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Everything posted by mrocktor

  1. The ideal type of game, in my opinion, is the role playing game. Every game of this sort has implicit ethics, many of them have explicit ethics such as the good/evil spectrum in D&D derivates, the light side/dark side spectrum in Star Wars derivates etc. The problem is that these ethics always have altruism as their standard of "good". A good RPG that had a proper ethical spectrum (i.e. gain "good" points for productivity, fighting for your own rights, respecting others', "bad" points for violating rights) would be revolutionary. That alone would make the title controversial and provoking (hey, I made a million bucks and shifted towards good? What the hell?). Also essential would be having the game actually reflect the full consequences of your character's choices. In most RPGs you can steal and kill, but if you help an old lady cross the street the "good" and "bad" cancel out and everyone treats you nicely again. Having non player characters who respond to specific acts would make the game more immersive, and the consequences of individual ethics more realistic. That said, I second the idea that the game should NOT be preachy, and that direct reference to Ayn Rand would only fit if you choose one of her works as a setting (Atlas would make a fantastic setting, though). By all means let the player be a murdering thief - it should be fun to do so, its a game. He should also reach the end of the game being hunted and having to be afraid of his own shadow. No "you conquer the universe and all bow to you" endings for evil characters.
  2. Why do US companies stay in the US?

    The answer, I think, is that they are moving - as much as they can. This is the root of the "outsourcing" phenomenon, just like the "sweatshop" phenomenon before it. Companies have massively moved out their manufacturing, their customer support and are in the process of moving out product development itself. To a very large degree, companies (and more importantly, their capital) have left the US. The fact that they keep their corporate headquarters in the country does not mean that the actual production of values is there.
  3. Immigration

    I read this on the site for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and the starkness of it was shocking: My emphasis. Other than the part about taxes, since when is that the wrong message? Is that not the principle uppon which America was built? How the hell can a candidate who supposedly is pro-freedom be so direct about the fact that he is against allowing honest people who want to work to enter the USA? I think the answer is the mistaken idea that the "rule of law" can somehow be more important than the actual rights of the individuals it is supposed to defend. When the law is immoral, enforcing it is immoral. So instead of candidates who propose to end illegal immigration by making it legal, we have candidates proposing the building of walls and the creation of high tech bio-identification work permits.
  4. Or, in other words, if you are to actually live and stay in power long enough to reach the goal of eliminating taxation, you have to tolerate taxation for a while. As long as you make it clear that your goal is to eliminate it, and if every step you take is in that direction, this is not immoral or hypocritical.
  5. See? That is a principled argument, not rationalism.
  6. Iran's President to Visit Ground Zero

    Oh, I doubt it. The government can be trusted to protect him from you. Just not the other way around.
  7. And that is called pragmatism. The only difference between that statement and Hillary Clinton's health plan is that she thinks that "point" is when someone gets sick, and not when a war starts. A matter of degree. Either you understand individual rights as a principle, and realize they apply in every context, or you don't.
  8. Iran's President to Visit Ground Zero

    That he is allowed in the country is bad enough.
  9. Favorite war movies

    I second Band of Brothers heartily, despite it not really being a movie. I also like Master and Commander and Enemy at the Gates.
  10. Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990-1996)

    I gave it a 2 because, though it is really, really bad, it is not nihilistic. Within the distorted framework of environmentalism, the protagonists pursue and achieve values.
  11. Wheel of Time

    Personally I think the quality of the work started to go downhill around the fourth book of the series - but at that point I was "invested" enough in the characters that I wanted to see where the author would take them. It only started to get really bad around book 7-8 or so, but so far I have managed to read all of them. The last entry managed to get teh plot moving again and tie up a few things that have been left hanging for a long, long time - and hopefully Jordan will be able to give the series a satisfying finale - even if it does not measure up to the begining. My recomendation is read the Eye of the World (book 1), it stands for itself and is very good. Whether you go on from there, that is another decision
  12. D.C. Appeals to Supreme Court on Gun Law

    Or, in other words, who exactly is this "we" you speak of?
  13. No, I got the point. I was just commenting that the British Army that faced Washington probably didn't have poorly armored Land Rovers. Your post was a non-sequitur, even though the underlying point you were trying to make was understandable.
  14. Patent Laws to be Revised

