Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rand's Ethics, Part 13

Randian virtues: justice. This is the most ambigious of Rand’s virtues. Justice means different things to different people. For some people, an unequal distribution of income is inherently unjust. For others, any attempt to redistribute income on the basis of egalitarian "justice" itself would be unjust. It is curious to note that Rand ignores this aspect of the question in her introduction of the virtue of justice in Galt’s speech:
Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect for truth, with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and as rational a process of identification—that every man must be judged for what he is and treated accordingly, that just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a rotter above a hero—that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an honor as you bring to financial transactions—that to withhold your contempt from men's vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement—that to place any other concern higher than justice is to devaluate your moral currency and defraud the good in favor of the evil, since only the good can lose by a default of justice and only the evil can profit—and that the bottom of the pit at the end of that road, the act of moral bankruptcy, is to punish men for their virtues and reward them for their vices, that that is the collapse to full depravity, the Black Mass of the worship of death, the dedication of your consciousness to the destruction of existence.


Note the emphasis Rand places on judging. You would think that Rand, when introducing justice, would want to state clearly her definitional notion of the concept. How does one distinguish between justice and injustice? Why are leftist notions of justice mistaken? What is wrong with the concept of distributive justice? Her treatment of justice does not address these problems, but merely assumes that her own notion of justice is right from the start and goes on to insist on the rigorous application of this view of justice, not just in the legal or political sphere, but in all of life. In short, Rand is insisting, in a particularly vehement manner, on the necessity of judging people and treating people exactly as they deserve.

It is important to understand the extent to which Rand, by her emphasis on moralizing, is challenging traditional norms of morality and judgment. Consider what Hamlet says on the subject in Shakespeare’s play. Hamlet is discussing with Polonius how to treat the actors that have come to give a play.
Hamlet: Good my Lord, will you see these players well bestowed? ...
Polonius: My Lord, I will use them according to their desert.
Hamlet: God’s bodikins, man, much better; use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.

Polonius is here stating Rand’s view of the matter; Hamlet is sticking up for the traditional view. Now it is important here not to misinterpret Hamlet’s views by taking too literally what he says. The traditional view does not hold that one ought to treat the worst sort of murderers and other criminals with greater consideration because of their viciousness. Hamlet’s stricture applies only to ordinary non-criminals, such as the players of the acting company. It is based on several assumptions about human nature that Rand either ignored or denied:

(1) Human nature is encumbered by “frailties” that render it impossible for any individual to be morally perfect.

(2) People don’t always intend to do bad things, yet end up doing bad things regardless of intention.

(3) Because of the unintended aspects of human behavior, it is impossible to determine the exact degree of moral culpability of other people.

(4) Because moral insight into the behavior of others is fraught with uncertainty, one should not be overly quick to judge others; on the contrary, one should be eager to cut others slack and temper justice with mercy. Moralizing and being excessively judgmental is a vice caused by arrogance and narrow-mindedness.

(6) Since most people are decent but flawed, treating them with kindness even when they seem to stray from the moral straight and narrow demonstrates a nobility of character and generosity of heart that is morally commendable.

The views summarized here are a product of aristocratic sensibilities tempered by Christian sentiment. In other words, they constitute the code of the gentleman, which is to say, the ideals of chivalry. Rand’s notion of justice sticks a dagger into the very heart of chivalric ideals. Justice, she insists, should never be tempered by mercy. Reason can determine exactly what people deserve—and that’s exactly what they should get! Everyone has the responsibility to be morally perfect and to demand from others moral perfection. Nothing less will do!

What is particularly mischievous in the Randian notion of justice is the combination of a moral perfection as defined by “reason” with an intransigent moralizing. Rand’s “reason” is a mere rationalization of artificial sentiments based on mere ideology. It denies not only the frailties of human nature, but even more critically, it disavows the traditional customs and habits that arose to deal with these frailties, such as the chivalric notions about treating people better than they deserve that Hamlet speaks up for in Shakespeare’s play.

33 comments:

Jay said...

People don’t always intend to do bad things, yet end up doing bad things regardless of intention.

