Sunday, April 26, 2009

Objectivism & Politics, Part 6

Politics and the non-rational 2: constructivism. In the last "Objectivism and Politics" post I introduced the concept of non-logical conduct, which I contended is an important element in what happens in society. Now while Rand probably might not have much cared for the notion of non-logical conduct, it is not, in and of itself, contrary to Objectivism. An Objectivist, for instance, could easily accept the fact of non-logical conduct and its important affect on society. What he would have to add, as a sort of caveat to this acceptance, is the conviction that this non-logical conduct is bad society; that is, indeed, primarily what is wrong with society. “Yes, non-logical conduct is an important fact about society,” this Objectivist might admit. “But it’s precisely because people are ‘non-logical’ that things are so bad. If we could teach people not to be non-logical in their conduct, we would have a much better world.”

There are two problems with this view of non-logical conduct.

  1. It is not clear, and certainly cannot be assumed a priori, that non-logical conduct in all instances is “bad.”
  2. A society based solely on logical conduct and “reason” simply is not possible.

In this post, I will examine the first of these two problems.

Despite Rand’s vehement denial, it simply isn’t true that “reason” (i.e., consciously deliberated reasoning which applies logical reasonings to facts) can be the only guide to one’s life. Reason tends to break down and falter whenever it is facing any issue of great complexity and uncertain outcomes. Few things are quite so complicated as the social order. To believe that one can, through “reason,” construct a rational social order is to commit what F. A. Hayek called “the fatal conceit.” Civilization itself is the product of “non-logical” conduct. Nor does can it be otherwise. As Hayek notes:

We flatter ourselves undeservedly if we represent human civilization as entirely the product of conscious reason or as the product of human design, or when we assume that it is necessarily in our power deliberately to re-create or to maintain what we have built without knowing what we are doing…. Many of the greatest things man has achieved are the result not of consciously directed thought, and still less the product of a deliberately coordinated effort of many individuals, but of a process in which the individual plays a part which he can never fully understand. They are greater than any individual precisely because they result from the combination of knowledge more extensive than a single mind can master….

[The] belief that processes which are consciously directed are necessarily superior to any spontaneous process is an unfounded superstition…. [The] spontaneous interplay of social forces sometimes solves problems which no individual mind could consciously solve, or perhaps even perceives, and if they thereby create an ordered structure which increases the power of the individuals without having been designed by any one of them, they are superior to conscious action… Insofar as such processes are capable of producing a useful order which could not have been produced by conscious direction, any attempt to make them subject to such direction would necessarily mean that we restrict what social activity can achieve to the inferior capacity of the individual mind….

It may prove to be far the most difficult and not the least important task for human reason rationally to comprehend its own limitations. It is essential for the growth of reason that as individuals we should bow to forces and obey principles which we cannot hope fully to understand, yet on which the advance and even the preservation of civilization depend. Historically this has been achieved by the influence of the various religious creeds and by traditions and superstitions which made men submit to those forces by an appeal to his emotions rather than his reason. The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or to submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the powers of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. This may well prove a hurdle which man will repeatedly reach, only to be thrown back into barbarism. [The Counter-Revolution of Science, 149-163]

Hayek’s discussion is rather abstract, so we might do well to flesh it out a bit. His focus is primarily on those who believe that all institutions ought to be based on “reason” (i.e., “conscious direction”). He believes that the desire to found the institutions of society entirely on “reason” is incompatible with freedom. “Those who believe that all useful institutions are deliberate contrivances [of reason] and who cannot conceive of anything serving a human purpose that has not be consciously designed [i.e., not product of logical conduct] are almost of necessity enemies of freedom.” [Constitution of Liberty, 61]

Now while Rand is not an enemy of freedom, her belief in the “supremacy” of reason leads her to a kind of social constructivism that is more compatible with the social views of the political left. Rand’s constructivism arises mostly clearly in remarks she made about common law:

Common law is good in the way witchdoctors were once good: some of their discoveries were a primitive form of medicine, and to that extent they achieved something. But once a science of medicine is established, you don’t return to witchdoctors. Similarly, common law established—by tradition or inertia—some proper principles (and some dreadful ones). But once a civilization grasps the concept of law, and particularly of a constitution, common law becomes unnecessary (p. 44). [because "reason" provides a better guide than established usage.]


