Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Molyneux and the Objectivist Tradition 1

UPB: intro. Stefan Molyneux’s theory of Universally Preferable Behavior (i.e., UPB) is an attempt to establish moral principles on the same firm “objectivie” basis as the best theories in science. Essentially Molyneux wants to show how the a moral proposition such as “rape is wrong” can be “verified” in the same way as Einstein’s theory of relativity or the motions of the stars and planets have been “verified” through the scientific method. If he could succeed in this endeavor, Molyneux believes this would demonstrate the objective truth of moral propositions—especially the moral truth of various social and political ideals that Molyneux holds close to his heart, such as the non-aggression principle, “voluntarism” (i.e., anarcho-capitalism) and “peaceful parenting.” Molyneux’s foudationalist mindset is very much in line with what Rand attempted in her own ethical speculations.

In her essay “The Objectivist Ethics,” Rand sought to show how a morality in line with her preferred political system, “laissez-faire” capitalism, could achieve the same level of truth and objectivity that scientifically “verified” theories about the material world enjoy. This ambition to conflate ethical propriety with empirical truth takes even greater importance in Molyneux’s moralistic speculations. In some respects, it is the basis of Molyneux’s whole system. Yet, to be fair, that’s hardly the starting point of UPB.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Objectivist "Tradition" Going Forward

Philosophical traditions, like viruses, must mutate if they wish to remain relevant even among their adherents. Orthodox Objectivism has remained steadfastly true to its author's original vision, sedulously resisting the temptation to evolve in ways that would enable it to better fit with emerging paradigms and concerns. The denizens of ARI still hold fast to a hawkish foreign policy in the Middle East, even when most Americans have tired of the endless wars; they still believe in “open borders," even when most people toward the right side of the political spectrum (outside of a few elites) are against them; they are still for absolute “free trade,” even though free trade in both capital goods and the basic necessities of a principality cause harm to millions of Americans and constitutes a threat to national security; they are still somewhat militant in their atheism, despite growing awareness of a meaning crisis among the younger generations; and they remain stubbornly resistant to allying themselves with to their potential allies on the political  the right, preferring instead to retreat into ever increasing ideological and political isolation.