Discussion:
The wrong (?) rationale of drugs illegality.
(too old to reply)
Don Matt
2003-10-04 04:27:55 UTC
Permalink
One of the things I fight to understand is by what rationale most of
governments have decided that alcohol is legal and other drugs, like
marijuana and cocaine, are not. The premisse that rules the use of
alcahol should rule the use of every other simmilar drug.

The rationale for regulation should be based on the premisse that an
individual may practice whatever one wants except if such practice
harms or cause danger to other individuals/society. Also, if any drug
causes harm to an individual, regulation should prevent use when the
individual is not considered mentally mature or retarded. This latter
field is where government, even when drugs liberated, would still be
important. So, legislation that regulates alcahol´s use, stating that
only adults may use, that no one should drive or work drunk and so on,
is in my view almost perfect.

Why not apply the same reasoning to other drugs? Why we create a war
against users (most of them only occasional)? And more, the lack of
taxes is one of the things that facilitates profit, what associated
with a huge demand, creates a multibillionary industry that, figure
you, support many activities being terrorism one of the most
important. Today, Colombia and Rio de Janeiro for example, have almost
a second army composed of drug dealers who almost threatens the own
government.

Isn´t then, liberation (and maybe taxing) of "illegal" drugs a way of
preventing funds to terrorism and then effectivelly combat such
phenomenon? Maybe a better way then helping terrorists being recruted
at a crazy war in Iraq.

What are Objectivism´s view about the issue (if any available)?




Don.
dave odden
2003-10-04 14:17:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
The rationale for regulation should be based on the premisse that an
individual may practice whatever one wants except if such practice
harms or cause danger to other individuals/society.
That assumption is wrong, especially the "causes danger to other
individuals" or even worse "causes danger to society". That is open-ended
enough that any action could be proscribed as "posing a danger to society".
Regulation is justified only to prevent the initiation of force.
Post by Don Matt
Also, if any drug
causes harm to an individual, regulation should prevent use when the
individual is not considered mentally mature or retarded.
So in other words, you meant to say that if a person is a "danger to anyone
including themselves" then force can also be used to stop them. Why should
that be restricted only to drugs? Why not, for example, bungie-jumping?
Post by Don Matt
This latter
field is where government, even when drugs liberated, would still be
important. So, legislation that regulates alcaholŽs use, stating that
only adults may use, that no one should drive or work drunk and so on,
is in my view almost perfect.
In my view, it is totally imperfect.
Post by Don Matt
Why not apply the same reasoning to other drugs?
No reason: indeed the logic you present extends way beyond just drugs, and
can also be applied to the dangerous consumption of red meat, bottled
juices, not to mention the watching of bad TV.
Post by Don Matt
Why we create a war
against users (most of them only occasional)?
It generates easy hysteria, and votes.
Post by Don Matt
And more, the lack of
taxes is one of the things that facilitates profit, what associated
with a huge demand, creates a multibillionary industry that, figure
you, support many activities being terrorism one of the most
important.
Taxes are really irrelevant to the question. The main reason why the price
is so high is that the government restricts the supply very severely, and
the lack of competition drives up the price. If the marked were to open up,
the price would plummet. The profit would probably drop, though that's hard
to judge since expenses would also drop.
Post by Don Matt
IsnŽt then, liberation (and maybe taxing) of "illegal" drugs a way of
preventing funds to terrorism and then effectivelly combat such
phenomenon? Maybe a better way then helping terrorists being recruted
at a crazy war in Iraq.
Forget the taxing. If cocaine were subject to the whims of the free market,
the price would drop, it would probably become less profitable, thus less
attractive in terms of the quick buck appeal of drug dealing. As a legal
product, a seller would have the same right to police protection as the guy
who sells apples, so shooting your competitor would not be an effective way
of controlling the market. In the long run, the profitability of the product
would decrease and it would be no more attractive to Mafiosi than setting
dried beans.

I don't think this would help the situation in the Middle East (though it's
true that the Taliban tried to no avail to flood the American market with
Afghani opium), but it would be a boon to Peru, Brazil and Colombia (what
about Ecuador? How come they're immune to this nonsense, or is it just that
we don't know about it because everybody ignores Ecuador).

Legalising drugs in the US would not per se help the situation in Colombia,
if the Colombians keep coca production illegal. However, it's very
reasonable to assume that if the US were not strong-arming the Colombian
government, the Colombian government would see that this is a potential area
for making profit (but they'd no doubt think of that in terms of taxes).
Don Matt
2003-10-04 18:38:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
The rationale for regulation should be based on the premisse that an
individual may practice whatever one wants except if such practice
harms or cause danger to other individuals/society.
That assumption is wrong, especially the "causes danger to other
individuals" or even worse "causes danger to society". That is open-ended
enough that any action could be proscribed as "posing a danger to society".
Regulation is justified only to prevent the initiation of force.
Driving drunk is not initiation of force and I really do not believe
it would be if a drunk individual crashes his car into another and
kills an innocent family. Driving drunk is not a volitive action. It
is rather a danger behavior, that exposes another individual, not
related with the act of drinking, into danger.
The foggy concept "initiation of force" does not include important
situations that must be prevented if we want to live in a safe place.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Also, if any drug
causes harm to an individual, regulation should prevent use when the
individual is not considered mentally mature or retarded.
So in other words, you meant to say that if a person is a "danger to anyone
including themselves" then force can also be used to stop them.
No, in my view, if a person has no mental conditions to decide what
to do, force should be used in order to prevent exposure to danger.
Post by dave odden
Why should
that be restricted only to drugs? Why not, for example, bungie-jumping?
It should, of course, be expanded to other situations. Children shall
not be allowed to go on a bungie-jumping without parents
authorization. And state must guarantee that parents are to be fully
informed about risks related with bungie-jumping, before thay decide
to authorize children.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
This latter
field is where government, even when drugs liberated, would still be
important. So, legislation that regulates alcahol´s use, stating that
only adults may use, that no one should drive or work drunk and so on,
is in my view almost perfect.
In my view, it is totally imperfect.
Post by Don Matt
Why not apply the same reasoning to other drugs?
No reason: indeed the logic you present extends way beyond just drugs, and
can also be applied to the dangerous consumption of red meat, bottled
juices, not to mention the watching of bad TV.
The examples you have shown do not expose society into danger, so I
see no reason why they should be regulated. But once these situations
are pottentially harmful, children should be prevented of its
exposure, just like happens with alcohol.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Why we create a war
against users (most of them only occasional)?
It generates easy hysteria, and votes.
Agree.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
And more, the lack of
taxes is one of the things that facilitates profit, what associated
with a huge demand, creates a multibillionary industry that, figure
you, support many activities being terrorism one of the most
important.
Taxes are really irrelevant to the question. The main reason why the price
is so high is that the government restricts the supply very severely, and
the lack of competition drives up the price. If the marked were to open up,
the price would plummet. The profit would probably drop, though that's hard
to judge since expenses would also drop.
You are partly right when you comment about competition. But the lack
of taxes work as if government gives an incentive.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Isn´t then, liberation (and maybe taxing) of "illegal" drugs a way of
preventing funds to terrorism and then effectivelly combat such
phenomenon? Maybe a better way then helping terrorists being recruted
at a crazy war in Iraq.
Forget the taxing. If cocaine were subject to the whims of the free market,
the price would drop, it would probably become less profitable, thus less
attractive in terms of the quick buck appeal of drug dealing. As a legal
product, a seller would have the same right to police protection as the guy
who sells apples, so shooting your competitor would not be an effective way
of controlling the market. In the long run, the profitability of the product
would decrease and it would be no more attractive to Mafiosi than setting
dried beans.
Excepet for taxing, I share with you the same reasoning about the
problem. Promoting a war on drugs people are in fact only making mafia
stronger.
Post by dave odden
I don't think this would help the situation in the Middle East (though it's
true that the Taliban tried to no avail to flood the American market with
Afghani opium), but it would be a boon to Peru, Brazil and Colombia (what
about Ecuador? How come they're immune to this nonsense, or is it just that
we don't know about it because everybody ignores Ecuador).
The situation in the Midlde East is bad for centuries so the lack of
money that today comes from the drugs would probably only help in a
sense that rivals would not have money to buy guns.

But I just found a nice quote from a reliable source:
"It's important for Americans to know that trafficking of drugs
finances the world of terror, sustaining terrorists; if you quit
drugs, you join the fight against terrorism."

- George W. Bush, December 14, 2001

:-)
But seriously speaking terror, specially in Colombia, is directly
related with drug traffick. This connection is not so obvious with
muslim terrorism but I believe they have a great part of their funding
from such activities.
Post by dave odden
Legalising drugs in the US would not per se help the situation in Colombia,
if the Colombians keep coca production illegal. However, it's very
reasonable to assume that if the US were not strong-arming the Colombian
government, the Colombian government would see that this is a potential area
for making profit (but they'd no doubt think of that in terms of taxes).
Taxing would be important in a sense that addicted people would
contribute to their medical treatment, very probable if we consider
the many diseases related with drug addiction. Also, if people want to
engage in potentially danger situatios to other individuals, society
must have a pay back.




Don.
dave odden
2003-10-04 19:12:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
Driving drunk is not initiation of force and I really do not believe
it would be if a drunk individual crashes his car into another and
kills an innocent family.
I agree: it's not initiation of force.
Post by Don Matt
Driving drunk is not a volitive action.
I don't know what that means.
Post by Don Matt
is rather a danger behavior, that exposes another individual, not
related with the act of drinking, into danger.
Or at least, could. That's true.
Post by Don Matt
The foggy concept "initiation of force"
It isn't foggy, it's very crystal clear. Driving drunk is not initiation of
force. It is also dangerous if there is anyone else on the road. I don't
understand your point.
Post by Don Matt
does not include important
situations that must be prevented if we want to live in a safe place.
It defines what can properly be regulated by government. It isn't up to the
government to guarantee that we live in a safe place, have a chicken in
every pot, or have a pot to piss in. The purpose of government is to protect
people from the initiation of force.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
Why should
that be restricted only to drugs? Why not, for example, bungie-jumping?
It should, of course, be expanded to other situations. Children shall
not be allowed to go on a bungie-jumping without parents
authorization. And state must guarantee that parents are to be fully
informed about risks related with bungie-jumping, before thay decide
to authorize children.
I'm familiar with the policies of the nannie-state. They needn't stop there.
Adults should be prevented from bungie-jumping because there is a risk, that
they will hurt themselves. The state should either prevent bungie jumping,
also street-crossing; or, they should absolutely guarantee that any action
you chose to do is totaly safe.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
No reason: indeed the logic you present extends way beyond just drugs, and
can also be applied to the dangerous consumption of red meat, bottled
juices, not to mention the watching of bad TV.
The examples you have shown do not expose society into danger, so I
see no reason why they should be regulated. But once these situations
are pottentially harmful, children should be prevented of its
exposure, just like happens with alcohol.
Didn't you claim to be a medical doctor? Society is harmed because members
of society are harmed, and worse millions of people will die from heart
disease because of eating juicy steaks (mmmm). Bad TV leads to the moral
decline of a nation, clearly a damage to society. Look at the crap that
children are watching on TV. How can you deny that TV is the greatest danger
to children that ever existed?

The thing is, you can't protect people from everything, and you shouldn't
try. To protect someone, you have to restrict someone. Slavery is bad.

What is this obsession with children anyhow?
Post by Don Matt
- George W. Bush, December 14, 2001
He really pisses me off when he makes such equations.

Anyhow, it's sad when some fuckup gets addicted to crack, but you're
presuming that the state has an obligation to take care of the medical and
psychological problems of these fuckups. Well, it doesn't, and it shouldn't
try, and that puts paid to the argument that taxation is good because it
helps the drug fuckups. If my son were addicted, I'd spend the money to get
him clean, at least up to a point. It's not your responsibility; it's also
not mine, but because I have a personal relationship with my son, I would
chose to save his life if I could. At some point, these idiots have to get
off the junk, or else die, just because of the reality of drugs. The fact
that the state enables these fuckups to live longer and perpetuate their
denial of reality is cruel and inhuman torture.
Fred Weiss
2003-10-05 00:39:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Driving drunk is not initiation of force and I really do not believe
it would be if a drunk individual crashes his car into another and
kills an innocent family.
I agree: it's not initiation of force.
Huh? If that's not an initiation of force I don't know what is. Being drunk,
per se, is not an initiation of force, but being drunk in a situation where
your impairment endangers others - such as at the wheel of a car - most
certainly is. It's as much an initiation of force as waving a loaded gun on
a crowded street. Even if you have no intention of shooting anyone, you can
be forcibly stopped from continuing to do it - and if you refuse it is
justification for shooting you. The same thing is true of a drunken driver.
An automobile is obviously a potentially lethal instrument, as much, if not
moreso, than a gun.

Fred Weiss
dave odden
2003-10-05 03:41:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Driving drunk is not initiation of force and I really do not believe
it would be if a drunk individual crashes his car into another and
kills an innocent family.
I agree: it's not initiation of force.
Huh? If that's not an initiation of force I don't know what is. Being drunk,
per se, is not an initiation of force, but being drunk in a situation where
your impairment endangers others - such as at the wheel of a car - most
certainly is. It's as much an initiation of force as waving a loaded gun on
a crowded street. Even if you have no intention of shooting anyone, you can
be forcibly stopped from continuing to do it - and if you refuse it is
justification for shooting you. The same thing is true of a drunken driver.
An automobile is obviously a potentially lethal instrument, as much, if not
moreso, than a gun.
Do you equate dangerous acts and threats? I don't, so I don't consider the
Flying Wallenda's act to be a threat, but it is dangerous (AFAIK). Something
else that muddles the picture, IMO, is the invalid assumption that roads are
"public property", which leads to the wrong conclusion that the state has a
compelling right to protect people there that overrules private property
interests.

I'm curious to see where and why you would curtail the rights of an
individual in the gun case. I see five relevant factors: "loaded", "waving",
"crowded", "street" and "gun" (everything except the syntactic junk). Am I
right that you don't think that "crowded" is crucial? If it is right to stop
a person with a gun on a block with 300 people on the sidewalk, its also
right if there are 50 people or 2. It's not how many others, just "any
others" vs. "just yourself", right?

The import of "waving" I take to be that the person is doing something that
might reasonably result in death or other bad stuff, i.e. it's not a
particular pattern of movement, but the fact that actions might result in an
end, or should be interpreted as indicating an intent to bring about that
end. The waving might be an actual threat to shoot, or it could be negligent
action which would [possibly / probably] lead to actual shooting.

I'll just dismiss "loaded", and I hope you'll agree, because that's in the
proverbial black box. Because it is almost impossible to know (short of
inspection) whether a gun is loaded or not loaded, you have the right to
assume that any gun is loaded. Which is why pointing an unloaded gun at a
person in the commission of a crime is the same as pointing a loaded gun.

Then we have the "gun" aspect. If the tool of potential destruction is a
gun, a knife, a bow and arrow, flame-thrower, a bull whip, or a broken
bottle, it doesn't matter -- really, it's about things that can hurt you.
Finally we have the "street" aspect. A threatened assault is still one
whether it takes place on a street, in a warehouse, on a lake or in a house.
Venue does not matter.

You can tell me where you think the analysis goes wrong, but I see this
leading to giving the state the right to improperly curtail freedoms. You
may argue that these are not improper restraints, we shall see. One is that
the state may rightly prohibit you from brandishing a gun dangerously in
your home, in the presence of others. The same would apply to twirling a
flaming baton in your own home, in the presence of others. Your right to be
protected from assault on the street is the same as your right to be
protected from assault in your home, so venue is irrelevant. The nature of
the tool doesn't matter in any essential way that I can see.

If the state has an absolute right to protect others from any of your
actions which might harm others, then OSHA and such horrors are not morally
wrong, just inept and inefficient.

My specific proposal is predicated on the assumption that roads are not a
public good or entitlement, and if you think that roads should be run by the
government then of course my proposal requires something you would reject
(if you do). Standards regarding drunk driving (also driving competence,
cell phone usage, and what have you) should be determined by the free
market. The particular standard should be set by the company that provides
the service, based on what customers want. It might be based on mindless
blood ethanol content, or it might be based on some reaction-time test. The
main point is that you know what you are getting into (more or less, even if
you don't know whether there will actually be a person out there testing the
limits). Thus I see a legitimate (Darwinian) place for a drunken speedway.
Just as management has the right to stop and eject a rowdy customer, the
road-owner has the right to stop and eject a drunk driver, subject to the
conditions of entry (e.g. the agreement to not drive with blood alcohol
above .1% or whatever it is). Furthermore, as a consequence of the agreement
of usage between the company and each customer, the company agrees to
protect other customers from such dangers, thus they are *required* to
enforce whatever their stated drunkenness policy is.
Fred Weiss
2003-10-05 19:46:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
I'm curious to see where and why you would curtail the rights of an
individual in the gun case.
You're way, way over-analyzing this. It's a simple issue of needlessly
endangering others.
Post by dave odden
You can tell me where you think the analysis goes wrong, but I see this
leading to giving the state the right to improperly curtail freedoms.
There is no freedom to needlessly endanger others. Now if you want to go on
for 5 pages on what's "freedom" and what's "needlessly" and what's....etc.
etc ad nauseum, you are...err...free to do so. It's not endangering me. It
just misses the fundamental point.
Post by dave odden
If the state has an absolute right to protect others from any of your
actions which might harm others, then OSHA and such horrors are not morally
wrong, just inept and inefficient.
Those are completely different issues. I'm not saying you don't have the
right to take risks or even that someone else doesn't have the right to ask
you to take them (end of OSHA) - so long as you are aware of what they are.
Yeah, I think a manufacturer is obliged to tell you of certain non-obvious
dangers in using their product, such as the potentially serious side effects
of a drug. But we don't need an FDA for that.

Fred Weiss
Don Matt
2003-10-06 01:27:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Weiss
Yeah, I think a manufacturer is obliged to tell you of certain non-obvious
dangers in using their product, such as the potentially serious side effects
of a drug. But we don't need an FDA for that.
If FDA did not exist, how would you be sure the manufacturer is
simply not omitting facts?





Don.
dave odden
2003-10-06 01:51:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
If FDA did not exist, how would you be sure the manufacturer is
simply not omitting facts?
We have a number of private quality evaluators here, including Consumer
Reports and Underwriter's Laboratories. In fact with the FDA existing we do
*not* know that the manufacturer is not omitting facts. There's nothing
magic to what the FDA does, and nothing that they do requires government
intervention.
Fred Weiss
2003-10-06 09:44:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Yeah, I think a manufacturer is obliged to tell you of certain non-obvious
dangers in using their product, such as the potentially serious side effects
of a drug. But we don't need an FDA for that.
If FDA did not exist, how would you be sure the manufacturer is
simply not omitting facts?
You could say that about any product. How do you know that a manufacturer
didn't slip poison into their food product - inadvertently or otherwise?
Your assumption is that it is to the interest of a manufacture to endanger
or actually harm their customers.

The legitimate question is, without an FDA, would manufacturers sufficiently
test their products to uncover possible side effects? Some might not. But
knowing that, physicians would be comparably cautious in prescribing such
products. Wouldn't you be? As Dave mentions, independent laboratories likely
would arise to certify products - and without such certification, physicians
might be very reluctant to prescribe a new product. But apart from that, so
customers are harmed by a product and a manufacturer is proven negligent.
They sue and the manufacturer is forced to pay large damages - just as they
are now. Plus their reputation is seriously damaged. As you well know, that
happens now even with the FDA.

The benefit however is that more drugs are available, some perhaps risky,
but where physicians and patients have the option - and more importantly,
the right - to knowingly take those risks. Drugs are brought to market
faster, saving lives. And without the costs and delays involved in gaining
FDA approval, they are less expensive.

If there is an objective benefit to conscientious and rigorous testing of
drugs, and physicians and customers demand it, then the market will provide
it if left to itself.

Fred Weiss
Don Matt
2003-10-08 23:12:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Yeah, I think a manufacturer is obliged to tell you of certain
non-obvious
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
dangers in using their product, such as the potentially serious side
effects
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
of a drug. But we don't need an FDA for that.
If FDA did not exist, how would you be sure the manufacturer is
simply not omitting facts?
You could say that about any product. How do you know that a manufacturer
didn't slip poison into their food product - inadvertently or otherwise?
The answer is that we can not know. We are not in a position to know
everything that is important, even the things for our own safety, in a
so highly complex world we live in.
Post by Fred Weiss
Your assumption is that it is to the interest of a manufacture to endanger
or actually harm their customers.
The legitimate question is, without an FDA, would manufacturers sufficiently
test their products to uncover possible side effects? Some might not.
So we would let a vacuum where our safety would be in danger. A bad
laboratory could easily kill a thousand people with a contaminated
version of a simple parenteral infusion solution.
Post by Fred Weiss
But
knowing that, physicians would be comparably cautious in prescribing such
products.
So it would be physicians´ responsability? How would I judge if a lab
is good or not without a inspection? Some labs have a very developed
propaganda department and many phisicians rely much more on propaganda
from labs than on good scientific reading.
Post by Fred Weiss
Wouldn't you be?
On such a situation I would be most of the time paranoid. As a
consequence maybe new small labs would hardly prosper (are they
safe??) and market would tend toward monopolies with the consequent
rise in the prices.
Post by Fred Weiss
As Dave mentions, independent laboratories likely
would arise to certify products - and without such certification, physicians
might be very reluctant to prescribe a new product.
I do not really care if develops a public or private equivalent
"FDA". But we would have to wait untill such labs appear, with enough
efficiency and number, to guarantee some order and safeness to
pacients. Before these indepentend "vigilants" are instaled giving up
of FDA would probably bring chaos.
Post by Fred Weiss
But apart from that, so
customers are harmed by a product and a manufacturer is proven negligent.
They sue and the manufacturer is forced to pay large damages - just as they
are now. Plus their reputation is seriously damaged. As you well know, that
happens now even with the FDA.
OK
Post by Fred Weiss
The benefit however is that more drugs are available,
Right.
Post by Fred Weiss
some perhaps risky,
Right.
Post by Fred Weiss
but where physicians and patients have the option - and more importantly,
the right - to knowingly take those risks.
If you mean that patients and physicians should decide together when
to test a new drug, without any government control, then I partly
agree. I think that government has the duty to inform and guarantee
that patients are to be fully informed that research about drug X has
no scientific basis, that has a big probability to cause harm, that
has never been tested in humans before and so on. Once a patient is
informed, has no mental impairment and the research will not cause any
harm to another individual then I see no reason why one should not be
allowed to be part of an experiment.
Maybe your regulation center (FDA) has been just too hard. There was
a joke in my college saying that Brazil was one of the first countries
in the world to develop new drugs. It´s because our regulation is
softer and big companies from US and Europe tested many drugs in our
population with little harm and great benefit in some cases, I admit.
But one thing I stand ground is the right that every individual has
to know the "testing condition" of a new, unknown, drug. Some
patients, mostly the more poor and uneducated, tend to trust their
doctors with a faith that is just dangerous. I think that if I really
speak seriously I can convince a irreversibly blind person to test an
expensive surgery that I know is not going to bring any good.
Retinitis pigmentosa, for example, is a disease without cure and that
leads to variable degrees of blindness. Perhaps there is a serious
research going on, if I´m not mistaken in California, testing computer
ships, Cuba has offered significan improvement in visual acuity. Every
day many people go there, leting thousands of dollars, and have no
improvement at all (there is no basis at all for Cuba´s treatment).
Why such fraud does not happen in the USA? Because people are
protected by the FDA. If we were to take out some very important FDA
duties I think we would have to keep, as a law, that peole are to be
fully informed what is the government´s position about some issue,
what is scientific position about an issue and what are the risks and
possible benefits involved.
Once informed if an individual wants to submit to a surgery with no
scientific basis I do not see anything bad the same way I do not see
anything bad when people claim to have been abducted by UFO.
Post by Fred Weiss
Drugs are brought to market
faster, saving lives. And without the costs and delays involved in gaining
FDA approval, they are less expensive.
Maybe.
Post by Fred Weiss
If there is an objective benefit to conscientious and rigorous testing of
drugs, and physicians and customers demand it, then the market will provide
it if left to itself.
Maybe, but untill market works (if ever will) individuals have the
right to be informed.




Don.
Fred Weiss
2003-10-09 09:14:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
If FDA did not exist, how would you be sure the manufacturer is
simply not omitting facts?
You could say that about any product. How do you know that a
manufacturer
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
didn't slip poison into their food product - inadvertently or otherwise?
The answer is that we can not know. We are not in a position to know
everything that is important, even the things for our own safety, in a
so highly complex world we live in.
Why do so many people then assume that gov't bureaucrats will be any better
at sorting it all out then we are? The evidence certainly suggests that they
aren't and, more, that they tend to make virtually anything they touch worse
for it than if they had just left it alone.
Post by Don Matt
... A bad
laboratory could easily kill a thousand people with a contaminated
version of a simple parenteral infusion solution.
That can happen now. What's your point? I could easily see something like
that, certainly if it resulted from egregious and gross negligence, to lead
to homicide convictions.
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
But
knowing that, physicians would be comparably cautious in prescribing such
products.
So it would be physiciansŽ responsability? How would I judge if a lab
is good or not without a inspection? Some labs have a very developed
propaganda department and many phisicians rely much more on propaganda
from labs than on good scientific reading.
How do you judge anything? How do you judge that your car mechanic isn't
cheating you? How do you judge that the expensive book you just bought is in
fact a genuine first edition? How do you judge whether the woman you marry
is the person you think she is?

And for that matter, how do any of us judge whether the physician we go to
is giving us sound medical advice?

Do you want to first pass every important decision you have to make through
a bureaucratic committee?
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Wouldn't you be?
On such a situation I would be most of the time paranoid. As a
consequence maybe new small labs would hardly prosper (are they
safe??) and market would tend toward monopolies with the consequent
rise in the prices.
For someone who has demonstrated near total ignorance of economics, you're
pretty glib about what you think the market will do in this particular
scenario. I don't know what it will do and wouldn't care to guess - except
that, left to itself, it will very likely veer toward addressing the very
paranoia which concerns you (and I'm sure virtually every other physician
and patient). In other words, the companies in the industry will have to
work very hard to earn your trust - and in the absence of gov't regulations
they will have to work *even harder*.

As for "monopolies", you don't even know what they are and you have no grasp
of the difference between market dominators in a free market vs. gov't
protected monopolies. Did you know that during the era of the supposed
"robber barons" and attempts at "cartels" during the period of much less
gov't regulation of the economy, prices generally *declined*. In fact the
reason that businesses attempted to form cartels was to offset "ruinous
competition". Rockefeller who is generally regarded as the "worst" of the
"monopolists" dropped the price of oil by 90%. That's in fact one of the
prime ways he gained and maintained his (near) monopoly. Other refiners
couldn't compete with his efficiency and world wide distribution
capabilities - and therefore his ability to charge *lower prices*. The
complaints about his purportedly "rapacious" behavior didn't come from the
public. It came from his whining competitors. (This is exactly the same
situation with Microsoft).
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
As Dave mentions, independent laboratories likely
would arise to certify products - and without such certification, physicians
might be very reluctant to prescribe a new product.
I do not really care if develops a public or private equivalent
"FDA". But we would have to wait untill such labs appear, with enough
efficiency and number, to guarantee some order and safeness to
pacients. Before these indepentend "vigilants" are instaled giving up
of FDA would probably bring chaos.
The FDA is one of those gov't agencies which could be closed down *tomorrow*
with nothing but immediate and beneficial consequences. It does nothing now
but provide a false (and totally unnecessary) sense of security at the price
of strangling drug research and development, delaying the introduction of
valuable new products, and significantly increasing the cost of health care.
Post by Don Matt
.... untill market works (if ever will) individuals have the
right to be informed.
They have no such right. They have the right to inform themselves - and to
be protected against force and fraud. In a world where their safety is
allegedly being protected by gov't bureaucrats (but really isn't), they
would be forced to exercise more caution in their decisions in this area. As
in any market, those who provide genuinely valuable services at reasonable
prices will thrive and those who don't won't.

