Thursday, February 18, 2010

Objectivism & Politics, Part 42

Individual Rights 1: Theory and practice. Rand tells us, in her usual ex cathedra manner, that “the right to life is the source of all rights” Let us ignore the obvious question What is the source of the right to life? and instead focus on the practical side of this question. What is the practical source of rights? where do they come from in practice? This is a distinction conveniently ignored by Objectivists, who live in a land of idle fancy where things can come into existence merely by wishing them to exist. Wouldn’t it be nice, the Objectivist thinks to himself, if people didn’t commit acts of aggression against one another? Of course it would be nice. So, like magic, Rand’s individual rights strut upon the stage, dressed up in Rand’s wonderfully vague and hollow rationalizations, expecting to be realized without any real blood, sweat, or tears being shed for them!

When we turn our heads back to the real world, we see no such individual rights: at best, we see weak approximations of these rights, limping about with all kinds of wounds and sores on them. Worse, we notice, on the other side of the scale, something more ominous. Consider what the historian Thomas Carlyle noted when scanning the French Revolution: “With endless debating , we get the Rights of Man written down and promulgated: true paper basis of all paper Constitutions. Neglecting, cry the opponents, to declare the Duties of Man! Forgetting, answer we, to ascertain the Mights of Man;—one of the fatallest omissions!”

Where in all of Objectivism is this question of Might ever approached in a non-wishful-thinking, adult manner? It is the easiest thing in the world to talk about rights or scribble about rights on a piece of paper or build castles-in-the-air about rights in society. But to make such rights actually exist in the world of fact, so that individuals universally abide by them, that is a much more difficult task, and all the talking and scribbling and arial castle building in the world won’t ever surmount the difficulties involved.

In the real world, matters stand as Pareto describes them in The Mind and Society:

So as between the various social classes no principle of right can be found to regulate the division of social advantage. The classes that have the greater strength, intelligence, ability, shrewdness, take the lion’s share. It is not clear how any other principles of division could be logically established and even less clear how once they were established logically they could be enforced or applied in concrete. Every individual certainly has his own principle for a division that would seem ideal to him. But such a principle is nothing more than an expression of individual sentiments and interest which he comes to conceive as a “right.” [§1509]

The key point in Pareto’s disquisition concerns the difficulties of enforcing or applying any theory of rights in practice. To enforce such a theory requires the threat (and perhaps use) of violence. More than that, it requires greater force than is applied on behalf of other theories regulating the division of social advantage. Given everything we know from history about human nature, there are no compelling reasons to believe that Rand’s notions about individual rights will ever be applied in the practical affairs of men. It is a theory concocted by intellecutals who have no practical experience in the real world of politics and who therefore have no clue how to apply their theories in practice.

Rand herself focuses nearly all her attention on the theoretical side of the question, as she operates under the illusion that, if she merely provides the best rationalization possible for her theory, the practical side will take care of itself. This demonstrates a lack of judgment about human affairs that is appalling in someone as intelligent as Rand. Yet this is not the worst of it. Not only did Rand fail to provide any solution to the practical side of the problem; her theoretical solution, as I shall demonstrate in future posts, is itself riddled with gaping logical holes.

49 comments:

Abolaji said...

Greg,

Say it ain't so. You mean individual rights don't come from natural law? You mean man isn't born with inalienable natural rights that from the law of identity (or the nature of man)?

Subjectivist...

Laj

Colin said...

What would you say about an ethical theory that people did not follow? Would it be false for that reason?

gregnyquist said...

"What would you say about an ethical theory that people did not follow? Would it be false for that reason?"

An ethical theory can't be true or false. When someone says of an ethical view, "It is true," they really mean, "I approve of it."

An ethical theory that no one follows would be, from a practical point of view, useless. The whole point of an ethical theory (or so we are told by ethical philosophers) is to guide behavior. But if no one followed it, what would be the point?

Now there are ethical theories which hardly any one follows to the letter but which people like to pretend to follow or otherwise wallow in it for sentimental reasons. These theories may have some utility in providing cheap thrills to sentimentalists—although there is always the danger that some poor fool may attempt to follow them and get himself (and, even worse, innocent bystanders) into trouble. Something akin to Rand's and Comte's version of altruism might qualify as this type of ethical theory.

Colin said...

An ethical theory can't be true or false. When someone says of an ethical view, "It is true," they really mean, "I approve of it."

Are you saying that noone has ever given you sufficient evidence to accept an objective ethics, or are you saying that ethical objectivity is impossible?

An ethical theory that no one follows would be, from a practical point of view, useless. The whole point of an ethical theory (or so we are told by ethical philosophers) is to guide behavior. But if no one followed it, what would be the point?

That it would still be true?

And as for your "worse" in the last paragraph: worse by what standard?

Abolaji said...

Greg,

On a far more serious note than my last post,

I think that taking an ethical theory to be "true" could also mean that one thinks that if the ethical theory would produce the greatest good or lead to the most favorable consequences or just be right if adhered to. Philosophers have different opinions on whether "ought" implies "can" at the very least, or something like that, so whether the theory itself is fully practical might be open to some questioning.

Colin,

Ethical *objectivity* as in a binding standard that applies to all people is, to my mind, clearly nonsense. Since you have to take into account the nature of each individual, especially what might satisfy or deter his/her drives/abilities appropriately, in prescribing what you think might be best for him or her, ethics is subjective in a very strong sense that many ethical objectivists don't seriously address and those who address it and call their theories "objective" are simply trying to use the term to describe something that is at odds with what is called "objective" in mathematics or physics.

Colin said...

@Abolaji

You are confusing ethical objectivity with ethical invariance. Also, what are these drives and abilities? Are they beyond the scope of ethics?

Different people may have different values, but those values might still be objective in the sense that they are values whatever people believe about them.

Even if what you say is correct, would it ethics subjective, or would it make ethics nonexistent?

Abolaji said...

