Thursday, 7 December 2006

Quote for today

A disagreement that does not challenge fundamentals serves only to reinforce them.

- Ayn Rand, from the essay "The Establishing of an Establishment", in Philosophy: Who Needs It

Here's an exercise for the reader: how many recent events can you think of that serve to demonstrate this point.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I started furiously writing down many examples with great gusto, until I needed to go into Word, to edit it out a bit. Reams of paper spewed forth until something smacked me in the face.

    Are we as Libertarianz/Objectivists, too apathetic. Are WE actually doing enough?

    More and more liberties are disappearing each day.

    Reading some posts today in Solopassion

    Trans fats are now banned in the city of New York, with plans to ban them across the country.

    Another US city, Baltimore will be banning smoking in all public area's
    (Baltimore was one of the few cities that has avoided this ban).

    "Belmont (suburb in LA), is set to make history by becoming the first city in the nation to ban smoking on its streets and almost everywhere else."

    Prisoners here in NZ are given the privilege of being given designated smoking area's, however passengers who are imprisoned inside airports are not!

    Meanwhile the Pope has apologised to Muslims, Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal and Iran is on the same track.

    More needs to be done, but what?

    I am wearing my "Infidel Badge", perhaps I need something else?

  3. not pc and his mates "keeping the faith" and hurling out the heretics without using reasoned argument to show how a personal enterprise as successful as John Key does not deserve some time to prove pragmatic effectiveness as opposed to ideiological purity!

  4. thats ideological. I blame my state education

  5. John Boy Key and Billy Bob English are perfect illustrations of Rand's point.

    Their political stance (such as it is) challenges none of the fundamentals of their supposed opponents, thus serving only to reinforce them.

    (By the way, Phil, is English your second language?)

  6. My problem with John Key (and Helen Clark) is that there policies do not work in the real world. We have an abundance of empirical evidence that their policies do not work. Pragmatic? I think not!

    You might have unswerving faith in Key, your one true savior, Sagenz, but I'll let the facts of reality and logic inform my opinion of his merits.

  7. Hey Phil S - it sure is strange what some ppl have against Key...

    Brought up in a State House by a dirt poor widowed mother from an early age, parents (mother Austrian Jew) war refugees to New Zealand, mother had a very rough time in WW2.

    He made his own way against all the obstacles, got a degree, went overseas, worked hard and prospered, gave it all up to come back into NZ politics. Personable, honest (refuses to get into personality mudslinging), charming, witty, clever, constructive, successful...yeah I can see now why some people hate him...

  8. Here's one: almost every thought the average person spews out (and I mean spews out).

    My problem with John Key (and Helen Clark) is that there policies do not work in the real world. We have an abundance of empirical evidence that their policies do not work.

    Of course they don't!

    but I'll let the facts of reality and logic inform my opinion of his merits.

    Good on ya mate!

  9. I don't see that it is necessary to "challenge fundamentals" in order to disagree. Of course this isn't quite the same thing as your quote PC - nevertheless... (one persons modus ponens is anothers modus tollens :)

    In "disciplines", be it politics, economics, science, humanities, ethics/morality, hah - even philosophy, there is plenty of disagreement around the perimeters - I think this is what stimulates progress on a particular issue.

    Such disagreements may be necessary, but not yet sufficient to topple the "fundamentals" of the topic in question. I'm happy to cling to the "best explanation" until enough evidence mounts to suggest otherwise.

  10. There seems to be a misconception afoot -- or perhaps it's just spin in the absence of argument -- about what I have against Key.

    What he has achieved in his own life is admirable, and if he had kept to his own life I would no doubt never had anything at all against him.

    But he has got involved in politics, and his political views (whatever they might be) are now everyone's business.

    What I do have against him is not his achievements in business, which are many, but what he stands for in politics: nothing.

    Now I can understand a certain deranged woman who posts here anonymously not understanding that point, but it's not really so difficult to grasp, is it?

  11. It isn't always necessary to challenge fundamentals, Steve, on that much we agree--indeed, sometimes we might even agree on those fundamentals--but it is necessary to recognise what happens when it is necessary to challenge them, and what happens when they aren't.

  12. Yep,

    I guess it's a question of "political economics" can Key pick up more in the middle ground than he's lost from the right.

    I'm waiting for him to start talking "common sense solutions" next.

    My comment strictly speaking was a logical fallacy (denying the antecedant), although (strictly) I think the original quote has problems - in not challenging fundamentals it doesn't follow that you are reinforcing them. (you're simply not challenging them) Logico-bullshit aside I take the point.

    Key is coming across wishy-washy at best, politically incompetant at worst. But then, that wishy-washy stuff appeals to a lot of people. Time will tell.

  13. Well the crap about the Bretheren and whatever else Hagar rattles on about doesn't attack the fundamentals of the Brash brand - liberalism.

    Such is the case with all logical fallacies like attack by association and ad hominem.

    "Tax cuts are good for workers"
    "You've gotten emails from a religous group"

    "I believe in people's capacity to make their own decisions about their lives".
    "You were once at a party with a billionaire."

    They all serve only to strengthen the argument for liberalism.

    I don't know about anyone else but I found the Hagar book quite amusing.

  14. "I think the original quote has problems - in not challenging fundamentals it doesn't follow that you are reinforcing them."

    Well, yes it does. If you both debate as if the fundamentals are all agreed on, or if you debate 'on your opponent's territory' without demur, then reinforcing those fundamentals and conceding that territory is precisely what you're doing.

    If, for instance, Nick Smith berates the Clark Government in Parliament for not being sufficiently authoritarian in reducing carbon emissions, then it reinforces the idea that a) National are an opposition party, b) that authoritarian solutions are the only way to reduce carbon emissions, c) than carbon emissions are a bad thing, and reducing carbon emissions would be a good thing, and d) that everyone agrees that the issue of global warming is something governments should concern themselves with.

    Now, in my view every single one of those fundamentals is open to challenge, and should be -- but every time they're not challenged, they become so-called 'conventional wisdom,' and are thereby reinforced.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.