Thursday, March 12, 2009

Objectivism & Economics, Part 23

Conclusion. In The Virtue of Selfishness, Rand makes the following remark:
[T]he Objectivist ethics is the moral base needed by that politico-economic system which, today, is being destroyed all over the world, destroyed precisely for lack of a moral, philosophical defense and validation : the original American system, Capitalism.
We’ll ignore whether the statement about capitalism being “destroyed all over the world," which, even if it were true when Rand made it, is hardly true any more. Our focus instead regards Rand’s view of “moral base” or moral foundation. What Rand means by moral base is a set of ethical arguments that can be made on behalf of capitalism. She is declaring that Capitalism requires moral rationalizations to survive. She appears to believe that if these rationalizations are good (i.e., logical and “rational”), capitalism can survive. If the rationalizations are bad (i.e., illogical and irrational), capitalism cannot survive. In other words, the survival of capitalism depends on how it is defended verbally.

The economist Wilhelm Roepke had a very different view concerning this matter of moral “foundations” and the like. Roepke is little concerned with abstract theories and other such editorial page verbiage. He is more focused on character and conduct. What sort of moral standards do people have to live up to in order for a free market to flourish? “Is it enough to appeal to people’s ‘enlightened self-interest’ to make them realize that they serve their own best advantage by submitting to the discipline of the market and of competition?” Roepke asks. He answers:
The answer is decidedly in the negative. And at this point we emphatically draw a dividing line between ourselves and … a school which we can hardly call by any other name but liberal anarchism, if we reflect that its adherents seem to think that market, competition, and economic rationality provide a sufficient answer to the question of the ethical foundations of our economic system.

What is the truth? The truth is that … we have made it abundantly clear that we will have no truck with the sort of economically ignorant moralism which … always wills the good and works the bad [i.e., “socialism” in the broad sense of the word]. But we must add that we equally repudiate morally callous economism [i.e., capitalism based on self-interest], which is insensitive to the conditions and limits that must qualify our trust in the intrinsic morality of the market economy. Once again, we must state that the market economy is not enough….

Self-discipline, a sense of justice, honesty, fairness, chivalry, moderation, public spirit, respect for human dignity, firm ethical norms—all of these are things which people must possess before they go to the market and compete with each other. These are the indispensable supports which preserve both market and competition from degeneration. Family, church, genuine communities, and tradition are there sources. It is also necessary that people should grow up in conditions which favor such moral convictions [and] fosters individual independence and responsibility as much as public spirit which connects the individual with the community and limits his greed. [Humane Economy, 123-125]

Rand, it goes without saying, would have strongly disagreed with Roepke. She had no use for traditional values or such things as “public spirit” and “connection” with community. Nor would she have approved of putting limits on greed. For Rand, greed is good, and any limits on greed are merely gratuitous concessions to altruism and “self-sacrifice.” She regarded “trade” as “the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships, personal and social, private and public, spiritual and material,” She would probably have disagreed with Roepke’s assertion that society “cannot be ruled by the laws of supply and demand [i.e., by trade].” Nor would she have been willing to accept any limits on her precious ethical principles.

Who is right on this issue? Is it enough to convince everyone they ought to be selfish? Could a society based primarily on enlightened self interest and Rand’s “trader principle” lead to greater wealth and happiness for individuals and society? Or would it simply bring about moral degeneration and collapse?