This is a very sweeping statement at the base of your argument and I disagree with how you are using it. Yes, it is true that many bad acts arise without conscious intention. But clearly, this is not an insurmountable obstacle. People give up bad habits and make positive changes every single day. The world is filled with former drug addicts, theives, and underachievers who decided to create a better life for themselves. Anyone without a mental illness is capable of doing this.

Keep in mind what Rand considers moral perfection to be. It is not that you never make a mistake, but that you genuinely learn from those mistakes. That you do not repeat them in perpetuity, never examining your behavior or striving to be more effective. Sadly, many do just this. Whether they adopt a victimhood mentality, blame "the system" for the troubles, or fob off responsibility on a God or higher power, many never accept the fact that they are the authors of their own destiny.

A policy of justice sends a different message. It says that you are responsible for how you act and carry yourself. If we don't send that message, how can we expect a more just society?

JayCross said...

The ARI's 2007 college essay contest dealt with Rand's concept of justice. The winning essay does an excellent job of elaborating.

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_contests_as_winner_2007

Cavewight said...

Greg,

Bravo! *clap* *clap*

Red Grant said...

____________________________

The world is filled with former drug addicts, thieves, underachievers who decided to create a better life for themselves. Anyone without a mental illness is capable of doing this. - Jay
____________________________


First of all, what is mental illness?

Secondly, who decides what is mental illness?

and what about those who are classfied as mentally ill by whatever socity they happen to dwell in?

Would "their mental illness" be an insurmountable obstacle in obtaining "moral perfection" as defined by Ayn Rand?

and if so, then what should be done about them[those declared to be "mentally ill" by whatever society they happen to dwell in]?


____________________________

A policy of justice sends a different message. It says that you are responsible for how you act and how you carry yourself. - jay
____________________________


What about those who are declared to be "mentally ill"?

Should they be responsible for how they act and carry themselves?


____________________________

The ARI's 2007 college essay contest dealt with Rand's concept of justice. The winning essay does an excellent job of elaborating. - jay


an excerpt:

The right to property in the community is sacrificed to a subjective notion of the common good, and Rand vividly illustrated the truth that ultimately, any conception of the "common good" that calls for the immolation at the rights of others can serve the good of no one in the end.
____________________________

They[the Natives] didn't have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using.... - Ayn Rand at Westpoint
____________________________

Kelly said...

Red, it's not that you don't bring up a few good points, but - is there any Rand issue that does not boil down to Native Americans and the holocaust? Jay has responded to your "what about the Native Americans" questions in other threads. Is it possible for you to post an opinion about the actual post or do you just wait for someone else to respond and just ask numerous questions without providing anything?

Kelly

gregnyquist said...

Jay: "This is a very sweeping statement at the base of your argument and I disagree with how you are using it. Yes, it is true that many bad acts arise without conscious intention. But clearly, this is not an insurmountable obstacle"

Insurmountable obstacle to what? You mean to overcoming bad tendencies in oneself? Maybe not. But that's not the focus of this post, which is directed at the judgmental aspect of Rand's justice. I'm saying that the obstacle is to judging other people, that, because we can't read a person's mind, we not in a position to fairly judge their acts. We don't know the extent really is motivated by malice or if it is just little more than a psychological accident. It's also important to keep in the mind the context of the argument, which is Hamlet's statement about the players. How can you treat the players as they deserve when you really have no idea what they deserve. And this the case for most of the people you'll run across in your life: you'll never know them well enough to be able to judge them accurately or fairly.

Jay: "A policy of justice sends a different message. It says that you are responsible for how you act and carry yourself. If we don't send that message, how can we expect a more just society?"

The trouble with Rand's approach is that it is too moralistic. You cannot judge someone morally unless you can see into their heart, and that's just not possible. Even without moral judgment, people can still be held responsible for how they act: they can be judged pragmatically, on the basis of merely fulfilling whatever role has been set for them. Thus an employee is judged by how will he undertakes his job. If he doesn't measure up to his duties, he is fired. But one does not, in addition to firing him, pronounce moral judgment on him, because one really doesn't know whether his failure to live up expectations is a moral failing or simply congenital incompetence or bad luck. If you have relative who drinks too much, you can set boudaries for him ("If you don't stop drinking we won't invite you to family gathers") but it is not clear that the situation is helped by bringing in moral judgment, since one doesn't know the precise degree of moral failing that is involved. That is to say, you don't really know how hard it is for him to stop drinking. All you do know is that whether he can control himself or not, you can't have him at family gatherings until he stops drinking. In short, you do not have to make moral judgments to set boundaries or to take defensive measures against other people. You can simply be practical about it and do what needs to be done without having to judge people's motives or their degree of will power.

