Stephen Speicher

Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

367 posts in this topic

When it comes to what you call "vicious personal attacks" - I have observed some of it on both sides.

Is this really true?

Should I go into a lengthly evaluation of the principle moral judgment and related facts to explain to everybody here why the statement: you can take a girl out of TOC but not TOC out of the girl (quoting from memory) is UNJUST? And this is just one example.

I don't think that is a very good example of "vicious personal attacks" occuring on THE FORUM at all. For one thing, is it all that vicious? I think you might call it a put-down or unfair or disrespectful but is it morally equivalent to the worst, or even the average, comments made on NoodleFood about people on THE FORUM?

Another reason I don't consider it a fair criticism is that it is taken way out of context. When Stephen made that remark, it was in a post (here) that began by setting the context as follows:

I'm so disgusted with the outrageous and unjust attacks on Noodlefood against me, Betsy, and THE FORUM, that I just have to vent. This is not presented as necessarily a statement of fact or as a logical argument, but as a sincere expression of some outraged thoughts and feelings:

====

While it is very possible that a real "vicious attack" managed to get through our sincere attempts to catch and delete them, such attacks are contrary to FORUM policies. If anyone finds a "vicious attack," please point it out and I will remove it.

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I don't think that is a very good example of "vicious personal attacks" occuring on THE FORUM at all. For one thing, is it all that vicious? I think you might call it a put-down or unfair or disrespectful ...
I agree that one must be very careful when one identifies fallacious assertions to be unjust as opposed to unfair or disrespectful etc. Perhaps the conclusion by some that such identification has not properly been performed has led to the current disagreement here?
While it is very possible that a real "vicious attack" managed to get through our sincere attempts to catch and delete them, such attacks are contrary to FORUM policies. If anyone finds a "vicious attack," please point it out and I will remove it.
I have not seen any "vicious attacks" from this forum - neither against Dr. P or Ms. Hsieh. In fact, though Ms. Hsieh continues to make this and similar claims, and asserts that the evidence is numerous and undebatable, when I requested specific evidence, she made reference to only one word "bully" which was aimed at Dr. P - and which I pointed out had been rejected as inappropriate by Stephen. Neither before nor since then have I seen Ms. Hsieh provide support for her accusations whatsoever. Given the nature of the accusations, the continued frequency with which she spreads them, and her persistent refusal to support them, in my judgment it is her actions alone which qualify as unjust in this instance.

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When it comes to what you call "vicious personal attacks" - I have observed some of it on both sides.

Is this really true?

Should I go into a lengthly evaluation of the principle moral judgment and related facts to explain to everybody here why the statement: you can take a girl out of TOC but not TOC out of the girl (quoting from memory) is UNJUST? And this is just one example.

I don't think that is a very good example of "vicious personal attacks" occuring on THE FORUM at all. For one thing, is it all that vicious? I think you might call it a put-down or unfair or disrespectful but is it morally equivalent to the worst, or even the average, comments made on NoodleFood about people on THE FORUM?

First, it was not my intention to point fingers (as far as I remember it was not only one person who had made this statement here - or one of similar meaning).

I consider it terribly unjust. Not just unfair or disrespectful. And it has been repeated.

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I have not been making my judgement as compared to someone else but rather according to what I consider right principles. It is my opinion that, according to what is known to me, what was presented, unjust statements had been made on both sides.

I don't think I have more to add and I see that this is turning into "shot the messenger". I have not been making empty claims - I provided my reasons. I tried to be sensitive and fair to the best of my ability.

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I consider it terribly unjust. Not just unfair or disrespectful.
I would be interested in learning by what standard the TOC comment is identified as unjust (terribly or otherwise) rather than unfair or disrespectful.
I don't think I have more to add and I see that this is turning into "shot the messenger".
I do not believe this is the case. I believe people are trying to grasp the basis for the message provided by the messenger - and then are attempting to show whether or not that message is a valid one. There is nothing inappropriate or invalid about such discussion.

I would definitely agree that you have made some valid points. But I do not know that I agree with all your conclusions - which is certainly the reason I ask my questions.

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I do not think one aspect (respectful commentary), can be taken out of a situation and just focus on that one aspect, this is what I think is irrational. And this is what I think is trying to be done. One cannot wish away an irrational person nor an irrational situation, the only way to attack it is from it's root. To attack something from it's root takes focus on the whole situation in it's proper context which means an integrated rational perspective.

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I consider it terribly unjust. Not just unfair or disrespectful.

I would be interested in learning by what standard the TOC comment is identified as unjust (terribly or otherwise) rather than unfair or disrespectful.

unjust - violating principles of justice

unfair - marked by partiality, not evenhanded or unbiased

disrespectful - exhibiting lack of respect; rude and discourteous

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Sophia, I am curious to know if you have spent anytime reading what TOC offers as philosophical writings. Are you aware that TOC has been the home, so to speak, of the Brandons? Are you aware of the methods used to disparage and disrespect Dr. Peikoff, ARI and those associated with ARI, and Ayn Rand herself? I cannot speak for Stephen, of course, but I too nodded my head when I read what he wrote, not because I think that Ms. Hsieh still thinks those at TOC are correct in their philosophy, but because her method when evaluating others with whom she disagrees is much the same as TOC, i.e., not by well reasoned argument, but by character assassination. Therefore, while his phrasing was blunt, I don't think his statement was unjust, or even unfair.