The evidence strongly suggests that Rand is wrong on this issue: that society cannot be based solely or primarily on enlightened self-interest and the trader principle. The majority of people are not rational, and self-interest, if left to its own devices, quickly degenerates into predatory behavior. Consider Enron, for example. Enron was governed by self-interest and greed. Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s Chief Operating Officer, believed that “all that matters is money… You buy loyalty with money. This touchy-feely stuff isn’t as important. That’s what drives performance.” And so Enron was run merely as a money making machine by people lacking the “ethical norms” that come from community and tradition. “You were really less thought of if you got a percentage, even if it was 75 per cent of your annual base pay,” noted one ex-employee. In tapes that became public in 2004, Enron employees are heard asking electric companies to shut down production in order to maintain prices. And why shouldn’t they have cut power to increase profits? After all, it was in their self-interest! Another exchange involves “all the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers of California.” In yet another tape, Enron traders watching a California wildfire are heard shouting “Burn, baby, burn." It was in Enron’s self-interest for California’s electrical infrastructure to be seriously damages by fire: so let it all burn, regardless of who gets hurt (or even killed). Self-interest, it turns out, is not always so benign. Nor can it be counted upon to make people honest or benevolent toward others. Morality cannot depend, as it does in Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, on self-interest and verbiage about honesty. Arguments about the “rational” self-interest of honesty will not convince people to refrain from defrauding and harming others. If the institutions of society don’t instill the values of honesty and empathy for others into the very moral fibre of the individual, “rational” arguments will prove useless.

28 comments:

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

The economist Wilhelm Roepke had a very different view concerning this matter of moral “foundations” and the like.

Roepke is little concerned with abstract theories and other such editorial page verbiage.

He is more focused on character and conduct.

What sort of moral standards do people have to live up to in order for a free market to flourish? - Greg
-----------------------------------
Self-discipline, a sense of justice, honesty, fairness, chivalry, moderation, public spirit, respect for human dignity, firm ethical norms—all of these are things which people must possess before they go to the market and compete with each other.

These are the indispensable supports which preserve both market and competition from degeneration.

Family,

church,

genuine communities, and tradition are there sources.

It is also necessary that people should grow up in conditions which favor such moral convictions [and] fosters individual independence and responsibility as much as public spirit which connects the individual with the community and limits his greed. [Humane Economy, 123-125] - Greg
===================================



___________________________________

This past spring, Scott Pelley reported another warning about our retirement funds - the spectacular collapse of an investment fund that wiped out the savings of more than 11,000 people, the investors in the

Baptist Foundation of Arizona.

Many signed up after hearing a salesman's pitch in

their own church.

Baptist Foundation failed in 1999. Investors had $570 million in the fund. It is the largest bankruptcy of a non-profit organization ever.

Like Enron,

Baptist Foundation concealed its losses, and like Enron and Worldcom, the accounting firm Arthur Andersen audited its financial reports. Today many of the investors say they believed that the security of Baptist Foundation and the credibility of Arthur Andersen could be taken on faith.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/07/30/60II/main516922.shtml
___________________________________







___________________________________

Consider Enron, for example. Enron was governed by self-interest and greed. Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s Chief Operating Officer, believed that “all that matters is money… You buy loyalty with money. This touchy-feely stuff isn’t as important. That’s what drives performance.” And so Enron was run merely as a money making machine by people lacking the “ethical norms” that come from community and tradition. “You were really less thought of if you got a percentage, even if it was 75 per cent of your annual base pay,” noted one ex-employee. In tapes that became public in 2004, Enron employees are heard asking electric companies to shut down production in order to maintain prices. And why shouldn’t they have cut power to increase profits? After all, it was in their self-interest! Another exchange involves “all the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers of California.” In yet another tape, Enron traders watching a California wildfire are heard shouting “Burn, baby, burn." It was in Enron’s self-interest for California’s electrical infrastructure to be seriously damages by fire: so let it all burn, regardless of who gets hurt (or even killed). - Greg
===================================




___________________________________

Kenneth Lee "Ken" Lay (April 15, 1942 – July 5, 2006) was an American businessman, best known for his role in the widely-reported corruption scandal that led to the downfall of Enron Corporation. Lay and Enron became synonymous with corporate abuse and accounting fraud when the scandal broke in 2001. Lay was the CEO and chairman of Enron from 1995 until his resignation on January 23, 2003, except for a few months in 2000 when he was chairman and Jeffrey Skilling was CEO.



Kenneth Lay was born into a poor family in Tyrone, Missouri.

