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Everything posted by Maarten

  1. Gore and UN Share Nobel Peace Prize

    I think it is not as bad with regards to the Nobel Prizes in the physical sciences. We had a list of Nobel prize posters at school and most of the ones related to Chemistry and Medicine did reward very interesting and promising scientific breakthroughs. So I wouldn't say that this disqualifies all categories of the Nobel Prize. It is mainly the ones in the humanities and the Peace prize that are just... well... useless at best. Does anyone know if the same committee awards these things for all the categories, or do they have different people evaluating the work done in every field there's a Nobel prize for?
  2. Weird Psychological Trick

    It's just CCW for me I guess that makes sense, and I haven't really been able to invert it.
  3. Aww, he's cute! Congratulations on becoming a dad! I wish you many joyful years as a parent
  4. The legitimacy of parental obligation

    Organon, In the case of Miss Rand's definition, you do have both a genus and differentia. The whole definition being: A virtue is an act by which one gains and/or keeps a value. The genus being: an act. The differentia being: by which one gains and/or keeps a value. With this differentia it is clear how to identify virtue from other acts that are not virtuous. I think your definition severely fails to do so and therefore doesn't perform its intended cognitive function.
  5. A question and analysis relating to evil

    Yes, but the point is, I think, that in most cases you do not know these additional circumstances. So I would be very careful about judging someone as evil based on such an emotional response alone. Furthermore, emotions as such are dictated by a person's subconsciously integrated value-system. The fact that they experience a certain emotion doesn't say anything beyond indicating that they are holding some premise (whether for good or for bad). It is impossible for a person to be evil only because of an emotional response, no matter what it is. It depends on whether or not he consciously approves of the value judgment underlying the emotional response.
  6. A question and analysis relating to evil

    Note that she says characteristically resents. That means it's more than just isolated instances where such an emotion pops up. However, you did not qualify any such thing in your earlier posts. Any one of your examples doesn't indicate a single thing about a person's morality, unless you change the hypothetical to include knowledge a person reasonably speaking could not have (which, you are doing, by the way).
  7. A question and analysis relating to evil

    Evil is a moral concept, specifically the lack of it. As such, only those things subject to a man's choice can be evil. Emotions are automated responses, so it is impossible that an emotion as such can be evil. It is entirely a different matter to judge a man for his professed beliefs and for his taken actions. But that is not what you are proposing here.
  8. Government Financing

    Would it not be a valid option to allow the government to invest, but only up to a certain (minority) share of a company? Say, the government cannot own more than 5% of all outstanding shares of a company. In that case I don't think they would have very much opportunity to intervene in the free market (which they could have if they owned 75% of the shares of a company), and if they invest in several such companies they could still invest quite a lot of money this way, and get good returns through dividends and the like.
  9. Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

    Hey everyone, I just want to let you know that I cannot reply to the thread in the next few days, because I'm about to leave the country Tomorrow I will go to the airport and I will arrive in Raleigh, NC around midnight local time. It might take a few days until I get everything up and running, and I will take some time to read any additional comments that have been made in the mean time, and reply to them if necessary. Maarten
  10. Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

    I think Janet captured the essence above, in her post. I am speaking in a more general sense, rather than directing what I say at any one person in particular. Nowhere have I said that I consider everyone's posts or even a significant minority of the posts here on this topic to be wrong. I chose to bring this subject up because the matter of holding yourself to high standards when you post is personally valuable to me, and there have been occasions here where that standard was violated (even if not nearly to such an extent as elsewhere). If you do think your posts were always correctly worded, then why would you take issue with what I said? You could simply have indicated that you agreed wholeheartedly. The original discussion concerned the election comments made by Dr. Peikoff and the response to that by others who disagreed with his position. Related to that was the response to Mr. Tracinski's articles about philosophy and history. Anyway, even if you consider someone to be thoroughly dishonest there are still different ways in which you can express this. I think given the public nature of an internet forum, certain ways that are proper elsewhere are not proper here. Even in such a case, I think you should just state that you consider them to be dishonest and present your reasons why. I think any further terms that are not strictly necessary are not appropriate, even in such a context. At least not here.
  11. Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

    I do want to add that I found some of the comments made on Noodlefood and other blogs to be much worse than the things that were said here (well, the things that weren't removed by the moderators because they were improper, anyway). However, Betsy indicated above that she has had to delete quite a few offending posts, so I think it is fair to say that inappropriate posts were made on this forum as well. All I'm saying here is that if the tone of your posts was inappropriate in the past you should do better in the future, out of respect for reason. If you believe you have always been properly respectful, then there is nothing more you have to do but keep up the good work.
  12. Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

