The Instigator
Valar_Morghulis
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
AkulMunjal
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Objectivism is Flawed

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Valar_Morghulis
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/18/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,209 times Debate No: 37898
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (19)
Votes (1)

 

Valar_Morghulis

Pro

It is the position of the Pro that Objectivism which is the philosophy of Ayn Rand is flawed and should be disregarded as an approachable outlet to philosophy. The goal of the Con is to prove otherwise.

Rules:

1. A single forfeit equals an automatic forfeit for this debate on the offending party.

2. No semantic disputes. If the definition of a term is unclear please refer to the online Merriam Webster Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com...

3. The Con will simply state acceptance for the first round. No dense introduction necessary.


AkulMunjal

Con

I accept this position
Debate Round No. 1
Valar_Morghulis

Pro

I thank the Con for accepting this debate. I hope for a fruitful and healthy debate. Objectivism which is the philosophy of Ayn Rand present stunning flaws to it's metaphysical and political doctrine as to which I will highlight below.

I. Experience of Objective Reality is Impossible

Before we start, it's important to distinguish between cognitive biases and logical fallacies. A logical fallacy is an error in logical argumentation (e.g. ad hominem attacks, slippery slopes, circular arguments, appeal to force, etc.). A cognitive bias, on the other hand, is a genuine deficiency or limitation in our thinking — a flaw in judgment that arises from errors of memory, social attribution, and miscalculations (such as statistical errors or a false sense of probability).

There's a difference between understanding the world objectively (or at least trying to, anyway) and experiencing it through an exclusively objective framework. This is essentially the problem of qualia — the notion that our surroundings can only be observed through the filter of our senses and the cogitations of our minds. Everything you know, everything you've touched, seen, and smelled, has been filtered through any number of physiological and cognitive processes.

To further this point the human mind while capable of complex abstractional thought also suffers from a numerous array of flaws in terms of perception and understanding. Numerous biases plague our rational attempts at being able to grasp such a concept as objective reality (assuming it even exists). A short list here demonstrates how rationally destitute our thinking can become when biases come into play.

1. Post-Purchase Rationalization

"Post-purchase rationalization, also known as Buyer's Stockholm Syndrome, is a cognitive bias whereby someone who has purchased an expensive product or service overlooks any faults or defects in order to justify their purchase. It is a special case of choice-supportive bias. Some authorities would also consider this rationalization a manifestation of cognitive dissonance." [S1]

2. Observational Selection Bias

"Observation selection effects are an especially subtle kind of selection effect that is introduced not by limitations in our measurement apparatuses but by the fact that all evidence is preconditioned on the existence of an observer to “have” the evidence and to build the instruments in the first place." [S2]

3. Status-Quo Bias

"The tendency for people to like things to stay relatively the same (see also Loss aversion and Endowment effect) [S3]4. Observer-expectancy effect bias" [S3]

4. Observer-Expectancy Effect Bias

"When a researcher expects a given result and therefore unconsciously manipulates an experiment or misinterprets data in order to find it (see also subject-expectancy effect)." [S3]

5. Positive outcome bias

"A tendency in prediction to overestimate the probability of good things happening to them (see also wishful thinking, optimism bias and valence effect)" [S3]

It should be clear at this point that even in a clearly rational mind biases will always be present and to be able to calculate an objective reality one must be able to do so in a manner secluded from every possible irrational bias leading to my first point's conclusion that it is simply outside the capability of the human mind.

II. Existence Doesn't Exist

The first branch of objectivist metaphysics states that existence does indeed exist,

"Existence exists is an axiom which states that there is something, as opposed to nothing. At the core of every thought is the observation that "I am aware of something". The very fact that one is aware of something is the proof that something in some form exists -- that existence exists -- existence being all that which exists." [S4]

The problem with this concept right off the bat is that it is a rationalistic loop (circular reasoning). Objectivism starts with existence and then claims that it exists. It's tautological and rather meaningless statement which undermines it's entire metaphysical branch of philosophy. What objectivism should really be asking and defining is;

Is there an existence apart from my experience in the first place?

III. The Problem of Free Will

Objectivism claims that free will exists within the context of man's mind. I beg to differ.

