Objectivism in action…

Objectivist Diana Hsieh has a podcast in which she, amongst other things, answers questions from her fellow Objectivists (given that Rand, a self-described “male chauvinist,” said women should look up to men, I’m not sure how that works, but never mind). Some of these questions are kinda sad or weird, that you can only shake your head at the poor people who really think these are issues… This page shows all the submissions that went through the submission process. Here are some:

Is is second-handed to work hard to clean and repair your house before company arrives?

I’m constantly fighting a battle to get my house looking reasonable. Then, right before company arrives from out-of-town, I make an extra big push to get it as clean and tidy as possible. I’d like it to always be that way, but I’ll work a lot harder when I know that someone else will be in the space. So is it second-handed to want to present a better home then I normally maintain? Or is putting in that effort that a matter of respecting and providing for people that I value?

Is chivalry virtuous?

In the Aurora Masacre, three men died in the process of physically shielding their girlfriends from the gunfire. (See http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/25/opinion/bennett-aurora-three/index.html) Is that kind of sacrifice noble? More generally, does chivalry have any place in an ethic of rational egoism?

(the obvious answer, of course, is no: Rand clearly stated that any sacrifice to save others was immoral)

Should men be sensitive to women’s fears of being raped?

Recently, I became aware of an ongoing debate among the online free thinker community regarding proper conduct of men toward women they do not know. In a June 2011 video reporting on a conference, “Skepchik” Rebecca Watson talked about her experience of being asked to the room of a strange man in an elevator at 4 am. (See 4:00 to 5:45 in http://youtu.be/uKHwduG1Frk ) That invitation made her very uncomfortable, and she thought it was very wrong to so sexualize her. Her comments created a firestorm of controversy. Do you think that men need to be sensitive to women’s fears about being raped? Should women have such fears around unknown men?

How should a person respond to another’s irrational discussion tactics?

What should one do when engaged in an intellectual conversation with someone where you’re trying to advance your ideas, but the other person has irrational, or even outright dishonest conversation techniques? Such techniques include frequent interruption, talking over you, giving arbitrary time limits for answers before arbitrarily ending the conversation or moving on, and so forth. All of these tactics make it difficult to fully explicate your position or even get full sentences out. In a one-on-one, unobserved conversation, I know it’s obvious that one should simply not deal with this person, for they’re obviously not listening if they utilize these habits so regularly and frequently. So my main concern is in those cases when you happen to be talking to an irrational conversationalist where other people are observing, such as in a classroom or meeting where you might want to continue the conversation in hopes of reaching the audience instead. In such cases, what should one do?

(I wish someone would tell us how to deal with Objectivists)

Should I use the term “selfish” in conversation without explanation?

According to Ayn Rand, selfishness means acting for your own long-range life and happiness, and that’s moral and proper. Yet most people think that selfishness means brutalizing other people, lying and cheating to satisfy your desires, or at least acting like an insensitive jerk. Should I avoid using the term unless I can explain what I mean by it? And how can I best explain its proper meaning?

Is time for recreation compatible with the virtue of productiveness?

If productive work is the means by which I achieve my values, how can one justify spending even one minute doing something that doesn’t propel me toward some value? I am specifically referring to leisure activities like going to the movies, playing video games, and following sports. I’m not referring to activities that have obvious benefits like sleep, exercise, or cooking healthy food. What about hobbies that are enriching, but ultimately have no productive purpose like dance or guitar lessons (assuming I don’t want to perform in either context as a career)? Is pursuing such hobbies wrong?

Should I try to be more like Hank Rearden?

After reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, I’ve come to an important conclusion: I want to be more like Hank Rearden. What tips would you offer to someone desiring to be so awesome?

Does repecting intellectual property require me to re-purchase my music collection lost due to hard drive failure?

Over the years I have purchased quite a bit of digital music and have built quite a large library. Recently, due to a computer crash and lack of backup, a large segment of that library was erased. Since I paid for all of the music that was lost, I would like to restore it, whether by coping from my friends or by downloading illegal copies from the internet. But I am not entirely sure what I have the right to do based on my original purchases. When purchasing intellectual property am I paying for the right to only the original individual copy or am I paying for the right to access that intellectual property even when the original copy is damaged or lost? In other words, am I morally and legally obliged to purchase new copies of my music or can I replace what was destroyed? Also, does it make any difference if my original copy was from a CD versus an MP3 download?

Why can’t a person sell himself into slavery?

People often decry indentured servitude, whereby people paid for their travel to America with several years of service. But this seems like a perfectly sound trade given certain assumptions about the terms of that service, e.g. you can’t starve or abuse the servant. Is that right? If so, why can’t a person sell himself into slavery? For instance, suppose that my family is poor, so I arrange with someone to give my family money in exchange for me becoming their slave, i.e. literally becoming their property. Is that possible? Should the law forbid that?

Are women subservient to men in Objectivism like in Christianity?

The Bible and Christians teach that God made women to be subservient to men and not to be their leader. Ayn Rand thinks that women are naturally subservient to men and should not be their leader. Aside from the appeal to God, what’s the difference?

Should children be protected by child labor laws?

Currently, federal and state governments restricts “child labor” in various ways. The US Department of Labor “restricts the hours that youth under 16 years of age can work and lists hazardous occupations too dangerous for young workers to perform.” The goal is to “protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety.” ( http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor/ ) Is this a proper function of government? Does it violate the rights of parents, children, and/or employers? If so, what’s the harm done?

How can I effectively counter Marxist economic arguments?

My family and friends often advocate Marxist economic ideas — for example, that wealth should be redistributed according to need, that corporations and corporate profits are evil, and that rich people have too much money. How can I best respond to these arguments?

(Shit, shit, shit, I’m a crazy cultist who only uses rationality as a weapon, how do I deal with actually rational people?)

Do I have a moral obligation to terminate friendships with people who steal music and other intellectual property from the internet?

I do not personally know a single individual who doesn’t steal something off the internet. I used to do this myself, but stopped when I realized it was wrong and why. Normally, I would cut off contact with anyone who violates rights like that, but the activity is so prevalent now, I honestly cannot think of a single person I would be able to continue to associate with; it’s so easy to do, and people look at you like you’re crazy if you tell them you don’t.

I understand people don’t have to be 100% correct or even moral in order to gain value from being friends with them, and they may even be religious or advocate destructive ideas, but isn’t there a distinction between holding evil ideas and actually bringing them into physical reality by violating other people’s rights, i.e., by using force? Isn’t there a line that should be drawn there, on the principle of not sanctioning evil? Should I renounce all of my friends who steal things off the internet, keeping in mind that this would mean I would lose all of them, and I have just graduated from college and have no idea how to find better ones? I am prepared to do so, but I first want to make sure I’m not mistakenly making a huge sacrifice.

I know this would be serious for anyone, but I already feel like an outcast and find it almost impossible to cultivate relationships with anybody, either because they resent me for making clear my moral standards, or because I resent them for being immoral, or because we have little of import in common due to their lack of interest in ideas. If I lost the friends I have now, I would be totally alone.

I think you get the idea. Pretty funny, if you ask me…

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