Jay said...

Greg,

I don't think Rand would've disagreed with your handling of the drunk relative. She would no doubt say that he was squandering his potential, but she never advocated walking around pronouncing judgments on everyone just because you can.

Red Grant said...

This was your question.
____________________________

...do you[Red] just wait for someone else to respond and just ask numerous questions without providing anything? - kelly
____________________________


...and here's the answer to your question above:

____________________________

Red, it's not that you don't provide a few good points, ... - kelly
____________________________


____________________________

Jay has responded to your "what about the Native Americans" questions in other threads. - kelly
____________________________


He hasn't to the last ultimate questions that were completely relevant to the self-contradicting statements he had made before [within those threads].

Besides, for a philosophy that has been claimed by its supporters and the founder to be the ultimate "Moral Philosophy", isn't it relevant that the "philosophical points" made by its supporters and the founder to be able to explain how one should behave in such historically significant events?

Red Grant said...

____________________________

The world is filled with former drug addicts, thieves, underachievers who decided to create a better life for themselves. - jay
____________________________


Who decides what is better life for oneself?

Who decides what is achievement for oneself and the standard of achievement for oneself?

Do you think stealing someone else's land through both violence and chicanery amounts to achievement?

____________________________

They[the Natives] didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using.... - Ayn Rand at Westpoint

Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent. - Ayn Rand at Westpoint
____________________________



____________________________

A policy of justice sends a different message. It says that you are responsible for how you act and carry yourself. - jay
____________________________




The ARI's 2007 college essay contest dealt with Rand's concept of justice. The winning essay does an excellent job of elaborating. - jay

an excerpt:

The right to property in the community is sacrificed to a subjective notion of "common good" and Rand vividly illustrated the truth that ultimately, any conception of "common good" that calls for the immolation at the rights of others can serve the good of no one in the end. - from the winning essay

They[the Natives] didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using... - Ayn Rand at Westpoint


____________________________

A policy of justice sends a different message. It says you are responsible for how you act and carry yourself. - jay
____________________________



Does this mean then you and Ayn Rand are not exceptions to the policy of justice that says one is responsible for how one acts and carries oneself?

Red Grant said...

____________________________

Red, it's not that you don't provide a few good points - kelly
____________________________

Edit:

____________________________

Red, it's not that you bring up a few good points - kelly
____________________________


Sorry for unintentionally substuting a different word, but, still the essential meaning of the phrase still doesn't change.

Jay said...

Red,

Who decides what is better life for oneself?

The same thing that says it's better for a bird to fly than have broken wings: the facts of that organism's existence. Birds need to fly. Humans need to think and act. Therefore, lifestyles that limit this capacity (such as hardcore drugs that destroy your mind or criminal acts that place you in constant danger) are not healthy for human beings to engage in. Your question implies that you are not convinced of this. Can you offer a scenario where these choices would be "better" than a responsible, healthy life?

Do you think stealing someone else's land through both violence and chicanery amounts to achievement?

No, I don't. I believe I have made this quite clear. What I do regard as an achievement is the constitutional republic established after the fact.

Jay said...

Greg,

Insurmountable obstacle to what? You mean to overcoming bad tendencies in oneself? Maybe not. But that's not the focus of this post, which is directed at the judgmental aspect of Rand's justice.

My point in bringing that up was that people choose their actions. Therefore, it is not necessary to know the inner workings of their mind before judging them. Now, the drunken relative you bring up is the kind of example Rand would have agreed with. She did not say that you need to get preoccupied with judging a person's worth as a human being. Her point was precisely what you alluded to: making the judgements you need to make in order to deal with people. "Punishment for their vices" could very well mean telling that person not to come around until he stops drinking.

Can you quote her advocating anything else? I may be mistaken, but I do not recall her advocating any unnecessary judgements.