If existence exists, everything acts according to only it's nature then there is simply no agent of free will involved which is invariably deterministic by default. No indication is given on how this is actually possible from the standpoint of a free will argument. To have true free will one must be able to act and manifest in reality without the constraints of reality to guide it. This is clearly not the case as science has demonstrated over the years of it's existence that all life is subject to the same laws as it's biological counterparts. Trees just as animals and humans are subject to the law of gravity and entropic forces.

Sources:

1. http://www.jstor.org...
2. http://www.anthropic-principle.com...
3. http://rationalwiki.org...
4. http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com...

AkulMunjal

Con

AkulMunjal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Valar_Morghulis

Pro

Rule 1 is in effect due to forfeit by the Con.

If the Con wishes to debate further he may regardless. My arguments extend.
AkulMunjal

Con

AkulMunjal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Valar_Morghulis

Pro

Another FF.

Arguments extended. Vote Pro.
AkulMunjal

Con

AkulMunjal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by 2-D 3 years ago
2-D
Well it does seem like she was quite a narcissist with a bit of a God complex. I agree she never made any claims along those lines it was just how she communicated her ideas. It has been a while since I read he books but at the time I agreed with Nathaniel Branden's critique: http://mol.redbarn.org...

I'm a big fan of his other works, he's kind of a rational self help author. He still basically agrees with Ayn but has some valid objections. Yeah there was a whole scandalous break between them and Objectivists tend to hate the guy.

As for a radical strategy I tend to advocate skepticism first and foremost. A lack of critical thinking is the major problem. The way people think in the US it's tough to accomplish even moderate Goals. There is a place for the Ron Pauls of the world but they don't get elected to make change. If society were in general able to think critically there would be the potential to make radical change. With people being guided by bias, common sense and traditional norms you can't convince them of anything controversial. On a debate site you may have more luck.

Yeah I tend to think charity promotes dependence and doesn't usually help people. I think empathy and concern for others is natural and healthy. If someone would like to help people by spending a little time offering free job training for instance, this would be completely rational and commendable. If they spent the majority of the time doing this they probably love the attention, are corrupt or may have an inordinate amount of empathy. I think people are in general self serving so the hypocrisy and guilt of supposed self sacrificial actions is my problem.

You should weigh in on the recent Objectivism thread: http://www.debate.org...
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
Sorry I didn't see your post 2-D.

I have been called a libertarian and do not object to that title as I relatively close to that movement on most issues. I am a self-described objectivist but some other objectivist have disagreed with that :p

If Ayn is treated as a demi-god I blame the people who are looking for a demi-god, I've never seen anything in her works or interviews that leads me to believe she thought of herself as a demi-god or even a cult leader. Even if she was deluded that would not invalidate all her arguments automatically. (but you know all this already).

As for radical vs intermediate, yes I am guilty. When you"re on one side of a very controversial issue, I think you can only seem radical to your opponents or lie about your own beliefs. I strongly believe that most people who call themselves reasonable for being willing to compromise are being inherently dishonest or worse don't hold an internally consistent position.

"For one thing, although I am convinced that certain types of responsible charitable acts have moral value."
and this is why some objectivist have tried to disown me. I see no reason what so ever to talk about personal value systems, they are irrelevant. What humans need to live together in peace is liberty not uniform values across the board. Charity alone does not mean your values are irrational. Some of the heroes in her books committed acts of specific charity. Not because of altruism to be sure, but charity by definition none the less.

"What do you think of Nathaniel Branden?"
I don't know enough about him to judge. I understand that Rand thought he betrayed her or something along those lines?
Posted by 2-D 3 years ago
2-D
@Liberty, take it you also lean Libertarian from your name. I am sympathetic to both positions and a few years ago I read most of Ayn's non-fiction and got a lot out of it. I think there are problems with Objectivism but at it's core I think it has a lot of value. My main problem with both positions is the way the groups tend to communicate their ideas or enact radical change when more moderate changes are intermediates. Also that Ayn is often treated as almost a demigod when her philosophy should continue to grow and adapt.

For one thing, although I am convinced that certain types of responsible charitable acts have moral value. What do you think of Nathaniel Branden?

@all men must die: It's been a while but I don't see how you are addressing flaws in Objectivism. I agree Ayn was very dogmatic and made some bold assertions (I'd have to look these up) without a strong case. she was not a very smooth communicator. It may surprise you, for instance, that she believed that it is rational to risk death to save someone you love or that her strong objection to many actions of government were that they apply force when negotiation among peers would be more effective.
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
Darn it AkulMunjal they won't let you back into the compound now :p

Valar I would be willing to debate this with you.
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
1. Just because flaws are intrinsic doesn't mean they aren't recognizable. It simply means separating them entirely from consciousness is probably impossible.

