Burgess Laughlin

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About Burgess Laughlin

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  • Website URL http://www.aristotleadventure.com
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  • Location Portland, Oregon
  • Interests Work: Telling success stories from history.<br /><br />Friends: Enjoying the pleasures of a compatible sense of life.<br /><br />Coordination of Seattle-Portland Objectivist Network, for enjoying the pleasures of socializing with like-minded individuals: http://www.aristotleadventure.com/pao/<br /><br />Leisure: Roving, in two forms -- reading fictional success stories; and walking and biking.
  1. Simplifying the decision process for voting

    I agree. I would add two more possibilities for voting for a particular individual: 1. If I am convinced that the candidate is personally honest (reality-oriented), regardless of the state of his explicit philosophy or policies -- and his opponent is not honest. An example might be someone who has been successful in business, because he pays attention to reality, but then enters politics with corrupt baggage and nevertheless tries to solve problems based on facts as well as he can. 2. If I am convinced that a particular candidate in particular circumstances might improve the political process as an antidote to an entrenched power. For example, I might vote even for a Bible-thumper as one member of an otherwise cookie-cutter, "secular," leftist city council (Portland, Oregon) if I thought his presence might at least stir debate or slow down the juggernaut. Having said that, I applaud Jason for attempting to identify issues in a systematic way, all in one place. Taking such a step, for me, is one way of simplifying the process of decision-making. An attempt to write-up a situation, all in one "essay," can be a very helpful exercise. Preparing to write it requires observation, essentialization, and integration. Then submitting that one piece of writing to criticism, can be informative as well.
  2. Peikoff on the coming election

    [bold added for emphasis.] I grant for the moment that some individuals in some situations "can be" creating rationalizations for some of their ideas through psychological defect or cognitive handicap rather than dishonesty. Do you agree that at other times and in other individuals rationalization is a result of cover-up and an attempt to hide motivations -- and thereby is immoral because it is dishonest? Your words "not necessarily" seem to imply this recognition. Do you agree that a public allegation of rationalization -- whether intended to refer to the supposed psychological aspect or to the moral aspect -- should be backed up by evidence about the particular person alleged to be rationalizing? And do you agree that if a man alleges that another man is rationalizing he should at least have the courtesy -- and objectivity -- to specify which species of rationalization he is referring to? I have been dismayed, as has been Paul's Here and others, to see no evidence of an imminent theocracy (or even a definition of that idea) by the avocates of the Democrats-only voting strategy. But I will not stand by and witness allegations of immorality or psychological defect without asking for proof.
  3. Peikoff on the coming election

    You are begging the question. I will ask again, but more specifically: What is your evidence for saying "[h]is whole presentation" is a rationalization? Please show proof of rationalization -- that is, if you are concerned about facts of reality as a basis for your allegation. P. S. -- For anyone new to Objectivism, I recommend the "Rationalization" entry in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pp. 406-407. It contains excerpts from Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It, pp. 21 (hb, but 18 pb) and 24 (20).
  4. Peikoff on the coming election

    Two questions arise for me: (1) Would you cite a particular example of a rationalization? A quotation will help. (2) Would you cite a particular example of advocacy of voting for the "progressive New Left"? A quote will help. I ask these questions because the charge of rationalization is as serious as the charge of immorality (in fact, a charge of rationalization is a charge of immorality) and because I am "concern[ed] with facts."
  5. PURPOSE The purpose of this topic-thread is to offer methods for approaching the sometimes difficult decision of how to vote, if one chooses to vote. SCOPE This subforum is the Self-Improvement and Self-Help subforum. Many other topic-threads are open for discussion of the particulars of current events. I hope all participants in this thread will confine their contributions to general methods that should be applicable to all elections in all semi-free countries, allowing, of course, for differences in particular forms of government. Following is one summary of the main and auxiliary issues arising in the U. S. 2006 congressional elections. The author is Jason Crawford, a member of the Seattle-Portland Objectivist Network. With his permission I am posting it here as one step toward simplifying the task of deciding how to vote in any election. Although Jason draws his summary from one election and one country, I would suggest that in general it might apply to other elections and in other countries. PROBLEM What is important here is not the particulars that apply to this election, but having some structured way to approach elections. What alternatives would you suggest to Jason's general approach of summarizing the issues prior to making a decision, that is, what alternatives would you suggest as generalizations for most or all other elections? [i have taken the liberty of adding bold subheads to show the elegant structure of Jason's summary.]
  6. How would (will) you vote in the 2006 election?

    Given the focus of the poll, I said "Vote Democratic." In fact, when I voted last week, I split between Democrat (one) and Republicans, all local and all running against entrenched Democratic power. I also abstained from voting for some positions -- especially for absurd positions with titles such as "Soil and Water Management Board member." In one such "race," no one was running! There was only a blank for writing in a name. Jesus, what a system.
  7. Objectivist theory of concepts

    I would interpret her words as being written with great clarity, exactness, and conciseness. The key, I think, is to review the meaning of "unit" -- "A unit is an existent regarded as a separate member of a group or two or more similar members." (Ayn Rand, ITOE, p. 6, emphasis added.) - Regarding is a mental activity, a cognitive one. - Grouping is a mental activity, a cognitive one. - Identifying similiarity is a mental activity, a cognitive one. "Cognitive" means dealing with knowledge. So, assuming you are using "knowledge" in a general and not some special sense, I would say adding the word "knowledge" to the formulation would be redundant; knowledge is already assumed and implied in mental, unit, similiarity, regarding, group, and identifying, as well as epistemology. If my comments aren't clear, perhaps someone else can help you.
  8. ITOE Question

