You know, I really do prefer the dynamism of real time conversation to that of the
polemic when it comes to hashing out ideas, but here  goes....

Re: The basis of morality in the face of no deity
(or from whence does the "Rule" arise?)

I could just fall back on Rand and say that the basis of Ethics stems the nature of
man and rational self interest, but I think that  this view (although technically correct
for the most part) lacks some poetry.  Perhaps I should start with a little story,
Judgement Parity.

you ask...
> how is it we can agree that one of us has "wronged another" if not
> by applying "a rule" to the situation?

The answer is implicit in your question, "We can agree."  The "Rule" doesn't have to
be applied externally to be socially valid.  One of  my ethical principals is that any
Rule that is to be applied in a social context must be equally applied to all.  If I Value
property and don't want another entity to  take the fruits of my labor away from me,
then I MUST extend that right to all others.  For me to steal from another is for me to
relinquish my own right to appeal to the Rule, "Thou shalt not steal."  In truth I can
choose to go that route, I am after all an anarchist.  Why don't I?  Because I Value
property and the entities I interact with in  society are very likely (and "rightfully")
going to forcefully take everything I own and throw me in jail for acting in such a

In short, my answer is Game Theory.  Read up on The Prisoner's Dilemma.  It turns
out that cooperation is the more successful strategy  and not the classically posited
"dog-eat-dog" alternative.

you said....
>That people disagree regarding this rule is irrelevant to the fact of such
>a rule's existence.

If people disagree, then there is no Rule. Luckily there is an ontological reality,
humans do have a specific set of common  characteristics, and we can reach a
consensus at least in a general way.  I would say that there are very few humans on
the face of the planet that can not abide by the  libertarian principles.  The objections
are almost always that these Rules aren't enough, and almost never that the Rules
stated are somehow unacceptable.  That it  is so difficult to come up with a set of
Rules that EVERYONE agrees to is the strongest argument that can be made for
limited government.

In point of fact, anarchy is reality.  Everyone is always free to act however they want. 
It isn't the State or God that prevents them  from acting like animals, it is the
recognition of their life and humanity and the life and humanity around them.  It is
good when we can dance in the garden together and  evil when it is no longer a
dance but a rape.

you also said...
>I suspect your real beef, though, is with a personal, authoritative deity.
>Specifically, with a deity --- whether actual or imagined --- whose will (if
>manifested only through the actions resulting from a group's collective
>notion of this deity's commands) contradicts your own wishes.

Yes, if I have free will, then I will defy any authority that imposes their will on me. It is consensus or nothing.

>What a consistent atheism eventually amounts to, axiologically
>speaking, is the old and notorious maxim, "Might makes right." Which
>is what full-on theism amounts to, too, since a Sovereign Creator is
>Mightiest of All!

This is not a rule that would find (or has ever found) general consensus.  What
makes right is The Garden, the successful playing of the  game, love, life, the
universe, and everything....none of which requires God.

>It still boils
>down to what people will tolerate and what they will not --- and what
>they will not then ipso facto involves some sort of unpleasant
>consequences for the person who refuses to abide by their wishes.

yep.  that's life, and life gets along with the "gentle anarchist" much better than it
does the morality imposing statist bigot (no  reference to yourself implied or

Re: poly over time

you asked....
>Speaking of which, I'm intrigued to know how long you'll remain 'monogamous'
>with Lauren. For how long will "the relationship" be "strong"? How long will
>"some gaping hole" stay far from your "psyche"? It's an intellectual
>curiosity on my part, I suppose. I recognize the deep emotions routinely
>involved in 'monogamy', so I don't mean to discount that as unimportant. I'm
>just curious. What will happen? What does the future hold? At some point in
>a polyamorous person's life does he or she become more inclined to
>'monogamy'? Does the uncertainty or unlikelihood of future couplings leave
>'monogamy' more attractive? Does sexual desire decrease with age, making it
>less likely he or she will pine for another pretty face, shapely body,
>fetching personality or attractive mind?

Again,  for me poly is not an ontological (if I may) necessity.  I don't NEED poly to be
happy, I just don't preclude the possibility  from existing.  In point of fact Lauren
has already spent the night in bed with myself and another previous and hopefully
ongoing lover; fun was had by all.  This is a positive  experience that I have had as
someone who is poly and which you will never experience as someone strictly
monogamous.  If you think it is intense being with a single  long term lover...

Poly means maintaining many long term intimate relationships.  Maybe we have sex
maybe we don't, but it isn't about a series of animal  driven sexually gratifying one
night stands with "another pretty face, shapely body, fetching personality or
attractive mind".