Red Grant said...

____________________________

Do you think stealing someone else's land through violence and chicanery amounts to achievement? - Red Grant

No, I don't.

What I do regard as achievement is the constitutional republic established after the fact. - jay

____________________________


The U.S. had already been a constitutional republic before the Manifest Destiny.

Another word, it was the U.S. as a constitutional republic that commited mass murder and robbery.



____________________________

Who decides what is better life for oneself? - Red Grant



Humans need to think and act.

Therefore the lifestyle that limit this capacity(such as hardcore drugs that destroy your mind or criminal acts that place you in constant danger) are not healthy for human beings to engage in. Your question implies you are not convinced of this. - jay
____________________________



Where and when did I ever advocate hardcore drug use even implicitly?


My question was "Who decides what is better life for oneself?"

The same thing that says it's better for a bird to fly than have broken wings;the facts of that organism's existence. - jay
____________________________


Does this mean then you decide what is better life for yourself?

or

does this mean others decide what is better life for yourself?

Humans need to think and act. - jay

Therefore, lifestyles that limit this capacity(....criminal acts that place you in constant danger) are not healthy to engage in. - jay

____________________________


First of all:

who decides what is a criminal act?

Secondly,

Were the Germans helping the fugitive Jews during the Holocaust engaging a criminal act that placed their lives in constant danger?

If yes, then does this mean then you believe those Germans were engaging in unhealthy lifestyles that limited their[those Germans] capacity to think and act?

JayCross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

Red,

My original statement:

The world is filled with former drug addicts, theives, and underachievers who decided to create a better life for themselves.

It seemed like you were questioning how giving up such habits leads to a better life. I apologize if that was not your intention.

To answer you more precisely: yes, each person must decide what a better life means. No one but you can decide where you would like to live, whom you would like to marry, your career, hobbies, etc. However, they must do it rationally, within limits circumscribed by their nature. Accordingly, no one could live the lifestyles I described and claim it to be good or healthy.


Were the Germans helping the fugitive Jews during the Holocaust engaging a criminal act that placed their lives in constant danger?

No. Ayn Rand defined crimes as violations of individual rights. The Holocaust was the crime, not the act of brave heroes helping Jews escape it.

JayCross said...

Some further clarification from the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

To judge means: to evaluate a given concrete by reference to an abstract principle or standard. It is not an easy task; it is not a task that can be performed automatically by one's feelings, "instincts" or hunches. It is a task that requires the most precise, the most exacting, the most ruthlessly objective and rational process of thought. It is fairly easy to grasp abstract moral principles; it can be very difficult to apply them to a given situation, particularly when it involves the moral character of another person. When one pronounces moral judgment, whether in praise or in blame, one must be prepared to answer "Why?" and to prove one's case—to oneself and to any rational inquirer.

I see nothing here that compels us to go further than Greg did in his example.

gregnyquist said...

Jay,

The question of to what degree people can control themselves very much has to moral judgment, because how can you morally judge a person when you can't determine the degree they really are responsible for how they act? Rand gets out of this dilemma by assuming that everyone has perfect free will; but that is not an assumption that is well-supported by the facts. We know that choices are made under the influence of passion and appetite; and if those passions and appetites are fierce, it's not clear whether everyone has the inner self-control to stay in command. The law recognizes this in that it hands out sharper penalties for murders done in cold blood, whereas crimes of passion are given less penalties. Now in ordinary life, it would be ridiculous to have long investigations and jury trials and all of that to figure whether somebody did something bad in cold blood or out of passion. So you don't pronounce moral judgment; you simply draw whatever boundaries need to be drawn and leave it at that.

Is this what Rand supports? Not entirely. She insists that you pronounce moral judgment, because she is a passionate moralist. She can be this way because she has a very simplistic view of human nature. People can control themselves simply by being sharply in focus all the time. There is a huge amount of psychological evidence demonstrating that the Randian view is just not true.

Red Grant said...

____________________________

No, Ayn Rand defined the crimes as the violations of individual rights. - jay
____________________________



Does this mean then you believe Ayn Rand defined what would amount to criminal acts for all individuals through ages?