Colin,
----------------------------------
From wikipedia:

The term, "ethical subjectivism," covers two distinct theories in ethics. According to cognitive versions of ethical subjectivism, the truth of moral statements depends upon people's values, attitudes, feelings, or beliefs. Some forms of cognitivist ethical subjectivism can be counted as forms of realism, others are forms of anti-realism. David Hume is a foundational figure for cognitive ethical subjectivism. On a standard interpretation of his theory, a trait of character counts as a moral virtue when it evokes a sentiment of approbation in a sympathetic, informed, and rational human observer. Similarly, Roderick Firth's ideal observer theory held that right acts are those that an impartial, rational observer would approve of. William James, another ethical subjectivist, held that an end is good (to or for a person) just in case it is desired by that person (see also ethical egoism). According to non-cognitive versions of ethical subjectivism, such as emotivism, prescriptivism, and expressivism, ethical statements cannot be true or false, at all: rather, they are expressions of personal feelings or commands. For example, on A. J. Ayer's emotivism, the statement, "Murder is wrong" is equivalent in meaning to the emotive ejaculation, "Murder, Boo!"
----------------------------
According to the ethical objectivist, the truth or falsity of typical moral judgments does not depend upon the beliefs or feelings of any person or group of persons. This view holds that moral propositions are analogous to propositions about chemistry, biology, or history: they describe (or fail to describe) a mind-independent reality. When they describe it accurately, they are true --- no matter what anyone believes, hopes, wishes, or feels. When they fail to describe this mind-independent moral reality, they are false --- no matter what anyone believes, hopes, wishes, or feels. There are many versions of ethical objectivism, including various religious views of morality, Platonistic intuitionism, Kantianism, utilitarianism, and certain forms of ethical egoism[citation needed] and contractualism. Note that Platonists define ethical objectivism in an even more narrow way, so that it requires the existence of intrinsic value. Consequently, they reject the idea that contractualists or egoists could be ethical objectivists.
--------------------------------


What you are defending clearly falls into the subjectivist camp and is along the lines of what I would argue. Notice that Hume, while being a subjectivist, did not think ethics was useless and neither do many people who fall in that camp. People who defend the dependence of ethics upon subjective natures, feelings and attitudes, and then turn around to call that kind of defence "objective" are simply guilty of finding the concept of subjectivism reprehensible. It is not. It just argues that you should spend some time understanding the person you are prescribing something for before prescribing something for him or her.

Abolaji said...

And there is another consequence of subjectivism and this is what makes me give the emotivism view some respect, though I probably lean more towards Hume - that there are ethical problems which cannot be rationally solved or to which universally accepted solutions might not exist, because the feelings that drive the different preferences might not be affected by rationally debating them.

Daniel Barnes said...

Hi Colin,

A degree of subjectivism in ethics is not a bug; it's a feature. (I don't think any ethics can be fully subjective, btw, as ethical decisions pertain too, or are constrained or made possible by objective facts).

Thus your ethics can be yours, freely chosen. And the consequences of your ethical decisions are, likewise, yours too.

That is why the most important issue to discuss is not abstract considerations of "what is ethics?" so much as what are the consequences of our ethical decisions?

Colin said...

@abolaji

Similarly, Roderick Firth's ideal observer theory held that right acts are those that an impartial, rational observer would approve of.

And what is this cognive ethical subjectivist cognizing? What is their to be impartial or rational about?

As far as the definition by William James, isn't that more a repudiation of ethics than a form thereof?

I also would dispute that ethical objectivism be mind-independent because our minds are (part of) the facts of ethics. Perhaps you are confusing mind independence with belief independence?

People who defend the dependence of ethics upon subjective natures, feelings and attitudes, and then turn around to call that kind of defence "objective" are simply guilty of finding the concept of subjectivism reprehensible.

And how am I doing this?

As far as having "unsolvable" ethical problems, is that any different from having unsolvable physics problems? Are you referring to something like the trolley problem? Should I take the lack of a good solution as a refutation of the possibility of an objective ethics?

Colin said...

@Daniel Barnes

Of course my ethical beliefs are mine, as are my physical beliefs. While I can choose my beliefs about physics, few would say that those beliefs are justified by my choosing them.

And how does one evaluate the consequences of an ethical decision?

Abolaji said...

Colin,

What the impartial observer would be trying to do is harmonize people's desires/values/goals, to arrive at a form of eudaimonism. Whether such an impartial observer is in principle possible is another story, but that is besides the point. I'm pointing out that how I have characterized ethical objectivism is mainstream and how what you are is not. You may disagree with how the problem is framed in contemporary philosophy and that is fine. But note that when we speak of reality as being objective or mind-independent, we are not saying that this means that minds do not perceive reality or that at least aspects of reality do not depend on the mind.

As Dan pointed out, facts contstrain how we might achieve our goals so the role of reasoning in ethics is very important, even for a subjectivist.

How many complex physics problems do people disagree upon the solutions because of how they *feel* about the problem or its solutions? If they are annoyed by the existence of gravity or their inability to fly, do people then reject Newton's or Einstein's discoveries? Yet people can disagree on the solution to ethical problems with obvious solution sets (the trolley problem is one), so yes, I think that the lack of a solution to such a problem should lead one to reject an objective ethics. Whether that should lead one to reject the role of reasoning in solving ethical problems is another story entirely. But as I have argued, ethical subjectivism also makes one more alert to the limitations of reasoning in solving ethical problems.

Complexity can be problematic in physics and in moral reasoning. And by constraining ethical problems, you can easily arrive problems that are like mathematical problems. But again, you would be stuck with the problem of whether "I like white" is the same kind of statement as pointing out "that shirt is white". People who would universally agree with the latter might take issue with the former. So why the attempt to continue pushing objectivist ethics when it is clear that to a realistic thinker, it is not going to get you anywhere near the goal that most people who go down that path desire?

Colin said...

What the impartial observer would be trying to do is harmonize people's desires/values/goals, to arrive at a form of eudaimonism.

Harmonize them on what basis? The problem isn't that an observer could not be impartial; the problem is specifying what impartiality (and rationality) would be in such a situation. Would an impartial observer have to judge the ethical merits of particular desires, or would she simply treat them all as equal?

I suspect that your use of the term "objectivity" is closer to the mainstream, but is the mainstream correct?

As for the lack of a good solution to the trolley problem, I would simply say that unless there is an ethical distinction between the alternatives, you don't really have an ethical problem. Acting ethically in this situation might require what physicists term "symmetry breaking".

As for your liking white, I won't disagree that you like white. If you mean the literal sentence "I like white.", the problem is the indexical "I", and not the subjectivity of your preferences. Is that preference ethical? As opposed to some other preference? We often make choices among alternatives that are largely ethically equivalent, such as what to have for dinner. In such cases, our reliance on our subjective preferences is ethically neutral.

Abolaji said...