Will I remain with Lauren for the rest of my life?  I can't answer that question.  Neither
of us really want or need to make that  commitment at this time.  I think I would
need to find a much closer soul mate before attempting the marriage concept again;
at the very least I need to live alone and un- entagled for a while before considering
it.  I do not at all deny the very strong bond that a long term monogamous
commitment creates; it is perfectly fair for you to question  the long term
psychological comfort of someone who seems to be denying that relationship. 
Freedom does not always equate with comfort and I must lie in the bed  that I make.

Am I suffering from lack of sexual desire?  hardly :-).

Re: can you say Godel?

you said...
>"In the case of someone seeking to demonstrate his own existence via
>Popperian principles of epistemology, the paradox is that of observing one's
>self. The act of observation becomes part of what is observed and vice
>versa. It is this unbreakable epistemological connection that renders
>Popper's principles unworkable when applied to a man (the observer) and his
>own existence (that which is observed). It is impossible, by one's self, to
>prove one's existence using Popperian epistemology."

Hmm.  this reminds me of Godel's theorum that no formal system can be complete,
i.e. you can always find a theorum in the formal system  that can not be proven by
the formal system.  This does in fact have very profound epistemological

Re: still trying to insist that Popper solve ontology

If you recall, our entire discussion of Popper arose from my off-handed comment
about including Popperian Epistemology in my polyglot of  world ideas.  As such *I*
have no need to make Popper complete. My ontology corresponds largely with
Rand's and your own (as you readily admitted).  Given that  base and no need to use
Popper's ideas to support it since Epistemology depends on Ontology and not the
other way around, I see no problem with his general  ideas of falsification (if not as a
"complete theory" at least as a useful one when seperating wheat from chaff in the
world of ideas).  Although I am absolutist when it  comes to existence, I am  much
more libertarian when it comes to almost any other higher order concept.  Review my
Again, this is not to say I am a relativist, but rather that ideas are abstractions 
and we are merely mortals, see also my statement of religion on the  same page.

Re: the ontological ramifications of quantum theory

I'll admit that I had to go back and polish up on my physics, however after having
done that I don't think my view has been  fundamentally altered by your refutation.

Bell's theorem is based on three assumptions, and since there is no denying that
Aspect's results invalidate the inequality, one or more  of the assumptions must be

1) Discrete Logic is valid when modeling physical reality.  Bell's theorem is based on
the assumption that the "hidden variables" in  question can be modeled with
discrete logic.  If you are going to make a statement like:

(Men students with height under 5' 8") + (Men and Women students with a height
over 5' 8" but who do not have blue eyes) >= (Men  students who do not have blue

You have to assume that people are either Male or Female, that there are not any
indeterminate and/or intermediate states, and that  logic applies to reality.  Since
almost all of science/knowledge is based on this assumption, I would be hard
pressed to throw it out but let us lay it on the table  none-the-less, especially in the
light of quantum mechanics' propensity for probability.

2) That there is a reality independent of the observer, or perhaps you could state this
as "hidden variables exist".

3) That locality is true.

Without question, this means that reality is a lot stranger than we might want to
believe.  However, Bohm's theory of the Implicate  Order (which Bell himself seems
rather sympathetic toward), and Everett/Deutsch's mutiverse interpretation both
manage to provide Ontological explanations that do not  require one to give up
assumption #2 (i.e. A=A independent of our perception of it and that it has a definite
existence), but rather provide ways for #3 to be  violated without simultaneously
throwing out relativity altogether.  They also provide relatively simple explanations of
why the double slit experiment has it's  results.  I wont bother going into the details
of these works and assume that you are either familiar with or can go read up on

I think that the problem stems from the historical fact that the Copenhagen
Interpretation is almost religious in its avoidance of  Ontology altogether, stating
essentially that reality is ultimately ambiguous and undefinable.  This means that
Philosophers have taken that as the only Ontology possible.   Clearly it is not, and I
am prepared to see quantum mechanics/relativity overthrown with a more complete
explanation just as Newtonian physics was by relativity and QM.   That our universe
is more "connected" or holistic than we previously modeled does not at all surprise
me, in fact it resonates strongly with my intuition.  You  could take that to an
extreme and posit that the universe was a huge state machine running cellular
automata as posited by Wolfram in his recent book.  None of this means  I have to
go down your path of , "observers REALLY [BEING] CONNECTED IN A
FUNDAMENTAL WAY to what we observe."

Basically if I have to choose between locality and a reality independent of my mind
there is no question that locality goes out the  door.  In fact I think I am more willing
to postulate an ontology that precludes discrete logic before I will allow for a universe
to be dependant on our consciousness of it.   At the same time my  
Epistemology has room to hold
contradiction until we straighten it all out.  :-)