If so, then who granted her the right to define what would amount to criminal acts for all individuals through ages?

or did she just grant it herself?

Furthermore, who decides what is an individual right in a constitutional republic?


____________________________

The Holocaust was the crime, not the act of brave heroes helping Jews escape it. - jay
____________________________



Do you think those brave heroes helping Jews escape the Holocaust were motivated by alturism, or by selfishness?


____________________________

The world is filled with former drug addicts, thieves, underachievers who decided to create a better life for themselves.

Anyone without a mental illness is capable of doing this. - jay
____________________________



First of all, what is mental illness?

Secondly, who decides what is mental illness?


____________________________

A policy of justice sends a different message.

It says that you are responsible for how you act and carry yourself. - jay
____________________________



What about those who are declared to be "mentally ill"?

Should they be responsible for how they act and carry themselves?







____________________________

To answer you more precisely:yes, each person must decide what a better life means. No one but you can decide where you would like to live, whom you would like to marry, your career, hobbies, etc.

However, they must do it rationally, within limits circumscribed by their nature. - jay
____________________________



Can a savage decide what would be better life rationally for him/her?

Can a mentally ill person decide what would be better life rationally for him/her?

Jay said...

Red,

If so, then who granted her the right to define what would amount to criminal acts for all individuals through ages?

No one "granted" it to her, just like no one is "granting" us the right to have this discussion. As a philosopher she chose to define criminal acts in that way. Reasonable people are free to debate her definition. Do you disagree with it? And, do you question what gives other philosophers the right to define criminal acts?


First of all, what is mental illness?


"Mental disorder or mental illness are terms used to refer to a psychological or physiological pattern that occurs in an individual and is usually associated with distress or disability that is not expected as part of normal development or culture."
SRC: Wikipedia

Secondly, who decides what is mental illness?

Probably a practicing psychiatrist. They're trained to make those decisions.


Should they be responsible for how they act and carry themselves?

That depends on the extent of their illness. Some are relatively benign, while others severely limit a person's thinking capacity.

MAC said...

Jay,

"The Holocaust was the crime...."

Are you sure Rand would have gone along with that? According to her (correct me if I'm wrong), a crime is an act, and acts are committed by individuals. Thus, the Holocaust was not a crime, since collectives can not act.

Just a little nitpick. :P

Red Grant said...

____________________________

The Holocaust was the crime, not the act of brave heroes helping Jews escape it. - jay
____________________________



Do you think those brave heroes helping Jews escape it were motivated by alturism or by selfishness?


____________________________

No, Ayn Rand defined the crimes as the violation of individual rights. - jay
____________________________



Who decides what is an individual right in a constitutional republic?


____________________________

If so, then who granted her the right to define what would amount to criminal acts for all individuals through ages? - Red Grant


No one "granted" it to her, just like no one is "granting" us the right to have this discussion. - jay
____________________________



Does Greg Nyquist have the right to not to grant us the right to have discussion?

If Greg Nyquist decided that we should not have this discussion for whatever reason(whether we agree with his reason or not, either individually or collectively), then does he not have the right to not to grant us the right to have discussion?


____________________________

As a philosopher, she chose to define criminal acts that way.

No one "granted" it[the right define criminal acts for all individuals through ages] to her....

Reasonable people are free to debate her definition[of what constitutes a criminal act for all individuals through ages].- jay
____________________________



Does this mean then you believe Ayn Rand's definition of what constitutes a criminal act is not necessarily universally objectively valid for all individuals through ages?


____________________________

And, do you question what gives other philosophers the right to define criminal acts? - jay
____________________________



Of course, but it seems to me that I don't happen to have that many opportunities to question other philosophers' right to define criminal acts in this blog, doesn't it?



____________________________

Reasonable people are free to debate her definition[of what constitutes a criminal act for all individuals through ages].

Do you disagree with it? - jay
____________________________



First of all, who decides who is a reasonable people[in universally valid objective sense]?


____________________________

What is mental illness? - Red Grant

"Mental disorder or mental illness are terms used to refer to a psychological or physiological pattern that occurs in an individual and is usually associated with distress or disability that is not expected


as part of normal development or culture."