Harmonize them on what basis? The problem isn't that an observer could not be impartial; the problem is specifying what impartiality (and rationality) would be in such a situation. Would an impartial observer have to judge the ethical merits of particular desires, or would she simply treat them all as equal?

Why should it be difficult to specify what an impartial observer should be like? Maybe by answering the question in some depth, you can explain why you think ethics is objective. By the way, I was just citing a Wikipedia entry. My position is more the Humean/emotivist position).

I suspect that your use of the term "objectivity" is closer to the mainstream, but is the mainstream correct?

The mainstream has set the conventional terms for how the debate is framed and what the terms "ethical objectivism" and "ethical subjectivism" mean and this has a basis in the history of philosophy. If you don't think that the mainstream should use a certain word to mean something, then that is not a substantive debate for me. It is like Rand trying to redefine selfish or egoism because she doesn't like how the word is used. If one wants to discuss a problem while rejecting convention, then one should say so but accept all the risks of doing so. Human beings are similar enough to allow for substantial agreement on many ethical issues. On the other hand, substantial agreement, while important, is not the quite what we mean when we think of things as objective.

As for the lack of a good solution to the trolley problem, I would simply say that unless there is an ethical distinction between the alternatives, you don't really have an ethical problem. Acting ethically in this situation might require what physicists term "symmetry breaking".

I didn't say that there wasn't a good solution. I said that the solution set is clear, but we don't see see the kind of agreement on what to do that we find in analogous physical or mathematical problems with such solution sets. And since the different responses to such sets are often bound up with the subject in a way that our study of physics is not (would someone say that the correct answer to a math addition problem depends on who is solving the problem?), let's be honest about it.

As for your liking white, I won't disagree that you like white. If you mean the literal sentence "I like white.", the problem is the indexical "I", and not the subjectivity of your preferences. Is that preference ethical? As opposed to some other preference? We often make choices among alternatives that are largely ethically equivalent, such as what to have for dinner. In such cases, our reliance on our subjective preferences is ethically neutral.

I was more focused on the value difference.

"That white shirts is beautiful".
"That shirt is white".

Yes, my preference is ethical. All preferences/value judgments are, as becomes clear when they show up on contexts where they are in conflict with the desires of others. For many people, "I like white" has the same meaning as "I think white is a good/attractive color". But maybe I'm running around the point here because it's been a long time since I seriously debated ethics.

The key issues here for me are
1) the "is/ought" gap,
2) Hume's claim that reason is the slave of the passions, and
3) Spinoza's point that you can only fight an emotion with a stronger emotion.

I've written a lot of stuff so could you please be clearer on what your problem with ethical subjectivism is?

Colin said...

@Abolaji

I'll respond to the end of your message first. My objections to ethical subjectivism

1) You seem to take desires as given, in that we cannot control what we desire and must act to satisfy our desires.

2) Without a factual basis for harmonizing desires, there is no way to be impartial or rational about it.

3) Is emotivism an ethical theory or a rejection of ethics?

I'll send some more later.

gregnyquist said...

Colin: "Are you saying that no one has ever given you sufficient evidence to accept an objective ethics, or are you saying that ethical objectivity is impossible?"

It is important not to confuse objectivity in ethics with truth and falsity. Those terms, when used in reference to ethical ends, are merely metaphors or encomiums. Truth and falsity has to do with facts. That E=mc2 is a fact. We don't say E ought to equal mc2; that's an entirely different statement. A moral statement, at the most, may be right or wrong.

Now I would add that none of these issues have anything to do with whether Rand's theory of right is practically efficacious. Her theory could be as "objective" and "right" as one pleases: if it is incapable of inspiring enough people (or, rather, the people with the most force at their command) to act on it, than it is useless regardless whether it is "objective" or "right." It's little consolation to know that your "objective" rights have been violated when there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Might may not make right; but without might,, rights are useless. That's a factual statement about political reality which no ethical theory can overturn.

It is precisely because facts serve as obstacles to the achievement of values, that they are, in effect, (to adopt a phrase popular on Objectivist metaphysics) "primary," that makes the usage which ascribes truth to moral theories misleading. A fact exists whether one likes it or not; there is a kind of necessity in it. But nothing of the sort exists with moral theories (unless one adopts platonic premises and makes existence itself dependent on "the good"). Unless the good exists transcendentally, fixed in the platonic heavens, then there is nothing in an ethical theory that makes it necessary. It only has effect if someone follows that ethical theory (assuming, of course, that the theory in question itself is distinct enough to be followed—which is usually not the case).

gregnyquist said...

Colin: "My objections to ethical subjectivism:

1) You seem to take desires as given, in that we cannot control what we desire and must act to satisfy our desires."

I think this is a misleading way of framing the issue. Hume demonstrated that it is impossible to come up with any end without reference to natural disposition. Natural disposition is hence the principle of preference that makes morality possible. This does not mean, however, that all desires are moral givens or ethics is purely subjective. The organism is faced with many conflicting desires, some of which are ephemeral and don't coincide with the long-run well-being of the organism. So those desires that lead to the greatest long-term, permanent satisfactions are those that have to be chosen; and this process of choosing is not purely subjective in the disparging sense of the word, since it is clear that not all desires either can or should be satisfied. The viewpoint I'm advocating is entirely consistent with eudaemonism, which Santayana described as the "only moral morality."

"2) Without a factual basis for harmonizing desires, there is no way to be impartial or rational about it."

Again, this is a misleading way of framing the issue. It is as if one is assuming that morality should be exactly like physics. Well it's not. There is no easy answer that can be found in a simple equation or precept. Nor can one be entirely "impartial" about it because it has to do with something one very much cares about: one's own welfare and the welfare of one's loved ones. There is, as has been mentioned by Daniel and Laj, a factual component in all ethical calculations. But there's also a very personal component as well (i.e., one's natural dispositions).

"3) Is emotivism an ethical theory or a rejection of ethics?"

I wouldn't call it emotivism; it could be called, as I indicated above, eudaenomism.

Abolaji said...

Colin,

Since I agree subtantially with Greg's responses, I will address only your last question.

3) Historically, "emotivism" was tied to positivist philosophy and all of its ridiculous metaphysics. So maybe it would be misleading to use that phrase if one wants to keep with it all the baggage of positivism etc. But what I am trying to stress when I use the phrase is the emotional component of morality and the fact that feeling/attitudes/desires are an important component of morality and since those are to a good degree a function of the subject that possesses them, we should not not pretend that right and wrong can be discussed independent of them, as many ethical objectivists (Kant is one of the worst offenders) ultimately do.

