Blog Roundup

Friday, April 12, 2024

A Friday Hodgepodge

1. According to New ideal, the Ayn Rand Institute is promoting a booklet titled Finding Morality and Happiness Without God, and quotes author Onkar Ghate:

The basic reason religion remains such an esteemed aspect of American society is that it is considered important, even indispensable, to morality. The strongest form this idea takes is that morality depends on religion -- that without God, the distinction between good and evil loses meaning, and anything goes.
Mentioning happiness in the title should intrigue the more active-minded: Thanks to religion, most people associate fear and guilt with morality, and are reluctant if not afraid to think about this life-and-death topic.

We can blame the all-encompassing cultural stranglehold of religion for the fact that, while the true purpose of morality should be a huge sales advantage for Objectivism in the marketplace of ideas, it will cause suspicion for most.

I think the exeception I noted above will more than offset the current disadvantage, since those who will be intrigued will inlcude some future intellectuals.

2. At How to Be Profitable and Moral, Jaana Woiceshyn advocates the free market as the solution the medical care crisis caused by Canada's government-run system.

She outlines what this might look like in part:
The very small percentage of people who could not afford to pay for health care or insurance would depend on private charity, and the quality of care would be protected, not only through competition and rights-protecting laws, but by private third-party licensing/certification.

Healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, and others) benefit from private health care because competition among providers would enable them to negotiate fair compensation and working conditions, which in turn would attract more professionals to health care and eliminate staff shortages and burnout.

The private healthcare providers (hospitals, clinics, professional practices) and medical insurance companies benefit by profiting from the quality and competitive pricing of their services.
It is worth noting why Woiceshyn goes into such detail: The lack of truly private systems worldwide makes "envisioning how such a system would work ... difficult."

3. At Thinking Directions, Jean Moroney addresses an interesting question that I'd put as What is the difference between a habit and an internal (psychological or mental) context?
Image by Ping Lee, via Unsplash, license.
Thanks to the influence of behaviorism, the term "habit" is commonly used to subsume a wide range of repeatable or regular behavior, regardless of the cause of such behavior. The problem with this is that different repeatable, regular behavior can have fundamentally different causes. Psychological concepts need to be defined in terms of fundamentals, i.e., by means of root causes, not superficial similarities.

For this reason, I limit the term "habit" to automatized perceptual motor skills, i.e., physical actions that happen automatically in response to awareness of a particular kind of environment, unless you intervene to stop them.
This is an important distinction: bad habits and unhelpful contexts make desirable self-directed action harder, but because they have different causes, combating or replacing them requires different approaches, which Moroney discusses throughout.

4. At Value for Value, Harry Binswanger considers the common claim that the United States is a "representative democracy."

The most interesting part of the piece to me was the following:
[Confusion on this issue is] because one needs to use the right method of concept formation. The right method allows one to validate one's concepts, rather than merely picking one term from those available.
Picking one term from those available is ubiquitous today, and explains lots of what is wrong with the current political discourse. And that means not just that practically everyone falls into it on at least some issues, but it can be easy for those who don't to forget or be unaware that that is what often happens. This can affect how best to argue for a good position.

The rest of the piece is highly instructive, both for its demonstration of the correct method of approaching the question and for its answer.

-- CAV

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