simulated persona = "Ayn Rand"

Tim's link to Andrej Bauer's primer on Objectivism reminded me that the cartoon Rand of our zeitgest dreams was never put to better use than by the astounding artificially intelligent replicated personas of Forum 2000. Here AI Andrej discusses the axiom of identity with AI Ayn. Also try here, and here.
That Reason's so-called Rand-O-Rama failed to acknowledge Forum 2000 shows the editorial staff to be so overoccupied with working obscure song lyrics into the titles of blog posts, outsider art, waxing lyrical about New Jersey, and generally kpeping nihilism fresh, that they neglected to touch on the ubiquity of Rand's spirit in the bygone heyday of the information superhighway.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

22 thoughts

  1. So utterly boring.
    This might be the stupidest issue out there these days. They could replace civil marriage with civil unions and that would make 80% of people happy. But, but what about the 10% of the fringe on each side?
    Who cares!
    The retards like Andrew Sullivan who want the government to rectify his rectum and make him feel whole will be left out. The same goes for the Phelps phreaks who want the government to declare gays evil and illegal. You all can get your civil unions with whomever you want. You want get some special ‘marriage’? Go to your local church, VFW, Sex in the City consultant, Church’s Chicken, Big Boy, and get whatever fancy piece of paper, doily, or special pair of pumps that makes you feel like a woman.
    Us normals will go to Vegas and get this non-sense settled in a drive-thru.

  2. The point will was trying to make, is that any serious libertarian is not just an anti tax pro weed conservative. True libertarianism is about principles. Not in any order
    1. Equality before the law
    2. A respect for individual rights
    3. etc.
    These require one to prefer free trade and low taxes and drug legalisation etc. It also requires one to say that even if either of the principles are being violated. It is better that as few of those principles are violated as possible. Or else, I can say that since the government has no business going about taxing people for social security, I dont really care about how much they do so.

    1. Murali, every American group I know of supports equality before the law and respect for individual rights.
      The differences come when asking what it means to be equal before the law and what counts as an individual right.
      Also, of course you care about being taxed. It impacts you directly. Now, if you’re a Canadian and working in Canada you might say that you don’t care what the particular social security tax rate is in the US.

  3. Will,
    1) Most of the libertarians that, e.g., accept the reality of government regulation of business and then argue within that framework for a preferred regulation, by and large argue for the least amount of government intervention. In the case of marriage, I think that the case of libertarians arguing for neutrality is fairly clear-cut. Much harder cases, to me, appear with cases of things like hate crimes or federal research funding.
    If a libertarian someone disagrees with hate crimes in general for various principled reasons, once accepting the framework, must they fight to have sexual orientation also among the aggravating factors considered, or is it permissible to fight to limit the types of aggravating factors in all ways? If a libertarian accepts the principle of generous federal funding of research, must she (a la Ron Bailey) insist that federal funding be directed to all projects as judged by some independent bureaucracy of the best and brightest, regardless of any objections by large percentages of people taxed?
    2) I’m having a hard time distinguishing these claims and similar ones imploring people to vote for the lesser of two evils that might win (instead of abstaining or voting for a no-hoper), while of course clearly stating one’s objections and expected disappointments from the flawed candidate one ultimately votes for.

  4. “One cannot use an ideological image of perfect justice to excuse or ignore an obvious injustice within the actual imperfect system.”
    Indeed. Which is why the obvious injustice of people who give birth to additional kids subsidizing those who do not have kids (via social insurance schemes) makes me not be exercised by natalist proposals to compensate the parents. Given that we have an imperfect social insurance scheme that imposes such costs and causes humans to alter the choices that they would make absent such a scheme, (and surely, if one thinks that a pro-natalist scheme would be effective on the margins, then one must also think that the disincentives towards having children offered by a social insurance scheme would be effective on the margins) surely the policies are not all that unreasonable.
    Granted, in a perfect world where social insurance schemes did not penalize parents and cause them to subsidize the childless, I would oppose pro-natalist schemes. But given that we do have the obviously imperfect system that does create an injustice, I don’t think that you and Kerry are justified in excusing it such.