When he was a child Ken delivered newspapers and mowed lawns.

His father, Omer, was a Baptist preacher and some-time tractor salesman.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Lay
___________________________________



___________________________________

Self-discipline, a sense of justice, honesty, fairness, chivalry, moderation, public spirit, respect for human dignity, firm ethical norms—all of these are things which people must possess before they go to the market and compete with each other.

These are the indispensable supports which preserve both market and competition from degeneration.

Family,

church,

genuine communities, and tradition are there sources.

It is also necessary that people should grow up in conditions which favor such moral convictions [and] fosters individual independence and responsibility as much as public spirit which connects the individual with the community and limits his greed. [Humane Economy, 123-125] - Greg
___________________________________

Anonymous said...

Nyquist: [Roepke] is more focused on character and conduct. What sort of moral standards do people have to live up to in order for a free market to flourish?

This is slurring innuendo, that Rand was not focused on character and conduct. You need to re-read and actually understand Rand. Atlas Shrugged, for example, is very much about character, conduct and moral standards.

Nyquist: Rand, it goes without saying, would have strongly disagreed with Roepke.

Yes and no. She would have agreed with justice, honesty, fairness, and firm ethical norms.

Nyquist: The evidence strongly suggests that Rand is wrong on this issue: that society cannot be based solely or primarily on enlightened self-interest and the trader principle. The majority of people are not rational, and self-interest, if left to its own devices, quickly degenerates into predatory behavior. Consider Enron, for example. Enron was governed by self-interest and greed. Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s Chief Operating Officer, ...

This is bait and switch. You begin with Rand advocating enlightened self-interest and then switch to the kind of perverse self-interest practiced by Enron and Skilling, which is full of fraud and dishonesty.

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Rand, it goes without saying, would have strongly disagreed with Roepke. - Greg
===================================

Yes and no. She[Ayn Rand] would have agreed with

justice, honesty, fairness, and firm ethical norms. - anon defending Rand
___________________________________






___________________________________

Ayn Rand on the American Indian:

"They 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 . . . .

What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it.


Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent."- Address to West Point
___________________________________

Anonymous said...

Red Grant allegedly quotes Ayn Rand about American Indians. See here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Objectivism#Denial_of_indigenous_land_rights
It's all second-hand heresay by Rand haters like yourself.

gregnyquist said...

Anon: "This is slurring innuendo, that Rand was not focused on character and conduct."

You are ignoring the context of the post, which has to do with the "moral base" of capitalism, which Rand interprets in terms of moral arguments for capitalism, and Roepke in terms of personal behavior. Rand's focus was primarily on arguments. She seems to have hardly thought of the problem Roepke brings up, apparently believing that, since, honesty is always the best policy under capitalism, letting the market work (the government merely enforcing contracts) would solve the issue. Moreover, since Objectivism preaches that individuals are the product of their premises, from this it follows that the very moral arguments that would convince a society to adopt laissez-faire capitalism would also convince individuals to be honest. This is an entirely different manner of regarding the issue than Roepke (and that's what the post is about).

Anon: "This is bait and switch. You begin with Rand advocating enlightened self-interest and then switch to the kind of perverse self-interest practiced by Enron and Skilling"

This again ignores what the post actually asserts. I wrote: "Arguments about the 'rational' self-interest of honesty will not convince people to refrain from defrauding and harming others." In other words, I am suggesting that it doesn't matter what Rand meant by her moral theory of rational self-interest. The question is how most people are likely to interpret it (or misuse it). Since most people are not rational in the Randian sense, they cannot be relied upon to interpret Rand in the sense she meant. The conduct of most human beings is heavily influenced by their sentiments and interests: moral theories (such as Rand's) are simply brought in to rationalize behavior after the fact ( see Pareto's Mind and Societyfor more details on how this works). The crux of the debate is whether advocating rational self-interest is a better way of making people act in the way necessary to have a strong, flourishing market economy, or do we need some the non-rational institutional effects mentioned by Roepke? Rand's actual views on honesty and "firm ethical norms"have nothing to do with this question.