    But I do not think that matters; that was the whole point of my post. Whose insulting comments started this issue doesn't matter to me in the slightest. If you are certain that your posts have always been made in a respectful manner then what I wrote is obviously not addressed to you. You'd already be setting a very good example with your actions. I agree with what Sophia wrote a few pages back (I'm paraphrasing now). If you disagree with something another person said, you should simply indicate this by saying: I disagree with X's statement, and the reasons for my disagreement are Y and Z. There is absolutely no necessity to call X's statements stupid; it only distracts from the point under discussion and worse: it works in an inflammatory way (because there's a good reason such comments will only cause the other person to respond even more negatively). Even if someone's ideas are in fact foolish, or completely groundless, there is no need to indicate this in a way that can be considered personal. Any rational discussion should focus on the ideas under discussion, and you should leave out any remarks concerning the people involved. If both sides in a discussion can keep that in mind it will make debates between the two parties much more productive, at least.
  13. Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

    I meant that it is not relevant to the point I was trying to make in my post. I'm sorry if that was unclear.
  14. Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

    Ray, my point is not that it is improper to defend oneself against (verbal) attacks. Only that it is important to do so in a respectful way. Speaking ill of the other person does nothing for the strength of your rebuttal. If someone attacks you with a statement that you consider unworthy of a respectful response, then simply indicate this and leave it at that. You can even give reasons why the other statement is fallacious; I have no issue with that. Even if the person you are responding to is not worthy of a polite reply, I think you should still remain as respectful as always. Then it would be easy to see for any rational being that your respectful and logically sound posts are worth their time and attention to consider. The contrast between your opponent and you will only become clearer as a result of this. I do not think that remaining respectful towards the other party means that you consider them worthy of respect, at least not necessarily. In such a case it would mean that you think ideas and rational discussion are important and that that is the reason why you hold yourself to such high standards.
  15. "Dead Meat" - Health care in Canada

    As far as I know we have socialized health care here in the Netherlands. I know for sure that we have similar problems with waiting lists, and every person in this country has health insurance of some sort. They were recently talking about privatizing the healthcare industry, but I don't think that has gotten very far yet. We've had a ton of discussions over here on what to do about it. As the average age in the population increases it will quickly become almost impossible to sustain the current system. That's why the Netherlands has been moving incrementally towards less welfare in the last few years. They seem to be doing so on a pragmatic basis, though. Because of that the direction could reverse pretty much overnight if a leftist party comes to power. That isn't terribly unlikely, because many people are unsatisfied with the current government and the Socialists already tripled in size last elections (they now control about 1/6th of the parliament). If that continues we may very well get a socialist government in the next few years. Needless to say, they're against privatizing healthcare. I hope I won't be in the country anymore, by then.
  16. Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

    (I copied this from a post I made on I think it is something that has to be said. Everyone can judge for themselves whether it applies to them, or not) I have to say I agree with Sophia. I find the way in which many of the discussions in this conflict were carried out disappointing in the extreme. Many times I remember reading things that I would not hope to find on any rational venue of discussion, let alone a forum (or blog) devoted to Objectivism. I do think that the accusations made against Betsy's forum are unjust, but even that is wholly beside the point here. It does not matter which individuals started with inappropriate posts and remarks; that is utterly irrelevant. Out of sheer respect for the reasoning mind and the idea of rational discussions you should keep certain standards in mind; standards which have been violated many times in the last months. I do not have the time or the inclination to dig through the many thousands of comments made in that time and start pointing fingers. Whether your posts have been made in a manner that is respectful and devoid of personal remarks is something every person can determine for themselves. I just cannot understand why it is not possible for people who disagree about an issue, such as who to vote for, to simply discuss their respective positions rationally, and focus on the arguments presented instead of any other irrelevancies. It is impossible to imagine that I were to reply to someone's article in an academic journal by saying that they were intellectually dishonest (for example). That would never get published, and rightly so. It is utterly irrelevant. If their ideas are truly unsupported by reality then it should not be hard to point out where you disagree, but out of the respect each one of us has for the human mind that is all we should focus on. Posts made in a public place such as this should be held to different standards than the things you say to your friends in your living room. If your intellectual opponent violates certain rules by making inappropriate remarks, then do not lower yourself to their level by returning them in kind. This whole affair has been going on for far too long, in my not so humble opinion. I do not think it can be easily resolved, but the way in which it is conducted needs to change. I know there are many people who have always remained civil and respectful, even when they disagreed vehemently with their opponent. I think that is something every one of us should strive for. Please, read through the comments you have made in the past and consider whether you would find them acceptable if they were directed at you. I'd say that that is a good standard to keep.
  17. I'm coming to the U.S.!

