Posted by on 9 November 2012 at 1:00 pm  Link-O-Rama
Nov 092012

Ouch, sorry to make that entirely about the election!

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  • christopolis

    That post may have set a record for conservative strawmen. Kudos! and embrace gay rights? you better find out what gay’s think are rights.

  • JP

    Seriously Diana, I keep wondering if you’ve been possessed by libertarians. The quality of your blog has really taken a nosedive in the last year or so.

    I realize that the GOP is not ideal. But I also realize that it is also our only hope to stay a free nation.

    Whats more, you don’t seem to get that gay marriage is at best a peripheral issue. Our civilization will not be destroyed if gays have to wait another 10 or 20 years to get married; they’ve been waiting 10,000 years already, whats a little longer?

    • Anthony

      The GOP is our only hope to stay a free nation? I don’t think it’s that bad. Nor do I think the GOP is that good.

      That said, having left reading this blog for a while and then come back, I definitely have seen a shift. The interview was Dr. Sasha Volokh was especially disturbing, as there were a number of quite anti-Objectivist statements that went completely unchallenged. (If you listen carefully you’ll hear him imply that the concept of a “reasonable person”, i.e. a person who exercises reason, is not objective.)

      • Diana Hsieh

        Anthony — The “reasonable man” standard is a term of art in the law, and it’s a good standard. Arlene Mann gave a really nice defense of it in a lecture that I can’t recall the title of but that I bought from the Ayn Rand Bookstore. So you might want to chill out on that one — and not jump to conclusions on other points either.

        Sasha Volokh was interviewed as an expert in tort law, to explain the basics thereof and some major controversies. I didn’t say it explicitly — and perhaps I should have — but neither of us could be reasonably assumed to have agreed with every aspect of tort law that was discussed.

        More generally, I’m branching out with my Wednesday interviews: I’m no longer just interviewing Objectivists. That means — heavens to betsy! — that Objectivists might occasionally hear some things that they disagree with. I’m not going to challenge or even note every such disagreement during the interview: that’s not the point. The goal is to present interesting and useful ideas to my listeners, and I expect them to use their own judgment in evaluating them.

        As for how the blog has “shifted,” you’d have to be a bit more specific for me to comment on that. My life and my work has changed dramatically over the course of my 10-plus years of blogging, and yes, I’ve experienced some changes over this past year, most notably my departure from the now-dead Objectivist movement.

        Notably, the final straw for me with the Objectivist movement was the embrace of the libertarian Cato Institute by John Allison and ARI. I’ve been the only Objectivist intellectual who has spoken up on why that’s so wrong. (I’ve done so repeatedly on FB; the blog post on that is still forthcoming.) I supported Gary Johnson despite the LP, and my overall view of the libertarian movement remains the same: it’s dangerous mess. Certainly, I didn’t pull any punches in my recent discussion of anarchism. Nonetheless, I like and respect some libertarians, and I’m willing to work with them on an ad-hoc basis — as has always been the case.

        If you or anyone else finds my blogging so objectionable, you’re welcome to stop reading. It’s a free blog, and it’s still a free country. If you have some friendly suggestions, then I’d be happy to hear them, and perhaps implement them. But just vaguely griping about my blog in the comments… well, that’s not very useful.

        • Anthony

          I am well aware of the meaning of “reasonable man”/”reasonable person” as it applies to Tort law. I have in fact gotten into discussions about it with my Torts professor, who argued that it could never be an objective standard because “nothing is black and white” and “Einstein taught us that everything is relative”. That’s why I brought it up.

          You say that your interviews of non-Objectivists might mean “that Objectivists might occasionally hear some things that they disagree with”. Respectfully, I think the potential problem is worse than that. The problem is that the majority of your audience, who is not familiar with the various disputes, positions, and arguments concerning, for example, the “reasonable person” standard, will not realize that what they are hearing is something that they disagree with. The typical person listening to that podcast will hear the comment that the strict liability standard is “probably more objective”, coming from a Torts professor, being interviewed by you.