Colin said...

@gregnyquist

Hume demonstrated that it is impossible to come up with any end without reference to natural disposition.

Yes, but did he demonstrate the impossibility of coming up with a standard of value as opposed to an ultimate end? Rand's objection to eudaemonianism is that while the achievement of eudomaimonia is the proper goal of ethics, it is not a standard of ethics.

Be that as it may, do all people value eudaimonia? I am skeptical of that. Should all people value eudaimonia? You are being as normative as Rand.

The organism is faced with many conflicting desires, some of which are ephemeral and don't coincide with the long-run well-being of the organism. So those desires that lead to the greatest long-term, permanent satisfactions are those that have to be chosen;

But you would say that this is different from taking life qua rational being as a standard? Rand might disagree with the "long-run" part. as she believed that it was better to die on the barricades than live as a slave.

As for the relation between might and right, I will point out that righteousness is a form of power, and that people who believe that their rights are being trampled upon are often more efficacious in defending those rights.

As for the objectivity of rights, I will try to respond later.

@Abolaji

Sorry, I still owe you more of a response.

Daniel Barnes said...

@Colin
>While I can choose my beliefs about physics, few would say that those beliefs are justified by my choosing them.

Colin, I am not arguing that there is any final justification for an ethical belief - any more than there is a final justification for any physical belief either. "Subjective" is a description of the situation, not a justification for it. A belief requires a decision to adopt it - and decision cannot be logically derived from a fact, or any set of facts.

This is the key difference obviously, between these types of theories and physical types of theories, in that physical theories pertain solely to relations between facts and not to decisions. The key similarities between ethical and scientific theories, on the other hand, is 1) that there is no final justification for either and 2) that we can decide to adopt them or not (like the priest who simply refused to look through Galileo's telescope).

Colin said...

Some more responses:

@Abolaji

I believe that Rand is not so much objecting to the choice of the words "subjective" and "objective" as she is to the way that philosophers dichotomize the world between the two. As for the trolley problem, I might compare it to the Necker cube problem. The Necker cube is a two-dimensional drawing of a cube, except that there are no perspective or shading cues as to which way the cube is. People also have a disposition to view it as a cube one way or the other. It may be that people disagree about the solution to the Trolley Problem because they feel a need to make a distinction that isn't there.

As for

But what I am trying to stress when I use the phrase is the emotional component of morality and the fact that feeling/attitudes/desires are an important component of morality and since those are to a good degree a function of the subject that possesses them,

I won't deny that living ethically requires an affective component, but I don't know if the objectivity of ethics stems from ethical behavior.

Bonus toss-up question:

If the primacy of existence precludes metaphysical alternatives to facts, how do we have ethical alternatives at all? I don't believe that epistemic alternatives (not having enough information to rule out alternatives) should count.

Colin said...

More responses:

@Abolaji

Are all statements of values ethical? If I say that a certain amount of oxygen is a value to me, is that ethical? Is the value of oxygen to me independent of my awareness/beliefs of its value?

And since the different responses to such sets are often bound up with the subject in a way that our study of physics is not (would someone say that the correct answer to a math addition problem depends on who is solving the problem?), let's be honest about it.

You're not familiar with Hollywood accounting, are you? Or the debate on anthropogenetic global warming?

@gregnyquist

It's little consolation to know that your "objective" rights have been violated when there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Rand is not Boethius, and it is not consolation that her readers seek from her.

@Daniel Barnes

"Subjective" is a description of the situation, not a justification for it. A belief requires a decision to adopt it - and decision cannot be logically derived from a fact, or any set of facts.

But can the belief be related to an ethical norm, such as gregnyquist's long-run well-being of an organism?

If that doesn't help, just smack me some more :-)

Abolaji said...

Colin,

You're giving Rand way too much credit in my opinion. But I've read and forgotten too much moral philosophy to think about this issue as Rand frames it. No, she is not the first philosopher to attempt a synthesis of objectivism and subjectivism so that is not my point - I have little respect for philosophers who like to display arrogant ignorance like Rand and her followers.

It may be that people disagree about the solution to the Trolley Problem because they feel a need to make a distinction that isn't there.

I think your Necker Cube analogy advances the subjectivist position, since aspects of the subject are key determinants of how the drawing is interpreted. Like I said, a clear solution set, no universal agreement. So why force objectivity rather than admit the importance of perspective/subject to interpretation?


I won't deny that living ethically requires an affective component, but I don't know if the objectivity of ethics stems from ethical behavior.


As some philosophers have argued. But apart from the religious deontologists who simply chalk it up to the word of God, no ethical objectivist philosopher I know can specify with any specificity what this objectivity stems from or what it consists of. Even two Objectivists will disagree on too many things to mention.


If the primacy of existence precludes metaphysical alternatives to facts, how do we have ethical alternatives at all? I don't believe that epistemic alternatives (not having enough information to rule out alternatives) should count.


I think it's time for me to bow out of this discussion until someone says something that can be shown by empirical methods to be misguided. The biggest thing ethical objectivism has going for it is that human beings instinctively act for the most part like ethical objectivists.

My main beef with ethical objectivism as a reflective theory, as I think I have pointed out earlier, is that it shows too little respect for psychology. The broad agreement we have on some ethical precepts is based on similarities in human nature. But since human beings are not identical, and we can often show that many of these differences explain differences in values and behavior, including extreme ones (psychopaths, for example, do not have the same emotional response to other human beings' emotional expressions as normal people do), I think a realistic appraisal of what one considers "ethical objectivity" will reduce to social agreement for the most part.

So when you say this is *right* or *wrong*, or *good* or *bad* ask the question "according to whom?" and you'll notice a limitation of ethical objectivism - sometimes, you need other people to agree with you for you to be right when it comes to ethics!

Laj

Abolaji said...

Colin,

You posted before my last post and are raising common philosophical questions which run around the point.


Are all statements of values ethical? If I say that a certain amount of oxygen is a value to me, is that ethical? Is the value of oxygen to me independent of my awareness/beliefs of its value?


If you can derive ethical conclusions from them, then they must contain ethical premises.

1. A little oxygen is of value to you is really based on your valuing your life - just about anything that sustains your life will be valuable to you in that context, even if you do not know its relationship to how it keeps you alive. But that is not a repudiation of the subjectivist position, since reasoning is used to achieve goals/satiate drives in subjectivist ethics. The main point of the subjectivist being that human drives are varied and are neither rational or irrational - they are what they are. As Hume said, there is nothing contradictory about him preferring the destruction of the world to the hurting of his finger.