SRC Wikipedia [as posted by jay]
____________________________




Who decides what is "normal development" or "normal culture"?

Does this mean then the criteria deciding what is mental illness changes over a period of time as the concept of what constitutes "normal development" or "normal culture" changes?


____________________________

Secondly, who decides what is mental illness? - Red Grant

Probably, a practicing psychiatrist. They are trained to make those decisions. - jay
____________________________



Does this mean then homosexuality had been a mental illness prior to APA's decision to change its status?


____________________________

Should they[those declared to mentally ill] be responsible for how they act and carry themselves? - Red Grant

That depends on the extent of their illness. Some are relatively benign, while others severly limit a person's thinking capacity. - jay
____________________________




For those individuals whose thinking capacity have been severly limited by others[the mental illnesses not relatively benign], should those individuals be responsible for how they act and carry themselves?

Anonymous said...

Do you feel good about yourself knowing that you have deliberately misrepresented not just a tenet here or there, but the entirety of another person's philosophy? There's your example of injustice.

Since you "cannot see into anyone's hearts," does your diatribes make you a hypocrite for judging Rand and the American settlers? Or am I being judgmental in saying that? No, just "pragmatically judging the fulfillment of your role." Yeah, you are a hypocrite due to "congenital incompetence or bad luck," but not morally challenged. LOL!

Rand has addressed and refuted every single one of your objections. You just refuse to process them and present them accurately because it would mean you have to admit that your subjectivist philosophy is wrong and that you are morally responsible for all the bad things you have done in your life. Most people can look back and see they have done bad things and acknowledge it and move on without having a nervous breakdown. Not you. You have to make excuses.

This blog is nothing but one big self-pitying, self-loathing Marxist lie. How do you sleep at night? Oh, yeah, Xanax. Prescribed by some fascist who had the nerve to judge you mentally ill.

Cavewight said...

Rand has addressed and refuted every single one of your objections.

One of the more interesting Randroid foibles is this implication that Rand has addressed and answered every possible question for all time, and that this was only possible because the Truth is immanent in reality, accessible to anybody. Plato was evil - because he opposed Rand in principle and (somehow) should have known better. The truth, they imply, is immanent, and it is not that the truth is knowable to only a select few, as with Plato - just the opposite - it is available to everybody and everybody is evil to the extent that they evade it.

But this is all just begging the question of what the truth is, and whether or not Rand's revelations were complete and accurate. And it is argument by authority, Rand's authority, who got her authority from Reality which holds the unquestionable, immanent and eternal truths.

Imagine that: a mere author of fiction novels raised to the level of a deity. Not even L. Ron Hubbard went to that extreme.

JayCross said...

Does this mean then you believe Ayn Rand's definition of what constitutes a criminal act is not necessarily universally objectively valid for all individuals through ages?

I certainly believe that it is objectively valid for all individuals through the ages. I'm just willing to debate it if you have a different view of what constitutes a criminal act.

JayCross said...

Does this mean then homosexuality had been a mental illness prior to APA's decision to change its status?

No. I didn't say that psychiatrists were infallible, just that they are qualified to make decisions about mental illnesses and disorders.

gregnyquist said...

Anon: "you have deliberately misrepresented not just a tenet, but the entirety of another person's philosophy?"

It's probably unfair of me to pick on Anon's post above, since it does not exactly represent the acme of Objectivist reasoning. However, as an example of the worse possible effects that Rand's philosophy can have on an individual, take note of the poor qualities of Anon's thinking. We have deliberately misrepresented Rand's philosophy in its entirety, we are told. Yet this is quite impossible, because we haven't covered everything in Rand's philosophy (still lots of territory to be covered!). What is typical of this sort of Rand apologist is indignation on the one hand that Rand misrepresented combined with a complete cluelessness about his own misrepresentation of the criticism. And not misrepresentation, but, even worse, a failure to understand. "Since you 'cannot see into anyone's hearts,' does your diatribes make you a hypocrite for judging Rand and the American settlers? Or am I being judgmental in saying that? No, just 'pragmatically judging the fulfillment of your role.'" It is clear from this passage that Anon had no grasp of the point I was trying to make. He simply does not like Rand being criticized and is reacting in a knee-jerk, stimulus-response kind of way. He is unable or unwilling to grasp the simple notion that it is moral judgment, particularly the pronounced moral judgment of others, that we are objecting to, not judgment in general (such as intellectual or aesthetic judgemnet). There is enough in the post and the subsequent comments for any intelligent person to figure out what it means. But Anon seems blind to this easily grasped distinction. Rand's philosophy, far from improving Anon intellectually, has rendered him a dunce. Very sad to see.