Fred Weiss
Don Matt
2003-10-11 15:51:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
If FDA did not exist, how would you be sure the manufacturer is
simply not omitting facts?
You could say that about any product. How do you know that a
manufacturer
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
didn't slip poison into their food product - inadvertently or otherwise?
The answer is that we can not know. We are not in a position to know
everything that is important, even the things for our own safety, in a
so highly complex world we live in.
Why do so many people then assume that gov't bureaucrats will be any better
at sorting it all out then we are?
What exactly do you mean by bureaucrats? If you mean an individual
with power to enforce you not to eat meat or not to submit to a
surgery with no scientific proof at all then that´s not what I mean.
Post by Fred Weiss
The evidence certainly suggests that they
aren't and, more,
What evidence?
Post by Fred Weiss
that they tend to make virtually anything they touch worse
for it than if they had just left it alone.
Post by Don Matt
... A bad
laboratory could easily kill a thousand people with a contaminated
version of a simple parenteral infusion solution.
That can happen now. What's your point?
My point is that perhaps it is possible to happen it hardly happens
because there is some regulation.
Post by Fred Weiss
I could easily see something like
that, certainly if it resulted from egregious and gross negligence, to lead
to homicide convictions.
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
But
knowing that, physicians would be comparably cautious in prescribing
such
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
products.
So it would be physicians´ responsability? How would I judge if a lab
is good or not without a inspection? Some labs have a very developed
propaganda department and many phisicians rely much more on propaganda
from labs than on good scientific reading.
How do you judge anything?
By use of reason, knowing that thare is, in almost all fields of
human knowledge, a well recognized and accepted method of doing
things. You may call this good practice or good technique. So, what is
done by well accepted method of a certain field is the "good", the
others are simple tests.
Post by Fred Weiss
How do you judge that your car mechanic isn't
cheating you?
I am not in position to know any mechanic´s job. That´s why I prefer
one with a certified course.
Post by Fred Weiss
How do you judge that the expensive book you just bought is in
fact a genuine first edition? How do you judge whether the woman you marry
is the person you think she is?
And for that matter, how do any of us judge whether the physician we go to
is giving us sound medical advice?
Except for another physicians, regular people are in a hard position
to judge. One of the things today that makes even hard for normal
individuals to trust their physicians is that physicians tend to see
their patients as if they were only a source of money and not thinking
individuals. That´s why there are many cases of expansive surgeries
where people do not need any surgery at all. But the worst are the
professional without a good training at a recognized medical
residence.

Indicating what are the recognized good medical residences is a
simple thing that helps individual to know how trustable are their
physicians.

About your question of "how can I know the woman I merry?" is a real
hard one. I favor a world effort to implant an eletronic device in all
women so we could register their movements :)
Post by Fred Weiss
Do you want to first pass every important decision you have to make through
a bureaucratic committee?
I can change the question asking "why do you look for a mechanic at
first?". I think you have much more a problem with bureaucrats than
with the concept of consulting an expert itself.

My point is that we have a well recognized concept of who is a
an expert in a certain field and who is not, by the same way we have a
clear concept of what is a well indicated surgery and what is not.

I only defend that individuals have a right to know what are the well
accepted proceedings and what are not.
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Wouldn't you be?
On such a situation I would be most of the time paranoid. As a
consequence maybe new small labs would hardly prosper (are they
safe??) and market would tend toward monopolies with the consequent
rise in the prices.
I don't know what it will do and wouldn't care to guess - except
that, left to itself, it will very likely veer toward addressing the very
paranoia which concerns you (and I'm sure virtually every other physician
and patient). In other words, the companies in the industry will have to
work very hard to earn your trust - and in the absence of gov't regulations
they will have to work *even harder*.
Maybe.
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
As Dave mentions, independent laboratories likely
would arise to certify products - and without such certification,
physicians
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
might be very reluctant to prescribe a new product.
I do not really care if develops a public or private equivalent
"FDA". But we would have to wait untill such labs appear, with enough
efficiency and number, to guarantee some order and safeness to
pacients. Before these indepentend "vigilants" are instaled giving up
of FDA would probably bring chaos.
The FDA is one of those gov't agencies which could be closed down *tomorrow*
with nothing but immediate and beneficial consequences.
I do not know how many private independent labs with instaled
capacity to certify products exist in the USA. So I can not agree or
disagree about how necessary is FDA.
Post by Fred Weiss
It does nothing now
but provide a false (and totally unnecessary) sense of security at the price
of strangling drug research and development, delaying the introduction of
valuable new products, and significantly increasing the cost of health care.
No, FDA does a good job perhaps sometimes still, as I´ve said, with
too excessive rigid criteria. But it avoids, for example poor
uneducated people to be part of harmful or danger to life research. It
also avoids genetic experiments with human babies.
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
.... untill market works (if ever will) individuals have the
right to be informed.
They have no such right. They have the right to inform themselves
How will I inform myself if there is no consensus or if there is no
reliable source? How will I know what is the correct proceeding that I
must submit myself if every lab shows its own (and probably partial)
truth?

There is also the danger that only a research that shows benefits of
certain drugs, sold by lab "A", are to be exposed. As government would
have no paricipation at all in any research there would have a trend
toward showing only the good aspects of a certain drug. Rare harmfull
events could easily be omitted by producers. You may say "no one knows
if it is true" or "market will fix things" but the fact is that you
are not certain that it will happen if left alone.

Why have tobacco sellers denied for so long that any prejudice
related with their product if there were tons of researches showing
only death associated with tobacco?

A right to "inform themselves" means that there is an existent,
trustable, information. If market does not provide such information
it´s government duty to do so. So, a right to "inform themselves" is
in direct relation with the right "to be informed" in a sense that
information must exist if I want to inform myself.
Post by Fred Weiss
- and to
be protected against force and fraud. In a world where their safety is
allegedly being protected by gov't bureaucrats (but really isn't), they
would be forced to exercise more caution in their decisions in this area.
This is probably true, people would be more active in their decisons.
But people still would have to count on some source of information.
Post by Fred Weiss
As
in any market, those who provide genuinely valuable services at reasonable
prices will thrive and those who don't won't.
Maybe.





Don.
Robert J. Kolker
2003-10-11 16:09:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
Why have tobacco sellers denied for so long that any prejudice
related with their product if there were tons of researches showing
only death associated with tobacco?
This is an exaggeration. Many people smoke without suffering ill
effects. It is also true that many people smoke and acquire some serious
lung disease as a result.

Bob Kolker
dave odden
2003-10-11 16:28:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
Why have tobacco sellers denied for so long that any prejudice
related with their product if there were tons of researches showing
only death associated with tobacco?
This isn't just an exaggeration. This is blatantly false and, coming from an
MD, irresponsible. There is an undeniably higher probability of developing
various diseases if you smoke, and you should make your argument based on
facts and not hysterical statements only remotely related to reality. When
you are in a position of trust, you should speak authoritatively about the
actually observed increased probability of bladder cancer correlated with
smoking. If you were to say that 100% of bladder cancer cases are caused by
smoking, you would permanently discredit all of your statements about the
issue of risk (you didn't say that, but if you *had*, as somebody's doctor
friend supposedly did, then you should be hoot out of town with derisive
laughter).
David Schwartz
2003-10-06 22:52:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Yeah, I think a manufacturer is obliged to tell you of certain non-obvious
dangers in using their product, such as the potentially serious side effects
of a drug. But we don't need an FDA for that.
If FDA did not exist, how would you be sure the manufacturer is
simply not omitting facts?
That's the manufacturer's problem. After all, if they convince you that
they aren't omitting facts, you won't buy their products. Why should I pay
to solve their problem? Let them figure out how to solve it at their own
expense.

DS
Bert Clanton
2003-10-07 10:42:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Schwartz
Post by Don Matt
If FDA did not exist, how would you be sure the manufacturer is
simply not omitting facts?
That's the manufacturer's problem. After all, if they convince you that
they aren't omitting facts, you won't buy their products. Why should I pay
to solve their problem? Let them figure out how to solve it at their own
expense.
If I die because the manufacturer hasn't yet been prevented by market
forces alone from selling me poison, my recourse to civil law is kinda
useless. I much prefer not dying to being able to recover damages if I
die.

Best wishes,
Bert
--
"Believe nothing ... merely because you have been told it or because it
is traditional or because you yourselves have imagined it. Don't
believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the
teacher. But whatever, after due examination and analysis, you find to
conduce to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings--believe
and cling to that doctrine, and take it as your guide."
--Gautana Siddhartha, "The Dhammapada"
Don Matt
2003-10-05 19:15:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Weiss
Being drunk,
per se, is not an initiation of force, but being drunk in a situation where
your impairment endangers others - such as at the wheel of a car - most
certainly is.
On my view, driving drunk fills foggy into the initiation of force
concept. A drunk individual has no conscious intention of causing
harm, probably only want the gratifying sensations related with
alcohol use. The word "initiation", on the other hand, somehow seem to
describe a condition where an individual consciously starts a
situation. Once I am drunk I do not start a crash condition, this
condition rather happens because my lack of capacities. That is just
failure of care, or negligence. The only thing one have initiated is
the act of drinking a lot, from this point on everything simply
happened.

I think I understand dave odden´s concerns about driving drunk being
initiation of force and then needing state prevention. Somehow this
creates a precedent where some liberties would have to be prevented
because of possible, and not real, damage. For example, if I am a
tobacco producer I for certain do not have the intention of causing
lung cancer to anyone I sell my product. Rather, lung cancer is just a
side effect, that I have not properly initiated but that is strongly
related with my act of producing such drug.

Now I ask you: if I have no freedom to drive drunk when other people
are exposed, do I have freedom to produce a harmful product if other
people are exposed? In my view, only if I honestly inform them about
the possible risks related. This also means that tobacco producers
have no right to freely create false advertisements, associating youth
and healthiness with tobacco.
Post by Fred Weiss
It's as much an initiation of force as waving a loaded gun on
a crowded street.
You mean: people have no right to bear guns in public because it
exposes other people to a possible threat?




Don.
Fred Weiss
2003-10-05 23:08:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
On my view, driving drunk fills foggy into the initiation of force
concept. A drunk individual has no conscious intention of causing
harm, ...
That's irrelevant. He certainly had the conscious intention of getting
drunk, of knowing that he would then have to drive, of knowing that he would
then put others in danger by his impairment. Furthermore the initiation of
force doesn't necessarily presuppose intent. It can result from negligence.
Post by Don Matt
...if I am a tobacco producer I for certain do not have the intention of
causing
Post by Don Matt
lung cancer to anyone I sell my product. Rather, lung cancer is just a
side effect, that I have not properly initiated but that is strongly
related with my act of producing such drug.
Everyone knows the possible connection with lung cancer - and other
ailments. The tobacco industry is not asking you to take a risk in your use
of their product of which you are unaware. That should be your free choice.
In contrast, the drunk driver is not giving you any choice. When he goes
careening through a red light and smashes into a car killing all the
passengers, what choice did they have?
Post by Don Matt
... do I have freedom to produce a harmful product if other
people are exposed? In my view, only if I honestly inform them about
the possible risks related.
Assuming those risks aren't obvious or well-known - and the manufacturer is
aware of them then I agree. However, everyone has known about the risks of
tobacco for a very long time. The idea that people were duped by the tobacco
industry is a crock.
Post by Don Matt
You mean: people have no right to bear guns in public because it
exposes other people to a possible threat?
I didn't say that. I was referring to someone who was clearly being careless
and indifferent to the threat he was posing to others. It would not be too
different from a driver swerving madly back and forth between lanes on a
highway.

Fred Weiss
Don Matt
2003-10-08 04:34:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
On my view, driving drunk fills foggy into the initiation of force
concept. A drunk individual has no conscious intention of causing
harm, ...
He certainly had the conscious intention of getting
drunk, of knowing that he would then have to drive, of knowing that he would
then put others in danger by his impairment.
An individual is perfectly conscious when decide to drink or not
alcohol. The same is almost the time true when one decides to take
cocaine or have a crack smoke. But alcohol, when reach a critical
level, and cocaine (with only a single dose) destroy human reasoning
and then one does not really decides to do something. You must agree
that free will is not absolute and when one has a chemical (even if
temporary) demage in the brain the necessary conditions for free will
disappear.

So our drunk/cocaine user may have gone out of his home with the
genuine desire of not driving but then, when on drug effect, emotion
and euphoria rule.
Decision making process disappears and then every action is not bad or
good but, on my view, rather amoral.
Post by Fred Weiss
Furthermore the initiation of
force doesn't necessarily presuppose intent. It can result from negligence.
One is negligent when one "failure to exercise the care that a
prudent person usually exercises". Of course this does not mean intent
but I understant that it means that it could had happend in a
different way. I mean, the individual could have chosen to have care,
or means that we are talking about an individual that has no brain
damage that makes impossible to have the proper care. But if the
decision making process is impaired by alcohol effect one no more has
the power to have care. It is not really the result of negligence but
rather the result of a temporary brain demage.
In our discussion the real act of negligence was simply start to
drink or to use cocaine. The lack of care was decide consciously to
damage the brain and impair the deciion making process. But then,
should we conclude that drinking or cocaine use is per se dangerous?

(snipped part to be continued in the FDA branch)



Don.
Fred Weiss
2003-10-08 09:37:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
An individual is perfectly conscious when decide to drink or not
alcohol.
That's all that matters. No one is ignorant of the consequences of drinking
and in most cases that is precisely what the drinker wants to accomplish.
This isn't to say, given the vast complexity of the law, that there may not
be mitigating circumstances in some cases, but in general I think an
individual has to assume full responsibility for what they do "under the
influence".

Awhile ago I watched a Court TV program with mixed fascination and horror as
a young woman, with no prior criminal record, was given a very long prison
sentence for crashing into a car and killing a number of the occupants while
she was drunk. Obviously she had no desire or intent to kill anyone, but
that's what she ended up doing by her negligence.
Post by Don Matt
...if the
decision making process is impaired by alcohol effect one no more has
the power to have care. It is not really the result of negligence but
rather the result of a temporary brain demage.
The negligence resides in putting yourself in that condition.
Post by Don Matt
...But then,
should we conclude that drinking or cocaine use is per se dangerous?
I think that varies from person to person and in the amounts one consumes.
I've known people with seeming "wooden legs" who can drink vast quantities
with relatively little effect. Others have to stop after a drink or two. "A
man's gotta know his limitations." - Clint Eastwood.

Fred Weiss
David Buchner
2003-10-11 13:28:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Weiss
I've known people with seeming "wooden legs" who can drink vast quantities
with relatively little effect. Others have to stop after a drink or two.
Um, I think "hollow leg" is the thing you're looking for there.
Tom S.
2003-10-12 01:44:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Buchner
Post by Fred Weiss
I've known people with seeming "wooden legs" who can drink vast quantities
with relatively little effect. Others have to stop after a drink or two.
Um, I think "hollow leg" is the thing you're looking for there.
Not to be confused with "hollow heads".

Tom -- ever helpful.
--
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because
rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. -- George Orwell
Charles Novins
2003-10-08 12:40:30 UTC
Permalink
"Don Matt" <***@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:***@posting.google.com...
....cocaine (with only a single dose) destroy human reasoning

CHARLES NOVINS:
How ridiculous. Where'd you get this whopper, Don?
Andrei Prokopiw
2003-10-08 13:45:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Post by Don Matt
On my view, driving drunk fills foggy into the initiation of force
concept. A drunk individual has no conscious intention of causing
harm, ...
He certainly had the conscious intention of getting
drunk, of knowing that he would then have to drive, of knowing that he would
then put others in danger by his impairment.
An individual is perfectly conscious when decide to drink or not
alcohol. The same is almost the time true when one decides to take
cocaine or have a crack smoke. But alcohol, when reach a critical
level, and cocaine (with only a single dose) destroy human reasoning
and then one does not really decides to do something. You must agree
that free will is not absolute and when one has a chemical (even if
temporary) demage in the brain the necessary conditions for free will
disappear.
Oh please, come on. Even when you are absolutely drunk, you still have
a good idea of what you are doing. Furthermore, to get to the stage of
being that drunk, you definitely have know what you are doing. Claiming
that you had no free will because of the effects of alcohol is nonsense.
Moreover, the person in question most likely knows the effects of
alcohol, so if they really had no control, they shouldn't have any
to begin with.
Post by Don Matt
So our drunk/cocaine user may have gone out of his home with the
genuine desire of not driving but then, when on drug effect, emotion
and euphoria rule.
Well, then it's his or her fault for taking such drugs if they have
that sort of effect.
Post by Don Matt
Decision making process disappears and then every action is not bad or
good but, on my view, rather amoral.
I think you'd have to take something far more mind-altering than
alcohol or cocaine for that.
Post by Don Matt
Post by Fred Weiss
Furthermore the initiation of
force doesn't necessarily presuppose intent. It can result from negligence.
One is negligent when one "failure to exercise the care that a
prudent person usually exercises". Of course this does not mean intent
but I understant that it means that it could had happend in a
different way. I mean, the individual could have chosen to have care,
or means that we are talking about an individual that has no brain
damage that makes impossible to have the proper care. But if the
decision making process is impaired by alcohol effect one no more has
the power to have care. It is not really the result of negligence but
rather the result of a temporary brain demage.
I don't see anywhere in your quote the line, "except when they are
mentally unable to excerise care", do you? Who says you have to
be of fully mental capacity to be guilty of negligence? I think
you would be singing a much different tune if your family was
killed by a drunk driver.
Post by Don Matt
In our discussion the real act of negligence was simply start to
drink or to use cocaine. The lack of care was decide consciously to
damage the brain and impair the deciion making process. But then,
should we conclude that drinking or cocaine use is per se dangerous?
If a person is on drugs, and does not take care as a prudent
person would do, then according to your definition they would be
negligent. Why should they have to be in full mental capactity?
Don Matt
2003-10-05 18:18:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Driving drunk is not initiation of force and I really do not believe
it would be if a drunk individual crashes his car into another and
kills an innocent family.
I agree: it's not initiation of force.
Post by Don Matt
Driving drunk is not a volitive action.
I don't know what that means.
I meant (or tried to) that you properly do not really decide to drive
when you are drunk. Once one is drunk I think free will is out of the
scene.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
is rather a danger behavior, that exposes another individual, not
related with the act of drinking, into danger.
Or at least, could. That's true.
Post by Don Matt
The foggy concept "initiation of force"
It isn't foggy, it's very crystal clear. Driving drunk is not initiation of
force. It is also dangerous if there is anyone else on the road. I don't
understand your point.
Sorry but I also do not understand your point. Seems you mean that:
1- driving drunk is not initiation of force
2- killing another individual while driving drunk is not initiation
of force
3- government must avoid only initiation of force
Thus,
4- government must NOT avoid killing another person while driving
drunk.

Is that what you mean? I really doubt. No need to mention that many
car acidents we have today are caused by alcohol use. If you do not
know remember that "between the ages of 16 and 64 alcohol figures into
over 20% of all fatal accidents, and between the ages of 21 and 44
almost 50% of all fatalities."
http://www.disastercenter.com/traffic/

I do not want to be rude but we could easily do the simmilar
reasoning:
1- Having nuclear weapons is not initiation of force
2- Only initiation of force should be prevented
Thus,
3- Its OK, anyone may have nuclear weapons.

You see, I agree we can not take the risk at a so high level.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
does not include important
situations that must be prevented if we want to live in a safe place.
It defines what can properly be regulated by government. It isn't up to the
government to guarantee that we live in a safe place, have a chicken in
every pot, or have a pot to piss in. The purpose of government is to protect
people from the initiation of force.
Have you ever wandered why traffic signs or lights exist? Or how
would be the world without it? It is a government code that defines
the proper rules of moving from one place to another in big cities.
Why should government rule a simple thing like my movement from one
place to another? Because regulation is necessary otherwise there
would not be a common ground for existence, chaos would reign.

Perhaps we will never be absolutely sure if we live in a safer place
I think there is enough knowledge, acquired by means of science and
other sources, that can be used in a way we live in safer place.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
Why should
that be restricted only to drugs? Why not, for example, bungie-jumping?
It should, of course, be expanded to other situations. Children shall
not be allowed to go on a bungie-jumping without parents
authorization. And state must guarantee that parents are to be fully
informed about risks related with bungie-jumping, before thay decide
to authorize children.
I'm familiar with the policies of the nannie-state. They needn't stop there.
Adults should be prevented from bungie-jumping because there is a risk, that
they will hurt themselves. The state should either prevent bungie jumping,
also street-crossing; or, they should absolutely guarantee that any action
you chose to do is totaly safe.
Maybe teachers should receive extra money from big tobacco companies.
Their extra job would be propaganda and smoking lessons to children at
a very young age. No children would be obligated to watch any class
(this would be initiation of force) but smoking classes would have
also porn videos and lots of candies, all paid by free companies
interested in tobacco business, so children would be more interested
in such classes. ;)
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
No reason: indeed the logic you present extends way beyond just drugs,
and
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
can also be applied to the dangerous consumption of red meat, bottled
juices, not to mention the watching of bad TV.
The examples you have shown do not expose society into danger, so I
see no reason why they should be regulated. But once these situations
are pottentially harmful, children should be prevented of its
exposure, just like happens with alcohol.
Didn't you claim to be a medical doctor?
I am.
Post by dave odden
Society is harmed because members
of society are harmed,
This is true.
Post by dave odden
and worse millions of people will die from heart
disease because of eating juicy steaks (mmmm). Bad TV leads to the moral
decline of a nation, clearly a damage to society. Look at the crap that
children are watching on TV. How can you deny that TV is the greatest danger
to children that ever existed?
The thing is, you can't protect people from everything, and you shouldn't
try. To protect someone, you have to restrict someone. Slavery is bad.
This is true. Diabetes, high colesterol and others have strong
relation with environment, specially wrong diet. I´m not against wrong
diet when one freely decide to have it. I´m quite calm when I admit I
have accepted some part of Objectivism´ ideas related with individual
rights. Afterall, even being true that I completely disagree with some
very important aspects of Rand´s philosophy, some aspects are really
nice.

The discussion should follow then in a way of us trying to determine
when a person is really free to decide. You will probably agree that
any physician´s basic obligation is inform people about the benefits
of a good diet to general health and specially to special individuals,
like diabetic ones. Otherwise, how one would know that his/her
ice-cream based diet is harmful? Then, once informed, I think anyone
may do whatever one want with lifetime and health. I am not in a
position to judge anyone´s actions except if it threatens me or hurts
me.

Once stablished that people may only decide when they are fully
informed, that society is affected by dangerous individual´s behavior
and also that government exist for society´s (group of individual´s)
benefit why wait for a disease stablish? We do not need to wait and it
would not be wise to do so. It is for benefit of individuals that
wrong propaganda about tobacco and alcohol should not be allowed. It
is also for individuals self interest that publicity should be done in
order to prevent diseases and show the benefits of a healthy life.
Society has a duty in order to expand individual´s ability to use
free-will.

You probably will not complaing (it is not initiation of force) that
state proganda informing you how HIV virus infects human beings.

Bad TV follows the same logic.
Post by dave odden
What is this obsession with children anyhow?
Children are a different category of human beings whose most
important charachter is not having a developed free-will. Thus they
can not have fully moral penalities neither we should expect them to
do the right thing. We (state) must guarantee they reach the free-will
age without harm.