In other words, Rand is admitting that in the past there was some real utility in non-logical conduct, but now that “rational” law has been (or ought to be) established, we can do away with Hayek’s spontaneous formations and found everything on “reason.” But if this is true, why stop with the law? Why not found economic policy on “reason.” Yes, I know, Objectivists believe that a rational economic policy entails laissez-faire. But that is a minority opinion among those believing in the supremacy of reason, most of whom are interventionists or socialists of one stripe or another. Before World War II, many intellectuals were convinced that “reason” supported socialism, because a system of production consciously directed and planned by experts seemed more “rational” then the “anarchy” of the market. Yet the fact remains that the so-called “blind” forces of the market do a much more efficient job of coordinating the factors of production than conscious reasoning on the part of a central planner ever could. An economy is far too complex to be governed by “reason.” Non-logical conduct therefore has an important place and society, and the prejudice against it is simply that: a prejudice.

33 comments:

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Before World War II, many intellectuals were convinced that “reason” supported socialism, because a system of production consciously directed and planned by experts seemed more “rational” then the “anarchy” of the market. - Greg
___________________________________





Does your logic above apply to state capitalism as well?

bche0000@bellsouth.net said...

"In other words, Rand is admitting that in the past there was some real utility in non-logical conduct,"

No she isn't. She's just claiming that some primitives were more rational ("logical," in your terminology) than others. She wrote, for example, that religion was a primitive philosophy, better than the savagery that preceded it.

But we have advanced to the point that we are no longer primitive.

Cortez was brutal, but he was not as bad as Montezuma who practiced human sacrifice.

People can be consistently rational or consistently irrational or varying degrees in between. That doesn't meant that there is "utility in non-logical conduct."

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HerbSewell said...

Watch this:

It is not clear, and certainly cannot be assumed a priori, that non-logical conduct in all instances is “bad.”,Let's see. Because "bad" presumes a ethical standard of value, it presupposes a choice. Ergo, there is the choice between logical conduct and non-logical conduct. Because in virtually all situations to act logically better prepares and makes able one's self for future ethical choices, choosing to act logically would always be "good". Using the law of excluded middle that would therefore make non-logical conduct "bad" as it is not good.

A society based solely on logical conduct and “reason” simply is not possible.If it is not possible then it cannot be considered withing the realm of ethics, and thus makes the entire designation of a particular progressive course of action taken by society completely arbitrary in nature, as it has been disproved logically in theory.

There's also the fact that the Objectivist, (who I notice you don't even bother to quote from directly a particular piece of Objectivist work), is simply pointing out that a society that is more logical would therefore be better. Or does Mr. Nyquist assert that teaching people to be less illogical would not make society better? Because of the nature of which the Objectivist is speaking of, there is no doubt that the scale which this teaching would take place would perforate society, significantly changing it, as it has done in the past. Even though you couldn't have found such a mindlessly stupid claim in actual Objectivist theory, even the one here has more sense than you do. Read the two-dimensional straw man you used as a punching bag for your weightless argument. He said, "If we could teach not to be non-logical, we would have a much better world." He did not say all of society could be corrected because it would be completely based on logical conduct and "reason." He said what he said, no more no less.

I'll expect that you'll take down this post soon, now that your argument has been utterly diffused. I also saved you the time to address the second problem.

Abolaji said...