Note as well the mandatory ad hominem attack. The vulgar Randian always takes criticism of Rand personally, and lashes out in turn. Nor are they insightful or even plausible ad hominem attacks, but always wantonly speculative, without any empirical grounding whatsoever—indeed, it goes against the basic plausibilities. He has decided simply from reading a post or two that we are Marxist, subjectivist, Xanax imbibing insominiacs who can't face up to the bad things we've done! And yet no doubt Anon thinks he's done well for himself and Rand in posting such wild, improbable ad hominem attacks! Does self-delusion and irrationality ever manifest itself more strongly in human nature?

P.S. I would also point out that I have no problem with people morally judging themselves. We're talking here about being obssessed with other people's moral worth.

Red Grant said...

____________________________

The Holocaust was the crime, not the act of brave heroes helping Jews escape it. - jay
____________________________




Do you think those brave heroes helping Jews escape it were motivated by alturism or by selfishness?




____________________________

Does this mean then you believe Ayn Rand's definition of what constitutes a criminal act is not necessarily universally objectively valid for all individulas through ages? - Red Grant

I certainly believe it is universally objectively valid for all individuals through the ages.

I'm just willing to debate it if you have a different view of what constitutes a criminal act. - jay

Ayn Rand defined the crimes as the violation of individual rights. - jay
____________________________




Without the universally valid, objective, non-contradictory definition of what constitutes individual rights, wouldn't Ayn Rand's definition of what constitutes crimes in universally valid, objective way be meaningless in universally valid, objective way?

If so, then, what would be the universally valid, objective, non-contradictory definition of individual rights?




____________________________

Does this mean then homosexuality had been a mental illness prior to APA's decision to change its status? - Red Grant

No, I didn't say that psychiatrists were infallible,... - jay
____________________________





Did I say you did?




____________________________

...just that they[the psychiatrists] are qualified to make decisions about mental illnesses and disorders. - jay
____________________________





When they had classified homosexuality as a mental illness prior to early/mid 70's, had they been qualified to make such decisions?

And if so, then had homosexuality been a mental illness then?

JayCross said...

No, it doesn't mean it was a mental illness. That's why I took care to note that psychiatrists are not infallible. It's the same as when a doctor or an accountant makes an error in their work. They screwed up, but they are still trained and qualified to make those decisions more than laymen are.

Do you have a different view on who is most qualified to diagnose mental disorders?

Red Grant said...

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No, it doesn't mean it was a mental illness. - jay
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But how would people then have known that it was not a mental illness?

How would you have known that it that it was not a mental illness?



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That's why I took care to note that psychiatrists are not infallible. - jay
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Does this mean then you believe psychiatrists today are just as fallible as well?




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It's the same as when a doctor or an accountant makes an error in their work. - jay
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Do you know how many mistakes your doctor has made during his career?




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They screwed up,... - jay
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How did they know they screwed up?

How do you know they screwed up?



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but they are still trained and qualified to make those decisions more than laymen are. - jay
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Not necessarily, in certain areas of human mind/activities that psychiatry or accounting is concerned with, the areas I am intimiately familiar with, I believe I am far better qualifed than most doctors and accountants who hadn't been exposed those particular areas that I've been exposed.


I am a layman, but I wouldn't have categorized homosexuality as a mental illness. (I am too well read on human history, and behavior of animals as well.)

Long before the invention of psychiatry, in the ancient times, especially the classical Greece, the homosexuality was considered a normal behavior.

So much for those experts of psychiatry, they knew less than what ancient laymen had known!


Does this apply to accountants working and abetting fraudulent businessess as well?






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Do you have a different view on who is most qualifie to diagnose mental disorder? - jay
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As far as who is concerned?




