I know this may seem like a bit of an odd question but I’ve been wondering about it for the past few days and for some reason I can’t escape the feeling that it (atheism) would be a rather ‘conservative’ point of view (that is, at least in title), and yet I’m constantly being called a liberal because of my social and political leanings. I'm just wondering what your views are on this.
PS: I’ll be gone for a few days but I will catch up with this thread when I return.
The problem (among others) with your Ayn Rand philosophy MT is that if you leave it up to the rich to decide whether they want to help out the poor and the struggling, they would on the whole keep their money for themselves, using the same rationale as you are using. There was a time when the rich were allowed to do nearly anything they wanted. You know what happened? The Great Depression. So it turns out it is in the interests of the rich to look out for the interests of the society as a whole rather than buy into this selfishness Ayn Rand bullshit. Are you for or against anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws?
You have zero evidence that philanthropy and charity would not provide adequate assitance for the needy. As if evidence of that would make forcing people to help acceptable or moral. The more of my own money I get to keep, the more I give to organizations I value. The same goes for other wealthy people I know. I have also witnessed directly multiple times in the last 30 years, the number of employees, which is in the thousands, of a company my family runs, reliably going up when taxes are lower.
You also have zero evidence that individuals making and being able to keep their own money caused the depression. The way I see it, after a sizable amount of inquiry, is that it was government support of the banking industry which allowed the creation of the federal reserve and orchestrated inflation and debt as a rule. It makes no sense to say that individuals making their own decisions about business results in the loss of the value of the dollar and ability to get a job. Also, it is supremely clear that the war and the military industrial complex, not the New Deal, got us out of the depression.
Regarding anti-trust and anti-monopoly: I do not think that in a truly free market these things are necessary, but if any group or individual can be shown to directly cause the violation of another's right to their own life, then I am all for a government intervention in this case. That said, I am not for laws that are enacted because the competition is more difficult for some than it is for others.
Again, it is not the responsibility of the rich to support the poor. I understand that it can be logical and in the interest of the self to help others, but why is it moral to force people to pay for shit they do not want or use and why is it moral to take more money from the rich to sustain a welfare state?
AY'er maybe, but garden variety?! Now, that upsets me. For the record, I find Objectivists (capital O) as dogmatic as you are calling me, but I do not believe I am blinding myself to anything. It's all about intellectual honesty, which I claim to have a great deal of. I believe morality is only relevant as it concerns a moral consciousness (a singular brain). The group can be a value, but it doesn't have rights. Only individuals have rights. Also, the O'ists really bug me when they talk about freewill. Oh and they are irrational when they speak of the role of women in society, and of the soul.
Also, I don't find it useful to question things I consider valid knowledge, do you? Skepticism fails, imo. Questioning assertions, sure. But questioning well integrated noncontradictory knowledge is not useful.
The egoist, atheist, determinist mold? If someone holds these convictions, I would call them intellectually honest, rational and knowledgeable, and not an AR follower. AR often used the concept of the soul as if it is a real part of reality, bothers me. She wrote that a women should be able to be president, but shouldn't want to because any man she has a romantic relationship must be looked down at. That men should properly be in a position of power. That the attraction between men and women is somehow dependent on the power struggle between them. Her description of choice is convoluted and based on what she calls a form of natural causation which is not fully determined. Rather than throwing away freewill she talks about volition, the will to focus or not, being an initial force that is uncaused. When challenged about this unmoved mover in the brain, an Objectivist will likely say something like, if freewill didn't exist, then you would have been determined to be challenging it and had no choice to do so and therefore you must have freewill.
Part of my debate a few years ago about choice/freewill with a die-hard O'ist:
Me: Are the choices we make not solely determined by the existing state of our brains?
BC: No. Such an idea is an over generalization from science. The choices we make are the consequence of something called "consciousness," which has free will.
Me: The future structure of the world (including decisions made by humans) isn't determined already, but will be, solely based on its existing structure and causality.
BC: No, this isn't true, and please note that if it WERE true, your having pointed it out would be impossible and meaningless, because your act of pointing it out would just be an auto-response over which you had no control. It is worse than a Sherlock Holmes story, this determinism nonsense.
Wasn’t Objectivism the cornerstone philosophy of Any Rand’s? Secondly, wasn’t it The Objectivist Party’s’ goal to promote Ayn Rand’s philosophy? Third, wasn’t it you who earlier said “I am an egoist and therefore a libertarian. Of the Ayn Rand type”, whereas many libertarians (at least those that I’ve known) find much disagreement with Objectivism, which means you’re not exactly of the “Ayn Rand type”. And finally, one thing I would like to say is that (at least in my opinion) skepticism, much as you say it may fail, is still the sign of a healthy intellect, after all many religions institutions would also feel that their ideologies are matters of “non-contradictory knowledge”.
Yes, yes and yes. In regards to politics I believe AR was right on about the importance of individual rights politically and I believe as AR wrote mostly herself: "A state must not intervene in the intellectual or moral life of its citizens. It has no standards to uphold and no benefits to confer in regard to education, literature, art, science, sex (if consensual between adults) or philosophy. Its function should be to protect freedom, not truth or virtue. The goal of a proper society, accordingly, is not to compel truth or virtue, but to make them possible by ensuring that people are left free. A proper government offers freedom from coercion, not from the responsibility of self-sustenance." That being said, I think she fell short in several areas and I do not wish to be associated with every aspect of her philosophy. I love the idea of objectivism, but she named her personal philosophy Objectivism. So, I might say that I am an objectivist, but not an Objectivist. Being skeptical of opinions, theories, conjecture, guesses and assertions is just fine and I think a necessary part of a healthy mind. But once something has been integrated contextually without contradiction we can safely call it knowledge and to consider it suspect without evidence is ineffectual and irrational. Questioning the necessity of EMR, in the visible light range, for photosynthesis is useless. And the religious thinking their knowledge bases are noncontradictory is one, funny as hell, but also, not evidence for the lack of validity of contextually certain knowledge.
This seems to be the crux of your argument. That I am selfish and you define selfish with the non-selfish nonessential quality of pushing other people down or exploiting them. Selfishness entails serving one's self, not essentially, and not necessarily at all, at the expense of anyone else. You are adding arbitrary meaning to the word. You also imply that I am sure and that that means I am not right. Again, neither of the facts that I believe I know the truth and that I am proud of being selfish, mean I am wrong. Being able to state and frame the issue cleanly and simply is also not support for falseness, but a demonstration of the issue without arbitrary convoluted arguments. Instead, why don't you attempt to address the singular nature of mind and the necessary egoistic nature of ethics and individual nature of rights. Or why, in order for those who wish the government to run our lives to get what they want, they need to do it by, first and foremost, violating individual rights with the very real threat of physical force, quite literally at the point of a gun, which they will point at you if you simply refuse to give up your hard earned money? You want fairness? Is that what you're after? Or equality of salary, healthcare, education, strength, power? 1984. What's fair about taking people's money against their will? So that other people who don't make money can spend it on a tattoo or new shoes instead of health insurance (I see it every day I work in at least 30 percent of my patients at one hospital)? Is some unknown to me 10yo's education more important than my ownership of my own life? The only equality you can have in reality is the equality of individual rights. Everyone owes every body else the same mutual respect and benefit, and that is to not remove the ability to choose from someone else, except in protection of one's self.
“The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty or action of any of their number is self protection.”
---On Liberty, John Stuart Mills, 1859
I'm having a hard time figuring out who this response is directed towards. Just the lousy way Nexus groups work, I guess.