It is not clear, and certainly cannot be assumed a priori, that non-logical conduct in all instances is “bad.”,Let's see. Because "bad" presumes a ethical standard of value, it presupposes a choice. Ergo, there is the choice between logical conduct and non-logical conduct. Because in virtually all situations to act logically better prepares and makes able one's self for future ethical choices, choosing to act logically would always be "good". Using the law of excluded middle that would therefore make non-logical conduct "bad" as it is not good.Herb,

I think weddings and funerals are good examples of non-logical conduct. Do you consider them good or bad? And can you find a sure-fire, indefeasible argument in defense of such traditions?

Or even the choice to buy a luxury car as opposed to buying a good decent car - again, can you find a sure-fire, indefeasible argument in defense of the choice to buy a particular car (let's say a Camry) as opposed to another car (a Malibu or a Lexus)?

I think considering such examples is more enlightening than parsing words like "good", "bad" and "choice".

Thanks.

gregnyquist said...

HerbSewell: "Let's see. Because 'bad' presumes a ethical standard of value, it presupposes a choice."

This argument contains a fallacy so glaring that I am surprised that a commentator as intelligent as HerbSewell failed to notice it. Neither "bad" nor "good" presuppose choice, as the least reflection on the matter will easily demonstrate. There are things that can happen to us that can be judged good or bad irrespective of our control, or lack thereof, of the outcome. When someone complains about "bad" weather or a "bad" cold or "bad" luck, he is complaining about something that is not of his choosing. If we were to take HerbSewell's suggestion seriously, we can never access and judge anything that is not a result of our choices—which is absurd, and is something that HerbSewell doesn't believe himself, even if he pretends to believe in order to combat a view he doesn't like.

"Because in virtually all situations to act logically better prepares and makes able one's self for future ethical choices."

What does it mean to act "logically"? If we use Pareto's schematization of logical conduct to judge this issue, this statement is clearly not true, even if we generously interpret the adverb "virtually." There are some domains of experience where logic is very important. But it is simply not true that it is critical in all domains. Where the complexity is great and where the important variables at hand cannot be conveniently isolated, human beings have to resort to pragmatic, trial and error methodology, relying on the intuitive abilities of the mind.

gregnyquist said...

bche0000: "People can be consistently rational or consistently irrational or varying degrees in between. That doesn't meant that there is 'utility in non-logical conduct.'"

This is really more of a semantic quibble than anything else. I use the term "non-logical conduct" in the sense defined by Pareto. In that sense, Rand has in fact admitted that, in the past, there was some utility in non-logical conduct. The fact that such conduct could be described as partially "rational" according to Objectivist terminology is of no relevance one way or another. Attending to a witch doctor is still non-logical in Pareto's sense of the term (see the previous post for Pareto's schematization).

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

This argument contains a fallacy so glaring that I am surprised that a commentator as

intelligent as HerbSewell

failed to notice it. - Greg
___________________________________






You really didn't mean that, did you?

HerbSewell said...

This argument contains a fallacy so glaring that I am surprised that a commentator as intelligent as HerbSewell failed to notice it. Neither "bad" nor "good" presuppose choice, as the least reflection on the matter will easily demonstrate.Actually, because "good" and "bad" are ethical terms and ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with how man should act, it does presuppose choice. Bad presupposes that there is a better alternative to what is being labeled as bad, via a standard of value. In this case, it directly is preoccupied with examining the actions people collectively take, therefore being more concerned with the concrete notion of choice.

There are things that can happen to us that can be judged good or bad irrespective of our control, or lack thereof, of the outcome.The terms "logical" and "non-logical" presuppose an abstract classification of actions as a whole. These are not out of our control, due to the fact that these actions can be labeled and understood in their nature and origin. If such actions were out of our control, then such terms as "logical" or "non-logical" would be completely useless and void, due to whether the origin of said actions being completely devoid by default from the epistemological distinction of based on reason or not. In fact, separating ethics from the act of choice or labeling man's metaphysics as being unable to have an epistemology that could chose between actions would completely nullify the branch of ethics, but that's another issue.