You're not familiar with Hollywood accounting, are you? Or the debate on anthropogenetic global warming?

2. And what is your point? You're providing examples that support my position as far as I can see. The fact that you don't have the kind of scientific consensus that you have on those issues that you do on say evolution or Einsteinian relativity shows that strong conclusions on the popular debates in these issues are often motivated by subjective factors.

Again, which is correct, polygamy or monogamy? Is abortion a crime?

Again, debating ethics is an exercise in futility. It is the psychology underlying the ethics that usually shows how impoverished the ethical claims are (which was Rand's real problem).

Cheers,
Laj

Daniel Barnes said...

>But can the belief be related to an ethical norm, such as gregnyquist's long-run well-being of an organism?

@Colin, an "ethical norm" is a type of belief...;-)

Colin said...

@Daniel Barnes

@Colin, an "ethical norm" is a type of belief...;-)

I wonder if Mr. Nyquist would say that of his own norm.

@Abolaji

The main point of the subjectivist being that human drives are varied and are neither rational or irrational - they are what they are.

Again, I don't deny that they are varied, I mentioned earlier that objectivity is not invariance (if you disagree with that, we may have to thrash out how to properly divide up the world between objective and subjective). It's not just that we have different beliefs, we also have different brains. Also, merely having a desire does not compel us to act on it; we can choose to not act on it.

As for Hume's statement, any creationist could say that it isn't logically impossible that Satan buried fossils to confuse us, but I'm not going to doubt evolution for that.

The fact that you don't have the kind of scientific consensus that you have on those issues that you do on say evolution or Einsteinian relativity

We may not have such a consensus now, but can we work towards one?

Again, which is correct, polygamy or monogamy? Is abortion a crime?

Which is correct, for whom? You seem to believe that objectivity requires a one-size-fits-all approach. Just as different people wear different sized clothes, so they may benefit from different sexual experiences, and this benefit may obtain regardless of their beliefs about this. To take a slightly different example, let's look at gay marriage. Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, that homosexuality is a choice, is it an immoral one? I am so not going there. The attempt to reverse it, even if such reversal were possible, would simply not be worth the effort. And demanding that homosexual couples forgo the legal benefits of marriage is itself immoral.

As for the Necker cube problem, the only way to break the symmetry is to realize that it isn't a cube, or even a good depiction of one. The onlyways to deal with the trolley problem are to find an asymmetry or conclude that neither choice is better than the other.

gregnyquist said...

Colin: "Yes, but did [Hume] demonstrate the impossibility of coming up with a standard of value as opposed to an ultimate end? Rand's objection to eudaemonianism is that while the achievement of eudomaimonia is the proper goal of ethics, it is not a standard of ethics."

The standard of a value is implicit in its purpose. Rand's divorce of standard and purpose is one of her most eccentric and least viable positions. If I seek happiness, the values I pursue should make me happy: if they don't, there is clearly something wrong with them. Hence, if one's purpose is happiness, one's standard of value must be happiness.

Rand seems to be claiming that if you make "life" your standard of happiness, then you will achieve happiness. This is not only a bad formulation of the issue, it suffers from an egregious vagueness. What is this "life" Rand is talking about? Does she mean survival? Or a life well-lived? Or something else? If she means the former, her views are insupportable; if she means the latter, she has in fact chosen eudaemonism as her standard but has merely hidden it under an alias ([a life well-lived] = [eudaenomism]).

"Be that as it may, do all people value eudaimonia? I am skeptical of that. Should all people value eudaimonia? You are being as normative as Rand."

All beliefs have a normative element, in that they involve motivation, which is intrinsically normative. If you think that's the point at issue, then you've missed the point. The point of my criticism is not to tell people to abandon Objectivist Ethics and choose eudaemonism. My point is that I have no control over what they choose. I can neither make them agree with my ethical preferences or make them accept my preferred division of the social advantage (i.e., theory of rights). Their choices are a reality that, in most respects, is as independent of me as the laws of physics. Yes, I can try to persuade them to change their views, but this has proven largely ineffective throughout human history. The best method of changing people's behavior, of getting them to cooperate with a specific division of the social advantage, is to coerce them. Now I have neither the power nor the disposition to do such a thing. And neither do most (if not all) Objectivists. The difference between myself and Rand's followers is that at least I recognize this fact.

"But you would say that this is different from taking life qua rational being as a standard?"

What on earth does "life qua rational being" mean? It's an empty phrase that can be filled with anything one pleases. It's only purpose appears to be to give the Objectivist ethics a varnish of logic that it in fact does not have. So, since "life qua rational being" can mean anything one pleases, it can easily mean the eudaemonism I speak of. It's what Rand's ethics should have been, if Rand had been wiser and not afraid of the relativistic implications of the harsh fact that the unit of morality is the individual.

gregnyquist said...

Colin: "Rand is not Boethius, and it is not consolation that her readers seek from her."

That's right, they don't even get consolation: they just get screwed. At least Beothius gives his reader something? What does Rand give them? Wishful thinking that someday their view of society will prevail?

"As for the relation between might and right, I will point out that righteousness is a form of power..."

Really? Since when? Where was the power of righteousness to save the six million jews the Nazis slaughtered? Or to save the victims of Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot? Or those who are suffering horrible conditions in North Korea today?

It sounds nice to say that righteousness is power (even though its a regrettable to version to Platonism). And there are some people (mostly English speaking peoples) who have fought back when they rights were too indiscriminately trampled on. But it wasn't righteousness that gave them power, but their own inner strength, their willingness to hazard their lives and their "sacred fortunes." And, if they were well-lead, maybe they succeeded. But their success (which was always only partial, since they had to compromise to gain a sufficient number of adherents) did not stem from creating bad rationalizations for theories of rights, or refuting Kant, or anything equally beside the point.

Daniel Barnes said...

Greg wondered:
>What on earth does "life qua rational being" mean?

My standard translation of this much touted Objecto-phrase is simply: being an Objectivist.

This is useful, because Objectivists are hardly likely to deny it.

However, if they agree, they then have something roughly like the following argument:

P1: Objectivist ethics are necessary for man to live qua a rational being
P2: Man qua a rational being means being an Objectivist
C: Objectivist ethics are necessary for being an Objectivist.