Daniel Barnes said...

Anon:
>It's all second-hand heresay by Rand haters like yourself.

Say what? It's a quote from her. How can it be "hearsay"???

Anonymous said...

Daniel Barnes: Say what? It's a quote from her. How can it be "hearsay"???

Prove it's not hearsay. It's from a book published 32 years after the speech. Putting something in quotes does not prove she said it. If she did say it, show the wider context, which could shed more light on it. Did American Indians never violate the rights of white men?

Anonymous said...

Nyquist: You are ignoring the context of the post, which has to do with the "moral base" of capitalism, which Rand interprets in terms of moral arguments for capitalism, and Roepke in terms of personal behavior.

This is a flimsy dichotomy. Her arguments are not severed from personal behaviors nor are Roepke's arguments about personal behavior severed from moral arguments.

Nyquist: In other words, I am suggesting that it doesn't matter what Rand meant by her moral theory of rational self-interest. The question is how most people are likely to interpret it (or misuse it).

The same applies to Roepke's arguments.

Nyquist: The conduct of most human beings is heavily influenced by their sentiments and interests: moral theories (such as Rand's) are simply brought in to rationalize behavior after the fact (see Pareto's Mind and Society for more details on how this works).

So about something like "it's okay to rob Peter to pay Paul" you are saying both (a) it influences conduct and (b) it is merely a rationalization of behavior after the fact.

gregnyquist said...

Anon: "This is a flimsy dichotomy. Her arguments are not severed from personal behaviors nor are Roepke's arguments about personal behavior severed from moral arguments."

I rather doubt you understand the point at issue. It's not an issue of severing arguments. No one is denying that Rand is for honesty. The question is whether one can convince people to be honest by appealing to their rational self-interest, or whether other methods are more suggestive. Roepke does not believe that enlightened or rational self-interest can be relied on to make people behave in the manner necessary to have a strong, vibrant, "humane" economy. Roepke's statement is about matters of fact. It is either factually correct, or it's not. If it's factually correct, then Rand's view that honesty can be made to depend on rational self-interest is factually wrong. All these other issues concerning Rand's staunch support of honesty or Roepke's factual assertion is meant as an exhortation or not are entirely beside the point.

Daniel Barnes said...

Anon:
>Prove it's not hearsay. It's from a book published 32 years after the speech. Putting something in quotes does not prove she said it.

"Ayn Rand Answers" provides a variation of the quote that, while longer, does not differ in any significant way. Here's the key point:

"Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it's great that some of them did."

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Ayn_Rand

Ayn Rand Answers is an ARI-sanctioned publication. The ARI have a reputation for tampering with Rand's verbatim text, sure (usually making it more boring) which could explain the differences, which are trivial anyway and in no way interfere with the thrust of her meaning. To be certain I guess you'd have to have the tape, as Wikiquote says. Do you have it? I don't. And by your logic it could be by an Ayn Rand impersonator anyway, faked by secret Rand haters in the ARI, and so forth. How do you know, etc?

At any rate, as the ARS version has been approved by the ARI, and we've got nothing verbatim that seriously conflicts with it, we can assume this is a pretty reliable guide to her attitude.

And as for your caviling about "context", this is just clutching at straws. What "context" do you imagine would change her meaning??

Anon65 said...

Your commentary completely misses the point. With Rand, it is not "capitalism therefore rationality", it is "rationality therefore capitalism". It is useless to point out that a majority of people are not rational; you may as well as say that a majority is suicidal. Objectivism does not say that capitalism will make men rational; it dismisses irrational men as subhuman animals. No. Objectivism says that IF men choose to live as men, i.e. rationally, then capitalism follows as the only moral political system. Big difference. It's too bad your argument whitewashes it.

Daniel Barnes said...