Don.
dave odden
2003-10-05 19:20:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
I meant (or tried to) that you properly do not really decide to drive
when you are drunk. Once one is drunk I think free will is out of the
scene.
I admit that I don't know what the Brazilian DWI standard is. It varies
roughly between .1% and .05% in the US. It is or was .02% in Norway which
basically means one beer can ruin your life if you drive (and virtually
nobody does). So it depends on what you mean by "drunk". A person with .05%
blood alcohol has impaired judgement and reactions, but does not lack free
will. I dunno, maybe at .5%.
Post by Don Matt
1- driving drunk is not initiation of force
2- killing another individual while driving drunk is not initiation
of force
3- government must avoid only initiation of force
You mean, outlaw or prohibit. I skipped over commission of fraud because
that's not germane, so add that.
Post by Don Matt
Thus,
4- government must NOT avoid killing another person while driving
drunk.
That is, it is not properly in the purview of government to determine
whether a drunk person may drive.
Post by Don Matt
Is that what you mean? I really doubt.
Sorry, it is what I mean.
Post by Don Matt
No need to mention that many
car acidents we have today are caused by alcohol use.
Correct, it isn't necessary to mention it. I know that fact. You shouldn't
get confused over whether I think it is a good thing to drive drunk: I
don't.
Post by Don Matt
I do not want to be rude but we could easily do the simmilar
1- Having nuclear weapons is not initiation of force
2- Only initiation of force should be prevented
Thus,
3- Its OK, anyone may have nuclear weapons.
Qua property rights issue, yes. Drop the "weapons" aspect because it
presupposes that the device is used only for killing people. Possession of a
thermo-nuclear explosive device is not a use of force. It could be taken as
clear evidence that a person intends to use force, or it can be used to
crush rocks (assuming you have a really big back yard). Again, I'm not by
any means advocating the proliferation of laptop nukes, I'm saying that
there are non-governmental means of addresing the issue, and that government
must be extremely careful in depriving people of their rights for the
"greatest common good".
Post by Don Matt
Have you ever wandered why traffic signs or lights exist?
In certain locations, it's to make life hell, especially when there is no
cross traffic. In other places, it's to regulate the flow of traffic so that
people don't hit each other. I usually stop at stop lights. I sometimes stop
when the light is green (because some fool isn't paying attention). The law
is irrelevant.
Post by Don Matt
It is a government code that defines
the proper rules of moving from one place to another in big cities.
No, it isn't exclusively a government code. Traffic signs are commonly used,
and obeyed, on private roads (as all roads should be). Do you seriously
think that if government were to disappear that suddenly people would be
running into each other at intersections because the Queen Ant no longer
sends them mind-control signals? I've got this idea that people would see
the wisdom of actually stopping at an intersection when there's traffic all
around.
Post by Don Matt
Why should government rule a simple thing like my movement from one
place to another? Because regulation is necessary otherwise there
would not be a common ground for existence, chaos would reign.
Uh, that is the credo of the Borg or other hive creatures. It is not
actually necessary to regulate our every move.
Post by Don Matt
This is true. Diabetes, high colesterol and others have strong
relation with environment, specially wrong diet. IŽm not against wrong
diet when one freely decide to have it. IŽm quite calm when I admit I
have accepted some part of ObjectivismŽ ideas related with individual
rights. Afterall, even being true that I completely disagree with some
very important aspects of RandŽs philosophy, some aspects are really
nice.
Okay, so by the same reasoning (which is correct), a person has the right to
drink if they chose to of their own free will, and to take drugs. I have the
right to try to persuade them not to; I don't have the right to point a gun
at them and forcibly prevent them from living their life according to my
standards.
Post by Don Matt
The discussion should follow then in a way of us trying to determine
when a person is really free to decide.
Yah. The basic rule is, always, unless you have a really good argument that
it should be otherwise.
Post by Don Matt
You will probably agree that
any physicianŽs basic obligation is inform people about the benefits
of a good diet to general health and specially to special individuals,
like diabetic ones.
I think that's a bit narrow, to say the least, since if I come in to the
hospital with a nail in my hand, I don't want any lectures on the virtues of
fruit juice. But I'd agree that it's a good thing for doctors to educate
their patients.
Post by Don Matt
Otherwise, how one would know that his/her
ice-cream based diet is harmful? Then, once informed, I think anyone
may do whatever one want with lifetime and health. I am not in a
position to judge anyoneŽs actions except if it threatens me or hurts
me.
Well, the problem is that you seem to want to make the person's freedom
contingent on how well the doctor can explain the problem, and that ain't
so. The person has the right to smoke even if they have never been give the
"smoking kills" lecture (if there is anyone alive in the world who hasn't
heard that lecture). It is good for doctors to tell people these facts.
Post by Don Matt
Once stablished that people may only decide when they are fully
informed,
Hang on, nobody is ever fully informed. You will never reach the state of
informedness that I have on what I know, and vice versa. You have a right to
do whatever you want with your life, even if it is underinformed.
Post by Don Matt
that society is affected by dangerous individualŽs behavior
and also that government exist for societyŽs (group of individualŽs)
benefit why wait for a disease stablish?
The purpose of government isn't generic utopia for all mankind: it is
specifically to protect individuals from force and fraud. Utopian benefits
such as health care, cabbages, shoes and computers are provided via the free
market.
Post by Don Matt
It is for benefit of individuals that
wrong propaganda about tobacco and alcohol should not be allowed.
So you're saying that the right to free speech should be curtailed if
someone advocates a politically incorrect action, e.g. people who say
"Smoking is pleasurable" or "Beer tastes good" should be forcibly stopped
from making those statements: the only allowed statements are that smoking
kills and beer kills?
Post by Don Matt
You probably will not complaing (it is not initiation of force) that
state proganda informing you how HIV virus infects human beings.
I object to the fact that the government thinks it is their responsibility
to educate the masses about anything, including how HIV infects humans. I
particularly object to the fact that the government sends its death squads
to my village to plunder my property, in order to pay for their propaganda
efforts (and the salaries of those in charge of administering the
propaganda). It is your responsibility, assuming you want to accept the
responsibility.
Don Matt
2003-10-07 04:53:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
I meant (or tried to) that you properly do not really decide to drive
when you are drunk. Once one is drunk I think free will is out of the
scene.
I admit that I don't know what the Brazilian DWI standard is. It varies
roughly between .1% and .05% in the US. It is or was .02% in Norway which
basically means one beer can ruin your life if you drive (and virtually
nobody does). So it depends on what you mean by "drunk". A person with .05%
blood alcohol has impaired judgement and reactions, but does not lack free
will. I dunno, maybe at .5%.
Alcohol is a depressor of the central nervous system (CNS) and as
almost all depressors, its effects starts from the more developed to
the inferior parts of our brain. So, the first part to be impaired is
the cortical brain (the one that humans have more developed than other
animals and the one responsible for reasoning). In small/moderated
doses it progressively equates us to chimps once it is our limbic
system that starts ruling more and more.
I admit I´m uncertain if, once one has any effect of alcohol, one
still has free-will. How can you be free to decide if you are not
fully able to analise? On my view only a "pure", perfectly working,
consciousness is in a position to make a decision.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
1- driving drunk is not initiation of force
2- killing another individual while driving drunk is not initiation
of force
3- government must avoid only initiation of force
You mean, outlaw or prohibit. I skipped over commission of fraud because
that's not germane, so add that.
Post by Don Matt
Thus,
4- government must NOT avoid killing another person while driving
drunk.
That is, it is not properly in the purview of government to determine
whether a drunk person may drive.
Post by Don Matt
Is that what you mean? I really doubt.
Sorry, it is what I mean.
OK.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
No need to mention that many
car acidents we have today are caused by alcohol use.
Correct, it isn't necessary to mention it. I know that fact. You shouldn't
get confused over whether I think it is a good thing to drive drunk: I
don't.
So you are using a system of ideas that do not express totally your
idea of the good. Maybe you should say that driving drunk is not good
or bad, it´s simply a decision. Once you have assumed that driving
drunk is not good I want you now to show me by what morality system
have you concluded it.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
I do not want to be rude but we could easily do the simmilar
1- Having nuclear weapons is not initiation of force
2- Only initiation of force should be prevented
Thus,
3- Its OK, anyone may have nuclear weapons.
Qua property rights issue, yes. Drop the "weapons" aspect because it
presupposes that the device is used only for killing people. Possession of a
thermo-nuclear explosive device is not a use of force. It could be taken as
clear evidence that a person intends to use force, or it can be used to
crush rocks (assuming you have a really big back yard). Again, I'm not by
any means advocating the proliferation of laptop nukes,
Again, you may be not advocating but your theory leaves space for
laptop nukes. Two or three intelligent crazy men could take such
laptops and turn them into guns. Too risky, you know that.
Post by dave odden
I'm saying that
there are non-governmental means of addresing the issue,
What non-governamental means? I can not figure out any by this
moment.
Post by dave odden
and that government
must be extremely careful in depriving people of their rights for the
"greatest common good".
Agree.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Have you ever wandered why traffic signs or lights exist?
In certain locations, it's to make life hell, especially when there is no
cross traffic. In other places, it's to regulate the flow of traffic so that
people don't hit each other. I usually stop at stop lights. I sometimes stop
when the light is green (because some fool isn't paying attention). The law
is irrelevant.
Post by Don Matt
It is a government code that defines
the proper rules of moving from one place to another in big cities.
No, it isn't exclusively a government code.
Right, I should have said society´s code.
Post by dave odden
Traffic signs are commonly used,
and obeyed, on private roads (as all roads should be).
They are a need. Weather they are used on private or on public roads
does not matter so much as that without it no safe traffic would be
possible.
Post by dave odden
Do you seriously
think that if government were to disappear that suddenly people would be
running into each other at intersections because the Queen Ant no longer
sends them mind-control signals?
Remember the images showing NY some months ago, when Queen Ant slept
for a day :-)
Maybe traffic would still be possible but it would be less effective.
There is a common interest for existence of such a code.
Post by dave odden
I've got this idea that people would see
the wisdom of actually stopping at an intersection when there's traffic all
around.
But we accept some level of regulation of our movement because we
know that without such a code, such a law, free movement would in fact
impair movement. Free movement would be a chaotic movement.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Why should government rule a simple thing like my movement from one
place to another? Because regulation is necessary otherwise there
would not be a common ground for existence, chaos would reign.
Uh, that is the credo of the Borg or other hive creatures. It is not
actually necessary to regulate our every move.
Not every move, but only when there is need.


(snipped for brevity)
Post by dave odden
Okay, so by the same reasoning (which is correct), a person has the right to
drink if they chose to of their own free will, and to take drugs. I have the
right to try to persuade them not to; I don't have the right to point a gun
at them and forcibly prevent them from living their life according to my
standards.
As I´ve said this kind of argument seems correct to me.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
The discussion should follow then in a way of us trying to determine
when a person is really free to decide.
Yah. The basic rule is, always, unless you have a really good argument that
it should be otherwise.
Why always? How can I be free (in terms of having free will about
something) to decide if I am gonna vote on a pro taxing canditate or
an against taxing candidate if I have never really thought about the
issue? I need to know what means be pro and against taxing so I'll be
in a position to decide. My free-will to decide a difficult issue is
not born acquired but seems rather conquered by my own effort.

(snipped)
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Otherwise, how one would know that his/her
ice-cream based diet is harmful? Then, once informed, I think anyone
may do whatever one want with lifetime and health. I am not in a
position to judge anyone´s actions except if it threatens me or hurts
me.
Well, the problem is that you seem to want to make the person's freedom
contingent on how well the doctor can explain the problem, and that ain't
so. The person has the right to smoke even if they have never been give the
"smoking kills" lecture (if there is anyone alive in the world who hasn't
heard that lecture). It is good for doctors to tell people these facts.
Maybe you misunderstood me. I do not mean that any person´s freedom
disappears without information. I mean that any person´s free will is
impaired without information.

See if you agree:
1- My FREE WILL is impaired without information
2- Tobacco in excess may kill myself.
Thus,
3- Without information about tobacco I may kill myself unconsciosly.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Once stablished that people may only decide when they are fully
informed,
Hang on, nobody is ever fully informed. You will never reach the state of
informedness that I have on what I know, and vice versa. You have a right to
do whatever you want with your life, even if it is underinformed.
I´ll never reach your state of informedness but both of us need to
know about the things that may kill us. There must be no vacuum in
this field. It´s the place for government or for the law.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
that society is affected by dangerous individual´s behavior
and also that government exist for society´s (group of individual´s)
benefit why wait for a disease stablish?
The purpose of government isn't generic utopia for all mankind: it is
specifically to protect individuals from force and fraud.
I´m not talking about any generic utopia but only about information
of the individuals of a society.

See my example again:
1- I´m a tobacco producer
2- I know uninformed people may kill themselves when consuming my
product in excess
3- I intentionally omit the fact my product kills
Thus
4- I intentionally let people kill themseleves unconsciously when
consuming my product.

You see, I do not argue we must restrain freedom but rather that we
must restrain omission of producers. Omission in my view is a kind of
perverse initiation of force.
If we ever gonna have cocaine fully legalized people are to be
informed by producers that its a harmful product.

(snipped)




Don.
dave odden
2003-10-07 19:42:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
Alcohol is a depressor of the central nervous system (CNS) and as
almost all depressors, its effects starts from the more developed to
the inferior parts of our brain. So, the first part to be impaired is
the cortical brain (the one that humans have more developed than other
animals and the one responsible for reasoning). In small/moderated
doses it progressively equates us to chimps once it is our limbic
system that starts ruling more and more.
This concept of "progresively equating us to chimps" is meaningless. Since
you don't mean "is the same", just "is similar", then even sober we are
"somewhat similar" to chimps in terms of cognition. Close is not close
enough, and one of the things that humans have that sets us apart from
chimps is free will and a faculty of deliberative reasoning. Reasoning
ability becomes impared but not eliminated, at least until the cusp of
passing out.
Post by Don Matt
I admit IŽm uncertain if, once one has any effect of alcohol, one
still has free-will. How can you be free to decide if you are not
fully able to analise? On my view only a "pure", perfectly working,
consciousness is in a position to make a decision.
How can you be free to decide if you don't have an IQ of 180? On my view,
perfection is not required for humans to have free will or to have the right
to their lives. I don't see why perfect reasoning is required for there to
be free will. In fact, you've made free will something totally mystical,
because although a person with .02% blood alcohol passes every possible test
for free will, you would put them in the "no free will" bin instead. Worse,
somebody who is tired does not have a pure, perfectly working consciousness,
nor does someone who's very sad. Free will for you seems to be such a
fragile thing that the least disruption destroys it. If you're going to go
that route, you'd be better off denying that there *is* free will, because
at least that position is consistent.
Post by Don Matt
So you are using a system of ideas that do not express totally your
idea of the good. Maybe you should say that driving drunk is not good
or bad, itŽs simply a decision. Once you have assumed that driving
drunk is not good I want you now to show me by what morality system
have you concluded it.
No, I'm saying that except in very special contexts, driving drunk is bad
(it would only be good if you had a drunk-driving arena where you *know*
there is this risk, and wanted to play car-games with drunk drivers). Just
because something is bad doesn't mean that it's right for the state to
control it.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
I'm saying that
there are non-governmental means of addresing the issue,
What non-governamental means? I can not figure out any by this
moment.
For instance, on my road it's very simple: you must not drive if you have a
blood alcohol level higher than .05%. The number would be determined by the
market. I actually favor a more direct reaction-time test, simply because it
relates directly to what's at most issue. If you break that rule, you've
violated the conditions of our contract and I may rightly take action (read
clause 4 which spells out the details). These facts are known and posted,
and if you don't like my particular settings, take your business elsewhere.
I'm not using force to get you to use my service.
Post by Don Matt
Remember the images showing NY some months ago, when Queen Ant slept
for a day :-)
Maybe traffic would still be possible but it would be less effective.
There is a common interest for existence of such a code.
I must have missed something. Well, also remember the images of NY on a
*good* day.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
I've got this idea that people would see
the wisdom of actually stopping at an intersection when there's traffic all
around.
But we accept some level of regulation of our movement because we
know that without such a code, such a law, free movement would in fact
impair movement. Free movement would be a chaotic movement.
I sure hope you're still talking about traffic, and not allowing people to
go places with travel permits. People accept regulations because people are
ovine (and sometimes bovine). They usually accept the law because It's The
Law, not because they really have deep-seated beliefs. Some people, who
think, actually see the utility in a few particular laws, but certainly not
most laws.
Post by Don Matt
Maybe you misunderstood me. I do not mean that any personŽs freedom
disappears without information. I mean that any personŽs free will is
impaired without information.
I don't know what to say. That isn't what the concept "free will" means.
Post by Don Matt
1- My FREE WILL is impaired without information
No. That is the problem. Your free will is not defined by your knowledge.
Free will is simply the ability to chose freely.
Post by Don Matt
1- IŽm a tobacco producer
2- I know uninformed people may kill themselves when consuming my
product in excess
3- I intentionally omit the fact my product kills
Thus
4- I intentionally let people kill themseleves unconsciously when
consuming my product.
At this point, I hold that tobacco companies have absolutely no
responsibility to inform the public of that which is already so widely
known. A drug manufacturer would have a responsibility to make know the
risks such as that death occurred in .01% of cases, more frequently than
placebo, since that isn't well known. At this point, any dipweed who wants
to smoke can't honestly say "Gosh, I had no idea". They can honestly say
"Gosh, I just don't care" or "Gosh, I just don't believe it".

In the drug case, assuming the company knew and failed to make this salient
fact known, they would indeed be properly pursuable at the civil level for
failure to disclose. They might (but it's extremely unlikely) be pursuable
at the criminal level if they had a maliscious intent to harm. This is one
reason why it would be a good idea to divulge this information. In addition,
some people get really pissed if they are lied to and might take their
business elsewhere, if it turned out that the drug company was quietly
poisoning people. So it's very bad for business.
Don Matt
2003-10-09 03:31:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Alcohol is a depressor of the central nervous system (CNS) and as
almost all depressors, its effects starts from the more developed to
the inferior parts of our brain. So, the first part to be impaired is
the cortical brain (the one that humans have more developed than other
animals and the one responsible for reasoning). In small/moderated
doses it progressively equates us to chimps once it is our limbic
system that starts ruling more and more.
This concept of "progresively equating us to chimps" is meaningless. Since
you don't mean "is the same", just "is similar", then even sober we are
"somewhat similar" to chimps in terms of cognition.
There is the common understanding that what makes us different from
other animals are our cognitives abilities of our mind. These
cognitive abilities depend on a healthy organ to express. As I´ve
said, the brain´s part responsible for the expression of our humaness
are the most sensible ones. Alcohol does affect these centers in a
direct relation with the blood dose. So, when I mentioned that alcohol
progressively equates us to chimps I only used it as an example to
show that our cognitive abilities become more and more impaired. So
you are right, we will never be equate to chimps.
Post by dave odden
Close is not close
enough, and one of the things that humans have that sets us apart from
chimps is free will and a faculty of deliberative reasoning.
Both free will and deliberative reasoning are not absolute. An
individual in coma is still human but have no more these characters.
Post by dave odden
Reasoning
ability becomes impared but not eliminated, at least until the cusp of
passing out.
Post by Don Matt
I admit I´m uncertain if, once one has any effect of alcohol, one
still has free-will. How can you be free to decide if you are not
fully able to analise? On my view only a "pure", perfectly working,
consciousness is in a position to make a decision.
How can you be free to decide if you don't have an IQ of 180?
If I am in a car and I have to chose fast if I´m gonna step on the
breaks or if I´m gonna turn right and, because a harmful drug impairs
my reasoning, I do not have time to chose the best option I did not
really chose to do a wrong thing. I still may have free will, that is
true, but I did not have time to use it. As another example, if the
car in front of me stops too fast and my impaired brain does not have
time to judge that I also need to stop I properly did not really chose
to crash the other car. I just did not have enough time to decide to
do the right thing. I could have decided if I was not so drunk, then I
could have used my natural free will.

So I think people do not need to have an IQ of 180 to be free to
decide.

The problem is that decision means that you are conscious about
something, that you have an option, otherwise it would not be a
decision. In my view we are always free to decide when we are
conscious we have a choice.
Post by dave odden
On my view,
perfection is not required for humans to have free will or to have the right
to their lives.
In Brazil and in the USA people do a test before being authorized to
drive. The sad fact is that some people are not capable of driving
because of the lack of understanding. Some people have a so impaired
concentration that driving becomes too dangerous to himself/herself
and to other individuals.
Poeple do not do tests for other things in life because other
activities are not so potentially letal as is the act of driving.
Post by dave odden
I don't see why perfect reasoning is required for there to
be free will. In fact, you've made free will something totally mystical,
because although a person with .02% blood alcohol passes every possible test
for free will,
I don´t know what is a free will test.
Post by dave odden
you would put them in the "no free will" bin instead. Worse,
somebody who is tired does not have a pure, perfectly working consciousness,
nor does someone who's very sad. Free will for you seems to be such a
fragile thing that the least disruption destroys it.
Right I think there is enough evidence to believe free will is not
absolute.
Post by dave odden
If you're going to go
that route, you'd be better off denying that there *is* free will, because
at least that position is consistent.
Do I have a choice? (all rights reserved to Fred :-)
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
So you are using a system of ideas that do not express totally your
idea of the good. Maybe you should say that driving drunk is not good
or bad, it´s simply a decision. Once you have assumed that driving
drunk is not good I want you now to show me by what morality system
have you concluded it.
No, I'm saying that except in very special contexts, driving drunk is bad
(it would only be good if you had a drunk-driving arena where you *know*
there is this risk, and wanted to play car-games with drunk drivers). Just
because something is bad doesn't mean that it's right for the state to
control it.
Your answer is quite clever and I almost agreed. But thinking
carefully I see that it´s not a matter if there is a special arena
where you know other individuals may drive drunk. The problem is how
can you determine if in a public road government must not use force to
stop a drunk individual. In accord to your view it´s not wrong in
terms of rights thus government must do nothing. In fact it should be
legalized.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
I'm saying that
there are non-governmental means of addresing the issue,
What non-governamental means? I can not figure out any by this
moment.
For instance, on my road it's very simple: you must not drive if you have a
blood alcohol level higher than .05%. The number would be determined by the
market. I actually favor a more direct reaction-time test, simply because it
relates directly to what's at most issue. If you break that rule, you've
violated the conditions of our contract and I may rightly take action (read
clause 4 which spells out the details). These facts are known and posted,
and if you don't like my particular settings, take your business elsewhere.
I'm not using force to get you to use my service.
Nice answer, same objection done.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Remember the images showing NY some months ago, when Queen Ant slept
for a day :-)
Maybe traffic would still be possible but it would be less effective.
There is a common interest for existence of such a code.
I must have missed something. Well, also remember the images of NY on a
*good* day.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
I've got this idea that people would see
the wisdom of actually stopping at an intersection when there's traffic
all
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
around.
But we accept some level of regulation of our movement because we
know that without such a code, such a law, free movement would in fact
impair movement. Free movement would be a chaotic movement.
I sure hope you're still talking about traffic, and not allowing people to
go places with travel permits. People accept regulations because people are
ovine (and sometimes bovine). They usually accept the law because It's The
Law, not because they really have deep-seated beliefs.
Now you are just saying people have no free will about a simple code
as are the traffic signs? People are so ovine they do not decide, they
are not free enough to make a decision? Or is people unconscious about
their power as decision making individuals rather than a simple crowd?

Thanks ;-)
Post by dave odden
Some people, who
think, actually see the utility in a few particular laws, but certainly not
most laws.
But why only some people think?
Let´s face it: people do not have free will if they do not activelly
think. It´s because the other option is a passive state where
everything just happens without a carefull decision making process.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Maybe you misunderstood me. I do not mean that any person´s freedom
disappears without information. I mean that any person´s free will is
impaired without information.
I don't know what to say. That isn't what the concept "free will" means.
Post by Don Matt
1- My FREE WILL is impaired without information
No. That is the problem. Your free will is not defined by your knowledge.
Free will is simply the ability to chose freely.
I think you are correct, so let me explain better using my own
example below, re-written:
1- individual "X" is a "drug Y" consumer
2- individual "X" does not know that "drug Y" in excess may kill
himself
3- individual "X" can chose only IF "X" KNOWS there is an option
Thus,
4- "X" has no ability to chose about killing himself when consuming
"drug Y".

If one has no ability to choose one, of course, has "no ability to
chose freely" thus has no free will at this moment.




Don.
dave odden
2003-10-09 22:21:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
There is the common understanding that what makes us different from
other animals are our cognitives abilities of our mind. These
cognitive abilities depend on a healthy organ to express.
Yup. But human cognition is extremely robust and these various mond-altering
drugs don't reduce our cognitive capacity to that of even the smartest
animal. A very drunk human still is cognitively more advanced than a chimp.
The quantitative difference between human and ape cognition is so huge that
it's qualitative, and you can whack away a *lot* at human cognition, without
actually removing free will.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
How can you be free to decide if you don't have an IQ of 180?
If I am in a car and I have to chose fast if IŽm gonna step on the
breaks or if IŽm gonna turn right and, because a harmful drug impairs
my reasoning, I do not have time to chose the best option I did not
really chose to do a wrong thing. I still may have free will, that is
true, but I did not have time to use it.
Okay, so you've granted that you do have free will if your reaction time is
increased. So free will is a complete red herring, it is irrelevant. Look, I
think the problem is you're chasing after a nebulous thing "the best
option". I've gotta make some decisions about how to invest some money. I
could spend 20 years carefully studying all the options so that I can make
the *really* best decision, although by then my money, which was in a sack,
is worthless because of government-caused inflation, and the fact that I
dithered for a couple of decades. The fact is, you've gotta make a decision
right now. It's very nice to be able to think about things carefully and
deliberatively. Sometimes you gotta tromp on the brakes.
Post by Don Matt
As another example, if the
car in front of me stops too fast and my impaired brain does not have
time to judge that I also need to stop I properly did not really chose
to crash the other car. I just did not have enough time to decide to
do the right thing. I could have decided if I was not so drunk, then I
could have used my natural free will.
You're backsliding. Anyhow, these kinds of events are not governed by slow
deliberate reason: they are governed by the closest thing that humans have
to instinct. You don't have to decide that gosh maybe I should step on the
brake. You have to be awake, you have to perceive, and you have to grasp the
fact that thos red lights apparently speeding towards you are the back of a
truck that has suddenly stopped. Don't overthink it, just stop the damn car.
Post by Don Matt
So I think people do not need to have an IQ of 180 to be free to
decide.
Whew.
Post by Don Matt
In Brazil and in the USA people do a test before being authorized to
drive. The sad fact is that some people are not capable of driving
because of the lack of understanding. Some people have a so impaired
concentration that driving becomes too dangerous to himself/herself
and to other individuals.
Yeah, well, whadda ya gonna do. It's true, there are lots of idiots on the
highway. If I had my way, I'd be the only one on the road. I'm sure lots of
people feel the same way (about themselves).
Post by Don Matt
Poeple do not do tests for other things in life because other
activities are not so potentially letal as is the act of driving.
That's not true, b.t.w. Let's see, operating a crane, handling radioactive
material, flying a plane, broadcasting radio and TV, cutting hair (my god
you would not believe the regs on cosmetology), tattooing (the list goes on)
and finally in my own town... fortune telling.
Post by Don Matt
I donŽt know what is a free will test.
Any test that shows that a person has the ability to chose between A and B.
Post by Don Matt
Right I think there is enough evidence to believe free will is not
absolute.
I don't know what you mean, that it isn't absolute. Beyond the
metaphysically given, i.e. you don't have free will to morph into a slug,
because it's physically impossible.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
If you're going to go
that route, you'd be better off denying that there *is* free will, becau
se
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
at least that position is consistent.
Do I have a choice? (all rights reserved to Fred :-)
Yes, you can say "Yeah, I guess we do have free will, and that driving drunk
doesn't deprive us of our free will. It makes it harder or impossible to
react quickly enough and to focus, which can lead to death, and that is bad;
but it isn't a cancellatoin of free will". I could offer millions of other
options that you can choose between. You chose, freely.
Post by Don Matt
The problem is how
can you determine if in a public road
Bzzzzt. I'm sorry, the contestant is disqualified. There should be no
government (so-called "public") roads. State ownership of roads should be
outlawed.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
People accept regulations because people are
ovine (and sometimes bovine). They usually accept the law because It's The
Law, not because they really have deep-seated beliefs.
Now you are just saying people have no free will about a simple code
as are the traffic signs? People are so ovine they do not decide, they
are not free enough to make a decision? Or is people unconscious about
their power as decision making individuals rather than a simple crowd?
No, rather people are not always in the habit of actually using their reason
to reach decisions, and they very often use second-hand reasoning. They
*can* use their reason, but often refuse to. It's somewhat harder to use
your mind than to not do so, except that it's also going to get you killed
much more quickly if you don't use your mind. Quite a number of people are
in the habit of letting some other person use their minds to make life safer
for them. But this is bad.
Post by Don Matt
But why only some people think?
LetŽs face it: people do not have free will if they do not activelly
think. ItŽs because the other option is a passive state where
everything just happens without a carefull decision making process.
Well, if you don't actively exercise your Johnson at least 5 times a week,
does that mean you don't have one? I really don't understand *why* there are
people who fear thinking, but I think that it's because there are some
people with a vested interest in making it seem very difficult, which is why
priesthoods have existed for a very long time.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
No. That is the problem. Your free will is not defined by your knowledge.
Free will is simply the ability to chose freely.
I think you are correct, so let me explain better using my own
1- individual "X" is a "drug Y" consumer
2- individual "X" does not know that "drug Y" in excess may kill
himself
3- individual "X" can chose only IF "X" KNOWS there is an option
Thus,
4- "X" has no ability to chose about killing himself when consuming
"drug Y".
If one has no ability to choose one, of course, has "no ability to
chose freely" thus has no free will at this moment.
The problem is that you always have the option to consume the drug, or to
not consume the drug. There is *always* an option. Now you get into the
realm of figuring out which choice would end up better for your life, and
one fact that could be relevant is whether it will kill you, emasculate you,
save your life.... you always have a choice. Again, the fact of choice does
not mean that you are aware of all metaphysical possibilities.
Don Matt
2003-10-12 06:34:17 UTC
Permalink
(snipped for brevity)
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
I don´t know what is a free will test.
Any test that shows that a person has the ability to chose between A and B.
Right, but I think it has not been invented yet.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Right I think there is enough evidence to believe free will is not
absolute.
I don't know what you mean, that it isn't absolute.
I only meant to say that free-will is not always present. As I´ve
said, when an individual is in coma he/she still is an human but is in
no conditions of free-will. The same applies to heavy doses of
alcohol/cocaine/marijuana: we still have an human but with an impaired
brain that no more is able to reason.
Post by dave odden
Beyond the
metaphysically given, i.e. you don't have free will to morph into a slug,
because it's physically impossible.
Of course, right.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
If you're going to go
that route, you'd be better off denying that there *is* free will, becau
se
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
at least that position is consistent.
Do I have a choice? (all rights reserved to Fred :-)
Yes, you can say "Yeah, I guess we do have free will, and that driving drunk
doesn't deprive us of our free will. It makes it harder or impossible to
react quickly enough and to focus, which can lead to death, and that is bad;
but it isn't a cancellatoin of free will".
I liked that but I would say in a different way: "I think free will
only manifest when we are aware we have a choice, or when our brain is
in conditions to reason about the choices we have. In small doses
alcohol makes impossible to react quickly enough and to focus but when
doses are higher it leads to a complete instinctive state. On such
state an individual may not be aware that, when he steps on the gas,
he is making a decision between risking himself and not risking."
Post by dave odden
I could offer millions of other
options that you can choose between.
What other options?
Post by dave odden
You chose, freely.
I can not chose if I do not know what are the other options.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
The problem is how
can you determine if in a public road
Bzzzzt. I'm sorry, the contestant is disqualified. There should be no
government (so-called "public") roads. State ownership of roads should be
outlawed.
OK, I understand that in accord wit Objectivism´s theory only private
roads (inter-cities) would be allowed to exist. But are you also
talking about roads inside cities, and even sidewalks? How would I
have free movement if I would have to pay to go four blocks when I
desired to buy a simple bread?