When someone complains about "bad" weather or a "bad" cold or "bad" luck, he is complaining about something that is not of his choosing.Actually, it is. If he had no choice it what was bad or good, (in terms of metaphysical appraisal with a proper psycho-epistemology), then the terms "bad" or "good" would have no meaning. It is only when someone with volition chooses to create a standard of value to base a criteria of something being good or bad that they can consciously deem something as said terms and understand why they do it and what they mean.

If we were to take HerbSewell's suggestion seriously, we can never access and judge anything that is not a result of our choicesNo, you can only never irrationally consistently judge any thing that is not a result of your choices, or anything at all. Every moral evaluation is based on volition, which is why all intrinsic notions of "good" or "evil" are meaningless.

What does it mean to act "logically"? If we use Pareto's schematization of logical conduct to judge this issue, this statement is clearly not true, even if we generously interpret the adverb "virtually." There are some domains of experience where logic is very important. But it is simply not true that it is critical in all domains. Where the complexity is great and where the important variables at hand cannot be conveniently isolated, human beings have to resort to pragmatic, trial and error methodology, relying on the intuitive abilities of the mind.This "greyness" that you use, (which I don't appreciate you using), doesn't nullify the fact that acting non-logical is "bad" in comparison to acting logical. This of course assumes correct premises. I wouldn't call the Nazis more moral because they logically went about exterminating Jews, (even though I don't believe they did). Structured Ethics only comes into play when proper premises are held and can be executed. Other than that, it is just lack of volition, or evasion.

HerbSewell said...

I think weddings and funerals are good examples of non-logical conduct.I personally don't, but that's totally irrelevant.

I think considering such examples is more enlightening than parsing words like "good", "bad" and "choice".The best philosophy seethes itself of concretes unless absolutely necessary for integration, (like the metaphysics of sex), that is unless its false, in which case it won't make a difference.

Xtra Laj said...

I personally don't, but that's totally irrelevant. _____________________________________
Well, it is only irrelevant if you can provide a rational justification for weddings or why people have them. Or even funerals. In fact, one of the reasons I returned to ARCHN was that I was searching for an Objectivist theory of weddings and funerals, or how such traditions are rationalized in Objectivist philosophy.

__________________________________
The best philosophy seethes itself of concretes unless absolutely necessary for integration, (like the metaphysics of sex), that is unless its false, in which case it won't make a difference.__________________________________

In other worlds, the "best philosophy" ignores the evidence that might contradict its claims so that it can make ridiculous conclusions without restraint.

JayCross said...

Laj,

I'm not a full-blown Objectivist anymore but I don't see funerals and weddings as being unjustified by Objectivist principles. Weddings are held to celebrate a new and possibly life-long romance. Perfectly compatible with the Objectivist emphasis on taking pride in one's achievements and standing in the world.

Funerals are held to reflect on someone's life and give friends/family the chance to pay final respects. Which Objectivist principle rules that out?

Xtra Laj said...

Weddings are held to celebrate a new and possibly life-long romance. Perfectly compatible with the Objectivist emphasis on taking pride in one's achievements and standing in the world.Jay,

There is often a difference between why people do something and why they say they do it. I think that your use of the word "possibly" even shows that there isn't the kind of certainty that one would require for strict logical justification. But that aside, wedding traditions are common in many cultures, but any explanation of it from an Objectivist perspective, would be like the Objectivist explanation of sex, an after-the-fact rationalization of something that most people do nowadays just because everyone else does it. Not that sex, which is obviously necessary (or expedient in this age) to have children, and marriages, which are not to my mind clearly necessary to achieve anything other than celebration, are on the same level, but the kinds of after the fact rationalizations by Objectivists would be similar.

Funerals are held to reflect on someone's life and give friends/family the chance to pay final respects. Which Objectivist principle rules that out?Which Objectivist principles make them necessary or support them logically? Not all funerals are celebrations, but some are, while some are explicitly mournful.