Anon65
>No. Objectivism says that IF men choose to live as men, i.e. rationally...

At last, an Anon with a handle...;-) Thanks for that.

As an aside, you can refine your point further as : Objectivism says that IF men choose to live as men i.e. as Objectivists...

Anonymous said...

Daniel Barnes, thank you for the pointer to Ayn Rand Answers. As for context, note that the quote on Wikipedia says nothing about American Indians respecting or violating rights. Is the reader expected to believe they did not violate rights? Ayn Rand did say something about their not respecting rights. Also, her answer was to a question also about slavery of blacks and relocation of Japanese Americans during WW II. To refer to what she said about American Indians and ignore what she said about slavery shows bias.

gregnyquist said...

Anon65: "With Rand, it is not 'capitalism therefore rationality.', it is 'rationality therefore capitalism.' It is useless to point out that a majority of people are not rational; you may as well as say that a majority is suicidal."

Again, we find a response that misses the point. Rand's position is not quite as simplistic as suggested here. The very rationality that for Rand leads to capitalism also (for Rand) leads to a "rational" morality (i.e., to Objectivist morality), which we all know includes honesty. My criticism, far from reversing the "rationality therefore capitalism" causal flow, merely denies that rationality can ever be counted upon to get Rand where she wants to go. Most human beings are neither entirely "rational" or "irrational." As a matter of fact, most motivation could more accurately be described as "non-rational"; in any case, non-rational factors tend to play a far more important role in human conduct than "rational" factors (whatever those might be), which is why non-rational factors are often more effective in motivating people than rational factors. So even if your rationality gets you to "capitalism," this does not mean it will get you to honesty if you are relying on rationality alone (to be sure, it's unlikely you can get to capitalism on rationality alone, but that's a whole other issue). Nor is it in the least true, as Anon65's commentary suggests, that non-rationality can be equated with suicide. If it were true that only "rational" conduct is compatible with survival, the human race would have long ago disappeared from the earth. But fortunately for human beings, survival does not depend exclusively on rationality, as Pareto demonstrated (with scores of examples) in The Mind and Society and which receives additional confirmation in the work of various cognitive scientists.

Daniel Barnes said...

Anon:
>Is the reader expected to believe they did not violate rights?

Anon, Rand's argument is that the Indians had no conception of rights, therefore there was no necessity to grant them any on the part of the European.

Even if you accept Rand's argument (which I regard as foolish anyway) you can then hardly use it as an excuse not to grant them any rights on the one hand, then accuse them of violating rights on the other!

Anonymous said...

Barnes: Anon, Rand's argument is that the Indians had no conception of rights, therefore there was no necessity to grant them any on the part of the European.

This is a non sequitur. She said the Indians "had no concept of rights and no respect for rights." The latter is a reason for not respecting their rights. The former is not. If it were, then infants would have no rights.

Daniel Barnes said...

Yes, as I said, Rand's argument is foolish on a number of levels. For instance, it's kinda hard to "respect" something you have no concept of, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Barnes:Yes, as I said, Rand's argument is foolish on a number of levels. For instance, it's kinda hard to "respect" something you have no concept of, obviously.

In other words, you are confused on a number of levels.

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

She said the Indians "had no concept of

rights

and no respect for

rights."

The latter is a reason for not respecting their

rights. - anon who defended Yaron the Fraud
___________________________________








Who decides

the rights?

Daniel Barnes said...

Anon:
>In other words, you are confused on a number of levels.

Rand says something typically self-contradictory and that's my confusion? And I note you can't seem to articulate what this "confusion" is, you merely assert it. But then as Objectivists demand their own language, and even their own logic, I suppose that can make it very hard to communicate with non-Objectivists, as Harry Binswanger has found. Plus on the other hand they can always retreat to claiming that non-Objectivists just don't understand...

Anonymous said...

Let me try to help Greg and Dan out by explaining what Greg is saying.