    Hi everyone! It's been a while since I posted here actively, but I just wanted to drop by and tell you guys that I will definitely be attending graduate school in the U.S. coming fall. I started working on my applications last summer when I made a list of schools that seemed promising to me. Over the last academic year I spent quite a lot of time working on the different requirements for my application and I got admitted to the Microbial Biotechnology program at NCSU in Raleigh, NC in early April. At that point I wasn't sure if I could afford to do it, because I was not able to get any type of scholarship or assistantship at that point in time. However, I found a way to pay for it and I spent the last two months working a lot and applying for my visa. Last week, I had to go to the U.S. consulate general in Amsterdam for my interview. This wednesday, I received my passport in the mail with the student visa in it I booked a flight for the 24th of July, to give me some time to get settled before classes start in late August. I'm really, really excited about this and I am both convinced it will be an awesome experience and determined to make sure it will be one Initially, I will be in the U.S. only for the duration of my Master's degree, which is about two years. However, I'm hoping that I can find a company willing to offer me employment when I finish my studies, so that I can return when my current visa expires. Ultimately, I want to become a U.S. citizen and live there, but that is probably still very far away. However, this is a very good first step on the road towards that goal, in my not so humble opinion
  18. I'm coming to the U.S.!

    Hmm, that's not an easy question to answer because I am intrigued by just about anything in this area. One thing that attracts me very much is the idea of using a living organism to further my own ends. I think it is awesome that we can manipulate a micro-organism and force it to produce some alien substance it might never have encountered before and that is completely useless to it, for our own good. Working with a particular organism and improving it so that it becomes even better at producing some valuable substance is probably what I want to do most. The exact organism and exact substance are not really important to me; it's the concept behind it that is so interesting. Although, some microorganisms are cooler than others Go Yeast!!
  19. I'm coming to the U.S.!

    Hehe, that might not be such a bad idea at all That is another way in which I can get a green card. I also entered into the DV lottery just on the off-chance that I can get a green card that way. It's not like it costs you anything I mean, the idea behind Diversity Visas is stupid, but I don't think it's at all wrong to use it given the way the whole immigration system operates these days.
  20. This matter has interested me for a long time, and I have decided to make a topic about it in order to help resolve the issue in my mind. I hope others will find it interesting, as well. Sorry for the long post, but I hope someone has comments on what I said Most often, when I read a discussion about principles, they are discussed in a deductive manner. By that I mean that the principle is taken as a starting point, as a generally applicable rule that can guide your behavior. Usually, the order will be something like: Principle X is true, therefore it should work (and it should improve your life in some way). Alternatively, if the discussion is about validating these principles one should obviously do this by using Reality as the standard of measurement, but the principle itself remains the starting point in this approach. My question concerns the reversed order of this process of validation. I have often seen people say: it is true, therefore it should work. But if there is no dichotomy between ideas and actions, then this relationship should also work in reverse: it works, therefore it should be true. Obviously, this requires one to have a proper standard of value. But given that one knows what is the good, then shouldn't the identification that certain actions work be proof of the truth of the principle behind the action? This may not be very controversial, because what I am describing is basically the scientific method (I think so, anyway), but I don't usually see anyone discuss principles in this way, and I wonder why not. Accepting the truth of a certain principle because it is logical, and then applying it to your life might work very well, but it does require someone to have already formulated the principle in the first place. If you don't know of a principle that covers a certain situation, then you could do one of two things. You could try avoid those situations until you can find a principle that describes what you should do, or you can experiment and try to form a general rule of thumb for such a situation. If you try a certain action, and find that it pays off (in the proper sense of the word), then that implies that the action is good, which must mean that there is a principle behind it that is true and consistent with reality. The only thing still left to do is identify what about the action makes it life-furthering, and then to stick to the principle upon which it rests. Of course, this is a gigantic task in some cases, but someone has to perform it in order to arrive at the principles we know of today. I think that this might be part of the reason why people can live their lives so succesfully without the proper explicitly identified principles. They are able to judge which actions are good for them, and which are not, and they can derive implicitly how they should act in the future. The weakness of this is that consistency is impossible without stating the principle explicitly, but it is vastly better than having no principles to live your life by.
  21. Index of Economic Freedom

    Well, what the US does is of little interest in this case, because he was talking about the UK here I don't know if that situation is different, but citing the IRS policies here really doesn't address his points. (Just in case noone noticed that)
  22. Nature nazis:

    Why would that be immoral? The tree is on your own land, so it's not like you are destroying someone else's property this way. In fact, I'd say that it is moral because you are doing it to further your own life (if that tree is dangerous) in the long run.
  23. Congrats, you two! I wish you all the happiness possible to man
  24. Stephen's Health

    I, too, don't really know what to say to this. I will certainly miss the opportunity to read Stephen's posts and insights very much. I always learned a great deal from his writings. I am saddened that I will never have the opportunity to meet him now. Betsy, you have my deepest condolances. I wish you all the best for the future.
  25. Stephen's Health

    I'm also sorry to hear this. You have my very best wishes for a speedy recovery, and I hope there will be no lasting effects from the heart-attack!