    First of all, good questions sjw. No it is not. You have to ignore the creative insight involved in the various ways of fixing stone, wood and metal wheels to axles, the insight in the various means to construct a wooden wheel, the idea of having a contact surface other than the material of the wheel itself, the idea of the tire, the idea of the pneumatic tire, the idea of grooving the pneumatic tire, the idea of using an inner pressure vessel to allow more liberty in designing the actual contact surface, the idea of countouring the wheel to create a seal that allows you to eliminate that inner tube... You have to ignore the intellectual work of thousands of people in order to state that "once roundness was figured out, the rest is just carpentry".
  15. Thanks for expanding on your positions. Fundamentally I have to say I'm comfortable with trusting lots of people with very little (each), and extremely uncomfortable with trusting one person with much. But as to what trust is, and the fact that it is necessary to live in the real world, I agree with your statements. So, trust is a proper basis for action, when uncertainty exists. Is it a proper basis for knowledge? I'm inclinded to say no, but I'd like to hear your opinions since I have not formulated a proper argument in support of my gut feeling.
  16. I get your point guys, this is not what I'm talking about though. Betsy's example is much better. In comparing a doctor who makes you understand your situation with another who asks you to trust him, the issue is clear. No matter how many diplomas the second guy has on his wall, the first guy is more convincing - to a rational man. In something as important as medical care, no amount of diplomas is enough. The milk example gets around this because you know that there are all sorts of quality controls and inspections all along the milk production and distribution cycle, you are not placing that much trust in the grocer at all - you know that there are many layers of protection. Point in case, if getting home you notice the milk jug you bought is not properly sealed, you probably won't drink it (I wouldn't). Which shows that you don't really trust the grocer at all beyond trusting him not to deliberatly try to murder you by poisoning your milk and re-sealing the bottle. And that is the level of trust you pretty much extend to everyone you coexist with. The airplane example is similar. You know there are extremely rigid standards for pilot training and that aviation takes safety very, very seriously indeed. You don't so much trust the pilot not to be drunk as know that it is incredibly unlikely he could get away with trying to fly the plane while under the influence. If our food and transportation industries were actually free, this knowledge would be more explicit. Since the nanny government "protects us all from everything" it is far too easy to ignore all this knowledge that we use as a basis for decisions. Coming back to the topic, we have ample evidence of Ayn Rand's genius - this is a fact. But no amount of evidence of her ingenuity is enough for me to accept something she said on trust.
  17. Interesting thought. Do you think this is morally acceptable outside of an emergency situation or one where you are intellectualy incapable of understanding first hand? Personally, I can't think of a single situation where I would accept something on trust that had significant effect on my life, liberty or property except in an emergency.
  18. Patent Laws to be Revised

    Thanks, I await your argument
  19. Some people interpret this to mean people have a right to not perceive certain things if they don't want to, and that others have a moral obligation to warn them if such things are present. Other people interpret this to mean that people have a right to choose where they look and what they listen to and have a moral right to not have force used against them so they will look at something or listen to something. The context of the quote offers points in favor of each interpretation - if you are discussing what Ayn Rand meant by it - and then there is a whole other can of worms which is debating which interpretation is consistent with Objectivism. If you are arguing what is true, that quote alone is only a piece of an argument - and holds no more weight than the argument you build around it for having been originally written by Ayn Rand.
  20. And wherever the argument is available, it speaks for itself. But I wouldn't say "never". Her stance on public displays of pornography, for instance, is not supported by an explicit argument and generates significant conflict among honest Objectivists.
  21. Patent Laws to be Revised