Not a very good argument...;-)

Abolaji said...

Also, merely having a desire does not compel us to act on it; we can choose to not act on it.

Choosing not to act on it often means acting on *another* desire.

We may not have such a consensus now, but can we work towards one?

Finally, we get to a question that is to some degree empirical and takes us back to the main post.

Most empirically motivated ethical subjectivists would answer in the negative, at least not without widespread coercion (which would force conformance, not true agreement). Ethical agreement and disagreement are founded in human nature - behavioral genetics analyses show significant heritability for mental dispositions and temperaments. Greg has detailed what some of the causes of social inequality are (disparities in strength, intelligence, power etc., all heritable, so that the lion's share of wealth goes to those with greater talents). The idea that how human beings will behave in the face of this inequality is largely tractable to argument is unsupported by the empirical evidence.

Abolaji said...

You seem to believe that objectivity requires a one-size-fits-all approach.

No, ethical objectivists (like yourself) use their one size to fit all and disguise it as an objective approach. You wrote:

And demanding that homosexual couples forgo the legal benefits of marriage is itself immoral.

According to whom? You? So what do I do with the many Christians and even some non-religious conservatives like Thomas Sowell who disagree with you for philosophical reasons? Tell them that they are being immoral, just as they might say the same of you?

All human beings think and write like ethical objectivists. Some are just reflective enough to realize that what is "right" and "wrong" in ethics that obtains in ethics today is not what we mean by objectivity! It's clearly in part a function of human psychology and social convention and can be explained in large degree by the variance in these across societies and individuals.

Colin said...

@Greg

Here is a partial response

The point of my criticism is not to tell people to abandon Objectivist Ethics and choose eudaemonism. My point is that I have no control over what they choose. I can neither make them agree with my ethical preferences or make them accept my preferred division of the social advantage (i.e., theory of rights) . . .

I agree with this point. Have you met objectivists who believe that they can convert others in this manner? I haven't personally run into any hardcore Randians, so maybe I'm just lucky.

Really? Since when? Where was the power of righteousness to save the six million jews the Nazis slaughtered? Or to save the victims of Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot? Or those who are suffering horrible conditions in North Korea today?

I never claimed that everyone was righteous. Indeed in the first four cases you mention, the "righteousness might have been on the side of the tyrants (aside from the abortive Warsaw uprising). On the other hand, there were points in the histories of Germany and Russia where moral opposition to tyranny might well have tipped the balance.

And this "inner strength" you mention, are you saying it has nothing to do with ethics?

Anonymous said...

Your deliberate misunderstanding of Objectivism would be laughable if it weren't sad.

Daniel Barnes said...

Likewise your remark, anon.

Colin said...

@abolaji

No, ethical objectivists (like yourself) use their one size to fit all and disguise it as an objective approach.

Nope, the law must be one-size-fits-all, unless you support multilegalism, and even there you would still have to make some kind of ruling (In the US the decision is up to individual states, but within a state I believe you would have to have a uniform law.). I would not attempt to convert opponents of homosexuality to embrace it, but might request that they forbear opposing gay marriage. If I were to campaign for gay marriage, I would probably avoid such people altogether.

But I would worry about people who would elevate religious belief above equality under the law, and that I have some factual basis for this belief.

I believe it was Planck who said that new scientific theories don't win by converting the old scientists, but rather that the young scientists are taught the new theory and the old scientists die off.

As for disagreements in ethics, Rand blames religion. Even secularists such as Dawkins view Jesus as an ethical force
<a href="http://richarddawkins.net/articles/20> Atheists for Jesus</a>.

Colin said...

@Daniel Barnes

As for life qua rational (or eudaimonistic) being, perhaps we could look at not merely life as aprecondition of value, but a certain psychology as a precondition of (optimal) subjectivity. This would apply not only to the cobnitive ability to make better decisions, but the emotional capacity to enjoy them. The empirical test of how our decisions influence our minds may have to wait for further results in psychology and neurobiology.

@abolaji

Can one evaluate a desire in isloation, that is, without considering the opportunity costs with respect to other desires? Also, in the case of competing desires, can we examine them?

Colin said...

@abolaji

All human beings think and write like ethical objectivists.

So the guards at Auschwitz thought and wrote like ethical objectivists? Do all philosophers think and write that way?

Abolaji said...

Colin,

I admit that I thought you were presenting your opinion on homosexuality and saying that those who opposed it were immoral.

However, I now realize that you were saying that arguing against homosexuality is dubious at best and that since gay unions are legal, it is immoral to demand that homosexuals not take advantage. But again, how is any of this more than your personal opinion, buttressed by social convention in some circles and opposed many in other circles?


The attempt to reverse it, even if such reversal were possible, would simply not be worth the effort. And demanding that homosexual couples forgo the legal benefits of marriage is itself immoral.


And why not go there? And if one deems homosexuality immoral, then why is demanding that homosexual couples refuse to take advantage of the legal benefits of homosexuality immoral? So because driving on the road is legal, it is immoral to advocate car pooling? Or because abortion is legal, it is immoral to demand that people do it less or never do it and have babies whenever possible or all the time?

Nope, the law must be one-size-fits-all, unless you support multilegalism, and even there you would still have to make some kind of ruling (In the US the decision is up to individual states, but within a state I believe you would have to have a uniform law.). I would not attempt to convert opponents of homosexuality to embrace it, but might request that they forbear opposing gay marriage. If I were to campaign for gay marriage, I would probably avoid such people altogether.

In fact, the law is *not* one size fits all - there are often different moral notions underlying the law depending on many things, from social justice to pragmatic thinking. There are distinctions in the law made for all kinds of differences - racial, sexual, religious etc. And let's not get into how the law may be actually applied and the discretion of policemen etc.

But I would worry about people who would elevate religious belief above equality under the law, and that I have some factual basis for this belief.

But are you worried when judges create laws that approve of gay marriage when such laws would never get through the legislature or a public referendum??

You worry about this primarily because you live in a religiously and ethnically diverse society. In many countries/cities, religious beliefs that have permeated the culture are bound up with the application of the law, as are social attitudes. But my real question is whether your attitudes are *objective* or not. You are just as convinced as the next man about the objectivity of what you consider right and wrong.

As for disagreements in ethics, Rand blames religion. Even secularists such as Dawkins view Jesus as an ethical force.