You are in favor that no one can be punished or enforced not to
drink, that this is completelly beyond the scope of the public law. If
you manage to prove that only public roads are to exist then I´ll have
to concede that, when related with the act of driving, there are
really other ways of managing the problem (perhaps let's face that
your roads would not be so full of people).
But even if you manage to prove me that every single road is to be
private then I would still say that what we are discussing is if an
individual has the right to supress/impair his/her consciousness when
in a public affair and then endanger another individual with such
activity. You will probably agree that a president, a congressman or a
troop commander have no right to be drunk/using cocaine or related
when at work. They are not free to use dugs if they are endangering
many other individuals with such activity. It´s as if they were
driving drunk.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
People accept regulations because people are
ovine (and sometimes bovine). They usually accept the law because It's
The
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
Law, not because they really have deep-seated beliefs.
Now you are just saying people have no free will about a simple code
as are the traffic signs? People are so ovine they do not decide, they
are not free enough to make a decision? Or is people unconscious about
their power as decision making individuals rather than a simple crowd?
No, rather people are not always in the habit of actually using their reason
to reach decisions, and they very often use second-hand reasoning. They
*can* use their reason, but often refuse to. It's somewhat harder to use
your mind than to not do so, except that it's also going to get you killed
much more quickly if you don't use your mind.
It´s amazing how we are in strong agreement about this one.
Post by dave odden
Quite a number of people are
in the habit of letting some other person use their minds to make life safer
for them. But this is bad.
True.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
But why only some people think?
Let´s face it: people do not have free will if they do not activelly
think. It´s because the other option is a passive state where
everything just happens without a carefull decision making process.
Well, if you don't actively exercise your Johnson at least 5 times a week,
does that mean you don't have one?
Of course you still have one. But in my view if you do not know you
have one or if you forget you have one it happens to be *as if* you do
not have one.
I think the same goes for free-will. We all are born with the
potential use of it and many only use it once: deciding not to use it.

I have a personal (probably not very popular) theory that this has a
very important consequence to democracy. Why do we trust in people
that have no use of free will (or reason if you desire) to chose, by
means of an election, those that will be in power and will govern us?
As I´ve said, an idea nothing popular.
Post by dave odden
I really don't understand *why* there are
people who fear thinking,
My guess is that most of people prefer to trust religion/tradition
rather then facing the terrible fact that all our religious systems
and maybe all our traditional society have not a good rational answer
to reality. Once this is understood, the path is long and has no
return. I do not think this is so easy.
Post by dave odden
but I think that it's because there are some
people with a vested interest in making it seem very difficult, which is why
priesthoods have existed for a very long time.
I also tend to think that some people could rely on people´s
ignorance to stay in power and use fear for the same reason.
Post by dave odden
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
No. That is the problem. Your free will is not defined by your
knowledge.
Post by Don Matt
Post by dave odden
Free will is simply the ability to chose freely.
I think you are correct, so let me explain better using my own
1- individual "X" is a "drug Y" consumer
2- individual "X" does not know that "drug Y" in excess may kill
himself
3- individual "X" can chose only IF "X" KNOWS there is an option
Thus,
4- "X" has no ability to chose about killing himself when consuming
"drug Y".
If one has no ability to choose one, of course, has "no ability to
chose freely" thus has no free will at this moment.
The problem is that you always have the option to consume the drug, or to
not consume the drug.
Right, free will is present on this case, you may also decide if you
will drink water or not.
Post by dave odden
There is *always* an option.
This option is still present if you decide to drink water or not. But
drinking water does not mean the same thing as deciding to use
cocaine.
Post by dave odden
Now you get into the
realm of figuring out which choice would end up better for your life, and
one fact that could be relevant is whether it will kill you, emasculate you,
save your life.... you always have a choice.
I´m gonna insist: you do not have a choice of becoming addicted with
cocaine if you have not been informed the drug was an addictive one.
Of course you have a choice about using or not a certain drug but
choice supposes understanding of possibilities.

You will not claim that an individual that does not understand what
is a firearm, and pull the trigger inadvertently killing himself,
killed himself by means of free-will. Of course there is a choice
related with pulling the trigger but this does not mean a choice
related with killing himself: the latter was result of ignorance.
Post by dave odden
Again, the fact of choice does
not mean that you are aware of all metaphysical possibilities.
By the scope of this thread it´s important that people are aware of
suicidal aspects of drug consuming. This must be guaranteed by
government otherwise many people would decide to pull the trigger
(start using drugs) without knowing this is a self-destructive action.






Don.
dave odden
2003-10-12 14:19:08 UTC
Permalink
I only meant to say that free-will is not always present. As IŽve
said, when an individual is in coma he/she still is an human but is in
no conditions of free-will. The same applies to heavy doses of
alcohol/cocaine/marijuana: we still have an human but with an impaired
brain that no more is able to reason.
Yes, if a person is unconscious in any way, they aren't conscious, and
exercising free will requires you to be conscious. There are possibly
interesting questions about people's rights if they are comatose, but that's
not relevant here. If you drink yourself into the state of unconsciousness,
then when you pass out you're in the same situation as the coma guy. But
again we're not talking about people who are unconscious, just people who
are conscious yet impaired.
Post by dave odden
Yes, you can say "Yeah, I guess we do have free will, and that driving drunk
doesn't deprive us of our free will. It makes it harder or impossible to
react quickly enough and to focus, which can lead to death, and that is bad;
but it isn't a cancellatoin of free will".
I liked that but I would say in a different way: "I think free will
only manifest when we are aware we have a choice, or when our brain is
in conditions to reason about the choices we have. In small doses
alcohol makes impossible to react quickly enough and to focus but when
doses are higher it leads to a complete instinctive state. On such
state an individual may not be aware that, when he steps on the gas,
he is making a decision between risking himself and not risking."
At any moment, you have a choice to act or not act. Do you really need
someone to come tell you that you have the option of getting up out of your
chair and crapping in the toilet rather than just relaxing your sphincter
and filling your pants? Now that you understand that case, generalise it.
Post by dave odden
I could offer millions of other
options that you can choose between.
What other options?
Pay me, and I'll tell you. You constructed one of your own, so I think
you're getting the hang of having free will. Now that you're aware of two
options, you can chose.
Post by dave odden
You chose, freely.
I can not chose if I do not know what are the other options.
Yes you can. I gave you one, you cooked up one. Now you simply look at the
facts of reality and figure out which statement is more accurate.
OK, I understand that in accord wit ObjectivismŽs theory only private
roads (inter-cities) would be allowed to exist. But are you also
talking about roads inside cities, and even sidewalks? How would I
have free movement if I would have to pay to go four blocks when I
desired to buy a simple bread?
Why should there be a difference? You are confused about the idea of free
movement, which is that there are no laws that prohibit you from moving from
place to place. On a daily basis, I have to get to and from work by an
inefficient route because I can't freely move directly from my house to my
office, because of this inconvenient private property stuff and the fact
that a lot of people put their stupid houses in my way. Roads should be
private, period.
But even if you manage to prove me that every single road is to be
private then I would still say that what we are discussing is if an
individual has the right to supress/impair his/her consciousness when
in a public affair and then endanger another individual with such
activity.
The individual has the right to be as drunk as he wants. He does *not* have
the automatic right to access any private property that he wants -- such as
a road. His access to private property is subject to whatever conditions the
owner establishes (which will be largely determined by market
considerations). One such condition that can properly be imposed on access
to my road is that you not be ethanol-impaired according to some standard
(as I said, I prefer a reaction-time based standard rather than a chemical
assay one).
You will probably agree that a president, a congressman or a
troop commander have no right to be drunk/using cocaine or related
when at work. They are not free to use dugs if they are endangering
many other individuals with such activity. ItŽs as if they were
driving drunk.
No, I don't agree blanketly. The military has existing rules regarding being
drunk on duty and because you know of those rules when you enlist and are
agreeing to abide by them, you've surrendered that particular right -- then
if you really need to be drunk during the day, you should resign from the
military. Politicians on the other hand have the same right to be drunk that
anyone does, and frequently are.
Of course you still have one. But in my view if you do not know you
have one or if you forget you have one it happens to be *as if* you do
not have one.
"As if" simply means that there is some similarity, so there is a similarity
between a guy who has no Johnson and one who forgot that he has one;
however, there is a difference, namely that the guy who actually has one can
use it, if he decides to. In other words, the problem with that guy is in
his mind. The problem with the other guy is elsewhere.
Post by dave odden
I really don't understand *why* there are
people who fear thinking,
My guess is that most of people prefer to trust religion/tradition
rather then facing the terrible fact that all our religious systems
and maybe all our traditional society have not a good rational answer
to reality. Once this is understood, the path is long and has no
return. I do not think this is so easy.
Maybe. I hesitate to blame *everything* on religion, because I think
religion is a symptom of something else. Laziness, I suppose.
Post by dave odden
There is *always* an option.
This option is still present if you decide to drink water or not. But
drinking water does not mean the same thing as deciding to use
cocaine.
Clearly, because water and cocaine are different things. Water is a liquid
at room temperature, cocaine is a solid. There are different consequences of
drinking water vs. ingesting cacaine. How do those differences mean that you
are metaphysically compelled to take the drug, but have the ability to chose
whether to drink water?
IŽm gonna insist: you do not have a choice of becoming addicted with
cocaine if you have not been informed the drug was an addictive one.
Of course you have a choice about using or not a certain drug but
choice supposes understanding of possibilities.
You have the choice of taking the drug or not, period. You may or may not
know the consequences of the action in great detail, or perhaps any detail,
but you still have the choice. You are again requiring that a person be
omniscient in order to have free will. If an anti-asthma drug happens to
kill you because of some unknown quirk of your body chemistry that you or
your doctor don't know about, the fact that medical science isn't perfect
and therefore you were not "fully informed" does not mean that you have no
free will. Free will is *NOT* determined by how much you know. And providing
information is completely outside the scope of a proper government.
Kevin Hill
2003-10-05 00:37:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
That assumption is wrong, especially the "causes danger to other
individuals" or even worse "causes danger to society". That is open-ended
enough that any action could be proscribed as "posing a danger to society".
Regulation is justified only to prevent the initiation of force.
It seems that more could be said here. It is conceivable that we could
ban activities which as defined included a force/fraud caused harm to
others (either by imposing criminal penalties or tort liability--this
raises other interesting questions) without banning activities
intended to have such effects which fail (under such a rule, murder
would be illegal but attempted murder would not be). Or we could make
illegal a wider class of actions that includes failed attempts to
cause harm through force/fraud. But its seems to me that the entire
rationale for, for example, criminalizing attempted murder as such is
because it flows from a dangerous intent, because of its close
relation to successful murder.

The common law made illegal all sorts of things that cause actual harm
without intent (negligence) and which have intent without the harm
(attempted murder). On the whole, I don't think I've seen any instance
of the common law up to, say, 1870, that struck me as unreasonable.
Fraud, by definition, involves intent plus injury, but what about
force? Do you require both? Or only one? Which one? Either one?

To cut to the chase, I think that there are all sorts of things that
we *all* want to see illegal, which a libertarian will then try to
characterize as "the initiation of force." But on any ordinary
construal of the latter, lots of these things aren't really initiation
of force at all, and on a broader notion of initiation of force, it
will be hard to avoid finding that the notion is either empty, or at
least begins to slide into things that libertarians *don't* want.

In general, it seems to me that the common law has thought through
these things far more carefully than our deductivistic political
philosophers. (I include myself in that group and don't mean to refer
to anyone else specifically--if the shoe fits).

Lastly, isn't there a threshold above which innocently dangerous
behavior (I mean dangerous to others) becomes so dangerous that it can
be proscribed before it causes harm? Should the law allow my neighbor
to keep I giant tank of nerve gas upwind from my property as long as
nothing's happened so far?
Homer
2003-10-05 00:58:56 UTC
Permalink
Kevin Hill <***@yahoo.com> wrote:

Should the law allow my neighbor
Post by Kevin Hill
to keep I giant tank of nerve gas upwind from my property as long as
nothing's happened so far?
Dickhead, the law has the nerve gas. Your neighbor
doesn't. Subtrafuge and more subtrafuge from
slimy government lovers and people haters.

Homer
Fred Weiss
2003-10-05 12:20:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kevin Hill
In general, it seems to me that the common law has thought through
these things...
In general, I agree.
Post by Kevin Hill
Lastly, isn't there a threshold above which innocently dangerous
behavior (I mean dangerous to others) becomes so dangerous that it can
be proscribed before it causes harm? Should the law allow my neighbor
to keep I giant tank of nerve gas upwind from my property as long as
nothing's happened so far?
That's exactly my point to Dave. Endangering others is a form of initiation
of force. You have the right not to live under the threat of harm. That
includes the threat posed by the drunk driver and you surely don't have to
wait until he kills someone to get him off the road. I don't want to get
into the specifics and details, such as "how drunk". That's a technical
matter of the law and, as you say, the common law has developed some decent
principles to address these issues.

(The question whether roads should be private - of course they should - is
an entirely separate question.)

Fred Weiss
dave odden
2003-10-05 14:47:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kevin Hill
It is conceivable that we could
ban activities which as defined included a force/fraud caused harm to
others (either by imposing criminal penalties or tort liability--this
raises other interesting questions) without banning activities
intended to have such effects which fail (under such a rule, murder
would be illegal but attempted murder would not be). Or we could make
illegal a wider class of actions that includes failed attempts to
cause harm through force/fraud. But its seems to me that the entire
rationale for, for example, criminalizing attempted murder as such is
because it flows from a dangerous intent, because of its close
relation to successful murder.
You should assume that I'd want both murder and attempted murder to be
illegal. I certainly agree that the dangerous intent in a clear line past
which people should not tread.
Post by Kevin Hill
Fraud, by definition, involves intent plus injury, but what about
force? Do you require both? Or only one? Which one? Either one?
I did leave fraud out of the discussion. I would have to think about the
question of whether actual injury should be a component in the concept.
You're telling me, I take it, that my naive understanding of fraud doesn't
correspond to the legal definition, the difference being that actual injury
must be done under the legal definition, as opposed to there being a
reasonable potential for injury. That nuance is, I suppose, what keeps
lawyers busy.

Anyhow, we have three independent variables -- intention, result and method
(distinguished only in terms of "speech" broadly construed, and "action") --
and two words: 'force' and 'fraud'. Whatever you call it, I argue that in
the fraud-class, it should not necessary that the damage be realised, just
as it should not be necessary that the death actually happen in the
murder-class.
Post by Kevin Hill
To cut to the chase, I think that there are all sorts of things that
we *all* want to see illegal,
Or at least not happen
Post by Kevin Hill
which a libertarian will then try to
characterize as "the initiation of force." But on any ordinary
construal of the latter, lots of these things aren't really initiation
of force at all, and on a broader notion of initiation of force, it
will be hard to avoid finding that the notion is either empty, or at
least begins to slide into things that libertarians *don't* want.
Right. I've seen the argument made that fraud is the initiation of force,
and I just can't accept that claim; but I do accept that fraud and
initiation of force are both morally wrong and should be illegal for the
same reason. The emphasis shouldn't be on whether X is force or fraud, but
whether X is right or wrong (and why exactly is it wrong), and leave it to
legal scholars to discuss the merits of further subdivisions. This is sort
of the direct realist version of morality: murder isn't wrong because it's
force, and force is wrong -- murder is wrong because it *is* wrong, and you
can directly grasp that fact. I don't wanna push the analogy too far, I'm
just saying that introducing too may steps into the equation can lead to
nihilism.
Post by Kevin Hill
Lastly, isn't there a threshold above which innocently dangerous
behavior (I mean dangerous to others) becomes so dangerous that it can
be proscribed before it causes harm? Should the law allow my neighbor
to keep I giant tank of nerve gas upwind from my property as long as
nothing's happened so far?
What's with you lawyers anyhow?? Charles and I did this a couple of years
ago. Well, I'm intransigent on this point. There should be no exception to
property rights. Insert very long slippery slope argument here. Should the
law allow my neighbor to keep a giant tank of gasoline up or downwind of me?
Should the law allow my neighbor to store dynamite or any other explosive on
his property? Should the law allow my neighbor to open a bioengineering lab
next to me (one which deals with dangerous vermin like Ebola)? Should the
law allow my neighbor to possess radioactive materials, perhaps uranium to
be processed into fuel rods? Should the law allow my neighbor to grow
ragweed, when I am highly allergic to it? Should the law allow my neighbor
to keep that damn maple tree which is decrepit and too close to my house for
comfort and I'm afraid in a storm it's gonna do us some damage?

Any action can be proscribed, including the taking of excess profits and the
refusal to share (see AS). The question is what actions *should* be, and
why. I'd like to live a fear-free live, but I just can't use that as a
justification for getting my neighbor arrested for violating the Dangerous
Tree Act of 1984.

Two factors that I think are important in dealing with the nerve gas problem
are evitability and knowledge. If you know that, by agreement, a person on
that road will not be drunk beyond .2% or will not drive faster than say 120
mph, then it's right that a person violating those conditions be stopped. On
the other hand, suppose stupidly that you go the the Indianapolis 500
Drunken Speedway where people get really liquored up and drive recklessly,
and you know that you're doing this. Well, you made your bed and you have to
lie (or die) in it: you can't suddenly claim that Billy Bob over there is
threatening you. You knew what you were getting into, and you had the choice
to not take the risk.
Kevin Hill
2003-10-07 01:57:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
same reason. The emphasis shouldn't be on whether X is force or fraud, but
whether X is right or wrong (and why exactly is it wrong), and leave it to
legal scholars to discuss the merits of further subdivisions. This is sort
I think we exactly agree here. The grasp of the fact (to speak
loosely) that something should not be permitted is more important than
the philosophical or legal account we give of it.
Post by dave odden
What's with you lawyers anyhow?? Charles and I did this a couple of years
ago. Well, I'm intransigent on this point. There should be no exception to
property rights. Insert very long slippery slope argument here. Should the
Well, actually my PhD is in philosophy, though you're right to guess
that law school has taken its toll on me! Where I seem to differ with
many libertarians on principles, as opposed to actual laws (the
agreement on results is pretty darn close, I think) is that while I
don't think that principles are irrelevant, I think that some
principles that appear to be bedrock have deeper foundations, usually
in some pragmatic consideration. Property rights are a case in point.
It is not that there are things in the world that have ontological
labels "Property of Hill" written on them. It is that given the
exigencies of what it takes for human beings to function individually
and interactively, there must be certain boundaries, i.e. it is
extremely useful to have certain boundaries, and extremely
inconvenient to not. Boundaries are useful when they are useful, and
not when they're not. As a rule, I ask: if you do away with the
boundary, do we get a tragedy of the commons, or do we get some sort
of increased efficiency? (For example, it is inefficient to label each
item in the fridge according to whose it is when it is a family
sharing the fridge; the administrative costs exceed the benefts. But
in a roomate situation, it can be worth the hassle).

But where it is extremely useful to have a qualified principle, why
not have one? Your objection is "well, that leads to a slippery
slope." But who requires us to slip down it? Suppose that it is
extremely useful to have a rule that says "you own your land downward
to the center of the earth and upward up until we hit navigable
airspace." I want to say that we can take *that* as a principle. It
may not be useful to simplify/generalize further. You seem to be
saying that it would be a principle only if it didn't have the
navigable airspace exception, and that if you build in that exception,
then you've abandoned all principle, and pretty soon the exceptions
will devour the rule. Well, maybe. But it doesn't *have* to be that
way. I guess the difference between lawyers and philosophers, being a
bit of both myself, is that a philosopher worries about the sheer
logical possibility of the slippery slope. The lawyer (or rather, the
judge crafting common law) worries about a slope that people are in
fact highly likely to slide down. Of course, if there's no logical
possibility of one, then there's no practical likelihood either, but
such abstemiousness may prove to be a hassle, and deeply satisfying
only to the theorist.

BTW, on a side note: I *think* that this is right: in general the
requirement of *actual* harm is going to pervade civil law; criminal
law can out and out prohibit actions regardless of consequences. The
difference lies in the differing functions. The criminal law wants
certain things to not happen as such, not (appearances to the contrary
notwithstanding) because of their consequences (historically this is
rooted in the idea that every crime breaks the King's Peace and is in
a certain sense a defiance of his will on his land). By contrast,
civil law is crucially concerned with returning victims to the status
quo ante. So: no harm no foul.

I've said this before, and since I never tire of hearing myself talk
(type, actually) I'll say it again. Everything libertarians want is
right there, enshrined in the old judge-made common law as it existed
c. 1900. (Constitutional law in the ole US of A ain't half bad up to
that point either). The old judges, both English and American, who
made this glorious edifice, so brilliantly and precisely attuned to
the interests of free individuals living together in consensual
harmony, managed to craft a set of complicated principles that seem to
closely track what libertarians want and expect from a government. So
far legislatures have only managed to muck it up. And yet the
conceptual toolkit that the old judges used is quite different from
the conceptual toolkit that Lockean or Kantian libertarians use. In
fact, they seldom stepped back to look at the big picture. They just
asked, on a case by case basis: what seems most reasonable here and in
similar situations? Apart from the elegance and clarity of having an
overview, isn't that enough? (Maybe the reason for the dovetail is
that historically, so many English causes of action originated as
variations on the most exceedingly libertarian one: trespass!)
Charles Novins
2003-10-07 02:34:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kevin Hill
I've said this before, and since I never tire of hearing myself talk
(type, actually) I'll say it again. Everything libertarians want is right
there, enshrined in the old judge-made common law as it existed c. 1900. (

CHARLES NOVINS:
Oh, pshaw.

In another area, I might recommend you continue saying it in the hope that
one day it might become true. But here, the topic is history. Sorry, but
it's already been written (although not necessarily all discovered.)

But don't hold your breath, my already-purple friend.
Kevin Hill
2003-10-07 07:40:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charles Novins
But don't hold your breath, my already-purple friend.
Well, I like enthusing from time to time. I don't worry anymore about
people following up on them. The last time before my first year of law
school that I saw something as loverly as the law of contracts and
torts was when I first understood microeconomics, in college. First
order predicate logic was pretty cool too.

BTW, that argument about the navigable airspace? I stole it from
Wittgenstein (though he was talking about math, arguing against
Platonism).

Changing the subject slightly, I just realized something about the
Religion Clauses that filled my soul with horror. When I first read
Kennedy's Lukumi Babalu case (the criminalizing voodoo violates the
Free Exercise Clause) I thought it was nifty and clever how he adapted
what was essentially Equal Protection reasoning to pump some life into
the then near lifeless Clause by re-interpreting an anti-coercion
concept as an anti-discrimination concept. Well, come to find out,
there's a case on the SC docket in which someone is claiming that not
only does the government have the right to give him money to go to
seminary under our now gutted Establishment Clause--they have a *duty*
to because if they give money to anyone else and not to him, they're
*discriminating*... which violates the Free Exercise Clause as
currently understood! Oh Kennedy, what have we done?

So maybe my paean to jurisprudence by trial and error is an error
after all? Could be.

On a happier note, since Kennedy seems hellbent on going down in
history as some sort of champion of religious freedom, there's a very
good chance he will join with the liberals in affirming Newdow, and
giving the old Pledge of Allegance a deity-ectomy. That sounds right
to me.


"Now seeker, don't feel alone here in the New Age because there's a
seeker born every minute."
-- Firesign Theatre
dave odden
2003-10-07 19:24:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kevin Hill
Post by dave odden
What's with you lawyers anyhow?? Charles and I did this a couple of years
ago. Well, I'm intransigent on this point. There should be no exception to
property rights.
Well, actually my PhD is in philosophy, though you're right to guess
that law school has taken its toll on me!
I'm hip to the former. Once you get into 2L, you get labeled "lawyer", like
it or not. Then the doberman jokes come out, and Acar make attacks on your
integrity.
Post by Kevin Hill
don't think that principles are irrelevant, I think that some
principles that appear to be bedrock have deeper foundations, usually
in some pragmatic consideration. Property rights are a case in point.
It is not that there are things in the world that have ontological
labels "Property of Hill" written on them.
You don't think that human action has onotological consequences? Or are you
just saying that "ontological label" is a goofy idea because there are no
ontological labels so *of course* there are no Property of Hill tags,
although I don't know what you'd say about existing underwear tags that
actually say Property of Hill.

I think all principles are due to a pragmatic consideration, i.e. are
because of a purpose: principles are there to allow us to do something (and
we know what that something is, yah?). I'm not going to object to pragmatic
(useful) principles, just so-called "pragmatic" ones practiced by
pragmatists (who don't have principles, and are useless).
Post by Kevin Hill
It is that given the
exigencies of what it takes for human beings to function individually
and interactively, there must be certain boundaries, i.e. it is
extremely useful to have certain boundaries, and extremely
inconvenient to not.
And furthermore, you're telling me that there *should* be certain
boundaries, beyond those which are metaphysically given (unlike say the
metaphysically given boundary between a rock and a hard place, or a cat's
butt and the floor; or the metaphysical boundary between the
implementability of the wish that I had another beer (hey, what an idea!)
and the unimplimentability of the wish that I could fly around the moon by
flapping my arms.
Post by Kevin Hill
Boundaries are useful when they are useful, and
not when they're not.
Could you justify that? (oh, no, don't).
Post by Kevin Hill
As a rule, I ask: if you do away with the
boundary, do we get a tragedy of the commons,
I don't like that expression. Also, I don't know what it *really* means,
though I'm vaguely familiar with how it's used. Something about how it's
such a tragedy that the ordinary guy has to suffer because of some
individual. What I find most unacceptable in that metaphor is the idea of a
public resource and the implicit contrast between a public interest vs. a
private interest, also the concept of "the common good".

Anyhow, to repeat your question -- if you do away with the boundary, do we
get a tragedy of the commons -- well, so what if you do? It is never
guaranteed that it will be a tragedy if you do away with the boundary for
the usual collective resources like email, roads, television, air. Tragedy
is always an option, even with a law.
Post by Kevin Hill
or do we get some sort
of increased efficiency? (For example, it is inefficient to label each
item in the fridge according to whose it is when it is a family
sharing the fridge; the administrative costs exceed the benefts. But
in a roomate situation, it can be worth the hassle).
The assumption being, I assume, that we don't care if a family member eats
our pie but we do is a (non-romantic) roommate does.
Post by Kevin Hill
But where it is extremely useful to have a qualified principle, why
not have one? Your objection is "well, that leads to a slippery
slope." But who requires us to slip down it?
Hey, maybe you can explain this detail of the law to me. In the good old
days, there were about 6 drugs, and there were laws outlawing this and that
and the other thing, and they had all sorts of definitions of e.g. LSD
(like, what counts as LSD). Now that people are really clever in psychodelic
chemistry, how do they make all of these fancy new drugs illegal? Do they
pass new drug laws every week, or have they passed a law that allows a
regulatory agency to declare whatever they pick a "drug"?