I can only presume that you agree they were identified through some rationalistic process. So in essence you have posted evidence that human beings do not always act to the fullest of their rational capacity. A statement that Rand would not have disagreed with in the least.

Now objectivism holds that irrationality is learned just as much as rationality is, but even if there were some natural biases so long as they could be overcome with reason they would not be fatal to objectivism. However objectivism cannot be attacked through this means since as I tried to point out the ability to even identify a bias proves it can be overcome.

2. An axiom is a started point of reasoning. Saying existence exists is tautological nonsense.

Tautologies can be useless but they are never non-sense, indeed in the logic sense of the word they are always correct. Objectivism holds that all truth can be reduced to tautology, namely "A thing is itself, it's identity". Accepting that reality is not an illusion, that it has an identity and is identifiable (which is what that axiom is supposed to mean) is a starting point of all reasoning.

3. Prior causation is relevant in terms of distinguishment.

Surely the prior causes internal to the human mind are an exception? Otherwise free will means a will free from your own will :p.
Posted by bossyburrito 3 years ago
bossyburrito
How much of Rand's works have you read?
Posted by Valar_Morghulis 3 years ago
Valar_Morghulis
A small typo correction:

"This is clearly not the case as science has demonstrated over the years of it's existence that all life is subject to the same laws as it's >[NON BIOLOGICAL]< biological counterparts. Trees just as animals and humans are subject to the law of gravity and entropic forces."

Sorry for the confusion.
Posted by Valar_Morghulis 3 years ago
Valar_Morghulis
@ADreamofLiberty

I appreciate your comments.

1. If the biases are inherent in human thought how were they identified and compiled into a list? This necessarily implies that those who studied these phenomena and established their existence had a means of objectively determining the truth as opposed to the biased belief.

Just because flaws are intrinsic doesn't mean they aren't recognizable. It simply means separating them entirely from consciousness is probably impossible.

2. It is not meant to be an argument, it's an axiom. One of the reasons I subscribe to objectivism is that it starts at the right place instead of arbitrary hypotheticals anchored in transient experiences and cultures.

An axiom is a started point of reasoning. Saying existence exists is tautological nonsense.

3. You mean non-biological counterparts. Free will does not mean the ability to act without the constraints of reality, Rand didn't define it that way and neither does the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

Yes that was a typo I meant non biological.

"freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention"

Prior causation is relevant in terms of distinguishment.

4. If free will requires that we come to a decision that the process of our brain didn't lead to what is making the decision? How is that thing free from it's own nature unless it has none?

Welcome to neuro-psychology
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
@Valar_Morghulis, yea I am basically just arguing myself now. Just ignore me if it is annoying.

"The problem with this concept right off the bat is that it is a rationalistic loop (circular reasoning)."
It is not meant to be an argument, it's an axiom. One of the reasons I subscribe to objectivism is that it starts at the right place instead of arbitrary hypotheticals anchored in transient experiences and cultures.

"To have true free will one must be able to act and manifest in reality without the constraints of reality to guide it. This is clearly not the case as science has demonstrated over the years of it's existence that all life is subject to the same laws as it's biological counterparts. Trees just as animals and humans are subject to the law of gravity and entropic forces."

You mean non-biological counterparts. Free will does not mean the ability to act without the constraints of reality, Rand didn't define it that way and neither does the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

We will react in accordance to the nature of our being, but that nature is a brain which is decision making machine at it's heart. When we think we have chosen something that means the process of our brain has come to that conclusion.

If free will requires that we come to a decision that the process of our brain didn't lead to what is making the decision? How is that thing free from it's own nature unless it has none?
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
I see AkulMunjal has not responded yet, but I truly hope he catches this one.

"A short list here demonstrates how rationally destitute our thinking can become when biases come into play."

If the biases are inherent in human thought how were they identified and compiled into a list? This necessarily implies that those who studied these phenomena and established their existence had a means of objectively determining the truth as opposed to the biased belief.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 2-D 3 years ago
2-D
Valar_MorghulisAkulMunjalTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for the forfeit. I don't see that Pro's arguments address flaws in objectivism but I do agree their are flaws in every philosophy and Con obviously dropped these arguments anyway.