So do you really believe, as maybe Rand did, that if it was possible to get rid of organized religion or religious practice, that disagreements in ethics would go away? Rand had a very poor psychology of human beings, thinking that learned ideas were the primary determinants of behavior hence her emphasis on religion while refusing to look at the deeper question surrounding what Pareto called residues -> the emotions/passions that are universal drivers and are expressed in various ways by both avowedly religious and irreligious people. The intolerance that drives some Objectivists is not that different from that which drives some Christians when it comes to ethical objectivity, for example.

Abolaji said...

So the guards at Auschwitz thought and wrote like ethical objectivists? Do all philosophers think and write that way?

Please present the writings of the guards at Auschwitz. I'm unfamiliar with them. What I know is that people act as if they way they see the world is ethically just. We speak to others as if the ethical positions we advocate are correct. In other words, our conscience is objective. It would be interesting to find the guards in Auschwitz writing and speaking as if they were doing depraved things while admitting that they knew these depraved things were wrong with no compensating good points or no tangible rewards when they did them.

Abolaji said...

@abolaji

Can one evaluate a desire in isloation, that is, without considering the opportunity costs with respect to other desires? Also, in the case of competing desires, can we examine them?


Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no, for if there were absolute answers to either question, we would never choose or analyze and the condition know as addiction would never exist. But what is more interesting that you can even tell what kind of answer a person might give even when you know they will give a topic deep analysis. So does analysis sometimes affect an outcome as libertarians (on the free will question) make out?

gregnyquist said...

Colin: "Have you met objectivists who believe that they can convert others in this manner?"

As a practical matter, most Objectivists quickly learn how difficult it is to convert people to their beliefs; but this doesn't stop them from believing that, in the future (perhaps the distant future), people will come around to their point of view. Rand herself in the early sixties appears to have believed that Objectivism woudl "win" because, as she put it, "we have reason on our side."

But even more to the point, Objectivist political ideals assume the power of persuasion. The pen is mightier than the sword, claims Leonard Peikoff, because history is determined by philosophical ideas. This means that in order to achieve their political goals, what is most important is to present the right arguments, which for Rand means: giving a "moral defense" of capitalism and individual rights. According to Rand, that's the tragic flaw of America: the Founding Fathers presented us with a political system lacking a moral base. That's her explanation for the rise of the American welfare state. The implication is that if you provide the moral base, if you can convince people that individual rights are required by morality, the rights will follow as a matter of course. This is precisely what I am challenging. It does not matter how well your theory of rights is defended, or what sort of moral arguments you bring in its favor, the division of social advantage is still going to be determined primarily in way that favors the classes with the greater strength, shrewdness, and unscrupulousness.

"On the other hand, there were points in the histories of Germany and Russia where moral opposition to tyranny might well have tipped the balance."

What do you mean by "moral opposition"? You mean opposition motivated by notions that you approve of? All opposition is going to appear moral to those engaging it. So all opposition is "moral" opposition (though it may not be a morality you or I approve of). If it fails, it's because it's opposed by forces that are stronger and better led. So unless a particular morality favors strength and leadership, there's going to be no advantage to holding it.

"And this 'inner strength' you mention, are you saying it has nothing to do with ethics?"

Not in the sense that most naive moralists assume, who believe, rather touchingly, that inner strength comes from morality, whereas the opposite is much closer to the truth—namely, that morality is often merely an expression of inner strength (or the lack thereof). Character determines morality, not morality character.

gregnyquist said...

"life as a precondition of value"

This notion of Rand's is often given great weight by her admirers, as if it were some kind of great profundity, dripping with sapience; but it strikes me as a trivial statement hardly worth bothering about. Life is "precondition" of everything associated with living. It is preconditon of breathing, stamp collecting, science, music, etc. But it would seem rather odd to argue that, because life is a precondition of stamp collecting, this means life is the standard of stamp collecting. Moreover, life is not the only precondition of value. Motivation, intentionality, desire are also preconditions of value as well. An unmotivated person with no desires, no intentions would be as incapable of valuing as a dead person. So why isn't desire the standard of value?

Anonymous said...

"Have you met objectivists who believe that they can convert others in this manner?"

Not in the UK! Think they have given up here, though they do or did talk drivel about Tony Blair (remember him), turning the UK into a fascist state. When pressed for a time line for this, they are unable to give it. You ask them when Tony Blair was going to ban all opposition parties, arrest all the trade union leaders, start another holocaust etc. and answer comes there none. Well that is not strictly true as then they change to, something called 'soft' fascism and cite Belguim, of all places as 'soft' fascist state. Though trying to pin them down on what 'soft' fascism actually is a thankless task. It seems to amount to little more than on the spot fines if you are caught speeding.

Though I have been on the receiving end of abuse from UK objectivists. I now their big plan to change UK society, for the better in their eyes, they are going to send out mail shots to schools telling teachers about the virtues of Ayn Rand's fiction.

Anonymous said...

Interesting debate….but what have we learned? As for our rights as Michael Caine said in the film Alfie “…if they ain’t go you one way they got you another…so what’s the answer? That’s what I keep asking myself.”

Anyway, good luck to objectivists in trying to put the world to right. I asked the head of the UKOA how he was going to sell objectivism to the little guy and his answer was “because it’s true”; trouble is that answer won’t cut it with the little guys, right?

Steven Johnston

Colin said...

@abolaji

and that since gay unions are legal, it is immoral to demand that homosexuals not take advantage.

Actually, they're not legal in most of the US, including where I live.


@Greg Nyquist

But even more to the point, Objectivist political ideals assume the power of persuasion. The pen is mightier than the sword, claims Leonard Peikoff, because history is determined by philosophical ideas.

He might have some trouble with that one. Even the Americans needed some breaks during the Revolution, such as a freak noreaster on August 29, 1776 that prevented the British fleet from ascending the East River, thus allowing Washington to get his army out of Brooklyn Heights. Indeed, while I believe that ideas play a role in human history, I am skeptical of claims that one can "explain" history theoretically.

On the other hand, I would grant some power to ideas. A dictatorship would find it hard put to rule on the basis on naked force alone.

As for the pen being mightier than the sword, Napoleon claimed that the Bourbons could have retained power had they paid off some newspaper editors.

Character determines morality, not morality character.

So you are saying that we have no conscious control over our character? Why not simply conclude that ethics is impossible? Washington was not born with the equanimity that he possessed during the Revolution; he had to make a conscious effort to achieve it.

Motivation, intentionality, desire are also preconditions of value as well.