You also used Stephen's statement that he found Dr. Peikoff's statement about who to vote for to be embarrassing. Again, when one considers Dr. Peikoff's life work in Objectivism, the stature he's earned within the Objectivist community, I would say that his statement was and is embarrassing because of the way he chose to frame his judgment. I, for one, expected one of the greatest practitioners of logical argument to use a logical argument. That I found it embarrassing doesn't mean that I disrespect Dr. Peikoff, I still hold him in high regard. It is because I hold him in high regard that I found his statement so distressing. Some people disagree with this and see nothing wrong with his statement. There is a disagreement in perception, obviously. That doesn't mean that either side is justified in changing the discussion from one of the merits of Dr. Peikoff's statement, to one of the morality and worthiness of those doing the arguing.

What has been going on on one side isn't a rational philosophical discussion of principles. It has been nothing but an exercise in an unjust character assassination. If we disagree amongst ourselves, it doesn't mean that life-time Objectivists have suddenly become evil evaders and persons of low character who ought to be shunned as irrational. But that is the upshot of Ms. Hsieh's and others' statements. There are not two-sides to this. Regardless of how it started.

And, by the way, I do not want to "shoot the messenger." As I have stated, I have no argument with what you have to say about the proper method, and manners, to use when presenting an argument. I appreciate your patience and fortitude. Speaking for myself, your efforts have not gone unappreciated.

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*** I see that Sophia has posted while I was composing this. Nevertheless, I will let my post stand ***

......

Yes, that is a fair summary. You have said it a lot more eloquently than I could.

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Another salvo has just been fired by the "other side."

"Quinn Wyndham-Price" just joined OO.net and his very first post was a long, nasty personal attack on me.

I answered him. :)

(Judging by the false allegations in the post, the pomposity, the verbosity, and the "throw everything but the kitchen sink against her" style of attack, my best guess is that it's Tore Boeckmann. Again.)

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And, by the way, I do not want to "shoot the messenger." As I have stated, I have no argument with what you have to say about the proper method, and manners, to use when presenting an argument. I appreciate your patience and fortitude. Speaking for myself, your efforts have not gone unappreciated.

I'll second that.

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Oldsalt,

I am familiar with the philosophical differences between TOC and ARI. The most crucial difference (aside from the issue of open vs. close system and what is the definition of an Objectivist) is the role and nature of moral evaluation. On the TOC side it is the separation between volition and ideas, an exclusion of cognition from moral evaluation, disconnect between ideas and action - which further leads to the idea of moral toleration instead of an objective moral judgment.

When you use a term to describe someone you assign to this person all the meaning which that term represents (unless you set your specific terms).

Diana has had the integrity to admit to a fundamental error in her approach to Objectivism and had corrected it YEARS ago.

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Another salvo has just been fired by the "other side."

"Quinn Wyndham-Price" just joined OO.net and his very first post was a long, nasty personal attack on me.

I answered him. :)

(Judging by the false allegations in the post, the pomposity, the verbosity, and the "throw everything but the kitchen sink against her" style of attack, my best guess is that it's Tore Boeckmann. Again.)

Good job, Betsy. :)

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I would be interested in learning by what standard the TOC comment is identified as unjust (terribly or otherwise) rather than unfair or disrespectful.

unjust - violating principles of justice

unfair - marked by partiality, not evenhanded or unbiased

disrespectful - exhibiting lack of respect; rude and discourteous

Those may be workable definitions for the given terms, but merely reciting such definitions does not tell how the TOC reference is properly identified as unjust.

Given your 7:45 pm post, though, I think I may be able to identify your argument. It appears your position is that the TOC reference "violates principles of justice" because Ms. Hsieh admitted "to a fundamental error in her approach to Objectivism and had corrected it YEARS ago." And because Ms. Hsieh has supposedly corrected her error, it is unjust to claim she has not.

Is not the TOC reference a suggestion that Ms. Hsieh may not have corrected her prior error as successfully as you assert? While such a suggestion certainly speaks to her and not her arguments (and thus could conceivably be considered 'disrespectful') the method Ms. Hsieh has employed against this forum, its founders, and its members, provide support for the idea that she is not consistently practicing the principles of Objectivism - just as she had not when she was with TOC. And, if that is indeed true, then I do not see how the TOC reference is logically considered unjust.

Thus, if you are to support your assertion that unjust accusations have been made against Ms. Hsieh, you must provide evidence that she is indeed consistently applying the principles of Objectivism (be her application accurate or erroneous).