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The Holocaust was the crime, not the act of brave heroes helping Jews escape it. - Jay
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Do you think those brave heroes helping Jews escape it were motivated by alturism or selfishness?




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Does this mean then you believe Ayn Rand's definition of what constitutes a criminal act is not necessarily universally objectively valid for all individuals through ages? - Red Grant

I certainly believe it is universally objectively valid for all individuals through the ages. - Jay

I'm just willing to debate it if you have a different view of what constitutes a criminal act. - Jay

Ayn Rand defined the crimes as the violation of individual rights. - Jay
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What would be the universally objectively valid definition of individual rights?

Jay said...

Do you think those brave heroes helping Jews escape it were motivated by alturism or selfishness?

I believe they were motivated by good will towards innocent people. Selfishness doesn't say "You cannot help people." It says that you should help them if you voluntarily choose to and deem that to be a worthwhile act.

What would be the universally objectively valid definition of individual rights?

From the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

The concept of a "right" pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive—of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.


In other words, do what you want as long as you don't stop others from doing the same thing. Do you find flaws with this definition?


Do you have a different view on who is most qualifie to diagnose mental disorder? - jay

As far as who is concerned? - Red


As far as human beings are concerned. Who do you believe is qualified to diagnose and identify mental disorders?

Red Grant said...

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Selfishness(as presented by you as pertaining to Randian concept of pride above) doesn't say, "You cannot help people." - jay
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Does it say, "You have to help people in need even though you could with no risk to yourself, even though you deem it not be worthwhile."?




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It says that you should help them if you voluntarily choose to help them and deem that to be a worthwhile act. - jay
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What if the wouldbe helper had deemed that not to have been a worthwile act even if the wouldbe helper believed he/she could have helped the Jews escape the Holocaust without risking him/herself and his/her family?


In such a case, wouldn't Randian concept of selfishness(as presented by you above) defend wouldbe helper's decision not to help the Jews escape the Holocaust even though he/she could have without risking him/herself and the his/her family?


Stated in another way, does this mean then Randian conception of selfishness would have deduced that the Germans(in position to help the Jews) should not have helped the Jews escape the Holocaust even though they[the Germans in position to help] could have had without risking themselves and/or their family if they had deemed that helping the Jews escape the Holocaust was not a worthwhile act?


...and would you defend their decision not to help the Jews escape the Holocaust as an Objectivist?

Red Grant said...

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In other words, do what you want as long as you don't stop others doing the same thing. - jay
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Does this mean then I don't have
to pay taxes so long as I don't stop others from not paying taxes as well?




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Do you find flaw with this definition? - jay
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Do you see no flaws in not paying taxes so long as you don't stop others from not paying taxes as well?




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Do you have a different view on who is most qualified to diagnose mental disorder? - jay

As far as who is concerned? - Red Grant

As far as human beings are concerned. Who do you believe is qualified to diagnose and identify mental disorder? - jay
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You still haven't given me the complete definition of what constitutes mental illness.
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"Mental disorder or mental illness are terms used to refer a psychological or physiological pattern that occurs in an individual is usually associated with distress or disability that is not expected


as part of normal development or culture."

SRC: Wikipedia (as posted by Jay)

Who decides what is "normal development" and "noraml culture"?

Does this mean then the criteria deciding what is mental illness changes over a period of time as the concept of what constitutes "normal development" and "normal culture" changes? - Red Grant

and if so, then

Who ultimately decides what is "normal development" and "normal culture"? - Red Grant






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No, it doesn't mean it[the homosexuality] was a mental illness. - jay
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But how would people then have known that it was not a mental illness?

How would you have known that it was not a mental illness?

Why do you think the so-called experts of psychiatry pre-mid/early 1970's identified the homosexuality as a "mental illness" then? despite the fact that in classical Greece the homosexuality was accepted as a part of "normal culture" and "normal development"?

Michael Sutcliffe said...

Justice means different things to different people. For some people, an unequal distribution of income is inherently unjust. For others, any attempt to redistribute income on the basis of egalitarian "justice" itself would be unjust.

Is it possible to have civil society where justice means different things to different people? We all know 'injustice' is one of the most common reasons people turn to violence as a solution/reaction to their problems.