Which relates to my answer: because generality of principles is good, in
that it makes the particular laws arbitrary and changeable according to
fashion. The law of gravity requires you to slip down the slippery slope, or
at least something like the law of gravity. You could define a WMD as any
weapon capable of firing more than 10 rounds without reloading, but that's
an arbitrary number. So if you grant the validity of outlawing any weapon
capable of firing more than 10 rounds in a clip, then a law changing that
threshhold to 9 is no less arbitrary, and might have some positive effect in
reducing the scope of gun crime. So it would not really be a problem to
extend the WMD argument to guns firing more than 9, so let's do it. Slope...

Now here is the *big* reason why there have to be solidly reasoned
principles: ignorance of the law is no excuse. If laws are arbitrary and
have to be memorized from place to place and are constantly changeable, then
to be a law-abiding citizen, you must be constantly studying up to see what
actions are legal and what are not. And (a-HAH! now I see why you like
adding some arbitrariness to the law) because a citizen can't know the law,
they must hire a lawyer in order to do the simplest things (and stay within
the law).
Post by Kevin Hill
Suppose that it is
extremely useful to have a rule that says "you own your land downward
to the center of the earth and upward up until we hit navigable
airspace." I want to say that we can take *that* as a principle.
It
may not be useful to simplify/generalize further. You seem to be
saying that it would be a principle only if it didn't have the
navigable airspace exception, and that if you build in that exception,
then you've abandoned all principle, and pretty soon the exceptions
will devour the rule.
I'm not sure where navigable airspace starts. I think it starts at 1 inch
off the ground (you gotta be really good to pull that off). Let's say 2
feet. Obviously that's a pretty bad principle if you intend to build a
house. So maybe you want to make it 40 feet higher than navigable airspace,
just so that an average-height house could be built on your land. This could
be a very clever way of getting the effect of certain zoning restrictions,
simply by making it into something else. You don't have to have an ordinance
prohibiting buildings taller that 42 feet tall, you just have to specify the
nature of land ownership, and you could make it be 49 feet by passing an
ad-hoc laxing on the definition of "ownership".
Post by Kevin Hill
But it doesn't *have* to be that
way.
I have a rule of thumb that say, if there is an aspect of the universe that
isn't governed by laws (of some kind), it acts at random. So if there is no
principle, I'm saying that it *does* have to be that way, because eventually
it will evolve that way. I like to have faith that despite the arbitrariness
of certain legal facts, common sense will prevail. This is why we have such
common sense things as alternative minimum income tax, getting taxed on
money you never earned, laws giving special punishments for crimes committed
if you appear to "hate" someone, oh god not the whole list....
Don Matt
2003-10-05 21:46:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kevin Hill
Lastly, isn't there a threshold above which innocently dangerous
behavior (I mean dangerous to others) becomes so dangerous that it can
be proscribed before it causes harm? Should the law allow my neighbor
to keep I giant tank of nerve gas upwind from my property as long as
nothing's happened so far?
The deepness of your last question may be even more clear if we,
instead of writting only "neighbor", write "neighbor nation". In fact,
a clear "no" has been usual answer to your last question but then this
"no" means that maybe other liberties would have to be cut off if we
want a coherent system.
As I pointed to Fred if I am a tobacco producer, for example, don´t I
expose to lung cancer people that buy my products? There is not an
obvious intention to harm, there is not initiation of force.




Don.
David Buchner
2003-10-11 13:28:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
No reason: indeed the logic you present extends way beyond just drugs, and
can also be applied to the dangerous consumption of red meat, bottled
juices, not to mention the watching of bad TV.
Oh geez now what? What's the danger in bottled juices?

So much to worry about.
dave odden
2003-10-11 15:03:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Buchner
Oh geez now what? What's the danger in bottled juices?
I think people have died from bottled juice, or at least they have puked
their guts out. The hippie juice company Odwalla poisoned a bunch of people
with E. coli some years ago (snicker, snicker). More seriously, the practice
of giving small kids bottles of juice (apple juice seems popular) is
extremely bad for small teeth. The concentration of sugars is much higher in
bottled juice compared to regular fruit, and we know that sugars are evil.
The only safe drink is distilled water, and only in carefully administered
doses (be sure to get enough, but not too much).
David Buchner
2003-10-12 16:46:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by dave odden
The hippie juice company Odwalla poisoned a bunch of people
with E. coli some years ago (snicker, snicker).
Oh, priceless. Thanks for that -- you've just made my whole goddamned
day. Too perfect.
Erik Aronesty
2003-10-06 21:13:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
What are Objectivism´s view about the issue (if any available)?
My view, as an objectivist, is that marijuana users are harmless and
entertaining.

I agree, however, that they sholdn't drive, etc. although, if I were
to choose between having a drunk on the road or a stoner, I'd choose
the latter - for my own safety.

We sell $12 billion worth of marijuana each year in the U.S. to an
estimated 21 million smokers. We sell 137.2 billion in alchohol to
186 million drinkers. Most of the users of both alchohol and
marijuana are occasional.

10% of these substance-users are using MJ, and fewer than 1% of the
driving deaths have been attributed to MJ.

Also, it's intersting to note that, while marijuana use was down
between 1972 and 1994, alchohol abuse, suicide, rape and violence
increased.

It seems that the "attacking" these problems with violence and the law
isn't very effective. We should be aware, by now, that violence and
threats only go "so far" to create safety.

The analogy is that we "suppress" the ego, only to find the superego
creating worse problems.

I find it useful to look at society like "one mind". The emotions and
the poor conclusions are inevitable.

The solution is, as is in the life of an individual, to take on big
problems and tackle big goals. This is what unites the mind, and is
what can unite society.
violence?
Edward Glamkowski
2003-10-07 13:53:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Erik Aronesty
Also, it's intersting to note that, while marijuana use was down
between 1972 and 1994, alchohol abuse, suicide, rape and violence
increased.
It seems that the "attacking" these problems with violence and the law
isn't very effective. We should be aware, by now, that violence and
threats only go "so far" to create safety.
Hah - you should talk to the Atlanta City Council.

A few days ago, someone was killed outside a Buckhead bar because
of a dispute over a woman.

Now the city council wants the bars to close 2 hours earlier.

How inconceivably stupid. Do these people have any brain cells
in their heads?

First, the person who started it hadn't been in a bar and wasn't
drunk. In fact there are a lot of people in Buckhead who never
go into a bar but just hang around on the street waiting to
cause trouble.

Second, if they close the bars earlier, that'll just mean there
are more people all leaving at once, so more opportunity for
trouble! I forget what Royal Marshall called them last night,
but there's even a slang word for these people.

Third, people will just go elsewhere to do their partying, they
certainly won't just suddenly stop drinking. This will deprive
the city of Atlanta of some serious tax revenue. At a time when
the city is [still] facing significant budget problems.


The current theory is that there has been an "exchange" of votes
on the council. See, there is also a movement in the council to
rename Hartsfield airport to Hartsfield-Jackson, but the people
who support the airport renaming generally oppose the bars closing
early (these council members are mostly black), while those who
support closing the bars early generally oppose renaming the airport
(and these council members are mostly? white! very good...).

Each agrees to support the other's issue in order to get their
own item passed.

Personally I think both agenda items are Bad and neither one
should pass. But then again, I don't live inside Atlanta city
limits so I have no say on the composition of the city council :-p
Erik Aronesty
2003-10-08 14:06:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Edward Glamkowski
Hah - you should talk to the Atlanta City Council.
Yeah. Bear in mind that Atlantic City has impeached 5 of the last 5
mayors on corruption and the county has a voting system with no
verification or audit procedures. It demolished most of its
historical landmarks and has filled in endangered wetlands with paving
for parking garages.

I left Atlanta City and came, first to Rutgers, then to NY when I was
17.

It was a like a personal SETI mission.

I just went to a city council meeting in NY.

NYU is, apparently, going entirelly off the city electrical grid with
its own underground generation facility. Talk about a vote of
no-confidence in the grid. The argument was over what the proportions
were... ie: what proportion of natural gas versus bio-diesel they
would use, and how clean the exhaust could be.

The difference between the level of conversation that takes place in
NY and AC is like the difference between monkeys and humans.
Fred Weiss
2003-10-11 15:37:40 UTC
Permalink
What are ObjectivismŽs view about the issue...
That you should apply the same reasoning that you do to "drugs" to other
matters of law, namely, as you said, "The rationale for regulation should be
based on the premisse that an
individual may practice whatever one wants except if such practice
harms or cause danger to other individuals...".

If you applied that reasoning across the board in all your thinking about
politics, you would be a laissez-faire capitalist - and actually,
technically, regulation would be unnecessary (all that would be necessary is
the application of law to those who do in fact harm or endanger others).

Fred Weiss
James E. Prescott
2003-10-11 18:28:50 UTC
Permalink
[Quoting Don Matt(?),] "The rationale for regulation should be
based on the premisse that an individual may practice whatever
one wants except if such practice harms or cause danger to other
individuals...".
If you applied that reasoning across the board in all your thinking
about politics, you would be a laissez-faire capitalist - and actually,
technically, regulation would be unnecessary (all that would be
necessary is the application of law to those who do in fact harm or
endanger others).
This, I believe, is akin to the "strict liability" notion advocated by David
Freidman and other anarchists. Fred allows that the law punish those who
endanger others, not just those who do actual harm to others, so perhaps
it's a bit different. But it's still wrong.

Objectivists need a better uinderstanding of the true role(s) of law in
society. Civil law addresses actual harm and actual prove-able specific
threats of harm. If a specific neighbor's actions pose a threat to you, you
can take that particular neighbor to court to change his behavior. But
criminal law is not like that at all. Criminal law punishes behavior that if
tolerated would violate or pose a threat to the rights, safety, health and
security of people in general, not of any persons in particular.
Regulation -- though bad when excessive or wrongly applied -- is a vital and
significant tool of this purpose. The speed limit is 65. Violators of this
limit are punished. It is completely irrelevant whether or not the speeding
of a particular violater in fact posed a threat to any person or persons.
The violation in a particular instance could have been perfectly safe and
harmless. And yet the punishment is exactly the same. This is because the
speeder is not punished for endangering anybody; he is punished simply for
violating the law. And then in turn the law exists simply to safeguard
everybody from potential threats to their rights, not just from actual
particular threats. The law would not work -- would not serve its vital
purpose -- if it were applied any other way.

Well, the same principle as in traffic laws is true also of proper
regulations governing safety and santiation standards, for example, for
products offered on the open market. Undoubtedly many existing regulations
are excessive and improper. But the concept of government regulation itself
is not to blame.

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-11 19:02:56 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 18:28:50 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
This, I believe, is akin to the "strict liability" notion advocated by David
Freidman and other anarchists. Fred allows that the law punish those who
endanger others, not just those who do actual harm to others, so perhaps
it's a bit different. But it's still wrong.
Objectivists need a better uinderstanding of the true role(s) of law in
society. Civil law addresses actual harm and actual prove-able specific
threats of harm. If a specific neighbor's actions pose a threat to you, you
can take that particular neighbor to court to change his behavior. But
criminal law is not like that at all. Criminal law punishes behavior that if
tolerated would violate or pose a threat to the rights, safety, health and
security of people in general, not of any persons in particular.
Regulation -- though bad when excessive or wrongly applied -- is a vital and
significant tool of this purpose. The speed limit is 65. Violators of this
limit are punished. It is completely irrelevant whether or not the speeding
of a particular violater in fact posed a threat to any person or persons.
The violation in a particular instance could have been perfectly safe and
harmless. And yet the punishment is exactly the same. This is because the
speeder is not punished for endangering anybody; he is punished simply for
violating the law. And then in turn the law exists simply to safeguard
everybody from potential threats to their rights, not just from actual
particular threats. The law would not work -- would not serve its vital
purpose -- if it were applied any other way.
Well, the same principle as in traffic laws is true also of proper
regulations governing safety and santiation standards, for example, for
products offered on the open market. Undoubtedly many existing regulations
are excessive and improper. But the concept of government regulation itself
is not to blame.
I've argued for the notion of a common welfare before on this forum,
but to no avail. I am however grateful for the fact that you've put
the matter in a way that makes it much clearer to me. The next step is
to take this analysis out of the legal realm and show that "radical
individualism" is hopelessly inadequate when it comes to addressing
needs faced by society as a whole. But Objectivism has no concept of
society as a whole, therefore, in that context, it doesn't exist.

The speed limit example is very minor. A more important issue would be
illegal drug use. It would be too easy to argue that drug use is wrong
simply because it is illegal. That is not even the point. It is wrong
because it damages relationships, starting with yourself, and then
proceeding outward to other individuals. Abusive alcohol use destroys
families; illegal drug use, when unchecked, damages entire
communities. It would be naive to think that every man is an island.
You people who have led insulated intellectual lives, protected from
exposure to alcoholics and drug addicts, need to find out that reality
is not a formula like A is A.
James E. Prescott
2003-10-11 22:24:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 18:28:50 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
[...T]he same principle as in traffic laws is true also of proper
regulations governing safety and sanitation standards [....]
I've argued for the notion of a common welfare before on this forum,
but to no avail. I am however grateful for the fact that you've put
the matter in a way that makes it much clearer to me. [...]
Happy to oblige. However, I'm not a common welfare advocate myself.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The next step is to take this analysis out of the legal realm and show
that "radical individualism" is hopelessly inadequate when it comes to
addressing needs faced by society as a whole.
I prefer to call myself a "thoroughgoing egoist," but radical individualist
is okay, too.

But by-the-by, I'm easily mistaken around here for someone who, like
yourself perhaps, is concerned about society's welfare as if it were an
overriding matter, i.e., as if it trumped my own personal welfare. The
mistake, I believe, is made simply because I so often and so deeply disagree
with and argue with other Objectivists. As was the case here. But just to
set it straight, I am only concerned about the welfare of society to the
extent that society's welfare benefits me. I'd rather have a better society
around me than a worse one. Fortunately for society, my interests tend to
coincide with its. And I believe every member of society -- as a matter of
personal morality -- ought share the same attitude with me, each looking out
for his own personal interests, advancing them in trade, and so on.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
But Objectivism has no concept of
society as a whole, therefore, in that context,
it doesn't exist.
I'm not sure that's right, either. Objectivists are fond of saying that
society has no rights and that society has no interests that need protection
in law. That's a different thing from saying that there is no such thing as
society. I'd only grant you that some Objectivists may make that mistake.
But in truth, there are indeed no rights but the rights of individuals.
Society and other groups do have interests needing protection, though. They
are interests shared by their members. And the state does have its powers
and its unique authority, which I say properly derive from the individual
rights of each and every member of society.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The speed limit example is very minor. A more important issue
would be illegal drug use. It would be too easy to argue that drug
use is wrong simply because it is illegal.
I would not say something is wrong because it is illegal, but I would say it
is wrong to violate the law even when the law is wrong. I.e., even when a
thing such as the use of certain recreational drugs is not itself wrong and
ought not to be illegal, it is still wrongful to violate the law (provided
that the law is legal/constitutional, and provided that one can still attain
happiness in life while obeying the law).
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
That is not even the point. It is wrong
because it damages relationships, starting with yourself,
and then proceeding outward to other individuals.
Drug and alcohol abuse is indeed wrong for the reasons you state. However,
the moderate recreational use of certain drugs is not necessarily an abuse
of them, and ought not be illegal. The laws against drugs do far more damage
to society than the drugs themselves.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Abusive alcohol use destroys families;
Yes, but alcohol is the perfect example of what I just said, above.
Prohibition did far more damage to America than does alcohol alone. Yes,
alcohol abuse is very, very damaging. However, the damage done is only
worsened by prohibition. People will drink and do drugs no matter what the
law says. Attempts to outlaw this personal choice only fill our prisons,
pump money into the hands of vicious, violent criminals, and kill police
officers and other innocent men, women and children.

Mind you, I am wholeheartedly in favor of government regulation of drugs.
That's what I was trying to explain. Not all regulation is bad We should
punish behavior (such as the marketing of substandard, dangerous drugs) that
would lead to rights violations if tolerated (rather than merely punish the
rights violations after they occur). But the use of drugs by adults in their
homes does not endanger anybody else, and so should not be illegal.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
illegal drug use, when unchecked, damages entire
communities.
Agreed. The solution is obvious: legalize drug use.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
It would be naive to think that every man is an island.
No man is an island entire of itself, but every man being alike in that
respect, it doesn't make much difference. I owe no more to you and yours
than you yourself owe to me and mine. We're even.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
You people who have led insulated intellectual lives, protected from
exposure to alcoholics and drug addicts, need to find out that reality
is not a formula like A is A.
A is A is a formula that denotes reality. It's not enough to just know that
A is A, of course; but if you don't start there you're going nowhere. (And
I've not led an insulated life in those regards!)

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-11 23:26:44 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 22:24:27 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 18:28:50 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
[...T]he same principle as in traffic laws is true also of proper
regulations governing safety and sanitation standards [....]
I've argued for the notion of a common welfare before on this forum,
but to no avail. I am however grateful for the fact that you've put
the matter in a way that makes it much clearer to me. [...]
Happy to oblige. However, I'm not a common welfare advocate myself.
I am referring to this:
"Civil law addresses actual harm and actual prove-able specific
threats of harm. If a specific neighbor's actions pose a threat to
you, you can take that particular neighbor to court to change his
behavior. But criminal law is not like that at all. Criminal law
punishes behavior that if tolerated would violate or pose a threat to
the rights, safety, health and security of people in general, not of
any persons in particular."

The distinction you made there is, in the context of this forum,
profound. But then this is, after all, only Usenet. (It is not however
profound to any decent understanding of how society works, but the
latter is rare in the Objectivist/libertarian community at large.)

I didn't mean to imply that you were a common-welfare advocate. I have
only argued for the inclusion of the notion within the larger picture,
which would include a place for both individualism and the common
good. But radical individualism has no place for it.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The next step is to take this analysis out of the legal realm and show
that "radical individualism" is hopelessly inadequate when it comes to
addressing needs faced by society as a whole.
I prefer to call myself a "thoroughgoing egoist," but radical individualist
is okay, too.
But by-the-by, I'm easily mistaken around here for someone who, like
yourself perhaps, is concerned about society's welfare as if it were an
overriding matter, i.e., as if it trumped my own personal welfare.
Those types of thinkers are very obvious, and you're obviously not
like that. So I don't know why anybody would make that mistake. Well,
I suppose extreme, rationalistic Objectivists and anarchists would,
but only because their axioms create an extremely narrow-minded
viewpoint.

However, my arguments in the past was the focus in my post, not
interpreting your personal beliefs. I have argued that there are
*times* when the common good trumps the individual. I have built that
case on the basis of the success of the inoculation programs against
diseases such as smallpox. If being inoculated against smallpox were
totally voluntary, it would still be a constant presence in the world
at large, and a threat to entire societies where it had the potential
to kill individuals by the thousand.

The government is not the defender of civilization, organized society
is. When societies began to organize (at first as primitive tribes),
the individual was provided far better protection from the elements.
The idea of such an organization developed into governments which
have the potential to provide even more security to the individual --
but only so long as this notion of governmental defense is applied
correctly. To defend the individual's rights in one respect, and the
common welfare in another respect, requires a certain balancing of
political principles which is to me like balancing on a tightwire
barefoot over a high chasm, with winds blowing from all directions.
There are dangers involved in becoming overly individualistic, or
overly concerned with the common welfare.
Post by James E. Prescott
The
mistake, I believe, is made simply because I so often and so deeply disagree
with and argue with other Objectivists. As was the case here. But just to
set it straight, I am only concerned about the welfare of society to the
extent that society's welfare benefits me. I'd rather have a better society
around me than a worse one. Fortunately for society, my interests tend to
coincide with its. And I believe every member of society -- as a matter of
personal morality -- ought share the same attitude with me, each looking out
for his own personal interests, advancing them in trade, and so on.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
But Objectivism has no concept of
society as a whole, therefore, in that context,
it doesn't exist.
I'm not sure that's right, either. Objectivists are fond of saying that
society has no rights and that society has no interests that need protection
in law. That's a different thing from saying that there is no such thing as
society. I'd only grant you that some Objectivists may make that mistake.
But in truth, there are indeed no rights but the rights of individuals.
Society and other groups do have interests needing protection, though. They
are interests shared by their members. And the state does have its powers
and its unique authority, which I say properly derive from the individual
rights of each and every member of society.
Objectivists don't believe there is an entity such as "society as a
whole." But it is not necessary to believe in such a superfluous
notion in order to promote the notion of a common welfare.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The speed limit example is very minor. A more important issue
would be illegal drug use. It would be too easy to argue that drug
use is wrong simply because it is illegal.
I would not say something is wrong because it is illegal, but I would say it
is wrong to violate the law even when the law is wrong. I.e., even when a
thing such as the use of certain recreational drugs is not itself wrong and
ought not to be illegal, it is still wrongful to violate the law (provided
that the law is legal/constitutional, and provided that one can still attain
happiness in life while obeying the law).
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
That is not even the point. It is wrong
because it damages relationships, starting with yourself,
and then proceeding outward to other individuals.
Drug and alcohol abuse is indeed wrong for the reasons you state. However,
the moderate recreational use of certain drugs is not necessarily an abuse
of them, and ought not be illegal. The laws against drugs do far more damage
to society than the drugs themselves.
I would say that is not a necessary principle, but it is realistic if
you consider humanity in general to be composed of drug-addicted
potential criminals who readily turn to the criminal lifestyle when
their addiction is thwarted. Enough drug-addicts may lead to a
subculture of addicts, with strong social mores which makes beating
the addiction more difficult. Thwarting the law becomes an element of
this subculture. Removing the drug laws removes an important
foundation at the basis of those subcultures.

That is actually not a very individualistic view. It implies that
many, perhaps most, humans are tribalistic, and the only alternative
is to influence either the creation of good law-abiding tribes or bad
criminal tribes.

But you never mentioned subcultures anyway. So I don't know what your
view is on that subject. However, you do say interesting things like
"prohibition did far more damage to America..." as if "America" were
an entity that could be damaged. At any rate, there is more to the
individual than just acquiring food, money, clothing, and illegal
drugs, there is the social means by which he acquires them and the
communal support he requires in order to continue the drug lifestyle.

I personally have never known a drug addict to be a loner or an
individualist. They clump together in little groups (gangs, or even
just cliques that appear normal on the outside), and these groups
circle around a subculture of values consisting of certain elements
which are the glue holding it together. I think you would be correct
to say that the drug war is part of the glue holding together these
subcultures through resistance, and that would imply that these
subcultures are stronger than any external force that may be applied
against them. And in fact, it could be that resistance only makes them
stronger.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Abusive alcohol use destroys families;
Yes, but alcohol is the perfect example of what I just said, above.
Prohibition did far more damage to America than does alcohol alone. Yes,
alcohol abuse is very, very damaging. However, the damage done is only
worsened by prohibition. People will drink and do drugs no matter what the
law says. Attempts to outlaw this personal choice only fill our prisons,
pump money into the hands of vicious, violent criminals, and kill police
officers and other innocent men, women and children.
It could be that deregulation of drugs would dispel the criminality of
it to such an extent that bombed-out looking neighborhoods would no
longer be ruled by the criminal element who prefer that kind of
environment. But I don't really know. After all, releasing the
prohibition on alcohol did nothing to eliminate the organized crime
that was encouraged by prohibition.
Post by James E. Prescott
Mind you, I am wholeheartedly in favor of government regulation of drugs.
That's what I was trying to explain. Not all regulation is bad We should
punish behavior (such as the marketing of substandard, dangerous drugs) that
would lead to rights violations if tolerated (rather than merely punish the
rights violations after they occur). But the use of drugs by adults in their
homes does not endanger anybody else, and so should not be illegal.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
illegal drug use, when unchecked, damages entire
communities.
"Illegal" referring to those drugs that are illegal because they serve
no accepted medical purpose, and are often highly addictive and prone
to being abused.
Post by James E. Prescott
Agreed. The solution is obvious: legalize drug use.
In other words, treat it as a prescription drug, but dispensed by the
government thus regulated.

It's one of those ideas that I don't know if it'll work until it's
tried, so I don't see it as the "obvious" solution until it is
actually tried and seen to work in hindsight.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
It would be naive to think that every man is an island.
No man is an island entire of itself, but every man being alike in that
respect, it doesn't make much difference. I owe no more to you and yours
than you yourself owe to me and mine. We're even.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
You people who have led insulated intellectual lives, protected from
exposure to alcoholics and drug addicts, need to find out that reality
is not a formula like A is A.
A is A is a formula that denotes reality. It's not enough to just know that
A is A, of course; but if you don't start there you're going nowhere. (And
I've not led an insulated life in those regards!)
I didn't say you had.
Don Matt
2003-10-14 02:46:23 UTC
Permalink
This post cames with delay mostly because I have not followed your
advice of using Forte Agent! Well, whatever...


(snipped)
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I have argued that there are
*times* when the common good trumps the individual. I have built that
case on the basis of the success of the inoculation programs against
diseases such as smallpox. If being inoculated against smallpox were
totally voluntary, it would still be a constant presence in the world
at large, and a threat to entire societies where it had the potential
to kill individuals by the thousand.
That´s a pretty good example. However, I have some comments to do.
It´s clear Objectivists reject the concept of society so its useless
trying to argue with them in these terms. But their concept of
self-interest, which is supposed to be rational, act as a glue that
joins them with other people of society. IMHO (humble) when you say
that self-interest is rational follows that every rational human being
is interested in the welfare of other individuals. This is true
because it´s crystal clear that when other people are in famine, in a
ignorant state or sick they tend toward violence and this will
ultimately destroy my own peace. But of course, many Objectivists will
claim this simple argument is untrue.

However your example related with infectious diseases, which is valid
not only for the success of eradication of smallpox but also with
important others like cholera, is the best to show how is in my self
interest that all individuals are to be healthy. When related with
cholera we know there is not a good vaccine and the best prevention is
related with sanitation and hygienic education. If it was not the good
public sanitation system USA and all the developed world would still
be threatened by cholera. As cholera does not respect private
property, the disease will endanger even an individual with a good
private sanitation system. It fills somehow the same condition of
endangering another individual (as driving drunk) with my actions.

So, in my view, a rational self-interest will lead to conclude that
paying for a good sanitation system in my city will be also good to
me. Rational self-interest will lead me to conclude that I´ll be
better if I care about another individuals.

As related with addictive drugs´ use I think they are of course
harmful to individuals and to society but I believe that the black
market that has developed around these chemicals is even worse than
the drugs itself. If government was to legalize these products, only
with regulation preventing endangering of another people because of
consequences use-related, then I think it still would be a problem but
softer than it is today. The money from taxes that this
multimillionaire market would bring to government would help in
information campaigns and treating the many addicts that exist. Also,
once the mafia would lose power taxes would not be expended on a war
against traffic.





