Erskine Fincher

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About Erskine Fincher

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  • Birthday 04/16/1963

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  • Location Florida
  1. Life and Values

    And looking at principles in no way automatically means neglecting concretes.
  2. Life and Values

    With all due respect, you are dead wrong. You have confused inductive with concrete-bound. In your arguments, you have employed only one principle, and you adhere to it without ever considering where you got it: Never sacrifice a higher value for a lower value. Beyond that, you are merely looking at concrete things, and neglecting principles. "I value the pet. I don't know the person. I can't value a thing if I don't know anything about it. Therefore, I let the person drown." That's not induction. It's not thinking in principles. It's not an objectively reached conclusion. If you were focused on reality, you might have noticed that you do know something about the person, you know that he is human. You might have asked yourself what it means to be human. You might have asked yourself if humans have any value to you by virtue of being human. You might have asked yourself what value people derive from pets, and how that compares to the value they derive from other humans. You didn't do any of that. You've stayed nailed down to the concrete, and now the only thing either of you can think of to do is accuse me of rationalism and Platonism. I am guilty of neither. I began considering the question by examining my gut emotional reaction. That told me where my values lay, but it did not tell me why. I have had to explore that question and probe deeper and deeper to get at the fundamental principles involved. I have learned a great deal from that process, and for pressing me with your questions and forcing me to go down to the next level, I thank you. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I got anything else at all from the arguments you have made.
  3. Life and Values

    I wasn't sparring. I was trying to figure out the right answer to this question.
  4. Life and Values

    And I'll just add that a rational person doesn't look for that kind of chronic assistance, and the whole reason I would save the person is on the expectation that he is rational.
  5. Life and Values

    Well, it just so happens that this is the very guy who designed the manufacturing systems at the plant where my toaster was built. He retired to Hebo because his family had a cabin up on Mt. Hebo when he was a boy, and he used to go fishing on Lake Hebo. He still likes to fish, and that's what he was doing here in Florida on Otter Lake when his boat capsized. I was trying to save my dog, Sara, from being eaten by an alligator at the time, but I had to drop everything to pull the guy out of the lake. I was pretty sad about my dog. After I pulled the guy out of the lake, though, we got to talking and I mentioned how this very question had come up on the Ayn Rand Forum. That's when I found out that he is also a fan of Ayn Rand and heard her speak back in the sixties. He mentioned that he is writing a book about his years in the manufacturing industry, and I can't wait to read it. He's invited us all up to Hebo some time to stay in the cabin that he bought and is fixing up. Boy, am I glad I didn't let him drown! I'm taking the kids down to the pet store tomorrow to pick out a new beagle. They're all pretty broke up, but they'll get over it.
  6. Life and Values

    What is it that Eddie sees in the pushcart, the clean white curtain and the expertly steered bus? He sees evidence of human rationality. The people who caused those effects are a spiritual value to him, and a material value if he buys their vegetables or rides in the bus. He doesn't have to know them to value them. Doesn't anyone else see what a betrayal it would be to lose that in order to save an animal? In the context of a rational society it should just be a given that the humans around you are more important to you than your pet. In the context of a society that is slowly crumbling into irrationality, there is some leeway. Some people are going to shrug sooner than others. Some are going to try to hold on longer. I wouldn't judge either one, because I don't know any way to judge at what exact point a society becomes a disvalue. Only when it becomes obvious that the society has completely collapsed into irrationality does it become an act of self-sacrifice to save the human and let the pet die.
  7. Life and Values

    I think you are right. What is heroic in man? Rationality. What is our most fundamental moral virtue? Rationality. What is it about man that allows him to thrive in the world? Rationality. What is the one value that we can get from a stranger that our pet will never be able to give us? Rationality. As long as it is rational to expect rationality from a stranger, we have to chose him over an animal in a life or death situation.
  8. Spartacus

    I am Spartacus! IMDB Link.
  9. Life and Values

    Human life is not, but human life is. By that I mean not just any human life, but a life that is distinctly human, i.e., rational. I don't think anyone arguing in favor of the pet vs. the stranger would say that he would still value the pet more vs. someone he knew to be a rational individual. Reason is our highest moral value, and anyone who embodies it should be worth more to us than a non-thinking animal no matter how cuddly or obedient it is. As long as it is proper to assume that the stranger is a rational being, choosing the human over the pet is the moral thing to do. It would be a sacrifice of values otherwise. If I let my pet drown, and then discovered afterwards that the person was an idiot, I would deeply regret it. That is nothing compared to what I would feel if I let the human drown and discovered afterward that he was someone I would have admired.
  10. Life and Values

    Let me know if you find it, because I would really like to know if that is what is going on. In discussing this with my wife last night, I wondered whether I was drifting into intrinsicism, but my conclusion right now is that I am not. I don't believe that human lives are of value regardless of whether they benefit me. I believe they may benefit me regardless of whether I know them. I don't believe that the life of another human being is of greater worth than all of my values. I believe it is of greater worth than the life of a pet. I don't believe that the life of every human being is more valuable than my pet. I believe that it is better to assume that it is and risk the value of the pet, than assume that it isn't and risk the value of the human. I don't believe that it is always best to make that assumption. I believe that it is the proper assumption to make when one is living in a rational society. Whether USA 2005 is such a society is a question for another thread, and it's not a question I can answer.
  11. Life and Values

    Oh, that's not true! We're all pet owners here. We're not squeamish.
  12. Life and Values

    (Emphasis added.)
  13. Life and Values

    I'm not sure who has answered "no", but I think I should point out that my answer came down to "yes, but only in a context where humans have become a disvalue." See AS, Book II, Chapter 7.
  14. Life and Values

    I don't follow that. Choosing between a dearly loved pet that's drowning and a perfect stranger who is drowning is choosing between a dying human and a dying animal. I think you meant for this to be qualified more, but I'm not sure what to add to correctly understand it.
  15. Life and Values

    I would like some clarification of what is meant by "potential value." I've avoided that phrase in my argument, because I don't really know what it means. On the face of it, it seems to mean that the person must be potentially more valuable than the cat. Well, potentially, the person could turn out to be the love of your life, or the best friend you ever had. That potential is there in any stranger that you meet. Surely, anyone of us would save his spouse or best friend over his pet, so if we're talking of potentialities, then the stranger is the winner hands down. His potential value is immeasurably large. For all we know, he could be a real-life John Galt. (Please don't respond that John Galt wouldn't be flailing about helplessly in the water. Imagine another hypothetical more suitable, like the one I suggested about a car accident.) But then maybe along with the potentiality you have to assign a probability of the potentiality being actualized. If you would only want to save the person if he was someone you could fall in love with, or become best friends with, you might count the probability of that as being pretty low, and not worth the 100% certainty of losing the pet. I don't understand how these potentialities and probabilities are reckoned, though, so I don't know how to use any of that in an argument. I think I would understand their position better if the people arguing in favor of saving the pet would tell me what would have to be true about the human in question before they would consider saving him instead.