Again, the point here is not to claim that these things aren't practiced by Objectivists or there aren't good reasons for Objectivists to practice them. The point is that Objectivists hardly do better than "tradition" when explaining why they do them. But of course, you will hear all this philosophizing which is great, but it can't be confused with logic.

Another example is celebrating birthdays. Can you find me a reason why one should celebrate birthdays? Why not celebrate monthly? Why not spend the money on something else? Or why not dispense with the practice of celebration/ceremony all-together? What is the infallible, knock-down, cause and effect relationship between celebration and the rational life? Or are parties the only way to be rationally happy? Or is sharing our happiness with others the reason why we celebrate?

We can all rationalize why we do something. But I think that you would find it hard to provide me with this indisputable logical argument validating the act of celebration. And I'm not speaking here as a skeptic - I'm speaking as a good faith individual who would agree that there are complex things which aren't easy to explain. There might also be some great scientific reason why people should celebrate, but the point here is that most people engage in celebration in ignorance of that reason, even if it does exist.

So to make another point here, it is even possible that in Pareto's scheme, what might be non-logical action for one person *might* not be for another.

gregnyquist said...

HerbSewell: "It is only when someone with volition chooses to create a standard of value to base a criteria of something being good or bad that they can consciously deem something as said terms and understand why they do it and what they mean. "

The first thing to do is dismiss the suggestion that, in order for an individual to know what "good" and "bad" mean, they have to "choose" a standard of value. HerbSewell overstates his case when he keeps drawing the meaningless card. Whether an individual thinks he derives his idea of good or bad from a personal philosophy or from his sentiments or, like Socrates, from his own personal demon has no bearing on whether he knows what good or bad mean. These platonic terms that require conscious "reason" to figure them out. What is more important in HerbSewell's comment is the equivocation between choosing between logical and non-logical conduct and choosing between how one appraises such conduct. In his first comment, he argued, more or less, that, because "good" and "bad" are ethical terms, this means its contradictory to say that a society based entirely on logical conduct and "reason" is not possible. But when I exposed the absurdity of this position by bringing up the notion of "bad" weather, HerbSewell changes tack by suggesting it's our appraisal that we have choice over. But that's completely irrelevant to the point at issue and, even worse, contradicts his earlier comments. Being capable of choosing our appraisal of non-logical conduct is very different then being able to choose whether society is entirely based on non-logical conduct. There is, therefore, no contradiction between appraising non-logical conduct (as either good or bad) and believing that society cannot be entirely based on such conduct.

Xtra Laj said...

Greg,

Believe it or not, I noticed the exact problem you noticed in Herb's argument, predicted his defense (which was given to you), and decided that that form of philosophical discussion was a waste of time given my interests. I'm happy you have the patience to at least take it on.

A question: Do you consider most ceremonial traditions "non-logical conduct"? Or am I off-base here?

HerbSewell said...

I honestly don't see where this is going. I'm going to refute everything you say as long as you keep misinterpreting me.

The first thing to do is dismiss the suggestion that, in order for an individual to know what "good" and "bad" mean, they have to "choose" a standard of valueWrong. I said "...you can only never irrationally consistently judge any thing that is not a result of your choices, or anything at all." Basically, if you have no standard of value of what is good and bad and don't evade moral evaluation for certain things altogether, you are going to start inconsistently morally evaluating things.

Whether an individual thinks he derives his idea of good or bad from a personal philosophy or from his sentiments or, like Socrates, from his own personal demon has no bearing on whether he knows what good or bad mean.Thank-you for making a stawman argument out of something I didn't say and wasting my time to refute it. I am dealing with the concepts of "good" and "bad", not the words. "Hitler was bad." While it would be a tautology, we could define "bad" as being that of Hitler. Unless there is a philosophical rationale to justify calling Hitler bad, the term is useless, as there would be no reason why peace is good and genocide is bad.