Don.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-14 03:52:41 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 02:46:23 +0000 (UTC), Don Matt
Post by Don Matt
This post cames with delay mostly because I have not followed your
advice of using Forte Agent! Well, whatever...
I don't know that receiving posts is delayed, but sending them is
definitely delayed when using google groups, and too often dropped
entirely when sent through outlook express. Of course there will
always be those who have no problems with outlook express. I didn't
have problems with it at first but the dropped posts became an
intermittent issue, one of those types of things that causes real
headaches in determining its cause. Now that I've posted with forte
agent through my old isp newsserver, and through supernews, there has
been nary a problem.
Post by Don Matt
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I have argued that there are
*times* when the common good trumps the individual. I have built that
case on the basis of the success of the inoculation programs against
diseases such as smallpox. If being inoculated against smallpox were
totally voluntary, it would still be a constant presence in the world
at large, and a threat to entire societies where it had the potential
to kill individuals by the thousand.
That´s a pretty good example. However, I have some comments to do.
It´s clear Objectivists reject the concept of society so its useless
trying to argue with them in these terms. But their concept of
self-interest, which is supposed to be rational, act as a glue that
joins them with other people of society. IMHO (humble) when you say
that self-interest is rational follows that every rational human being
is interested in the welfare of other individuals. This is true
because it´s crystal clear that when other people are in famine, in a
ignorant state or sick they tend toward violence and this will
ultimately destroy my own peace. But of course, many Objectivists will
claim this simple argument is untrue.
It seems perfectly plausible to me. A peaceful, healthy society is of
benefit to all. Or at least, to those who prefer those values. Of
course some people's idea of a perfect society might constitute a
chronic state of internal warfare, like old Chicago, with police
versus gangsters and screaming civilians caught in the middle of the
firefights.
Post by Don Matt
However your example related with infectious diseases, which is valid
not only for the success of eradication of smallpox but also with
important others like cholera, is the best to show how is in my self
interest that all individuals are to be healthy. When related with
cholera we know there is not a good vaccine and the best prevention is
related with sanitation and hygienic education. If it was not the good
public sanitation system USA and all the developed world would still
be threatened by cholera. As cholera does not respect private
property, the disease will endanger even an individual with a good
private sanitation system. It fills somehow the same condition of
endangering another individual (as driving drunk) with my actions.
So, in my view, a rational self-interest will lead to conclude that
paying for a good sanitation system in my city will be also good to
me. Rational self-interest will lead me to conclude that I´ll be
better if I care about another individuals.
Objectivists will argue for a privately-held system of city-wide
services, because it would be a better plan for us all, selfishly
speaking.
Post by Don Matt
As related with addictive drugs´ use I think they are of course
harmful to individuals and to society but I believe that the black
market that has developed around these chemicals is even worse than
the drugs itself. If government was to legalize these products, only
with regulation preventing endangering of another people because of
consequences use-related, then I think it still would be a problem but
softer than it is today. The money from taxes that this
multimillionaire market would bring to government would help in
information campaigns and treating the many addicts that exist. Also,
once the mafia would lose power taxes would not be expended on a war
against traffic.
That's the basic idea. But conservatives stand in the way of such
ideas because they think that morality can somehow be legislated and
enforced at the point of a gun. It's really a very liberal/socialist
solution that you are offering, but the libertarians would never admit
that.
Don Matt
2003-10-15 03:50:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by Don Matt
This post cames with delay mostly because I have not followed your
advice of using Forte Agent! Well, whatever...
I don't know that receiving posts is delayed, but sending them is
definitely delayed when using google groups,
That´s the only way I post.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
and too often dropped
entirely when sent through outlook express.
I´m just feeling a little dumb but I did not manage to post through
outlook express.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Of course there will
always be those who have no problems with outlook express. I didn't
have problems with it at first but the dropped posts became an
intermittent issue,
I do not really care if the posts are dropped because I usually check
grammar and spelling at microsoft word and also make a record of the
text. But I would aprreciate a way of posting faster and just
wandering if by outlook it will be possible.

Could you explain how to post through outlook?
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
one of those types of things that causes real
headaches in determining its cause. Now that I've posted with forte
agent through my old isp newsserver, and through supernews, there has
been nary a problem.
Post by Don Matt
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I have argued that there are
*times* when the common good trumps the individual. I have built that
case on the basis of the success of the inoculation programs against
diseases such as smallpox. If being inoculated against smallpox were
totally voluntary, it would still be a constant presence in the world
at large, and a threat to entire societies where it had the potential
to kill individuals by the thousand.
That´s a pretty good example. However, I have some comments to do.
It´s clear Objectivists reject the concept of society so its useless
trying to argue with them in these terms. But their concept of
self-interest, which is supposed to be rational, act as a glue that
joins them with other people of society. IMHO (humble) when you say
that self-interest is rational follows that every rational human being
is interested in the welfare of other individuals. This is true
because it´s crystal clear that when other people are in famine, in a
ignorant state or sick they tend toward violence and this will
ultimately destroy my own peace. But of course, many Objectivists will
claim this simple argument is untrue.
It seems perfectly plausible to me. A peaceful, healthy society is of
benefit to all. Or at least, to those who prefer those values
(snipped)

I was just going to ask you if it was possible for someone to choose
such values or if they shoud be considered part of the objective
morality of men. But then I read your discussion with James E Prescott
and realized you both are answering the question.



Don.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-15 04:22:46 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 15 Oct 2003 03:50:32 +0000 (UTC), Don Matt
Post by Don Matt
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by Don Matt
This post cames with delay mostly because I have not followed your
advice of using Forte Agent! Well, whatever...
I don't know that receiving posts is delayed, but sending them is
definitely delayed when using google groups,
That´s the only way I post.
I started out here using google and it was much too slow for both
sending and receiving posts.
Post by Don Matt
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
and too often dropped
entirely when sent through outlook express.
I´m just feeling a little dumb but I did not manage to post through
outlook express.
It just needs to be configured with your isp news server address
first. You can find this by going to your isp website or by calling
their tech support (or sometimes they provide an online live chat help
service, depending on the company).
Post by Don Matt
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Of course there will
always be those who have no problems with outlook express. I didn't
have problems with it at first but the dropped posts became an
intermittent issue,
I do not really care if the posts are dropped because I usually check
grammar and spelling at microsoft word and also make a record of the
text. But I would aprreciate a way of posting faster and just
wandering if by outlook it will be possible.
Could you explain how to post through outlook?
That involves configuring it with your isp news server address,
assuming your isp even provides the news service. Then you have to
download the newsgroup list, find the one(s) you post to, and
subscribe to them. All this is done through OE. After accessing the
message you want to read and respond to, click on "reply" at the top
of the window to edit your post, and then "send" to send it. The new
message is usually posted within seconds of sending it, and will be
available to you after you refresh your message list. (I simply press
the F5 key on my keyboard to refresh browser windows.)
Post by Don Matt
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
It seems perfectly plausible to me. A peaceful, healthy society is of
benefit to all. Or at least, to those who prefer those values
(snipped)
I was just going to ask you if it was possible for someone to choose
such values or if they shoud be considered part of the objective
morality of men. But then I read your discussion with James E Prescott
and realized you both are answering the question.
That's cool. Saves me from repeating myself. Again.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-15 04:45:21 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 15 Oct 2003 03:50:32 +0000 (UTC), Don Matt
Post by Don Matt
I was just going to ask you if it was possible for someone to choose
such values or if they shoud be considered part of the objective
morality of men. But then I read your discussion with James E Prescott
and realized you both are answering the question.
I decided to put my side of this answer in a nutshell: objective
values are inspired, or quickened, in man through experiences of great
natural or man-made beauty and sublimity. This would imply that these
values are lying dormant within us, pre-conceptually, as capacities to
be developed. It is still possible for man to behave "morally" despite
the lack of such an awakening (or enlightenment), but this is done not
on autonomous grounds but heteronomously, meaning, on the basis of
accepted external rules and authority.

I should add that it is this heteronomous, "duty"-oriented idea of
morality that Rand and Peikoff mistakenly attribute to Kantian
morality. But in fact for Kant the term "duty" takes on an entirely
different meaning that has nothing to do with heteronomous obedience
to authority, either man's or God's, but more along the lines of being
grounded in autonomy.
Don Matt
2003-10-16 02:41:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by Don Matt
I was just going to ask you if it was possible for someone to choose
such values or if they shoud be considered part of the objective
morality of men. But then I read your discussion with James E Prescott
and realized you both are answering the question.
I decided to put my side of this answer in a nutshell: objective
values are inspired, or quickened, in man through experiences of great
natural or man-made beauty and sublimity. This would imply that these
values are lying dormant within us, pre-conceptually, as capacities to
be developed.
The issue is very nice and I think it has a strong conection with
your thread "heroism". "Values lying dormant with us" is a well
stablished theory of why heroes have always existed in human
mithology. Joseph Campbell, a famous mythologyst, described how heroes
were important in transition rituals from childhood to adult age.
Young boys and girls were inspired to follow certain patterns, certain
heroes, and by identification procedure accept and understand some
important rules for the group and for him/herself. Without heroes
"values lying dormant with us" would hardly express and all the group
would suffer.

In accord with Joseph Campbell , "a hero is any male or female who
leaves the world of his or her everyday life to undergo a journey to a
special world where challenges and fears are overcome in order to
secure a reward (special knowledge, healing potion, etc.) which is
then shared with other members of the hero&#8217;s community."

Well, perhaps I have not read Rand´s books yet (what is a shame but I
really could not find any Rand´s book here in Brazil), seems to me
that her intent was to touch the deep human mind, creating a "Joseph
Campbell hero". Somehow seems she knew that through fiction and by
means of identification with a hero, people would feel more motivated
to follow her ideas than only by means of rational arguments. Seems
she knew that what drives human is more than only reason.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
It is still possible for man to behave "morally" despite
the lack of such an awakening (or enlightenment), but this is done not
on autonomous grounds but heteronomously, meaning, on the basis of
accepted external rules and authority.
Right.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I should add that it is this heteronomous, "duty"-oriented idea of
morality that Rand and Peikoff mistakenly attribute to Kantian
morality. But in fact for Kant the term "duty" takes on an entirely
different meaning that has nothing to do with heteronomous obedience
to authority, either man's or God's, but more along the lines of being
grounded in autonomy.
About Kant I do not have much to say but the good news is that I have
started reading his books, still on the beggining of a book with some
Kant´s lectures. But that´s just the start.






Don.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-12 01:33:14 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 22:24:27 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
I prefer to call myself a "thoroughgoing egoist," but radical individualist
is okay, too.
I should have mentioned that "egoist" and "individualist" are not in
the same category. Egoism is a moral theory, individualism is
political (either as a theory or as a "statement").
James E. Prescott
2003-10-12 11:38:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 22:24:27 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
I prefer to call myself a "thoroughgoing egoist," but radical
individualist
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
is okay, too.
I should have mentioned that "egoist" and "individualist" are not in
the same category. Egoism is a moral theory, individualism is
political (either as a theory or as a "statement").
You are right again! And I'm sure, then, you'll understand why I would
prefer to label myself in moral rather than in political terms. Egoism is
opposed to altruism in moral theory, as individualism is opposed to
collectivism in political theory. Egoism, grounded in reason, is the moral
foundation of capitalism. Altruism, grounded in mysticism/religion, is at
the root of socialism. This is why the "religious right" (conservatism in
America) is such an utterly deplorable contradiction. If I were to describe
myself as an individualist, as pro-liberty, as pro-capitalism, or in similar
political terms, I'm sure I would likely be taken for a conservative given
some of my unorthodox opinions. I do not believe for example, as all other
Objectivists do, that taxation can someday be "voluntary." That can't work,
I say, and is contrary to even Objectivism's own proper notion of what
unique powers and authority a government must possess. In fact, for this and
a few other reasons I've been called "a mere conservative, not an
Objectivist at all" a few times in this forum, and it's always offensive to
me. I deplore conservatism.

Individualist is "okay," though, when you put radical in front of it. People
won't then leap to the wrong conclusion but will more likely ask what that
means. To me, it means in the extreme, or to the core. It means an
individualist all the way down into moral foundations, i.e., an egoist, not
a mere political libertarian.

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-12 16:15:38 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 12 Oct 2003 11:38:12 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
On Sat, 11 Oct 2003 22:24:27 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
I prefer to call myself a "thoroughgoing egoist," but radical
individualist
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
is okay, too.
I should have mentioned that "egoist" and "individualist" are not in
the same category. Egoism is a moral theory, individualism is
political (either as a theory or as a "statement").
You are right again! And I'm sure, then, you'll understand why I would
prefer to label myself in moral rather than in political terms. Egoism is
opposed to altruism in moral theory, as individualism is opposed to
collectivism in political theory. Egoism, grounded in reason, is the moral
foundation of capitalism. Altruism, grounded in mysticism/religion, is at
the root of socialism. This is why the "religious right" (conservatism in
America) is such an utterly deplorable contradiction. If I were to describe
myself as an individualist, as pro-liberty, as pro-capitalism, or in similar
political terms, I'm sure I would likely be taken for a conservative given
some of my unorthodox opinions. I do not believe for example, as all other
Objectivists do, that taxation can someday be "voluntary." That can't work,
I say, and is contrary to even Objectivism's own proper notion of what
unique powers and authority a government must possess. In fact, for this and
a few other reasons I've been called "a mere conservative, not an
Objectivist at all" a few times in this forum, and it's always offensive to
me. I deplore conservatism.
Individualist is "okay," though, when you put radical in front of it. People
won't then leap to the wrong conclusion but will more likely ask what that
means. To me, it means in the extreme, or to the core. It means an
individualist all the way down into moral foundations, i.e., an egoist, not
a mere political libertarian.
Well, it seems that I have unintentionally invited you to talk about
your beliefs. So if that's what you want to do:

I don't understand "egoism [is] grounded in reason." That doesn't
necessarily mean "grounded in reality." Because it seems that whenever
the facts of reality are confronted by two or more rational humans,
none of them can reasonably come to any firm consensus concerning the
proper course of action to take with regard to them. Given their lack
of agreement, they must either choose to compromise on their various
opinions or force others to go along with them. Without the ability to
firmly predict the consequences of one's decision, they are just
shooting blindly in the darkness. There is no proof, for instance,
that living fully and consistently in accordance with one's "rational"
convictions will lead necessarily to happiness. And even the various
camps of Objectivism have split away in disagreement over the meaning
of their own theory's principles and methods.

So I don't see how simply calling yourself a "thoroughgoing egoist"
differentiates your view from that of Hobbes or Bentham who also
happen to fall into that category. Anybody can claim their philosophy
is "grounded in reason" simply by reasoning for their pet theory. And
anybody who comes up with a different theory, using reason applied to
the facts of reality, can also say they developed a theory grounded in
reason.
James E. Prescott
2003-10-12 23:51:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...] an individualist all the way down into moral foundations,
i.e., an egoist, not a mere political libertarian.
Well, it seems that I have unintentionally invited you to talk about
Invited or not of course that's what I want to do. Why else post to a
newgroup? Why do you post here?
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I don't understand "egoism [is] grounded in reason." That doesn't
necessarily mean "grounded in reality."
I didn't write "is." I wrote, if. But reason is how reality is apprehended.
You cannot "ground in reality" except by reason, so it's the same thing.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...W]henever the facts of reality are confronted by two or more
rational humans, none of them can reasonably come to any firm
consensus concerning the proper course of action to take with
regard to them.
Huh? Humans agree about much more than you suppose!
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Given their lack of agreement, they must either choose to
compromise on their various opinions or force others to
go along with them.
Compromise? That would be agreement. You contradict yourself.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...] There is no proof [...] that living fully and consistently in
accordance with one's "rational" convictions will lead necessarily
to happiness.
I'm not sure what you mean. Living fully and consistently in accordance with
reality, i.e, by means of reason, will lead to happiness, or nothing will.
So what's your point?
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
And even the various camps of Objectivism have split away in
disagreement over the meaning of their own theory's principles
and methods.
And so...?
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
So I don't see how simply calling yourself a "thoroughgoing egoist"
differentiates your view from that of Hobbes or Bentham who also
happen to fall into that category.
I wasn't trying to differentiate myself from those particular philosophers.
I have a lot in common witrh them. More so with Hobbes than with Bentham I
think.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Anybody can claim their philosophy is "grounded in reason" simply by
reasoning for their pet theory.
I don't see what you are driving at.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
And anybody who comes up with a different theory, using reason
applied to the facts of reality, can also say they developed a theory
grounded in reason.
Perhaps you're just having a bad day.

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-13 00:12:43 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 12 Oct 2003 23:51:58 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...] an individualist all the way down into moral foundations,
i.e., an egoist, not a mere political libertarian.
Well, it seems that I have unintentionally invited you to talk about
Invited or not of course that's what I want to do. Why else post to a
newgroup? Why do you post here?
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I don't understand "egoism [is] grounded in reason." That doesn't
necessarily mean "grounded in reality."
I didn't write "is." I wrote, if. But reason is how reality is apprehended.
You cannot "ground in reality" except by reason, so it's the same thing.
I understand that you wrote "if", that's why I put "is" in brackets.
But I don't take this kind of Objectivist premise as a hypothetical
"if" statement, it's an assertion.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...W]henever the facts of reality are confronted by two or more
rational humans, none of them can reasonably come to any firm
consensus concerning the proper course of action to take with
regard to them.
Huh? Humans agree about much more than you suppose!
Humans in camp A agree that their reasons are correct, but humans in
camp B will think otherwise. And even though the humans in camp A
agree on principles, they won't always agree on the proper courses of
action to take with regard to them.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Given their lack of agreement, they must either choose to
compromise on their various opinions or force others to
go along with them.
Compromise? That would be agreement. You contradict yourself.
Then let it read, "Given their lack of agreement on principles..."
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...] There is no proof [...] that living fully and consistently in
accordance with one's "rational" convictions will lead necessarily
to happiness.
I'm not sure what you mean. Living fully and consistently in accordance with
reality, i.e, by means of reason, will lead to happiness, or nothing will.
How do you know?
Post by James E. Prescott
So what's your point?
To draw you out further. But it seems that suddenly you don't want to
reveal your ideas to me anymore.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
And even the various camps of Objectivism have split away in
disagreement over the meaning of their own theory's principles
and methods.
And so...?
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
So I don't see how simply calling yourself a "thoroughgoing egoist"
differentiates your view from that of Hobbes or Bentham who also
happen to fall into that category.
I wasn't trying to differentiate myself from those particular philosophers.
I have a lot in common witrh them. More so with Hobbes than with Bentham I
think.
That's actually quite conservative of you.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Anybody can claim their philosophy is "grounded in reason" simply by
reasoning for their pet theory.
I don't see what you are driving at.
Opposing force with reason is one thing. Coming up with objective
reasons is another problem altogether.
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
And anybody who comes up with a different theory, using reason
applied to the facts of reality, can also say they developed a theory
grounded in reason.
Perhaps you're just having a bad day.
Bad hair day maybe.
James E. Prescott
2003-10-13 17:50:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
On Sun, 12 Oct 2003 23:51:58 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
[...]
I didn't write "is." I wrote, if. But reason is how reality is
apprehended.You cannot "ground in reality" except by
reason, so it's the same thing.
I understand that you wrote "if", that's why I put "is" in brackets.
But I don't take this kind of Objectivist premise as a hypothetical
"if" statement, it's an assertion.
I meant, I'm not asserting that egoism is grounded in reason. Only that it
can and ought to be. Egoism, when grounded in reason, I say, is the moral
foundation of capitalism. That much is indeed an assertion, yes, and I am
most always willing to discuss it.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
[...] Humans agree about much more than you suppose!
Humans in camp A agree that their reasons are correct, but humans in
camp B will think otherwise. And even though the humans in camp A
agree on principles, they won't always agree on the proper courses of
action to take with regard to them.
True. The first question, though, is not whether there is agreement about
what is right; it's what is right. People can agree and be wrong (though
sometimes, I'll grant, that's better than one side being right but no
agreement!)
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
[...]
Compromise? That would be agreement. You contradict yourself.
Then let it read, "Given their lack of agreement on principles..."
Agreement on principles is often easier than agreement on particulars, but
failure to agree on principles is much worse. Anyhow, if they agree to work
together (compromise on particulars, as a matter of principle!), then that's
a significant agreement.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
[...] Living fully and consistently in accordance with
reality, i.e, by means of reason, will lead to happiness, or nothing will.
How do you know?
If I am correct (and I am) that "happiness" is the pleasurable emotion that
may be experineced when one contemplates the whole of one's life, i.e., when
one contemplates all of the other pleasures that make one's life worth
living, and apprehends with great confidence that those pleasures will
endure well into one's future, then reason, and reason alone, can produce
this thing called happiness. This is because, only your rational faculty
correctly apprehending the facts of reality can provide you with such
confidence in your long term well being, and only then if you have lived and
are living in accordance with sound principles productive of those facts and
sustaining of them. Dispense with reason and you dispense with the very
possibility of apprehending such a condition (of apprehending those facts
about which happiness is found in the contemplation), let alone of attaining
and sustaining such a condition.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
So what's your point?
To draw you out further. But it seems that suddenly you don't want to
reveal your ideas to me anymore.
Sorry if I gave that impression. I am most always more than willing to
expound. I am still.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
[...]
I wasn't trying to differentiate myself from those particular
philosophers.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
I have a lot in common witrh them. More so with Hobbes than with
Bentham I >think.
That's actually quite conservative of you.
I suppose.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Anybody can claim their philosophy is "grounded in reason" simply by
reasoning for their pet theory.
I don't see what you are driving at.
Opposing force with reason is one thing. Coming up with objective
reasons is another problem altogether.
I still do not quite see what you are driving at here. I am, I say again,
more than willing to be "drawn out," as you say. But I need to see the
direction!

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-14 04:31:01 UTC
Permalink
I do like your description of happiness and such. To use one's
reasoning powers in pursuit of happiness is a psychological proposal.
I find that your idea of what constitutes reasoning to be
superficially stated, although I'm sure you would enjoy going into
greater detail about it. However, I have a strong feeling that I will
only continue to state that Randian morality is basically just
psychology.

Well, psychology is a science in its own right, and one could rightly
say that Objectivist morality is really just a psychology of
happiness, proposed in shiningly optimistic terms concerning man's
ideally heroic stature and the like. This can be very inspiring and
uplifting (as is the Bible) to those who are open to it; however, such
effects are not based in Rand's reasoning so much as her effusive
optimism. There is a certain "vision" of reality being offered in her
writing that goes beyond the mere text in front of her readers, and I
suggest that this optimistic vision involves an attempt by her to
encourage a certain PRE-MORAL choice in her readers, a choice
for the betterment of one's present life condition, a choice that is
more likely felt than rationally thought-out, striking more at the
reader's subconsicous mind, awakening dormant feelings, ambitions
and the like, which strive for expression.

If there is such a thing as a pre-moral, pre-rational, choice, then
all the rational cogitation over plans of action must be founded upon
this decision which originates in the subconscious level
of aesthetic arousal. To stimulate this response was Rand's goal for
her readers, and to a great extent I have always held that the precise
words she used, the formulas and the like, are only secondary to her
striving to reach toward something inside her readers which is not
exactly a rational thing per se, nor based upon a rational
thought-process.
Robert J. Kolker
2003-10-14 10:31:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Well, psychology is a science in its own right
Do psychological theories produce quantitative, testable and possible
falsifiable predictions. If they don't they are not science. Can you
point to any pyschological theories that are scientific in this sense?

Bob Kolker
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-14 14:26:04 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 10:31:59 +0000 (UTC), "Robert J. Kolker"
Post by Robert J. Kolker
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Well, psychology is a science in its own right
Do psychological theories produce quantitative, testable and possible
falsifiable predictions. If they don't they are not science. Can you
point to any pyschological theories that are scientific in this sense?
That's not part of my definition of science.
Robert J. Kolker
2003-10-14 21:04:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
That's not part of my definition of science.
What do you say science is.

Bob Kolker
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-14 23:21:23 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 21:04:20 +0000 (UTC), "Robert J. Kolker"
Post by Robert J. Kolker
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
That's not part of my definition of science.
What do you say science is.
The systematic search for new knowledge.
Robert J. Kolker
2003-10-15 00:16:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The systematic search for new knowledge.
What mechanism for eliminating error, in this quest, do you have in
mind? How does one know his new knowledge is right and not just
speculative nonsense?

Bob Kolker
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-15 00:31:08 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 15 Oct 2003 00:16:27 +0000 (UTC), "Robert J. Kolker"
Post by Robert J. Kolker
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The systematic search for new knowledge.
What mechanism for eliminating error, in this quest, do you have in
mind? How does one know his new knowledge is right and not just
speculative nonsense?
I would use whatever mechanism was applicable to the topic, whether
empirical or transcendental.
Robert J. Kolker
2003-10-15 01:07:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I would use whatever mechanism was applicable to the topic, whether
empirical or transcendental.
What transcendantal method is validly applicable to the honest to god
physical world? Aside from the principle of consistency. Real science is
empirical.

Bob Kolker
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-15 01:32:08 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 15 Oct 2003 01:07:05 +0000 (UTC), "Robert J. Kolker"
Post by Robert J. Kolker
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I would use whatever mechanism was applicable to the topic, whether
empirical or transcendental.
What transcendantal method is validly applicable to the honest to god
physical world? Aside from the principle of consistency. Real science is
empirical.
Empirical science starts with empirical assumptions. I'm only saying
that science is formally systematic in its quest for knowledge while
abstracting from any assumptions about the content of this knowledge
per se.
James E. Prescott
2003-10-14 11:09:30 UTC
Permalink
[...] I find that your idea of what constitutes reasoning
to be superficially stated, although I'm sure you would
enjoy going into greater detail about it.
I would indeed.
However, I have a strong feeling that I will only continue
to state that Randian morality is basically just psychology.
Psychology is important, of course. As a novelist she had great interest in
human psychology, but Ayn Rand's formulation of Objectivist morality was not
(just) psychology (except in the sense that everything mental is considered
so) but logic. I don't agree with her about certain aspects, but she had the
right approach. She knew what morality was, what purpose it serves, and how
important it is. (To hazard a guess, I would say that it is your grasp of
Ayn Rand's writings that is superficial. But that's okay!)
Well, psychology is a science in its own right, and one
could rightly say that Objectivist morality is really just
a psychology of happiness, proposed in shiningly optimistic
terms concerning man's ideally heroic stature and the like.
It would be more accurate to say that the morality includes a psychology of
happiness and that it guides a person who follows it justifiably/deservedly
to a shiningly optimistic outlook on life. But more on this in a moment.
[...] I suggest that this optimistic vision involves an attempt
by [Rand] to encourage a certain PRE-MORAL choice in
her readers, a choice for the betterment of one's present life
condition, a choice that is more likely felt than rationally thought-
out, striking more at the reader's subconsicous mind, awakening
dormant feelings, ambitions and the like, which strive for expression.
Well, yeah. I'm not sure how much encouragement people need, or should need.
But certainly one has first "to choose life" (as Ayn Rand might have said),
to choose betterment, to choose to pursue happiness as one's moral purpose.
Morality itself is just the essential means by which the end is attainable
and attained. But does this mean that that particular choice, unlike other
choices, is "pre-moral." Not really, no. The goodness of pleasure is
axiomatic. The goodness of pleasure and the badness of pain are what
"precede" morality. They are the given. These are just out there, not chosen
by anybody. They are prior to the ideas of right choices and wrong choices
but since they are not chosen they are not any sort of "pre-moral choice."
Morality guides human choices, which come in the existential context of the
goodness of pleasure and badness of pain. If one chooses death, chooses not
to better oneself, chooses not to pursue happiness as one's ultimate moral
purpose, then one has chosen /wrongly/. No reason-guided choice is
pre-moral. A choice is a-moral if it is irrelevant and inconsequential.
Well, a choice to die or to stagnate is hardly such. It is an immoral
choice.
If there is such a thing as a pre-moral, pre-rational, choice,
then all the rational cogitation over plans of action must be
founded upon this decision which originates in the subconscious
level of aesthetic arousal.
There are indeed non-moral and non-rational choices. Animals choose. Infants
and toddlers choose, before reason is acquired, so such choices do precede
rationality and do precede morality. However, such beings are incapable of
evil. They are incapable of making any such thing as a "morally wrong
choice," for that very reason. No animal, infant or toddler will ever choose
to shut himself down, to evade, to prefer a lifeless state, to prefer an
ignorant state. To speak strictly of the matter, animals, infants and
toddlers do not even face "a choice" to live or not, to desire or not, to
strive or not. The "right" choices in those particular matters are automatic
and so not really choices at all. Only when the capacity to reason is
acquired does morality enter the picture. Only then can we call a given
choice "moral" or "immoral." Evil is possible only to a reasoning being. But
at that point, yes, it is possible to choose lifelessness, to choose
stagnation, to choose blindness, and those are all morally wrong choices.