    Have you studied the appropriate pages in the ITOE appendix? That should be preliminary to any further discussion, at least for me.
  9. ITOE Question

    I can't speak for Ayn Rand, but here is my understanding. To correctly consider "separate," you need to back up and consider the idea of "regarded." My understanding is that she is packing in the idea that even if two things are physically welded together, so to speak, I can regard them as if they were separate and mentally treat them as units, that is, as elements which I will mentally integrate into a concept. For additional discussion, you might read "Entities and Their Makeup," "What is an Entity?" in ITOE, pp. 264-274, especially pp. 268-272. However, this recorded discussion is advanced material. I don't mean it is hard to understand, just that it is built on ITOE itself. You might wait until you have finished your current review of ITOE.
  10. Onus of proof in Aristotle

    Another source you might examine is William Kneale and Martha Kneale, The Development of Logic, a detailed examination of the "development" (history) of logic from before Aristotle to modern times (I vaguely recall). The Kneales do discuss issues of the source of such ideas as "burden of proof," but whether they consider that one in particular, I don't know. Unfortunately, I no longer have a copy of their book.
  11. Onus of proof in Aristotle

    Suggestions: 1. Try searching for "burden of proof" in connection to Aristotle. 2. Look for Aristotle discussion sites (perhaps the "slow reading" kind), go to them, and ask the people there, people who are much more familiar with Aristotle that most people here. I will spend a little time looking through Sophistical Refutations, his work on fallacies. The detailed index lists nothing for burden of proof or onus of proof or even proof. Have you checked the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy at your local university or big public library? Have you done a search for the phrases on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or other online philosophical dictionaries? Have you asked your local librarians, if they have a search service, for help in locating the idea of "burden of proof"? Have you examined the Oxford English Dictionary to see if it cites a source for the phrase -- if it lists the phrase (perhaps under "burden" or "onus")?
  12. Is the USA headed for economic disaster?

    I have not studied economics in any systematic way. I have a question that concerns me personally and every one I value. David M. Walker, as administrator of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), is the comptroller general of the U. S. government. He predicts financial disaster for the U. S. if deficit spending continues its trend. Problem: Is his prediction objective? (There is another topic-thread, "Bankrupt USA" (link) that briefly takes an investment perspective, but my question is about the alleged trends and projections themselves. Are they valid?) For the quote below, I cut out most of the article. It may be worth reading it in total, not only for the economic statements, but for its political implications, especially the 2008 presidential elections.) http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061028/ap_on_...ca_the_bankrupt
  13. What is rationalism?

    [bold added for emphasis.] As usual, I am bewildered by your statements. I see no basic difference between my definition, your definition, Leonard Peikoff's definition (via my notes), and Valliant's definition. They all mean the same thing: rationalism is attempting to produce "knowledge" inferentially (syllogistically) without reference to sense-perception (objects of experience). How can one have inferences without syllogisms? A syllogism is an inference. How can one ignore perceptions (objects, experience) and not have arbitrary premises? An arbitrary premise is, in part, one that cannot be referenced to the sense-perceptible world either introspectively or extrospectively. All you have done is change the terminology or adjust the emphasis. The basic meaning is the same in all cases. If I were to go any further with this line of discussion, I would be repeating myself. So I won't. If anyone has comments on other aspects of the subjects I named in the title and subtitle, please offer them. In particular, what are symptoms of rationalism, on a personal and psychological level?
  14. Should there be any "ballot measures"?

    I don't know about others, but I am talking about the ideal. That remains an ideal no matter how far present government is from the ideal. Is there an implication in your question that one should have two standards: one that is Platonically pure versus one that is pragmatically acceptable in our present corrupt world of sense-perception? Probably not, but perhaps you could explain your distinction.
  15. Should there be any "ballot measures"?

    Democracy. I agree with Ayn Rand's characterization: "'Democratic' in its original meaning [refers to] unlimited majority rule ...." (words interpolated in square brackets are apparently Harry Binswanger's words, as editor of "Democracy," The Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 121, citing "How to Read (and Not to Write)," The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. I, Issue 26, p. 4.) I do not know what she means by "original meaning." Democracy is the name for a form of collectivist government, as Ayn Rand notes (ARL, p. 121). I would elaborate by saying that in a democracy decisions are made directly by a majority. Of course, democracies, like most institutions may exist in degrees of application, but that measurement is omitted in the formation of the concept of democracy. Republic. When I say "republic," that is usually short-form for "constitutional republic." (The latter is the phrase that Leonard Peikoff uses in "The Philosophy of Objectivism" (1976), Lecture 9, a series he presented under Ayn Rand's review, cited in "Democracy," ARL, pp. 121-122.) For greater specificity, I would go further, in long-form, and say a "free, constitutional republic." Such phrasing specifies: - The form (decision-making mostly through representatives) of the government. - The limits (a written constitution) of the government. - The purpose of the government (to secure rights). There is no concept for "free, constitutional republic," so I resort to the phrase as designating a qualified instance of "republic." In an evaluative summary, I would say a democracy is bad, and a (free, constitutional) republic is good. Of course, terms can be used by anyone in any way to name any idea. The term democracy in common use has a wide variety of referents -- usually poorly defined, especially by nonessentials (for example, "everybody gets to vote"). Likewise "republic" is sometimes merely a name for a pretentious dictatorship. I am not responsible for others' uses of the terms. I will continue to distinguish "democracy" and a (free, constitutional) "republic." That distinction keeps clear for me the distinction between collectivism and individualism in politics. Terminology that fails to maintain that distinction is misleading, intentionally or not. What are your definitions of the terms "democracy" and "republic"?