These platonic terms that require conscious "reason" to figure them out.Do you mean These are platonic terms? In any case, of course they require reason, along with a standard of evaluation. The terms require a standard of good or evil.

What is more important in HerbSewell's comment is the equivocation between choosing between logical and non-logical conduct and choosing between how one appraises such conduct.I'm am going to assert that they are exactly the same things, bringing a close connection between theory and practice. You seem to equivocate logical and soundness. Just because something is logical does not make it sound. Logicality is only the art of correct identification. It does not guarantee that your premises are correct. Also, the "logical" in the terms state the epistemological means by which such conduct is volitionaly created. It implies choosing that conduct over another conduct, thus "appraising" it as more desirable.

in his first comment, he argued, more or less, that, because "good" and "bad" are ethical terms, this means its contradictory to say that a society based entirely on logical conduct and "reason" is not possible.

I didn't even remotely say that. I didn't even mention the words logical conduct or society. Next time, quote me and don't put words in my mouth.

But when I exposed the absurdity of this position by bringing up the notion of "bad" weather, HerbSewell changes tack by suggesting it's our appraisal that we have choice over.Wrong again. I actually switched from attacking your concept of society acting in logical or non-logical ways with your concept of bad. The first was on action and volition while the second was simply volition and a standard of value.

There is, therefore, no contradiction between appraising non-logical conduct (as either good or bad) and believing that society cannot be entirely based on such conduct.Firstly, I never said there was that dichotomy. My entire argument was on your "critique" of the two problems of the contended view of non-logical conduct. Read my first post again and again until you get my position.

HerbSewell said...

In other worlds, the "best philosophy" ignores the evidence that might contradict its claims so that it can make ridiculous conclusions without restraint.Sort of like how your comment maliciously and without any provocation tries to attack my position using a straw man argument.

HerbSewell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HerbSewell said...

I honestly don't see where this is going. I'm going to refute everything you say as long as you keep misinterpreting me.

The first thing to do is dismiss the suggestion that, in order for an individual to know what "good" and "bad" mean, they have to "choose" a standard of valueWrong. I said "...you can only never irrationally consistently judge any thing that is not a result of your choices, or anything at all." Basically, if you have no standard of value of what is good and bad and don't evade moral evaluation for certain things altogether, you are going to start inconsistently morally evaluating things.

Whether an individual thinks he derives his idea of good or bad from a personal philosophy or from his sentiments or, like Socrates, from his own personal demon has no bearing on whether he knows what good or bad mean.Thank-you for making a stawman argument out of something I didn't say and wasting my time to refute it. I am dealing with the concepts of "good" and "bad", not the words. "Hitler was bad." While it would be a tautology, we could define "bad" as being that of Hitler. Unless there is a philosophical rationale to justify calling Hitler bad, the term is useless, as there would be no reason why peace is good and genocide is bad.

These platonic terms that require conscious "reason" to figure them out.Do you mean These are platonic terms? In any case, of course they require reason, along with a standard of evaluation. The terms require a standard of good or evil.

What is more important in HerbSewell's comment is the equivocation between choosing between logical and non-logical conduct and choosing between how one appraises such conduct.I'm am going to assert that they are exactly the same things, bringing a close connection between theory and practice. You seem to equivocate logical and soundness. Just because something is logical does not make it sound. Logicality is only the art of correct identification. It does not guarantee that your premises are correct. Also, the "logical" in the terms state the epistemological means by which such conduct is volitionaly created. It implies choosing that conduct over another conduct, thus "appraising" it as more desirable.

in his first comment, he argued, more or less, that, because "good" and "bad" are ethical terms, this means its contradictory to say that a society based entirely on logical conduct and "reason" is not possible.

I didn't even remotely say that.

But when I exposed the absurdity of this position by bringing up the notion of "bad" weather, HerbSewell changes tack by suggesting it's our appraisal that we have choice over.Wrong again. I actually switched from attacking your concept of society acting in logical or non-logical ways with your concept of bad. The first was on action and volition while the second was simply volition and a standard of value.