Also, be careful of the subconscious -- careful not to confuse motivation
with intent. Motivation is not chosen. Moral choice is over intended action,
which affects motivation only indirectly. Morality is a guide serving
conscious intent.
To stimulate this response was Rand's goal for
her readers, and to a great extent I have always held that the precise
words she used, the formulas and the like, are only secondary to her
striving to reach toward something inside her readers which is not
exactly a rational thing per se, nor based upon a rational
thought-process.
She would have disagreed. There is some truth in what you say. She was
motivated herself by a vision of man as a heroic being, and she wanted to
share with others this strong emotion and this clear vision of the truth and
of the potential. But she knew the heroism of man meant man's reason used
for good. Man, unlike any other being, does face moral choices, including
those basic choices mentioned above, and many of these choices are difficult
and are choices to accomplish difficult things at some peril for great
rewards. So her love of man, you are right, was not "based upon" rational
thought processes. Rather it was, properly and precisely, the /love of/
rational thought processes. This, she knew, is what makes man heroic, and so
she knew merely "feeling it" was barely a start, far from enough. She had to
reason it through. In order to understand and to convey the true heroism of
the human condition she had show what it means to and how properly an ideal
man does in fact use reason in the service of happiness.

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-14 15:19:31 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 11:09:30 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
[...] I find that your idea of what constitutes reasoning
to be superficially stated, although I'm sure you would
enjoy going into greater detail about it.
I would indeed.
However, I have a strong feeling that I will only continue
to state that Randian morality is basically just psychology.
Psychology is important, of course. As a novelist she had great interest in
human psychology, but Ayn Rand's formulation of Objectivist morality was not
(just) psychology (except in the sense that everything mental is considered
so) but logic. I don't agree with her about certain aspects, but she had the
right approach. She knew what morality was, what purpose it serves, and how
important it is. (To hazard a guess, I would say that it is your grasp of
Ayn Rand's writings that is superficial. But that's okay!)
Everything is indeed okay. But to say that Rand based her morality on
logic is like saying that beef broth is based on water. It's true, but
it doesn't get us anywhere closer to understanding it.
Post by James E. Prescott
Well, psychology is a science in its own right, and one
could rightly say that Objectivist morality is really just
a psychology of happiness, proposed in shiningly optimistic
terms concerning man's ideally heroic stature and the like.
It would be more accurate to say that the morality includes a psychology of
happiness and that it guides a person who follows it justifiably/deservedly
to a shiningly optimistic outlook on life. But more on this in a moment.
[...] I suggest that this optimistic vision involves an attempt
by [Rand] to encourage a certain PRE-MORAL choice in
her readers, a choice for the betterment of one's present life
condition, a choice that is more likely felt than rationally thought-
out, striking more at the reader's subconsicous mind, awakening
dormant feelings, ambitions and the like, which strive for expression.
Well, yeah. I'm not sure how much encouragement people need, or should need.
I'm saying that was Rand's tacit purpose of writing, to encourage, or
better, to inspire her readers to better themselves. That would assume
of course that her readers have a desire to live at all. Such a desire
is not exactly based on choice -- it is NATURAL. But what Rand meant
by "living" also included the "qua man, qua rational being" part. This
indicates that there is a higher level of living to strive for which
many or most of us have not attained to.

A good example of Rand's attempt to inspire her readers is found in
The Fountainhead where you have the young man riding his bicycle along
a path through the woods, just enjoying the moment and feeling
carefree, then suddenly breaking out of the woods into a wide expanse
overlooking Monadnock Valley and Roark's housing development under
construction. After gazing with a certain awe at the scene for a
while, the boy rode down the hill and thanked Roark. Roark didn't have
to ask the boy why he thanked him, he already knew, and merely nodded
his head in acknowledgment.

The wide expanse is the "door" I was referring to. The young man has a
natural desire to live as most of us do, but only lives at that point
for the fleeting moments, such as the bike ride through the woods.
These moments can lead us, seemingly by accident, to "dramatic vistas"
such as the novels of Ayn Rand which can inspire some idea lying
dormant within us. It is also important, to Rand anyway who explicitly
stated later on that she was interested in attracting mostly the young
into her movement, that this "pre-moral" event occur during youth,
before the individual has been corrupted by such psychological
elements as cynicism and envy, or by societal biases, which stand in
the way of rational enlightenment, of living life qua man.

To inspire the "young man riding through the woods" is Rand's purpose
for writing, and the basis for the theory of pre-moral choice.

I personally think that that is a fine purpose. But I also think that
her non-fictional philosophy is also basically directed toward that
purpose, and that the mere words she used to express her philosophy
were inadequate to that task. Her non-fiction has also inspired a few,
although I don't think it has inspired as many as her fiction.
Post by James E. Prescott
But certainly one has first "to choose life" (as Ayn Rand might have said),
to choose betterment, to choose to pursue happiness as one's moral purpose.
Morality itself is just the essential means by which the end is attainable
and attained. But does this mean that that particular choice, unlike other
choices, is "pre-moral." Not really, no. The goodness of pleasure is
axiomatic. The goodness of pleasure and the badness of pain are what
"precede" morality. They are the given. These are just out there, not chosen
by anybody. They are prior to the ideas of right choices and wrong choices
but since they are not chosen they are not any sort of "pre-moral choice."
Morality guides human choices, which come in the existential context of the
goodness of pleasure and badness of pain. If one chooses death, chooses not
to better oneself, chooses not to pursue happiness as one's ultimate moral
purpose, then one has chosen /wrongly/. No reason-guided choice is
pre-moral. A choice is a-moral if it is irrelevant and inconsequential.
Well, a choice to die or to stagnate is hardly such. It is an immoral
choice.
I fail to understand why you and others continue to argue against the
idea of a pre-moral choice which is actually an integral part of
Objectivist moral theory. I think you need a fellow Objectivist to
come along and explain it to you instead of me. Try a Google search
with a string like "pre-moral objectivism."

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&oe=
UTF-8&q=pre%2Dmoral+objectivism

http://tinyurl.com/qvma
Post by James E. Prescott
If there is such a thing as a pre-moral, pre-rational, choice,
then all the rational cogitation over plans of action must be
founded upon this decision which originates in the subconscious
level of aesthetic arousal.
There are indeed non-moral and non-rational choices. Animals choose. Infants
and toddlers choose, before reason is acquired, so such choices do precede
rationality and do precede morality. However, such beings are incapable of
evil. They are incapable of making any such thing as a "morally wrong
choice," for that very reason. No animal, infant or toddler will ever choose
to shut himself down, to evade, to prefer a lifeless state, to prefer an
ignorant state. To speak strictly of the matter, animals, infants and
toddlers do not even face "a choice" to live or not, to desire or not, to
strive or not. The "right" choices in those particular matters are automatic
and so not really choices at all. Only when the capacity to reason is
acquired does morality enter the picture. Only then can we call a given
choice "moral" or "immoral." Evil is possible only to a reasoning being. But
at that point, yes, it is possible to choose lifelessness, to choose
stagnation, to choose blindness, and those are all morally wrong choices.
Also, be careful of the subconscious -- careful not to confuse motivation
with intent. Motivation is not chosen. Moral choice is over intended action,
which affects motivation only indirectly. Morality is a guide serving
conscious intent.
I'm always careful. But your bringing up motivation versus intent
doesn't worry me. I just think you are going too far back when you
talk about toddlers. The (natural) motivation to live stays with us
all for the greatest part of our lives, perhaps for all of it. But in
order to be motivated to live a life QUA rational being, we usually
require some further motivation, something else to open up that new
door of possibilities, perhaps an inspiring moment, such as Monadnock
Valley for that young man or the novels of Ayn Rand for us. This
inspiring moment, as pre-moral, is also pre-conceptual, but it can be
put in conceptual form. However, it is for the most part aesthetically
induced by signs of a sublime purpose whereas before there had been
no real sense of purpose. The pre-moral young man riding his bike
through the woods is seemingly bent on some purpose, but it is more of
a purposiveness without real purpose. It is only when the young man
happens upon Monadnock that he finds his real purpose, a fact which
is explicitly stated in the novel in terms of having the "courage to
face a lifetime." Because it is only with a real purpose, and not mere
purposiveness, at hand that one can do so. And Purpose is, as you
know, an Objectivist primary value.
Post by James E. Prescott
To stimulate this response was Rand's goal for
her readers, and to a great extent I have always held that the precise
words she used, the formulas and the like, are only secondary to her
striving to reach toward something inside her readers which is not
exactly a rational thing per se, nor based upon a rational
thought-process.
She would have disagreed. There is some truth in what you say. She was
motivated herself by a vision of man as a heroic being, and she wanted to
share with others this strong emotion and this clear vision of the truth and
of the potential. But she knew the heroism of man meant man's reason used
for good. Man, unlike any other being, does face moral choices, including
those basic choices mentioned above, and many of these choices are difficult
and are choices to accomplish difficult things at some peril for great
rewards. So her love of man, you are right, was not "based upon" rational
thought processes. Rather it was, properly and precisely, the /love of/
rational thought processes. This, she knew, is what makes man heroic, and so
she knew merely "feeling it" was barely a start, far from enough. She had to
reason it through. In order to understand and to convey the true heroism of
the human condition she had show what it means to and how properly an ideal
man does in fact use reason in the service of happiness.
In that respect, I also believe that although the young man in the
novel had gained a new courage which was based on an aesthetic
response, that this wasn't enough. Rand would also argue for the
inclusion of an integrated view of life, a philosophy which is
centered around this vision.
James E. Prescott
2003-10-14 19:18:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 11:09:30 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
[...]
[...T]o say that Rand based her morality on
logic is like saying that beef broth is based on
water. It's true, but it doesn't get us anywhere
closer to understanding it.
A well-written post. Interesting, insightful and informative. Thank you!
Pardon me for snipping liberally. I've no quarrel with most of the comments
and observations. And I, too, think Ayn Rand was intent on inspiring people,
especially the young.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...]
To inspire the "young man riding through the woods" is Rand's
purpose for writing, and the basis for the theory of pre-moral
choice.
Inspiration was among her purposes. Pre-moral choice, though, as interpreted
by some of her followers, was not an element of her theory and is not
correct. Before I get to explaining why, please be reminded of how I
expressed it last...
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...Pleasure is good and pain is bad] are prior to the ideas of
right choices and wrong choices but since they are not chosen
they are not any sort of "pre-moral choice." Morality guides
human choices, which come in the existential context of the
goodness of pleasure and badness of pain. If one chooses death,
chooses not to better oneself, chooses not to pursue happiness
as one's ultimate moral purpose, then one has chosen /wrongly/.
No reason-guided choice is pre-moral. A choice is a-moral if it
is irrelevant and inconsequential. Well, a choice to die or to stagnate
is hardly such. It is an immoral choice.
I fail to understand why you and others continue to argue against
the idea of a pre-moral choice which is actually an integral part of
Objectivist moral theory.
I'll explain why I (can't speak for others!) argue against the idea, and why
I dispute it is any part of Objectivist theory, much less integral.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I think you need a fellow Objectivist to come along and explain
it to you instead of me. Try a Google search with a string like
"pre-moral objectivism."
Good suggestion. Thanks!

In that search you'll come across "OPAR, Chapter Seven The Good by Eyal
Mozes," a 1993 contribution to Jimbo Wales' old Moderated Discussion of
Objectivist Philosophy. Eyal -- not intending to perhaps -- illustrates
perfectly just what is wrong with attributing that "pre-moral choice" idea
to Ayn Rand's Objectivism. It leads Objectivists into blatant
self-contradiction. I'll quote the relevant paragraphs. Credit to Eyal Mozes
for pinpointing the contradiction, and for this fine bit of writing...

A crucial aspect of the objectivity of Rand's approach to
morality is her view of the choice to live as the base of
morality, and therefore as itself pre-moral. As Peikoff
explains this point: "If life is what you want, you must pay
for *it*, by accepting and practicing a code of rational
behavior. Morality, too, is a must - *if*; it is the price of
the choice to live. That choice itself, therefore, is not a
moral choice; it precedes morality; it is the decision of
consciousness that underlies the need of morality."
(pp. 244-245)

[...]

[...Rasmussen] brings up the question: how should someone
who does *not* choose to live be judged? Based on his
statements from pp. 244-245, quoted above, the answer
is clear: such a person can't be judged at all; he is outside
the realm of morality, and moral evaluations, condemnatory
or otherwise, don't apply to him. However, Peikoff's answer
is completely different: "A man who would throw away his
life without cause, who would reject the universe on principle
and embrace a zero for its own sake - such a man, according
to Objectivism, would belong on the lowest rung of hell. His
action would indicate so profound a hatred - of himself, of
values, of reality - that he would have to be condemned by
any *human* being as a monster" (p. 248).

[...]

How does Peikoff reconcile this with the statement he made
just three pages earlier? He says nothing to address this, and
I don't believe there is any possible way to reconcile them.

Right. There isn't. Leonard just made a mistake. It's one of many mistakes
in OPAR.

Ayn Rand never wrote that the choice to live is amoral, non-moral, or
pre-moral. The latter was Peikoff's mistaken wording. It implies -- states,
actually -- that a man's choice to live and another man's choice to die are
equally outside the province of moral judgements, neither to be praised as
morally right nor condemned as morally wrong. They are, said Peikoff,
somehow "the basis" of moral choice but not moral/immoral choices
themselves.

The correct, consistent view, is as follows. Choices are of two kinds. Some
choices are made by beings lacking the capacity of reason and hence
incapable of choosing to think or not to think, incapable of choosing to
pursue life and happiness or to forsake life and happiness. An animal makes
many choices. Where to walk. What to chase. But those uniquely human choices
about whether to live and whether to reason are beyond its ability. These
other choices are reason-guided. In this, human realm, the reason-guided
being is free to choose to exercise his rational faculty or to shut it down.
The reason-guided being is free to choose life and the pursuit of happiness,
or to forsake life and follow a path of self-destruction.

The former kinds of choices are non-moral. A "moral-choice" is simply a
choice of the latter kind. It is a choice made by a reason-guided being.
That's the simple correct Objectivist definition of "moral choice," as
distinguish from a particular moral code. And a moral code, wrote Ayn Rand
(being consistent in her theory!) is a code of values adopted and followed
by /choice/ (as distinguish from an animal's standards, which are given to
it by nature).

So there are moral choices and non-moral choices. This is to say, there are
choices made by reason-guided beings, and there are choices made by animals,
infants and toddlers. The choices to live or not, to think or not, to
embrace life and happiness or not, are choices not even available to
animals, infants and toddlers. These are choices which can be made only by
reason-guided beings, and they are all, by definition, "moral choices," not
"non-moral" and not "pre-moral."

By this approach, Leonard Peikoff's moral appraisal on p.248 of OPAR was the
correct one, though it contradicted his remarks three pages earlier. Ayn
Rand wrote similarly many times, condemning the anti-life, anti-reason and
nihilist forces she saw around her as being utterly immoral.

That said, I do agree with you regarding the importance of motivation in
life. Finding motivation is wonderful when it is lacking. But I say again,
it is actions and values that are chosen. Some choices are morally good and
some choices are morally evil. The choice to value life is morally good. The
choice to forsake life is morally evil. These choices do not "precede"
morality in Objectivism. By Objectivist standards they are moral choices
because they are choices made -- for good or for evil! -- by a reason-guided
being. If the reason-guided being in question lacks the motivation to make
the right choice, then he should find that motivation somewhere, somehow, or
else be regarded as morally wrong.

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-14 23:11:28 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 19:18:38 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 11:09:30 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
[...]
[...T]o say that Rand based her morality on
logic is like saying that beef broth is based on
water. It's true, but it doesn't get us anywhere
closer to understanding it.
A well-written post. Interesting, insightful and informative. Thank you!
Thank you for taking the time to read it.

The core of your argument against human pre-moral choice is found in
the Rasmussen article (which I myself had read not too long ago and
commented on here). By itself, Peikoff's error in OPAR does not
disprove pre-moral choice, it only shows a lack of consistency. In
that case, one may either throw out one or the other side of the
inconsistency. Either there is pre-moral choice, but it is neither
morally blameworthy nor praiseworthy; or there is no pre-moral choice.
You argue for the latter, but that argument is based, as I said, on
Peikoff's inconsistency and not the falsehood of the premise itself.

You then assert that there are two kinds of choices, those that belong
to rational beings, and those that don't. That would be, in my terms,
a distinction between pre-determined and self-determined choice. I can
allow that distinction (however, I know that the capacity for
self-determined choice in humans takes time to develop, certainly
beyond the toddler stage; but that is a minor issue).

I don't believe that Objectivists who argue for the existence of
pre-moral choice in self-determining beings had toddlers or children
in mind. But I won't argue for them, only on the basis of making this
idea consistent with the rest of Rand's approach.

In this I would follow Rand's lead which is always implicitly
DEVELOPMENTAL. For instance, looking at ITOE from a certain
perspective, you can readily see the developmentalism from the
implicit concept on up to the conceptual level, and from there
building up to a comprehension of the highest concepts.

This developmentalism can easily be translated into a meta-ethical
theory centered around free-will and choice, the highest choice of all
the choosing of a fully-conscious, integrated philosophy of life.

The rest of the meta-ethics would follow along the lines of
formalizing the intention behind the ideas found in Rand's major
novels, ideas found implicitly between the lines of the scenes and
dramatic interludes but not in her non-fiction. For instance, how can
I capture in conceptual, philosophical terms the non-conceptual moment
of inspiration experienced by the young man on the bicycle in The
Fountainhead when he happens upon Monadnock Valley? I find that I
cannot do this on the basis of Rand's non-fiction because she offers
no theory, or even meta-theory, to explain it. And how can the young
man's newly-found courage, the "courage to face a lifetime," based on
a pre-moral choice?

Previously to the young man's experience, it seems that, like many of
his kind, his will was unmotivated due to a certain amount of
psychological doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, something along those
lines. Such negative emotional feelings, even when kept in the
background of consciousness, have a diminishing effect on the will,
making it difficult or impossible to make proper choices, choices
based in one's own reasoning and not on feelings.

And yet there remains, especially in youth, a certain openness to the
idea that beyond this anxious, psychological stage life contains
other, far more shining and optimistic, possibilities. (But
considering many of today's culturally-corrupted youth, this
"openness" idea may seem a bit old-fashioned...) These possibilities
lie dormant in the young man's mind as pre-conceptual ideas which may
be awakened at some inspirational moment. For the young man in The
Fountainhead, this moment occurred when the path through the woods
opened up to the shining vista of Monadnock Valley.

Notice the non-conceptual aspect of this inspirational moment, as
described by Rand herself in the novel: "It did not shock him, not as
the sight of it had shocked him. In a way, it seemed proper; this was
not part of known existence. For the moment he had NO DESIRE TO
KNOW what it was."

What you have there is a powerful moment of aesthetic inspiration,
produced in the young man by a combination of his openness and Roark's
ingenious architectural ingenuity. The structures below in the Valley
are intended to serve some purpose, of course; but for the moment, the
young man does not care about purposes, he does not need to care --
the moment is upon him, and that is all that matters. It is enough for
the psychological effect, the pure, non-conceptual feelings, to take
shape and to develop into the courage which he formerly lacked but
needed, but had no idea he lacked, and no idea how badly it is
required for living the span of an entire life. This is the moment of
pre-moral choice.

I suppose one could also put this choice in affirmative terms; it is
not so much pre-moral, or pre-rational, as it is aesthetic and
inspiring. The wide-open expanse induces of feeling of great
sublimity, especially when brought suddenly into awareness for a young
man speeding along on his bike. Then he brings his focus of attention
onto the beauty of the details at the bottom of the valley, described
by Rand in the novel: "The houses were plain field stone -- like the
rocks jutting from the green hillside -- and of glass, great sheets of
glass used as if the sun were invited to complete the structures,
sunlight becoming part of the masonry. There were many houses, they
were small, they were cut off from one another, and no two of them
were alike... He saw trees, lawns, walks twisting up hillsides, steps
cut in the stone, he saw fountains, swimming pools, tennis courts --
and not a sign of life. The place was uninhabited."

Rand's mentioning of the fact that the resort was not being used at
this point in time is symbolic of the pureness of the purpose of art,
a purpose that has no other uses beyond itself. When we experience
the beauty of the art, we do not look for its purpose; on the
contrary, it is the very purposiveness without purpose that invokes
the feeling of beauty within us. It was not created for us; that would
be gauche. A great work of art transports us to another realm without
purpose or meaning, without concepts, without needing us at all.

The moment of great inspiration has this effect: to take us out of our
present lives temporarily into a realm of new possibilities, and if
the moment is sublime, as the scene from the top of the hill
overlooking the Valley, then those new possibilities seem vast -- vast
enough to encompass a lifetime. Thus as the young man looks out over
the valley it seems to reflect a previously hidden inner beauty which
was uncovered by the lifting away of the ugliness of myriad, tiny
psychological traumas which try to overwhelm us day after day,
building up over time into a generalized feeling of anxiety until it
seems that the only possibility open to us is this anxiety. Great art
has the potential to stimulate this "pre-moral" sense that other kinds
of possibliities lie dormant within each of us, and I don't think
anybody is really closed to it, unless they are psychotic.
James E. Prescott
2003-10-15 11:19:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The core of your argument against human pre-moral choice is found in
the Rasmussen article (which I myself had read not too long ago and
commented on here).
I have not read it. I will try to find it.

Meanwhile, what you have written here is, once again, very interesting and
enlightening. Thank you, again. I think I can be much briefer now, since I
do not find I have any significant disagreement with you. I, too, take a
developmental approach, regarding reason, and hence regarding morality and
moral judgements, and also regarding rights. Toddlers are not moral beings,
I say. But I did not mean to be drawing a rigid line between what is and is
not a moral being, as if a magic moment happens between toddlerhood and
childhood. I merely wanted to contrast those that clearly are not (toddlers
and infants) with those that clearly are (adults). Older children are moral
beings, but to between a very small to a small degree. Even adolescents have
fewer rights and are less likely to deserve any severe moral blame for the
many mistakes they make. And so on, up to fully mature adults who are held
fully -- morally and legally -- responsible for their actions. Moral nature
(status as a reason-guided being) develops gradually over time I say, and
the law should reflect this, as it typically does.

I would like to sometime focus greater interest on the aesthetic experiences
you describe, but it's not really "my thing." I do not dismiss that approach
by any means. I think it is wonderful and well deserving of the great
attention you give it. These are experiences we all have -- or should -- and
we need greater understanding of their significance in our moral development
and, as well, in our adult lives. It is part of the motivational side, the
greatest part of what valuing things is all about. Reason is just a tool.
Enrichment and enjoyment is what it is for.

My only objection is to the term "pre-moral" describing "the choice to
live," when interpreted as meaning that that particular choice is neither
morally right nor morally wrong but simply the basis for having a moral
system. I may have overstated the case regarding Ayn Rand's own theory. I
mentioned I disagreed with her about certain aspects. One of my
disagreements is her regarding of life -- as opposed to the requirements of
attaining happiness (what reason needs, I say) -- as an "ultimate standard"
of moral value. I share her disdain for hedonism, but I think she erred
badly in selecting life as her standard. In consequence of this error she
may well have taken positions which led her followers -- and even herself
perhaps -- to the inconsistency reflected in Leonard Peikoff's account.
Properly, she should have said what I tried to say. Namely, the goodness of
pleasure is "pre-moral," yes, but it is not a choice. It is the
metaphysically given nature of things. The proper moral purpose of a man's
life is happiness because that pleasure subsumes all other pleasures as it
is found in attaining and contemplating a condition of long-term sustained
pleasures. Yes, this purpose must be chosen, but that is a /moral/ choice,
whenever and to the extent that it is a reason-guided choice (and because
the good is metaphysically given -- objective). Thus, choosing the pursuit
of happiness is morally right; choosing the opposite is morally wrong.
Neither choice is neutral.

I do think there are choices that are not moral, obviously, as I have said.
And I'll even grant that many choices which are not reason-guided may even
be made by reason-guided beings, by human adolescents and adults. These
choices are non-moral I would say, not pre-moral.

Where I say moral and not moral, reason-guided and not reason-guided, you
say, pre-determined vs. self-determined. I do not care for that terminology.
I would say simply that the range of alternatives confronting a conceptual
consciousness (the range of choices it can make) is vastly greater (just a
matter of degree) but includes its own functioning (the ability to choose
not to think, which is not just a matter of degree but is a significant
difference in kind).

Otherwise, I like what you've written and I believe there's a lot there that
I need to pay more attention to. Thank you much, and...

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-15 16:58:47 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 15 Oct 2003 11:19:19 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The core of your argument against human pre-moral choice is found in
the Rasmussen article (which I myself had read not too long ago and
commented on here).
I have not read it. I will try to find it.
Sorry, I meant to say it was the Eyal Mozes article at
http://enlightenment.supersaturated.com/essays/text/opar/07.html
in which is cited the relevant Peikoff quote defending the moral
castigation of the "parasite" or whatever they call it today: "A man
who would throw away his life without cause, who would reject the
universe on principle and embrace a zero for its own sake - such a
man, according to Objectivism, would belong on the lowest rung of
hell. His action would indicate so profound a hatred - of himself, of
values, of reality - that he would have to be condemned by any *human*
being as a monster."

However, I do not see Howard Roark reacting that way to Peter Keating
at any time in The Fountainhead. When Keating brought out his rather
crude but potentially great paintings for Roark to see, these artistic
attempts gave in Roark's eyes mute testimony to the act of throwing
away a great talent in favor of Keating pursuing an alternate career,
architecture, which would best suit his mother's wishes. Rather than
verbally lashing out at Keating and condemning him to the lowest rung
of hell, Roark reacts only with a feeling of immense pity.