1. Human behavior (human nature) has many more important causes than the Objectivist form of "rationality", even at the level of ideas, if we forget or do not think in terms of our strong heritage from the animals we evolved from. For example, the desire for social conformity and the acceptance of one's values is powerful - even contrarians often like the company of others who agree with them. They like to be shown to be right and would often like their view points to be more widely accepted.

2. The Objectivist form of rationality is mostly a Utopian description of how Objectivists would like human beings to behave, as opposed to how human beings really behave and what often motivates human beings to behave the way they do, even when they are at their social best.

3. It is more accurate to aim for any goal of social harmony, no matter how limited that harmony is, by incorporating the gamut of human nature into arriving at such a goal rather than eliminating all the complications by using some simplistic conception of "rationality" to eliminate it.

Laj

Michael Sutcliffe said...

Ahh, it's nice to know some things don't change. Red is still posting with his retarded way of laying things out. And Greg is still writing with logic that is well, ...lacking! Where do you get these crazy deductions like:

If the rationalizations are bad (i.e., illogical and irrational), capitalism cannot survive. In other words, the survival of capitalism depends on how it is defended verbally.

Sure, capitalism needs individuals acting according to reason. Why does this mean you have to defend capitalism verbally?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Sure, capitalism needs individuals acting according to

reason. - Michael Sutcliffe
-----------------------------------

So Rand decides what is moral or immoral for humanity? - Red Grant

-----------------------------------

No, reason does. - Michael Sutcliffe

-----------------------------------

Reason: The power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements by

a process of logic - Michael Sutcliffe

-----------------------------------

Did you mean, "by a process of logic", Aristotelian logic? - Red Grant

-----------------------------------

Essentially yes. - Michael Sutcliffe

-----------------------------------

But is there anyone thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a volition of nature?

There is no difficulty in answsering this question on grounds both of

reason

and of fact.


For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule. - Aristotle
-----------------------------------

He [Aristotle] does make definitive statements [on the righteousness of slavery], but I don't think they are

justified. - Michael Sutcliff
___________________________________




Why do you think his[Aristotle's] arguments are not justified?

How did Aristotle arrive at his view of slavery?

Through the application of reason?


___________________________________

He[Aristotle] does make definitive statements [on the righteousness of slavery] but I don't think they are justified. - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________




Because Aristotle didn't use

reason?

___________________________________

I think what he[Aristotle]'s trying to get at [on slavery] is that even a human being who does not live according to reason can be legitimately kept as a slave, similar to a beast of burden.

This would have had some

relevance

in his[Aristotle's] day,... - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________





Relevance in moral sense (as you've defined)?

7/29/2008 10:20:00 PM





___________________________________

Sure, capitalism needs individuals acting according to

reason. - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________

Michael Sutcliffe said...

So, In a society not based in a rational moral system it's OK to keep slaves. Capitalism requires people to act rationally for it to work.

What's your point? Do you have one? Why do you keep posting in that stupid layout that requires four times more scrolling than anyone else's post?

And can someone tell me why you're so obsessed with things being justified 'verbally' ?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

So, In a society not based in a

rational moral system

it's OK to keep slaves. - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________






Are we living in a rational moral system (per your definition)?



If yes, then please explain why the system we live in is a rational moral system (per your definition).

If not, then would it mean you believe it's okay to keep slaves in the system we live in?


___________________________________

Capitalism requires people to act rationally for it to work. - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________




Has 'Capitalism' (per your definition) has ever worked(per your definition) in the world?


If yes, then please provide where and what duration.





___________________________________

What's your point? Do you have one? - Michael Sutcliffe
===================================

So Rand decides what is moral or immoral for humanity? - Red Grant

-----------------------------------

No, reason does. - Michael Sutcliffe

-----------------------------------

Reason: The power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements by

a process of logic - Michael Sutcliffe

-----------------------------------

Did you mean, "by a process of logic", Aristotelian logic? - Red Grant

-----------------------------------

Essentially yes. - Michael Sutcliffe

-----------------------------------

But is there anyone thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a volition of nature?