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Does Sophia consider any of Hsieh's false accusations against THE FORUM and its members "UNJUST"?

Yes.

Which of Hsieh's quotes in particular do you consider "UNJUST"? Are there any that leap to mind?

Since you have made a statement that this claim in question is factual, please clearly define, in terms of philosophical principles, what it means to be TOCer and then show me how that term applies to Diana Hsieh today.

The philosophical case against the TOC -- and against the "toleration" types who start in Objectivism, may call themselves Objectivist, but are in fact libertarians -- was made for all time by Leonard Peikoff in his essay Fact and Value. In it, he explores the relationship between a proper epistemology and a proper ethics (i.e., the relationship between fact and value). He demonstrates that a proper epistemological judgment of facts would lead to a proper moral judgment of people, ideas, and things. Ethics rests on epistemology, as you, I am sure, are aware.

But the final destination of his article is the identification of their basic epistemological problem: an inability or unwillingness to grasp the concept of objectivity. Here is Dr. Peikoff:

FOR DECADES, onetime advocates of Objectivism who have turned into champions of "tolerance" (or "kindness" or "compassion") have leveled a specific accusation against Ayn Rand and against anyone else who pronounces moral judgment. (Kelley a few years ago accused Ayn Rand and me of it to my face, and I broke off all relations with him.) The accusation is that we are "dogmatic moralizers" or "angry emotionalists." Up to now, I could explain these attacks only psychologically, in terms of the attackers' cowardice or psychopathology. But now I understand the basic cause; I see the attacks' philosophic meaning. In the minds of the "tolerance"-people, there are only two possibilities in regard to moral judgment: moralizing or emotionalism, dogma or whim, i.e., intrinsicism or subjectivism.

Such people literally have no concept of "objectivity" in regard to values. Their accusations, therefore, are expressions of their own actual philosophy and inner state. The typical (though not invariable) pattern in this kind of case is that the accuser started out in Objectivism as a dogmatist, cursing or praising people blindly, in obedience, as he thought, to his new-found "authorities." Then at last his pent-up resentment at this self-made serfdom erupts—and he becomes an angry subjectivist, denouncing the "excessive anger" of those who make moral judgments. The swing from intrinsicism to subjectivism, however, is not a significant change; these philosophies are merely two forms in which the notion of "non-objective value" rules a man's brain.

[Emphases original.]

Now, notice that Dr. Peikoff describes the psychological change in one direction: from intrinsicist to subjectivist. That is to say, most of these pseudo-Objectivists usually start as rationalistic Atlas-thumpers and then end up as "no one's gonna tell me what to do" libertines who practice all manner of vice (from lying and malicious character assassination via seemingly innocuous email to heavy drinking or drug use).

My opinion is that in Hsieh's case, the change has occurred in the other direction: from subjectivist to intrinsicist. She used to be TOC, i.e., essentially libertarian; now, she "overcompensates" in her new role as chief dogmatist for the "real" Objectivists. Read Dr. Peikoff's words again, which I quote below. Who comes to mind?

a dogmatist, cursing or praising people blindly, in obedience, as he thought, to his new-found "authorities."

Objectivity is a state of mind which can only be achieved painstakingly: it requires a study of not only Objectivist literature, but also the proper methods of thought. In application, one must train one's mind to be open to new facts, in order to make new integrations. This state of mind can take years to accomplish but, once attained, is easy to maintain, provided focus is not dropped. In my opinion, objectivity, not the label "Objectivist," is the true mark of one's understanding of Ayn Rand's philosophy. I believe this is why Miss Rand preferred that Objectivists refer to themselves as "students of Objectivism."

Objectivity, in my experience, is the only way to achieving independence and inner peace. I believe this is why THE FORUM succeeds: it is the most objective site on the World Wide Web.

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It seems to me that in order for one to make the charge that an individual is either being intellectually dishonest or engaging in "evasion", one needs to have some prior knowledge that the person being described actually does know the truth (or, in the case of evasion, has an inkling of it) about a given subject and that, therefore, that person's speaking or acting in contraction to what he knows to be the truth represents a deliberate, immoral (contrary to reality) choice.

Would not the person making such a charge need to provide, at the very least, the evidence of that prior knowledge?

Am I wrong?

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Sorry . . . that's "contradiction", not "contraction".

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This is a very difficult discussion. Sophia has made many points that I absolutely agree with, but she is speaking in broad generalizations about the proper way to debate, and how to answer accusations (I don't think those two things are necessarily the same).

I don't either, yet both are issues of importance to me and to THE FORUM.

I think we might be better able to give each issue the clear focus each deserves if I split this topic into two topics: one that directly addresses charges made against THE FORUM and whether they are true or false and the proper way of dealing with critics, criticism, and disagreements on THE FORUM.

(It might take me a while to do it considering how long this thread is.)

I found it impossible to split the two issues on the existing thread since many posts deal with both. One FORUM member suggested I close this existing thread and start two new ones. That makes a lot of sense and that is what I will do right now.

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