Again I wonder, should we pay more attention to the non-fiction or the
fiction of Ayn Rand, considering the fact that they do not necessarily
support each other? Is the core of Rand's message for us found in her
novels or in her articles?
Post by James E. Prescott
Meanwhile, what you have written here is, once again, very interesting and
enlightening. Thank you, again. I think I can be much briefer now, since I
do not find I have any significant disagreement with you. I, too, take a
developmental approach, regarding reason, and hence regarding morality and
moral judgements, and also regarding rights. Toddlers are not moral beings,
I say. But I did not mean to be drawing a rigid line between what is and is
not a moral being, as if a magic moment happens between toddlerhood and
childhood. I merely wanted to contrast those that clearly are not (toddlers
and infants) with those that clearly are (adults). Older children are moral
beings, but to between a very small to a small degree. Even adolescents have
fewer rights and are less likely to deserve any severe moral blame for the
many mistakes they make. And so on, up to fully mature adults who are held
fully -- morally and legally -- responsible for their actions. Moral nature
(status as a reason-guided being) develops gradually over time I say, and
the law should reflect this, as it typically does.
Too often I have found that Objectivists focus on children as if they
were just tiny adults, possessing fully developed brains, but only
lacking the proper experiences and training. The problem derives from
trying to treat them as capable of emotional maturity, when before a
certain age, like 7 or 8, most children have not even developed the
capacity to experience certain emotions, such as shame. How can
children be taught right and wrong before they can even experience
shame? Such emotions cannot be taught or trained. It is one of the
primary "muscles" of our moral consciousness, but lacking that muscle
there is nothing to be strengthened. Therefore, morality cannot be
assigned to the very young, and they cannot be blamed for what they
do.
Post by James E. Prescott
I would like to sometime focus greater interest on the aesthetic experiences
you describe, but it's not really "my thing." I do not dismiss that approach
by any means. I think it is wonderful and well deserving of the great
attention you give it. These are experiences we all have -- or should -- and
we need greater understanding of their significance in our moral development
and, as well, in our adult lives. It is part of the motivational side, the
greatest part of what valuing things is all about. Reason is just a tool.
Enrichment and enjoyment is what it is for.
My only objection is to the term "pre-moral" describing "the choice to
live," when interpreted as meaning that that particular choice is neither
morally right nor morally wrong but simply the basis for having a moral
system. I may have overstated the case regarding Ayn Rand's own theory. I
mentioned I disagreed with her about certain aspects. One of my
disagreements is her regarding of life -- as opposed to the requirements of
attaining happiness (what reason needs, I say) -- as an "ultimate standard"
of moral value. I share her disdain for hedonism, but I think she erred
badly in selecting life as her standard. In consequence of this error she
may well have taken positions which led her followers -- and even herself
perhaps -- to the inconsistency reflected in Leonard Peikoff's account.
Properly, she should have said what I tried to say. Namely, the goodness of
pleasure is "pre-moral," yes, but it is not a choice. It is the
metaphysically given nature of things. The proper moral purpose of a man's
life is happiness because that pleasure subsumes all other pleasures as it
is found in attaining and contemplating a condition of long-term sustained
pleasures. Yes, this purpose must be chosen, but that is a /moral/ choice,
whenever and to the extent that it is a reason-guided choice (and because
the good is metaphysically given -- objective). Thus, choosing the pursuit
of happiness is morally right; choosing the opposite is morally wrong.
Neither choice is neutral.
I like your definition of happiness, particularly in the form you gave
in a recent post. However, I don't see choosing to pursue happiness as
any more moral than choosing to pursue life. And it suffers from the
same necessity of applying a moral code only *after* the choice is
made, not before, so that morality only applies to the one who chooses
to pursue happiness, and those who have not made such a choice have
no need of a moral code to guide them in their non-moral pursuits. And
that there are moral and non-moral choices you have made explicit
below.
Post by James E. Prescott
I do think there are choices that are not moral, obviously, as I have said.
And I'll even grant that many choices which are not reason-guided may even
be made by reason-guided beings, by human adolescents and adults. These
choices are non-moral I would say, not pre-moral.
That depends on the teleological purpose, or intent, behind the act of
choice. If the choice follows some purpose, such as the purpose in the
act of choosing to pursue life or happiness, then it is a pre-moral
choice. If it is a choice between buying one painting over another,
then it is non-moral.
Post by James E. Prescott
Where I say moral and not moral, reason-guided and not reason-guided, you
say, pre-determined vs. self-determined. I do not care for that terminology.
I would say simply that the range of alternatives confronting a conceptual
consciousness (the range of choices it can make) is vastly greater (just a
matter of degree) but includes its own functioning (the ability to choose
not to think, which is not just a matter of degree but is a significant
difference in kind).
I really don't see any conflict between our choices of terminology
once it is understood that they are based in different contexts. The
pre-determined is not based in reason; the self-determined can
encompass any degree of rational consciousness.
Post by James E. Prescott
Otherwise, I like what you've written and I believe there's a lot there that
I need to pay more attention to. Thank you much, and...
Best Wishes,
Jim P.
Nice chatting. It's a nice change away from having to quarrel with the
trolls on this forum as usual.
James E. Prescott
2003-10-16 12:45:06 UTC
Permalink
[...] I do not see Howard Roark reacting that way to Peter Keating
at any time in The Fountainhead. [...] Rather than verbally lashing out
at Keating and condemning him to the lowest rung of hell, Roark reacts
only with a feeling of immense pity.
Properly so. Peter wasn't that sort of villain, nor even a villain at all,
really. Peter was just a person who took his values from other people. A
second-hander. He was not someone who hated himself, hated mankind, hated
values. He just lived through others, a "collectivist" in his soul, and a
pathetic character. He even had significant virtues. He greatly admired
Roark, as I recall, though he didn't understand him. Toohey was the real
villain. He was the political, self-consciously man-hating collectivist. But
even Toohey would have deserved a slightly higher rung of hell than the man
described by Peikoff.
Again I wonder, should we pay more attention to the non-fiction or the
fiction of Ayn Rand, considering the fact that they do not necessarily
support each other? Is the core of Rand's message for us found in her
novels or in her articles?
I like both, and think both are flawed. Without her art her non-fiction
would not, I think, be nearly as important.
[...B]efore a certain age, like 7 or 8, most children have not even
developed the capacity to experience certain emotions, such as
shame. How can children be taught right and wrong before they
can even experience shame?
Excuse me? Surely you are not implying, are you?, that some "ability" to
feel shame is some sort of achievement along the road to full development. I
do hope not. A small child is incapable of feeling shame for the exact same,
very simple reason that Howard Roark and John Galt were incapable of feeling
shame. Namely, a small child has nothing of which to be ashamed. I would not
say Galt's emotional development was particularly stunted for being without
that particular emotion. If it was, so much the better!
[...] Therefore, morality cannot be assigned to the very young, and
they cannot be blamed for what they do.
Now we do have major disagreement. Ability to feel an emotion has nothing to
do with morality. Not directly. No more so than ability to feel physical
pleasure and pain. Morality defines the right, proper, effective, succeeding
course. Unless shame is an integral part of one's purpose, there is no need
of it in morality. What the very young lack is simply the ability to guide
their actions, by reason, according to moral principles. This ability is
acquired as their reasoning ability develops and matures. Once they can
reason, they need morality, and their choices and actions can and should be
evaluated by themselves and by others in moral terms. Only a being incapable
of any pleasure, any pain, any emotion at all would be without and beyond
morality. But then, reason is not just math and logic. Perception, intuition
and feeling are all a part of it. A being without morality is a being
without reason, and vice versa.
I like your definition of happiness, particularly in the form you gave
in a recent post. However, I don't see choosing to pursue happiness as
any more moral than choosing to pursue life.
Well, it's the proper moral purpose, for the reason I gave. But the real
point was, it is moral to choose happiness and life, and immoral to choose
suffering and death.
And it suffers from the same necessity of applying a moral code
only *after* the choice is made, not before, so that morality only
applies to the one who chooses to pursue happiness, [...]
Not so. Moral values and principles are properly chosen for their
effectiveness in regard to the proper moral purpose. You can choose them
wrongly, just as you can choose them rightly and then wrongly choose to
violate and spurn the principles and values that you have chosen. But the
wrong choice is an immoral choice in either case. It is not just immoral to
choose life and then fail to do what life requires. It is also immoral to
choose death as one's purpose. This is because the existence of morality
depends only on your possession of a rational faculty and not upon what in
particular you choose to do with it. It is certainly not, as you assert,
dependent on your choice to value life or happiness. As I've pointed out
before, life and happiness as metaphysical things are valuable by their very
natures. They are /the/ good, as metaphysical givens, not as an "optional"
take-it-or-leave-it choice.
[...T]hose who have not made such a choice have
no need of a moral code to guide them in their non-
moral pursuits.
No. They have great need of it. They have only chosen not to fulfill that
need and instead to accept the consequences. That is the worst kind of
immorality.
And that there are moral and non-moral choices you have made explicit
below.
Not in that way. For a man in possession of his faculties, choosing
pastachio over mocka is the only kind of choice I would call non-moral.
Eating ice cream every once in a while and paying for it when you do are
moral choices. Starving yourself to death is also a choice that can be
evaluated in moral terms. It is evil. And this is so regardless of the fact
that it may be what you want to do. Man has no choice, said Ayn Rand, about
the need for morality. It is inherent in his conceptual nature. His only
choice is whether he will discover and apply morality correctly.
Nice chatting. It's a nice change away from having to quarrel with the
trolls on this forum as usual.
Likewise I'm sure.

Best Wishes,
Jim P.
Robert J. Kolker
2003-10-16 14:46:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by James E. Prescott
Properly so. Peter wasn't that sort of villain, nor even a villain at all,
really. Peter was just a person who took his values from other people. A
second-hander. He was not someone who hated himself, hated mankind, hated
values. He just lived through others, a "collectivist" in his soul, and a
pathetic character. He even had significant virtues. He greatly admired
Roark, as I recall, though he didn't understand him. Toohey was the real
villain. He was the political, self-consciously man-hating collectivist. But
even Toohey would have deserved a slightly higher rung of hell than the man
described by Peikoff.
It is the Keatings of the world that are the hands and legs of the
Tooheys. Without willing but unthinking collaborators the Tooheys of the
world could do little or no damage. Which leads me to the conclusions
that if a person wants to avoid evil, as a bystander or a passive
participant, he must be vigillant to assert his autonomy. The greatest
weapon against evil is NO I WON'T.

Bob Kolker
HPO Jury = Malenoid
2003-10-16 15:38:57 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 16 Oct 2003 12:45:06 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
Post by James E. Prescott
[...] I do not see Howard Roark reacting that way to Peter Keating
at any time in The Fountainhead. [...] Rather than verbally lashing out
at Keating and condemning him to the lowest rung of hell, Roark reacts
only with a feeling of immense pity.
Properly so. Peter wasn't that sort of villain, nor even a villain at all,
really. Peter was just a person who took his values from other people. A
second-hander. He was not someone who hated himself, hated mankind, hated
values. He just lived through others, a "collectivist" in his soul, and a
pathetic character. He even had significant virtues. He greatly admired
Roark, as I recall, though he didn't understand him. Toohey was the real
villain. He was the political, self-consciously man-hating collectivist. But
even Toohey would have deserved a slightly higher rung of hell than the man
described by Peikoff.
To the contrary, Ellsworth Toohey was the archetype of evil in Rand's
world; but Roark felt only indifference even toward him, not
condemnation.
Post by James E. Prescott
Again I wonder, should we pay more attention to the non-fiction or the
fiction of Ayn Rand, considering the fact that they do not necessarily
support each other? Is the core of Rand's message for us found in her
novels or in her articles?
I like both, and think both are flawed. Without her art her non-fiction
would not, I think, be nearly as important.
[...B]efore a certain age, like 7 or 8, most children have not even
developed the capacity to experience certain emotions, such as
shame. How can children be taught right and wrong before they
can even experience shame?
Excuse me? Surely you are not implying, are you?, that some "ability" to
feel shame is some sort of achievement along the road to full development. I
do hope not. A small child is incapable of feeling shame for the exact same,
very simple reason that Howard Roark and John Galt were incapable of feeling
shame. Namely, a small child has nothing of which to be ashamed. I would not
say Galt's emotional development was particularly stunted for being without
that particular emotion. If it was, so much the better!
But you said you were a developmentalist. I am speaking here
psychologically in that certain emotional mechanisms must take shape
before morality is even applicable. If those psychological mechanisms
are in place even in the smallest child, then all it requires for him
is some knowledge of moral right and wrong to evoke the feeling of
shame. And such children are perfectly capable of doing bad things on
purpose, such as lying.

Feeling guilt, as related to shame, has been an element of every major
moral theory that I can think of. Both emotions inform you that you
did something wrong. The only difference between Christianity and
Objectivism (and even then, hardly including all Christian ethical
theory, but more on the Catholic side), is that shame and guilt lose
their primacy in Objectivism in favor of happiness. But it is still a
necessary component.

For it is possible that doing the wrong thing may yet bring emotional
satisfaction through the acquisition of earthly achievements. The
prudent predator obviously has no need for shame, but he has not given
up the need for happiness.
Post by James E. Prescott
[...] Therefore, morality cannot be assigned to the very young, and
they cannot be blamed for what they do.
Now we do have major disagreement. Ability to feel an emotion has nothing to
do with morality. Not directly. No more so than ability to feel physical
pleasure and pain. Morality defines the right, proper, effective, succeeding
course. Unless shame is an integral part of one's purpose, there is no need
of it in morality. What the very young lack is simply the ability to guide
their actions, by reason, according to moral principles. This ability is
acquired as their reasoning ability develops and matures. Once they can
reason, they need morality, and their choices and actions can and should be
evaluated by themselves and by others in moral terms. Only a being incapable
of any pleasure, any pain, any emotion at all would be without and beyond
morality. But then, reason is not just math and logic. Perception, intuition
and feeling are all a part of it. A being without morality is a being
without reason, and vice versa.
In other words, you are not a developmentalist, and young children are
simply tiny adults who just lack life experiences.

"Unless shame is an integral part of one's purpose, there is no need
of it in morality." It is left obscure what you mean by "morality." If
you mean, "moral code," then since you include emotion in your own
theory of morality, avoiding shame could be an element that goes along
with pursuing happiness as its opposite, "to pursue happiness and
avoid moral shame."

In that case, the small child who has not developed the ability to
feel shame would have no use for a moral code because there would be
no emotional basis (emotional rewards and punishments) by which to
guide his actions and tell him when he has either succeeded at
following the code or failed. The small child may be capable of
happiness (an emotion they naturally develop long before shame), but
it is only based on satisfying the desires of the moment, rather than
being a satisfaction, as you described, which comes from
intellectually contemplating the span of one's entire life in terms of
accomplishments, goals achieved, and the like.

I don't see where the latter is moral anyway, since even a small
child, who has no capacity to contemplate his own life, can feel
happiness. And the difference between the child and the adult is only
a matter of degree, so that the latter's happiness may be more
profound, but it is only an advance over the child's smaller, more
immediate, perspective on things, not somehow metaphysically distinct.
"The difference between the men and the boys is the price of their
toys."
Post by James E. Prescott
I like your definition of happiness, particularly in the form you gave
in a recent post. However, I don't see choosing to pursue happiness as
any more moral than choosing to pursue life.
Well, it's the proper moral purpose, for the reason I gave. But the real
point was, it is moral to choose happiness and life, and immoral to choose
suffering and death.
I don't recall at the moment whether or not you said WHY it was moral
to choose happiness and life -- but as I recall, you omitted "life"
from that moral formula in favor of happiness.

It may actually be more consistently Objectivist, however, since that
theory allows for suicide in certain circumstances, when man's life
qua man becomes impossible thus obviating any possible for pursuing
moral principles.
Post by James E. Prescott
And it suffers from the same necessity of applying a moral code
only *after* the choice is made, not before, so that morality only
applies to the one who chooses to pursue happiness, [...]
Not so. Moral values and principles are properly chosen for their
effectiveness in regard to the proper moral purpose. You can choose them
wrongly, just as you can choose them rightly and then wrongly choose to
violate and spurn the principles and values that you have chosen. But the
wrong choice is an immoral choice in either case. It is not just immoral to
choose life and then fail to do what life requires. It is also immoral to
choose death as one's purpose. This is because the existence of morality
depends only on your possession of a rational faculty and not upon what in
particular you choose to do with it. It is certainly not, as you assert,
dependent on your choice to value life or happiness. As I've pointed out
before, life and happiness as metaphysical things are valuable by their very
natures. They are /the/ good, as metaphysical givens, not as an "optional"
take-it-or-leave-it choice.
Your idea that one should choose the purpose of pursuing happiness, as
a moral choice, was not based on any reasoning, it is only asserted.
At least Objectivism makes more sense (even if incorrect) in that, IF
you want to live, THEN you need a code of morality to guide your
choices and actions through life.
Post by James E. Prescott
[...T]hose who have not made such a choice have
no need of a moral code to guide them in their non-
moral pursuits.
No. They have great need of it. They have only chosen not to fulfill that
need and instead to accept the consequences. That is the worst kind of
immorality.
And that there are moral and non-moral choices you have made explicit
below.
Not in that way. For a man in possession of his faculties, choosing
pastachio over mocka is the only kind of choice I would call non-moral.
Eating ice cream every once in a while and paying for it when you do are
moral choices. Starving yourself to death is also a choice that can be
evaluated in moral terms. It is evil. And this is so regardless of the fact
that it may be what you want to do. Man has no choice, said Ayn Rand, about
the need for morality. It is inherent in his conceptual nature. His only
choice is whether he will discover and apply morality correctly.
I don't recall where Rand said that man's need for morality was
inherent in the metaphysical sense that you describe. That sounds
Kantian to me.
James E. Prescott
2003-10-17 09:32:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
On Thu, 16 Oct 2003 12:45:06 +0000 (UTC), "James E. Prescott"
[..E]ven Toohey would have deserved a slightly higher rung of hell
than the man described by Peikoff.
To the contrary, Ellsworth Toohey was the archetype of evil in
Rand's world; but Roark felt only indifference even toward him,
not condemnation.
Ayn Rand was not indifferent. And the plot of that novel really is about
Roark discovering and at the end (and a few points along the way) exposing
the nature of evil. Roark gradually comes to realize what's wrong with
Keating (he has no self; he lives through others), and then what's wrong
with the world (perishing from an orgy of self-sacrifice).
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...] Surely you are not implying, are you?, that some "ability"
to feel shame is some sort of achievement along the road to full
development. [...]
[...] I am speaking here psychologically in that certain emotional
mechanisms must take shape before morality is even applicable.
I'm a developmentalist, also, but what develops right along with emotional
mechanisms is the ability to reason and, with it, the capacity and necessity
of choosing between independently and scrupulously exercising one's
reasoning capacity or occasionally blanking out, evading, and/or just
accepting and depending upon the judgements of others. Exercise of reason
entails apprehending and selecting proper values and principles of actions.
Morality lies in whether one does this and then adheres in one's choices and
actions to the selected values and principles, or fails to do so. Morality
is not about feelings. It is about choices and actions.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...]
Feeling guilt, as related to shame, has been an element of every major
moral theory that I can think of.
Well it's not an element of mine.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Both emotions inform you that you did something wrong.
Not true. Emotions are just automated responses arising from beliefs. They
do not tell you whether you did something wrong because they do not tell you
whether the beliefs from which they arise (the beliefs to which they are a
response) are true or false. If children come to believe that it is morally
wrong -- and, let's say, punishable by God -- to selfishly refuse to share
their things with other children, they may quite naturally feel shame and
guilt and fear when they do. But it is not morally wrong. On the contrary it
is morally right to selfishly demand that others pay for what you give them
or else receive nothing from you. A child who, like Roark, understands and
believes this, will feel no shame or fear or guilt ignoring other children.
But emotions will not "inform you" whether this is so. Emotions are not
tools of cognition. Only reason can apprehend right and wrong.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...It is possible that doing the wrong thing may yet bring emotional
satisfaction through the acquisition of earthly achievements. The
prudent predator obviously has no need for shame, but he has not given
up the need for happiness.
Earthly achievements are right, not wrong. Predation when prudent is right,
not wrong.

Again, emotions themselves are mere consequences of beliefs not tools of
cognition. What you believe comes first. Emotional response follows. And
what you believe is determined by the thinking you have done or failed to
do. That free choice, to think or not, is the essence of the difference
between moral good and moral evil.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...] A being without morality is a being without reason, and vice
versa.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
In other words, you are not a developmentalist, and young children are
simply tiny adults who just lack life experiences.
Reasoning ability develops over time. Young children lack the ability to
guide their actions by reason in accordance with a moral code. This is
acquired as they develop their thinking ability and as they identify and
select values and principles of action, i.e., acquire a moral code.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
"Unless shame is an integral part of one's purpose, there is no need
of it in morality." It is left obscure what you mean by "morality." If
you mean, "moral code," then since you include emotion in your own
theory of morality, avoiding shame could be an element that goes along
with pursuing happiness as its opposite, "to pursue happiness and
avoid moral shame."
It's enough to attain happiness. I don't think a man ashamed of his actions
is a happy man, so that goes without saying. By morality, I mean the
practice of identifying and adhering to a moral code (values and principles)
as the means by which to guide one's actions successfully toward happiness.
I don't think I left this unspoken or obscure, but if I did, sorry.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
In that case, the small child who has not developed the ability to
feel shame would have no use for a moral code because there would be
no emotional basis (emotional rewards and punishments) by which to
guide his actions and tell him when he has either succeeded at
following the code or failed.
Ugh! There again you seem to have a mindset that emotions somehow "inform."
They do not. Yes, they reward and they punish. Yes, a being without any
emotional capacity whatsoever would have no need of a moral code, but this
is for a far simpler reason than you suggest. It is not that such a being
would not know whether it has succeeded or failed in adhering to the
selected values and principles. It would know -- as any thing is known -- by
reason, not by emotion. But more simply, it would have no need of morals
because success or failure in adhering to the code would have no purpose,
would be in no sense success or failure in life. If you cannot experience
emotional joy, cannot know happiness, then what would morality be for?
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
The small child may be capable of
happiness (an emotion they naturally develop long before shame), [...]
Remember, happiness is the joy of contemplating one's whole life and
realizing with great confidence that the pleasures which fill one's life
will continue far into one's future. A child can experience pleasure,
enjoyment, and many wonderful emotions, but happiness comes -- if at all --
only after reason, and after adoption of and adherence to moral principles,
and after attainment of and the self-knowledge/recognition that one has
indeed attained a significant degree of health, wealth and security.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
[...] but it is only based on satisfying the desires of the
moment, rather than being a satisfaction, as you described, which
comes from intellectually contemplating the span of one's entire life
in terms of accomplishments, goals achieved, and the like.
Exactly.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I don't see where the latter is moral anyway, since even a small
child, who has no capacity to contemplate his own life, can feel
happiness.
Joy and happiness are not the same. What a child experiences, good as it is,
is not happiness.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
And the difference between the child and the adult is only
a matter of degree, so that the latter's happiness may be more
profound, but it is only an advance over the child's smaller, more
immediate, perspective on things, not somehow metaphysically distinct.
What distinguishes joy in general from happiness in particular is precisely
that the latter is not a small, immediate perspective on things. How could
something small be one's ultimate purpose in life? Well, I suppose for some
it could.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
"The difference between the men and the boys is the price of their
toys."
That's a bit better. The difference between joy and happiness is the range
of the perspective involved. A child cannot yet contemplate his whole life.
A man can, and when he feels joy in response, that particular feeling of joy
is happiness.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I don't recall at the moment whether or not you said WHY it was
moral to choose happiness and life -- but as I recall, you omitted
"life" from that moral formula in favor of happiness.
I said it, and then I quoted it in another post, calling particular
attention to it -- I thought! -- with the words, "Please remember how I
expressed it last." Here, I'll quote it again for you, a third time.

[...Pleasure is good and pain is bad] are prior to the ideas of
right choices and wrong choices but since they are not chosen
they are not any sort of "pre-moral choice." Morality guides
human choices, which come in the existential context of the
goodness of pleasure and badness of pain.

So simple it is easily overlooked. Life to happiness, I say, is as means to
an end. Ayn Rand's problem was that she effectively tried to reverse this
proper order, taking "life" as an end-in-itself, as if happiness were just
one's method of staying alive, when what she really meant, or should have
said, was that happiness is an end-in-itself, and staying alive is a means
(good when it leads to happiness; bad when it doesn't; suicide is moral!).
Biologically the order is reversed, but only metaphorically since
bio-chemical activity does not actually pursue ends in any literal sense.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
It may actually be more consistently Objectivist, however, since that
theory allows for suicide in certain circumstances, when man's life
qua man becomes impossible thus obviating any possible for pursuing
moral principles.
Exactly.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
Your idea that one should choose the purpose of pursuing
happiness, as a moral choice, was not based on any reasoning,
it is only asserted.
Well, that's close. It is an assertion, yes, but I explained my
reason/justification for asserting it. The goodness of pleasure is
axiomatic, not derived or justified by reference to anything but itself.
Good and pleasing are synonyms, like 'A' and 'A', until false philosophy
drives a wedge between them by claiming there exists some higher purpose
than the enjoyment of life on earth.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
At least Objectivism makes more sense (even if incorrect) in that, IF
you want to live, THEN you need a code of morality to guide your
choices and actions through life.
If you want at all you need to guide your actions by reference to a moral
code. But a moral code is not, itself, moral just because it is one's code.
The code is only a set of values and principles to which one refers. Those
values and principles might easily be the wrong ones, and then the code
itself would be evil. All things, including values and principles of action,
are thus properly judged by reference to the -- intrinsically,
axiomatically, as stated above -- proper moral purpose of any man's life,
happiness.
Post by HPO Jury = Malenoid
I don't recall where Rand said that man's need for morality was
inherent in the metaphysical sense that you describe. That sounds
Kantian to me.
In her lecture/essay "The Objectivist Ethics" she explained how the need for
morality is inherent in man's nature as a conceptual being. Man, like any
animal, has no choice, she said, about his need for certain values, and yet
man, unlike other animals, has no automatic, pre-programmed standard of
value. The values and principles he needs must be discovered, she said, and
adhered to, by the work of his reasoning mind.

Best Wishes,
Jim P.

Paul Robinson
2003-10-15 03:39:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Matt
One of the things I fight to understand is by what rationale most of
governments have decided that alcohol is legal and other drugs, like
marijuana and cocaine, are not. The premisse that rules the use of
alcahol should rule the use of every other simmilar drug.
You presume the people who run the government (1) Are rational; (2) are
interested in the welfare of the public; (3) believe in the right of the
people to make their own choices; (4) are not interested in obtaining
power.

Alcohol basically became unregulated because too many people were using it
and those who were in power came to the realization they might be voted
out of power if they didn't change.

If a few million people told their congresscritters to make cocaine legal
or face being voted out of office in favor of someone else who would,
you'd soon be able to buy crack at your local Walgreens.
Post by Don Matt
The rationale for regulation should be based on the premisse that an
individual may practice whatever one wants except if such practice
harms or cause danger to other individuals/society.
If we did it that way, the government would not have as much power.
Politicians could not use the fear of crime as an automatic means to
become reelected, and we would need a lot fewer police because a lot fewer
crimes would be committed and a lot fewer things would be on the books as
crimes.
Post by Don Matt
Also, if any drug
causes harm to an individual, regulation should prevent use when the
individual is not considered mentally mature or retarded. This latter
field is where government, even when drugs liberated, would still be
important. So, legislation that regulates alcahol´s use, stating that
only adults may use, that no one should drive or work drunk and so on,
is in my view almost perfect.
Why not apply the same reasoning to other drugs? Why we create a war
against users (most of them only occasional)? And more, the lack of
taxes is one of the things that facilitates profit, what associated
with a huge demand, creates a multibillionary industry that, figure
you, support many activities being terrorism one of the most
important.
You presume the tax revenue is more important than the control. Ayn Rand
said it exactly in {Atlas Shrugged}:

"But, after all, I did break one of your laws."
"Well, what do you think they're for?" ... "Did you really think we want
those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd
better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up
against - then you'll know this is not the age for beautiful gestures.
We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know
the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule
innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack
down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one {makes}
them."
Post by Don Matt
Today, Colombia and Rio de Janeiro for example, have
almost a second army composed of drug dealers who
almost threatens the own government.
They keep escalating the war, so the other side does the same thing.
Basically you have (stupid) police fighting (stupid) criminals. The
government had better pray the other side doesn't get some bright boy on
their side who can figure out how to really fight them, because the
government would lose.
Post by Don Matt
Isn´t then, liberation (and maybe taxing) of "illegal" drugs a way of
preventing funds to terrorism and then effectivelly combat such
phenomenon? Maybe a better way then helping terrorists being recruted
at a crazy war in Iraq.
If you eliminate the illegality of drugs, you eliminate the terrorist
bogey man that the government can raise up like a golem to be used to
scare off threats to its power.
Post by Don Matt
What are Objectivism´s view about the issue (if any available)?.
If you're not hurting other people, it's nobody else's business.

--
Paul Robinson "Above all else... We shall go on..."
"...And continue!"
"If the lessons of history teach us anything it is
that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us."
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