There is no difficulty in answsering this question on grounds both of

reason

and of fact.


For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule. - Aristotle
-----------------------------------

He [Aristotle] does make definitive statements [on the righteousness of slavery], but I don't think they are

justified. - Michael Sutcliff
___________________________________




Why do you think his[Aristotle's] arguments are not justified?

How did Aristotle arrive at his view of slavery?

Through the application of reason?






___________________________________

He[Aristotle] does make definitive statements [on the righteousness of slavery] but I don't think they are justified. - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________







Because Aristotle didn't use

reason?






___________________________________

I think what he[Aristotle]'s trying to get at [on slavery] is that even a human being who does not live according to reason can be legitimately kept as a slave, similar to a beast of burden.

This would have had some

relevance

in his[Aristotle's] day,... - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________








Relevance in moral sense (as you've defined)?


Because the ancient Greece was not a rational moral (per your definition) society?





___________________________________

Why do you keep posting in that stupid layout that requires four times more scrolling than anyone else's post? - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________






How is it relevant to your understanding of my questions?


Does this mean then

you do not understand my questions?


or


you hiding something?





___________________________________

And can someone tell me why you're so obsessed with things being justified 'verbally' ? - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________





Does this mean then you believe Objectivism at conceptual level

doesn't have to be justified 'verbally'?


If so, then

why?

Michael Sutcliffe said...

If yes, then please explain why the system we live in is a rational moral system (per your definition).

Because people make the majority of their decisions based in reason. You know, it's after that Enlightenment thing when we rejected faith-based decision making and divine power etc and adopted a kind of humanist approach to the human condition. Manifested in all the wealth and progress we've made since that time, especially in places that more readily grasped these ideas, like America. Whereas places that haven't done this are still poor, like Africa, despite their abundant natural wealth.

If not, then would it mean you believe it's okay to keep slaves in the system we live in?

If we were a bunch of tribal cavemen who spent all our time warring with other tribes and praying to the volcano god then there is no moral reason not to keep slaves. But then it wouldn't be the system we live in. That's kind of the point, really.

Has 'Capitalism' (per your definition) has ever worked(per your definition) in the world?

Capitalism has worked ever since two people realised they could trade things to mutual benefit. And it works all over the world every day, say for example, every time you hire someone to fix your dishwasher or buy milk from the local store. The more people embrace this concept the richer they are - say for example in the capitalist West - and the more they reject it the poorer they are - say for example some country with nationalistic anti-trade laws, like North Korea. If you want an example of how capitalism makes people richer keep watching China over this century.

Because the ancient Greece was not a rational moral (per your definition) society?

No, because it was surrounded by warring tribes who didn't unite with them in a civil society based in reason. Keeping slaves from these tribes would be morally correct, just like killing them on the battlefield to protect yourself would be morally correct. But, of course, once they were enslaved and began to live as civilsed people as history shows slaves often did, then you'd be obliged to release them. I believe Aristotle was overlooking the fact that slaves taken from warring tribes often became quite civilised. This is probably due to not many examples of that existing at that time. But if he kept thinking rationally about this issue he would have come across this moral quandary.

Does this mean then you believe Objectivism at conceptual level doesn't have to be justified 'verbally'?

No it has to be justified logically. Whether this is verbally or not is neither here nor there. I really miss what you're crapping on about.

How is it relevant to your understanding of my questions? Does this mean then you do not understand my questions? or you hiding something?

I can still decipher your question from your stupid layout. It's just that it's aesthetically displeasing and disjointed to read. Perhaps reflecting some sort of inner ugliness you are carrying, Red?

I've had a couple of goes of arguing with you over probably a year now. I really don't feel we are getting anywhere, and I don't feel you've ever raised a point that has showed me a flaw or contradiction in Objectivism. I'm going to ignore your posts from here on and concentrate on the other guys here, just for my own benefit. If you wish to engage me again I'm going to insist that you put up an insightful point and do so in a format that is good to read. If not, thanks for your time.