So I have to will myself to breathe so that I get oxygen, and will my heart to beat so that I achieve blood circulation? And if you don't consider those to be values, try doing without them for an hour.

Also, as I pointed out, subjectivity itself may have underlying psychological and neurological preconditions (see Damasio's discussion of Phineas Gage in Descartes' Error). Now in Gage's case, the loss of subjectivity was unintentional, as it was caused by an accident. Would it be moral to make choices that degrade one's future subjectivity?

@Anonymous

Not in the UK! Think they have given up here, though they do or did talk drivel about Tony Blair (remember him), turning the UK into a fascist state. When pressed for a time line for this, they are unable to give it.

Tell me about it. One Objectivist site termed the US President "Obamalini" (so when do we invade Ethiopia?).

When Rand wrote about this, one could argue that the US was becoming more statist. But does that hold today? Is the US becoming more statist? Well perhaps with laws like the PATRIOT act, which, ironically, doesn't get much criticism at www.aynrand.org.

Abolaji said...

Actually, they're not legal in most of the US, including where I live.

Does this mean I misinterpreted your point or are you raising this because you want to?

You wrote in response to Greg:

So I have to will myself to breathe so that I get oxygen, and will my heart to beat so that I achieve blood circulation? And if you don't consider those to be values, try doing without them for an hour.

I think that if you reflect upon it, there is a difference between something being valuable without the party who values it being conscious of its value, which is what you are describing

vs.

the fact that things only have value at all when desires, motivations and goals *exist* and not life per se. It is because life is bound up with those things that Rand seems to have a point, but as Greg (and others have pointed out), because something has an instrumental value in achieving a goal doesn't make it the standard of achieving that goal.

Colin said...

@abolaji

the fact that things only have value at all when desires, motivations and goals *exist* and not life per se.

Why? And is not the continuation of life a goal?

but as Greg (and others have pointed out), because something has an instrumental value in achieving a goal doesn't make it the standard of achieving that goal.

Would Rand say that life is of instrumental value in achieving goals?

While I would agree with Greg that motivation is crucial for deciding and acting on decisions, I would not agree that we have to act from every instance of motivation.

Abolaji said...

Colin,

We are speaking past each other. In response to my comment that things only have value at all when desires, motivations and goals *exist* and not life per se, you wrote.

Why? And is not the continuation of life a goal?

Now, I wish I understood what the point of this question was, because it is unclear to me.

Any teleological system can be said to have a goal. The point of Greg's criticism is two fold - it is the (conscious) approach towards goals that makes values possible, as then factors/things can be evaluated on the basis of whether they support or detract from those goals. One does not need *life* for teleology to exist. Life is probably the best known example of teleology which is why Rand's statement appeals to people. However, consider a system designed to produce cars. We can say that anything that hurts that goal is a negative value for the system and anything that improves that goal is a positive value for the system. But the system is not alive. Of course, the ultimate source of its teleology is its human designer, but we don't need to refer to its human designer to speak of the system's values as long as they are inherent in the goal of the system.

Would Rand say that life is of instrumental value in achieving goals?

Why does what Rand say come into this? The fact that life is *instrumental* can be shown by pointing out (and this is argument is not original to me) that there are values that one can achieve by dying. For example, one might take out an insurance policy on one's life to pay out money to his children and his children get the money upon his death. A suicide bomber might die in other to kill his enemies.

While I would agree with Greg that motivation is crucial for deciding and acting on decisions, I would not agree that we have to act from every instance of motivation.

Again, it would help if you were clearer on why you were making this point.

We started this argument at some point because you argued that you had a problem with Greg's characterization (and then mine) of ethics as subjective. Greg has pointed out that any objective ethics could only be platonic in nature, have a nebulous influence on human behavior and would have little to do with the actual psychology of human beings. He has also argued that ethical truth is not the same as what we consider scientific truth. I have argued that the nature of the person who is valuing (the subject) is so entwined with what they value and what might be best for them that an objective ethics is more a social convention and unlike what we think of when we think of objectivity in science. As Daniel say, this subjectivity is a feature of ethics, not a bug. However, all this does not mean that ethics is detached from facts or reasoning, as good reasoning is likely the best instrument for realizing the goals/values inherent in our natures. I have cited the diversity of ethical views as evidence in my favor.

On some points, you seem to have agreed with us. Sometimes you seem to be with us when we argue that what someone values depends on his nature. However, you are unconvinced that this shows that ethics is not objective. Greg's response to you was that any objective ethics is essentially Platonic and can have no influence on everyday behavior, and I have pointed out that there is so much diversity over what people consider objective that in the end, one is left defending what one thinks is objective as objective for the most part. I cannot find your main response or objection to these points by Greg or myself.

(to be continued)

Abolaji said...

You have argued that objectivity is not the same as invariance. I have disagreed in two ways, first of all by pointing out that common parlance agrees with my characterization of objectivity in ethics, and secondly by pointing out that the whole point of objectivity in ethics is to arrive at some kind of invariance. For Rand, it is to act in one's rational self-interest. For Christians, it is to follow the word of God and Jesus. For Muslims, it is the Koran and the word of Allah and so on. I've also pointed out that seemingly secular Objective systems that are deontological (like those of Kant) detach themselves from human psychology to the point that they have little value, and in a roundabout way, Rand does something similar at times, with her unclear distinction between selfishness and altruism (as saving one's child becomes a selfish act in her system).

You have pointed out that values exist that a subject might not be conscious of, and therefore things can be valuable to a subject without the subject's conscious knowledge of such. I have responded that this is not what is meant by ethical subjectivity. Subjectivity does not claim that human beings make their own values or that facts are not related to values. Subjectivity argues that in terms of valuation, in degree and quality, one man's meat is often another man's poison and making this a matter of right and wrong is often social convention based on similar attitudes and goals shared by human beings.

We've spent some time on this now and we can agree to disagree. But I think at this point, some time must be spent pointing out exactly what the broader point of disagreement is from your perspective, since I've lost track of what is going on.

These are topics that have been beaten to death on this blog, so these blogposts, especially the comments that follow, might be of interest.

http://aynrandcontrahumannature.blogspot.com/2009/04/objectivism-politics-part-7.html

http://aynrandcontrahumannature.blogspot.com/2008/02/rands-ethics-part-8.html

http://aynrandcontrahumannature.blogspot.com/2008/03/rands-ethics-part-15.html

(The end)