    1. I really don’t understand your motivation on this issue, John. What’s the deal? You do know that I’ve argued against the status quo social insurance system and defended personal retirement accounts at length on grounds of justice, don’t you?

      1. Yes, I do know that. But given that that’s not going to happen, and that the status quo is such, why be so vehement against the pro-natalist policies? Especially when they are arguably correcting “an obvious injustice within the actual imperfect system?”
        I don’t see what’s so different about your argument that since you’ve argued “against the status quo social insurance system and defended personal retirement accounts at length,” you feel free to analyze pro-natalist payments only in comparison to your “ideological image of perfect justice,” and ignore or excuse the actual injustice under the current system against those who have kids subsidizing those who do not, and the position you criticize in the post. How is that different from someone who would claim that since he’s “argued against the status quo marriage system and defended private marriage at length,” he should therefore be free in resisting the extension of government marriage to additional types of relationships, arguing that it’s part of a government attempt to regulate what should be free human relationships? “At the heart of any [state sanction of marriage] lies an attempt to encourage a particular group of [people] to orient their [relationships] in a traditional way,” no? After all, there exist pro-gay critiques of gay marriage for exactly this reason.
        My criticism is that you have a tendency to make sweeping statements on your blog that seem to me to be either contradictory of earlier sweeping claims, or simply obtuse and unpersuasive. In the latter category is your reply to Jonah Goldberg on the drug war– without some evidence of a policy belief that you hold that you would not hold were in not for disparate impact on account of race, I must agree with Jonah’s position that while “as an argument… the disproportionate affect on blacks works just fine,” but that “it seems a bit off” coming from a libertarian. It seems a bit off for the same reason that similar invocations in the case of, e.g., school vouchers, coming from libertarians or conservatives do. You get the feeling that people are simply using the argument at hand for a policy that they would agree with regardless.
        Without a case where disparate impact is either necessary or sufficient in one’s policy preferences, invoking it does not seem credible, and it seems independent of one’s philosophy. It’s not enough, either, to claim that, magically, while immediate interventions either of redistribution or affirmative action or anything might make things better off for blacks in the short-run, libertarian policies are always better off in the long-run so there’s no contradiction. It still ends up sounding like one comes to a certain conclusion completely independently of disparate impact, and then mentions disparate impact where useful and ignores it where not, never letting it actually affect one’s position.

      2. Wait, Will, you have a post about how libertarians can’t use the fact that they’re against the whole status quo marriage system on grounds of justice to dodge or ignore questions about minor changes in the current system to address claimed unfairness, but then you immediately defend dodging and ignoring questions about claimed unfairness in the current social insurance system by pointing out that you’ve argued against the entire status quo system?
        Of course I knew that you’d argued against the system. That was my point. Someone arguing against the entire system is a justification for you to avoid addressing particular injustices and complaints that you don’t want to think about in one case, but a unacceptable dodge for others to do in another case.

  5. Just how stupid do you think we (libertarians) are? 99% of the arguments I hear against it are complete straw men, and this is no exception.

  6. Will,
    I don’t understand your argument here at all! Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I’m an atheist (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). That does NOT mean that I have no opinion when a religious fanatic avenges god by murdering someone in the name of his religion. Similarly, as a libertarian, just because I don’t believe in the State (or that I believe in a microscopic one) doesn’t mean that I have no opinion when an existing state uses force against my fellow citizens, whether it’s to keep different races from marrying or to keep peacful people from lighting up a joint.

  7. If I am comprehending this correctly, the author is asserting certain Libertarian minded individuals, who see the state interventionism in the marriage business a direct contradiction to their social and political belief but do not engage in the battle against this affront, possess such reasoning because they disagree with the issue while it’s being openly and wrongfully implemented by the government?
    X troubles me,
    I don’t believe in X,
    Since X is being implemented by a source which I disagree with its very existence,
    Therefore, I do not see fit to meddle!!
    That’s such a run-around, convoluted argument. What is the point of this post anyway? Is this somehow an attempt to take a jab at obscurity? Honestly, what is the point of this entry? It doesn’t make much sense at all.

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