Red Grant said...

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If yes, then please explain why the system we live in is a rational moral system (per your definition). - Red Grant
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Because people make the majority of their decisions based in reason. - Michael Sutcliffe
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How do you know people make the majority of their decisions based on reason?




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Manifested in all the wealth and progress we've made since that time, especially in places that more readily grasped these ideas, like America. - Michael Sutcliffe
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Since when America more readily grasped these ideas[reasons]?

and until when?


and is that why there is a financial bail out?





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If not, then would it mean you believe it's okay to keep slaves in the system we live in? - Red Grant
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If we were a bunch of tribal cavemen who spent all our time warring with other tribes and praying to the volcano god then there is no moral reason not to keep slaves.

But then it wouldn't be the system we live in. That's kind of the point, really. - Michael Sutcliffe
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Philosophy was born in a period when . . . a comparative degree of political freedom undercut the power of mysticism and, for the first time, man was free to face an unobstructed universe, free to declare that his mind was competent to deal with all the problems of his existence and that reason was his only means of knowledge.

“For the New Intellectual,” For the New Intellectual, 22.
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Who said that paragraph above?

Was it an Objectivist?

The period mentioned above in that paragraph,

was it about ancient Greece?

Didn't the ancient Greeks believe in slavery?





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If we were a bunch of tribal cavemen who spent all our time warring with other tribes and praying to the volcano god then

there is no moral reason not to keep slaves.

But then it wouldn't be the system we live in. That's kind of the point, really. - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________




Does this mean then you believe morality is determined by the society?


Does this mean then keeping slavery is not immoral according to you if the norm of the society is that of

a bunch of tribal cavemen who spent all our time warring with other tribes and praying to the volcano god?



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Does this mean then you believe Objectivism at conceptual level doesn't have to be justified 'verbally'? - Red Grant
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No it has to be justified

logically.

Whether this is verbally or not is neither here nor there. I really miss what you're crapping on about. - Michael Sutcliffe
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How can you justify something

logically

without verbal communication?

here, of course, 'verbal' also means written communication by words as well.




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How is it relevant to your understanding of my questions? Does this mean then you do not understand my questions? or you hiding something? - Red Grant
===================================

I can still decipher your question from your stupid layout. - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________




Then please strive to answer the question you have so far refused to answer.



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I've had a couple of goes of arguing with you over probably a year now. I really don't feel we are getting anywhere, and I don't feel you've ever raised a point that has showed me a flaw or contradiction in Objectivism. - Michael Sutcliffe
___________________________________




But I have regarding the fact that you believe

Objectivism is based on Aristotelian logic, and

you don't believe in slavery as an objectivist

and morality is based on reason,

but

I proved to you that Aristotle believed in slavery based on

reason and fact (as he claimed).

Red Grant said...

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If you want an example of how capitalism makes people richer keep watching China over this century. - Michael Sutcliffe
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But Yaron from ARI condems China as a totalitarian state, a grave threat to U.S.

Does this mean then you believe capitalism can be self-destructive?

or

U.S. is not a capitalist state?

or

Yaron is a fraud?





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...and the more they reject it the poorer they are - say for example some country with

nationalistic anti-trade laws

, like North Korea. - Michael Sutcliffe
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U.S. also had nationalistic anti-free trade laws in the 19th century, supported and lobbied by capitalists in the 19th century.

Btw. Didn't Ayn Rand point out 19th century U.S. as an idealized portrait of capitalism?




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I believe Aristotle was overlooking the fact that slaves taken from warring tribes often became quite civilised. - Michael Sutcliffe
-----------------------------------
But if he[Aritotle] kept thinking

rationally

about this[slavery] issue he would have come across this moral quandary. - Michael Sutcliffe

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No. Aristotle explicitly stated some are only fit to slavery from birth

based on

reason and fact.