    First, I'll start by saying that the standard arguments for patents are pragmatic. Whether eliminating patents would stifle innovation or make it flourish is irrelevant to whether it is right. Anyone who thinks that the question of whether it is practical to eliminate patents is relevant to the question of whether it is right to do it has causality backwards. "The moral is the practical" means that whatever can be rationally determined to be moral will turn out to be practical. It does not mean that if something seems practical, that makes it moral. In the first we rationally derive conclusions by applying logic based on facts. In the second we use imagination to project what we think the consequences of something would be. The first is principled thinking, the second is pragmatism. That said, the pragmatic argument for patents (the "innovation argument") is not Ayn Rand's basis for defending them. Her basis is that man has a right to the fruit of his work, and thinking is work - the most important kind of work. Patents protect a specific kind of thought: thought about physical products that further man's life. When an inventor has an idea, he creates something that did not exist before, knowledge of a specific means to change reality to man's benefit - how to make a specific, physical product. What is invention? Invention is creating a product that did not previously exist. The idea of "independent invention" is an oxymoron - you can't invent something after someone else already has, whether you know about it or not. The idea already exists after the inventor creates it. An important observation is the distinction between invention and discovery. The facts of reality can't be patented, no one can force another to remain ignorant or to live by falsehood. No one can own truth, patenting knowledge - even scientific knowledge - equates to patenting truth. This is absurd. Currently, though, it is accepted (just look at the companies patenting the DNA sequences of various natural species, as if they owned the facts of reality). The distinction between a discovery (identifying a fact of reality) and invention (creating a product) is creation. A scientist does not create, he discovers facts that already exist. An inventor creates something new, something that did not exist. In science it makes sense to talk about "independent discovery", certainly two scientists that independently figure out the same fact of reality have done the same job and deserve the same recognition. Not so with invention. The first person to create a new product has created something that did not exist. The second, even if he never heard of the first, did not create something that did not exist. The distinction between discovery and invention identifies an essential feature of a proper patent system - it must only alow products to be patented, not facts. A product is a physical existent that serves some human purpose - both are essential. A proper patent system would only accept patents on the use of physical things for stated purposes. For instance, one should not be able to patent "penicillin", it is an existent, such a patent would be a patent on reality. One should be able to patent "the use of penicillin as an antibiotic", and also "the use of a culture of penicillium mold to produce penicillin". If someone else creates a way to use penicillin as lip gloss, and not because of its anti-bacterial action, he is free to patent that application. If someone creates another process to obtain penicillin, he is free to patent that. Such patents, being limited to refering to concretes (physical existents) and not concepts (ideas), being limited to the application the inventor thought about and not all possible applications of the object, pose no barrier to further innovation and protect the right of the creator to do as he pleases with the results of his effort. One favourite example of those who combat the idea of patents is the wheel. They say "if someone patented the wheel they would have a monopoly that would have stifled all inovation in transportation for hundreds of years!". Of course this is a pragmatic argument, but let's see how a proper patent system would handle such a claim. First of all, "the wheel" is not a product, it is a concept. The first inventor (I like to call him "Og") could not patent "the wheel", he would have submitted a patent for "the use of a circular stone with a central hole mounted on a wooden axle (as depicted on stone tablet A1) to reduce friction in carrying loads across the ground". He has to patent the actual product he invented. It is obvious that such a patent does not stifle innovation. The first man to create the idea of using a circular piece of wood in the same fashion could patent that, Og could not complain. The man who created the idea of making the wooden wheel out of several boards could patent that, the man who created the idea of making a wheel out of a wooden rim and spokes could patent that, the man who created the idea of binding the rim with an iron strip could patent that. This does not even touch on the fact that there are a myriad ways to manufacture the products, and each of these means can be improved uppon as well. Many patents would continue to depend on previous patents to be useable (the metal rimmed wooden spoked wheel can't be built without a wooden spoked wheel, for instance), this just means that the inventor of the improvement has to negotiate some agreement with the inventor of the original product - and that is fine. In conclusion, patents are proper. They are the recongition of the right of the creator of a product to use it as he sees fit. This is the principled argument. What can and cannot be patented flows from what a product is, and what the creator actually created. And we know a proper system of patents is practical.
  22. I echo Brian's thoughts on this matter. "Ayn Rand said it" contributes nothing in a debate. The actual argument she presented, on the other hand, most always contributes much - she was a genius. When a citation is used because it contains a pertinent identification or argument, it is the argument that is being submitted to the debate, who made it is immaterial. When a citation of an authority is used because it contains a statement that supports the debater's position, but no argument, it contributes nothing to the discussion. You are being asked to accept the truth of the statement because of who made it, this is an appeal to authority and a fallacy - even if the person actually is an authority, even if the statement actually is true. What a philosophical statement by Ayn Rand brings to the table is a huge "consider this idea seriously" sign, this is what our just respect for her mind demands. Her authorship is not, in any way, evidence of the statement's truth. I have seen quotes of Ayn Rand wielded like a club, statements of hers that have no supporting argument in any of her writings but that people expect you to agree with because its Ayn Rand. The basis of the "reasoning" behind such a stance is right there in PhilO's original post: she was almost certainly smarter than you, and more integrated. What is implicit is the "therefore you are almost certainly wrong to disagree with her". But truth is not determined by how smart I am, or how smart she was - it is determined by the facts of reality. I would not judge well someone who dismisses some idea of Ayn Rand's after "a few minutes' thought" as PhilO put it. But I judge must worse someone who takes her word on it.
  23. Why Can't People Get Along With Each Other?

    "And evade the consequences" is more like it. They don't really escape them.