investigate the abortive procedure. "Emergency" abortion was a misconception (no pun intended) I was under as well until I did more research.

    "Although I think it is sad when pregnant women choose abortion, it is not my right to force them to carry to term. that is what you advocate. gun at her temple. comply with MY morality"

    You are straying from the point. It starts with sex - not with pregnancy. Sex is a choice (I exclude rape/incest for obvious reasons) and choices have consequences - whether desired or otherwise. But again, the philosophical debate goes back to whether or not that newly created life has rights independent of the mother and father. Is it a moral decision? Absolutely: whether or not to recognize and respect those rights. It is not _my_ morality or _your_ morality at all - it either IS, or it ISN'T.
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    • Posted by ewv 6 years, 12 months ago
      There are many possible outcomes of sex, which depend on many causal factors. One of the causal factors determining the outcome is the possibility of abortion. There is no duty to suffer the responsibility of having or raising children one does not choose. The choice is _not_ made when choosing to have sex.
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    • Posted by khalling 7 years ago
      The only way to ensure what you are advocating is to force the pregnant female if it is against her will. An infant, once born, can simply be adopted if the birth mother does not want to care for the baby. You are choosing that a fetus' rights are more important than the pregnant female 's rights. A
      nd you have no problem forcing them against theirwill, telling yourself it is a simple inconvenience. Problems arise in pregnancies all the time. Ob gyn s pay some of the highest med mal rates of any medical specialty. For a reason. It's not our choice.
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