There is, therefore, no contradiction between appraising non-logical conduct (as either good or bad) and believing that society cannot be entirely based on such conduct.Firstly, I never said there was that dichotomy. My entire argument was on your "critique" of the two problems of the contended view of non-logical conduct. Read my first post again and again until you get my position.

gregnyquist said...

in his first comment, he argued, more or less, that, because "good" and "bad" are ethical terms, this means its contradictory to say that a society based entirely on logical conduct and "reason" is not possible.I didn't even remotely say that. I didn't even mention the words logical conduct or society. Next time, quote me and don't put words in my mouth.

What I wrote is simply a clearer expression of what you wrote initially. Here is what you wrote once again:

"Because 'bad' presumes a ethical standard of value, it presupposes a choice. Ergo, there is the choice between logical conduct and non-logical conduct."

And later: "If [a society based on non-logical conduct] is not possible then it cannot be considered within the realm of ethics, and thus makes the entire designation of a particular progressive course of action taken by society completely arbitrary in nature, as it has been disproved logically in theory."

Where's the difference between my summary of your position and what you wrote? I don't see it. Despite some of your obscure expressions, you are clearly making the argument I ascribe to you. You claim that "bad" is in the realm of ethics and therefore presupposes choice. Right? It's right there in your post. That is your argument. Then you claim that if a society based entirely on non-logical conduct is not possible, then it "cannot be considered within the realm of ethics," and therefore cannot be "designated" as bad (you describe such a designation as "completely arbitrary in nature"). What else does that mean except how I described it? Now I'll grant that there are some obscure passages in your discourse; and if you want to use this obscurity to equivocate your way out of your embarrassing predicament, be my guest.

And if that is not what you really argued, then why did you write that you had saved me the trouble of addressing the second problem? The fact is, you need that argument to justify that statement: otherwise that problem is left untouched.

The real problem here is that you entered the fray without having thought out your position all that clearly. You tried to make use of the typical Objectivist strategy of refuting me by playing silly word games by leveraging the ambiguity of words. You clearly implied that my contentions were self contradictory because I was using an ethical concept (which is the "realm of choice") to describe something that I declared impossible (and therefore not in the realm of choice). You have provided us with a fairly typical specimen of Objectivist argumentation, and for that I thank you.

Michael Prescott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Prescott said...

"You have provided us with a fairly typical specimen of Objectivist argumentation ..."

I'm starting to think that "Objectivist argumentation" is an oxymoron akin to "married bachelors" and "military intelligence."

HerbSewell said...

Then let me explain it to you. My point for that last mark was what an ethical straw man it is to suggest that Objectivists believe that society can be "based solely on logical conduct and “reason” simply is not possible.", (otherwise, you wouldn't have pointed out that second "problem.") If it's already metaphysically impossible then by default it is ethically and politically out of the question, therefore there's no reason to bring it up in the first place.

I'm not going to address your other arguments, because they are simply ad hominems. If you honestly think you've found a problem in my argumentation, prove it in formal logic. Then, (provided you can do that correctly), I will have nothing to contend.

HerbSewell said...

I'm starting to think that "Objectivist argumentation" is an oxymoron akin to "married bachelors" and "military intelligence."Much like pointing how pointing out ad hominems on this site is like pointing out oxygen in the earth's atmosphere.

Michael Prescott said...

HerbSewell keeps insisting that his points are being misrepresented and misunderstood. If they are, it's because his grasp of English is tenuous at best. Here are a few examples of his unusual phrasings from this thread:

"better prepares and makes able one's self

"Because of the nature of which the Objectivist is speaking of

"there is no doubt that the scale which this teaching would take place would perforate society

"He said, 'If we could teach not to be non-logical, we would have a much better world.'

"now that your argument has been utterly diffused.