          There were several other examples I noticed in that interview. And there were several other examples with regard to posts you have made recently. But I’m not sure to what extent you are inviting me to criticize you in this forum. I’m also not sure to what extent you welcome us criticizing your guests.

          You say “the final straw for me with the Objectivist movement was the embrace of the libertarian Cato Institute by John Allison and ARI”. I’m not aware of the details of that, but I’ll look that up. Perhaps this is the shift that I have noticed. I’ll have to look into the background on that (if you have a link, it would be helpful).

          Finally, I apologize for vaguely griping about your blog. I was vague because I haven’t laid my finger on what it is yet. But for the griping, I apologize.

          • Diana Hsieh

            Thanks for clarifying, Anthony. You’re welcome to criticize here or in private email to me, and I do appreciate feedback. I can’t do much with vague criticisms — they don’t even make sense — so they’re frustrating. I understand that formulating specific criticisms is often a challenge though. (Try doing that live, on the air!)

            Oh, and I will say, now that I’m interviewing a broader range of people, I’m going to be on the uphill slope of the learning curve for noticing and appropriately responding to things said by the interviewee that I disagree with. It’s harder than it looks, and I’m sure I’ll screw up periodically, particularly in the first few months… just as has happened for everything that I’ve done with Philosophy in Action Radio. If my attitude was, “I’d better never make a mistake,” I’d have to never say or write anything ever again.

            As a general principle, I’d much rather err on the side of allowing interviewees to state their views in their own words without interruption, even if I disagree with the substance or word-choice. That would be far better, in my view, than being an obnoxious host like Bill O’Reilly who won’t let his interviewees get a word in edge-wise if he disagrees. If some disagreement is significant, I can always answer a question about it on a Sunday Radio Show — and listeners are welcome to submit such questions.

            I don’t have any easy links on Cato and JA: my comments are buried in various locations on my FB feed. I should get the blog post on that published sometime in the next few weeks tho.

          • Anthony

            Philosophy of law is not, so far as I can tell, an area that Ayn Rand delved very deeply into. One quote I did manage to dig up was that Rand said “Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes…has had the worst philosophical influence on American law.” (Objectively Speaking: Ayn Rand Interviewed, p. 60). And, as Justice Clarence Thomas is reported to have said, “If anything unites the jurisprudence of the left and the right today, it is the nihilism of Holmes.” (Fittingly, this statement of Thomas was brought up in his confirmation hearings, and along with some criticisms of Holmes was used to try to block his confirmation.) I would add the Libertarians community to “the left and the right”, perhaps even moreso in fact – as Ayn Rand said, “nihilism…is the very essence of Libertarianism.”

            The near-universal reverence of Holmes is standard fare in law schools today, and one should be especially wary of his influence when learning about these subjects. (I should note that many critics of Holmes including Clarence Thomas are, in many respects, worse or no better, and in fact their “God is the source of all rights” is what leads many honestly-intentioned people to get sucked into the alternative theories of skepticism/nihilism/pragmatism/etc.)

            It’s unfortunate that Ayn Rand wasn’t able to spend more time talking about philosophy of law. I myself am relatively new to the study of law, and the lack of her insights makes the process much more difficult. On the other hand, I guess I will have the opportunity to cover new ground.

          • Diana Hsieh

            There’s a recording titled “Objective Law” of Ayn Rand talking about a variety of issues in philosophy of law. It’s pretty interesting, and it’s probably available on the ARI web site for free.

          • Anthony

            Thanks. As it turns out, that is the recording where the quote in “Objectively Speaking: Ayn Rand Interviewed”, comes from. (Some of the other quotes from that book match up with the recording as well.)

    • Anthony

      Our hope to stay a free nation is for large numbers of individuals in the nation to choose to use reason. If this happens, both the Democrat and the Republican parties will shift, or else they’ll disappear.

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