"due to whether the origin of said actions being completely devoid by default from the epistemological distinction of based on reason or not.

"you can only never irrationally consistently judge any thing

"The best philosophy seethes itself of concretes

"that is unless its false

"I'm am going to assert

"My point for that last mark ..."

Ungrammatical formulations aren't helpful when trying to make complex philosophical arguments. And misusing common English words (like "diffuse," "seethe," "perforate," and "mark") does little to advance Herb's claim that he understands the subtle connotations and denotations of "obligation" and "duty."

He doesn't seem to know what an oxymoron is, either. (See his comment at 5:39 PM, April 30.)

Daniel Barnes said...

Mike P
>He doesn't seem to know what an oxymoron is, either.

Not knowing this would certainly make Rand look better...;-)

HerbSewell said...
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HerbSewell said...
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HerbSewell said...

Micheal, if you have nothing to add to the conversation other than ad hominems, why do you even bother posting anything whatsoever? Also, if Greg Nyquist does not understand me, he should ask to clarify what I mean. Even with the grammatical incorrectness, my points are understandable, and the misunderstand is in logistics, not linguistics.

HerbSewell said...

Actually, if you read my post in which I supposedly misunderstood the term oxymoron, I didn't even use it in the first place. The commentator called "Objectivist Argumentation" an oxymoron under the premise that it was, just as I implied that saying the commentators on this website use ad hominems is a tautology because it is absolutely inseparable from the rhetoric. The purpose of the commentator's comment was to bash, in which I responded by doing likewise by pointing out this website's inclination to make points against the arguer without merit or reason.

Michael Prescott said...

"Micheal [sic], if you have nothing to add to the conversation other than ad hominems, why do you even bother posting anything whatsoever?"

All I'm saying, Herb, is that if you feel you're being misunderstood, it would help if you expressed yourself more clearly; and if you're going to lecture people on the precise shades of meaning of certain words, it would help if you didn't misuse simple words yourself. I'm not going to pay much attention to someone's opinions on quantum physics if he doesn't know what a photon is, and by the same token I'm not going to heed someone's opinions on lexicography if he doesn't know the meaning of "perforate."

I disagree with you when you say that Greg's and Daniel's alleged misunderstandings have nothing to do with your style of writing. Greg himself made reference to "some of your obscure expressions," and it's obvious that he and Daniel have been struggling to tease out the meaning of your sometimes cryptic remarks. Your points may seem crystal clear to you, but they don't come across that way to others. You're not being willfully misunderstood; you simply haven't presented your opinions intelligibly. The fact that you keep shifting your ground and retreating (without admitting it) doesn't exactly add to your credibility.

Greg and Daniel have been very polite to you, and your responses have been consistently hostile. You even set up your own Web site to attack this one. Eventually less polite commenters (like me) are going to get irritated with you.

And then we're going to ignore you. Bored now ...

gregnyquist said...

Laj: "A question: Do you consider most ceremonial traditions 'non-logical conduct'? Or am I off-base here?"

Yes, ceremonial traditions are non-logical conduct. This doesn't mean that they have no utility or that they "irrational."

This does not mean that a wedding can't be subsumed under logical conduct. Imagine a woman who wishes to live an easy life spending lots of money. She agrees to marry a rich man to achieve her end. Such conduct is "logical" under Pareto's schematization: the wedding is merely a means for her to achieve her ends. The rituals of the wedding, to be sure, remain non-logical—even when given a logical varnish through some kind of rationalization or another (e.g., the rituals are a "celebration" of love and happiness).

I would point out that just as not all non-logical conduct is bad, so not all logical conduct is good. Marriages that result from logical conduct tend to be mercenary or arranged. Keep in mind: Pareto's logical conduct merely means consciously choosing appropriate means for a given, realizable end. The end itself neither logical or illogical, but outside the category of logic altogether.

HerbSewell said...

I sort of regret making that site. In any case, advice noted.