By far the most interesting and complete argument as of yet has come from "No Trust" on 2006-06-28. Please view it before reading. He systematically goes through my argument and attempts to destroy each piece of it, and, in fact, he succeeds on a certain level. This is by far the longest of my responses, as it will be the conclusion to this article. Any more reviews will be responded via e-mail unless they seriously jeopardize the integrity of this article, or if they bring up a very interesting fact that I had not previously considered (which is probably an identical statement). Below is only for those who can read long philosophical discussions, and enjoy doing so. See what I mean.
"Raises the question, not begs"
The first argument is a simple grammar change, I agree that one could change it that way, and perhaps it even sounds better. Personally, I agree with No Trust, "raises" does sound more professional. It is not even worth fighting over, not really sure why he brought it up.
In his response to (paraphrasing) 'happiness is only subjective when it deals with irrelevant objects, and how such a statement does not make sense', let me clarify. Most people view happiness as the response to pleasure (i.e. cake is better than asparagus; dounuts taste better than dry wheat bread, one person likes soup, the other likes garlic bread, one likes his steak rare, the other medium, etc.) Maybe some people are born to like carrots, while the other likes apples, I don't know. But such judgments are arbitrary pronunciations of happiness because they do not deal with happiness at all; they deal with what one gains sensual pleasures from, pleasures with a lack of values.
You go about choosing your values (and thus, what you obtain happiness from) by accepting a philosophy on life. If you actually accept that selflessness is the highest moral peak; then your highest form of happiness should come from giving to the man who would rob you; or praising the person as intelligent when he has plagiarized your literature. If you had any desire to produce in such a state, you would obtain happieness onlyfrom doing things for people you hate, and receiving no respect or love from anyone for doing so, because that is true sacrifice and true selflessness (most find this philosophy unacceptable by common sense, but they cannot define the true reason. Thus they go about hiding from it, saying morality is irrelevant). A person who viewed self achievement as the highest pinnacle; would be disgusted by a beggar who claimed he had a right to the man's wealth, because he had it and the beggar didn't; because he created it and the beggar claimed he couldn't. If the man gives a person a piece of cake from such a request, the beggar will probably obtain some happiness from having conquered another human, because that is the values he has accepted, and physical pleasure from eating the cake to enforce that happiness, in what ever anti-life resonse to values that term means in this instance. (Note: there is a confusion that someone who is selfish will never give any help to others who are in need. This is not true; but it is not need which drives their desire to give, but their virtue. If a truly moral person gives a piece of cake to a beggar, it is because the beggar has been oppressed immorally, or because the beggar has fallen on hard times but is striving for life, who has similar values, thus the Egoist loves and gives as a response to value, not need. He values the pursuit to life as a higher value than the cake, or whatever form of currency or value he decides to contribute.)
This is my response to your statement that how people obtain happiness changes: you are right. I am writing from a perspective of a being that is not omnipotent, and I am listening to commentary for the reason of discovering what I have not thought of, while keeping an active mind at the same time. My definition and statement was false. The pursuit of happiness is not the most moral definition of the pursuit for true morality; for it forgets that those with the values of death gain some form of happiness (maybe even a great form of happiness) from depriving the great of their life. That was the reason I amended my statement; I realized that only in government did such a statement have truth, and it is the freedom to pursue happiness, not the virtue of doing so that is moral in government. But I failed to realize the critical aspect of happiness. Happiness is defined by the response to reality based on values. (note: I will now go out of order to keep the flow of my logical argument)
"Saying that it is 'subconscious' is the same as saying that it is subjective."
"Subconscious" is not subjective. The attribute of it that causes it to differ from person to person causes people to believe it is subjective; but belief is different from truth, there is an identity to everything. The subconscious does include feelings; but those are only subjective in the way they differ from person to person; as values differ from person to person (in other words, feelings and the subconscious are not actually subjective, just the same as values are not, even though they may seem so. They differ from person to person according to the values each individual holds, and since the definition of emotions is the reaction to integrated values, the emotions people feel differ on similar situations. If you wish to say that values are subjective, you have entered the same realm of argument. People obtain values through numerous ways, whether through reason or faith, and the identity of values is not what changes, it is the values themselves. Neither do the identities of the subconscious, feelings, or happiness change, their definitions remain the same and are not subjective. As you said yourself, "Happiness is getting/achieving what you value." That is its definition; the definition is not subjective, in other words, the identity of happiness is not differentiable between people and is not subjective based on feelings, it is only the values to which people hold that changes what makes them feel happy, not the actual identity of happiness. My error was in thinking that happiness could only be the result of values that instill life; while it is simply a response to values that one holds as moral (which in my view is - the values that lead to the ability to live, without having to destroy life. The values that lead to the ability to obtain, without having to sacrifice others. That is my definition of morality. I judge something's moral value as based on its ability to support life, without destroying more than it supports. Life not meaning the greatest good for the greatest number, but the state in which all can obtain life when their values coincide with the necessities of nature; when they use their mind. To say that one does not have the right to life because he can live, destroys the one who is the fountain from which all livability flows.) Happiness is a subconscious emotion and like all other subconscious emotions it does not reveal anything except one's immediate response to something that their values reject. If you are happy, it does not prove that what you feel happy about is actually creating life. A poisoned fruit may taste good, but it is still poison (note: I am not referring to the Garden of Eden).
It is not the pursuit of happiness that is the most virtuous attribute; it is the love of life that is the highest virtue. If one loves life, they espouse death. If one loves life, they will not inflict death on another as their moral claim to their life. Thus slavery, by default is immoral. The moral know that they have no right to the life of another, and thus no other has a right to their life. They can choose to give their labor because of a value which they perceive as higher than money (their child, their friend, their wife); but they acknowledge that they have no right to demand the labor or life of another to support them and that those they give to had no right to demand what was given. This is true whether that person is in the majority, or command a gang at their feet: they cannot initiate force. This is the reason that men organized this greatest of government, and in fact, is a common denominator for most governments: to protect themselves from the arbitrary whims, the arbitrary happiness of other men. But never before has the government has allowed everyone to have that right, the right to pursue their own happiness. In pure democracy, they only give the right to the majority, in dictatorships they only give the right to the dictator. Only in America was the freedom designed to be complete and ubiquitous. Only in America was the foundation: I have the right to pursue my own happiness. I thank you for bringing this argument, as it has helped me see the flaw in my own consciousness, which will be presented later in this article.
"Some people might steal out of jealousy. I doubt this motivates a high percentage of theft. Most people steal because they want to use the money to buy things, and stealing is more profitable in the time frame they want the money in than other actions they might take."
You said the same thing twice, and used the second to negate my first, while the first was intended to partially agree with me- people steal out of jealousy... jealousy to what? To what the person owns, and thus his means of achieving what he owns... his "money to buy things." What things, the things he owns. Stealing out of jealousy and stealing money to buy things because it "s more profitable to do so" are the same concept. They are both stealing; they are both out of jealousy. I fail to see any other connection.
I admit that I know only of Kant what I have read from Rand and on Wikipedia (not exactly the most unbiased sources), and what I responded to in another article. Other than that, I have a book on order from Amazon that attempts to destroy all of Rand's arguments, and supposedly uses Kant numerous times. I will be better able to respond to this when I have read such arguments with Kant as their founding principal. Until that time, I shall take your advice and attempt to refrain from downgrading all "Kantians," unless one uses a specific argument from Kant, I have no claim to that knowledge.
To my statement that "government's sole duty is to protect our ability to pursue happiness," you forget what I had said previously, and what I had meant in that statement. From before, I had said, " the freedom to pursue happiness is the greatest ideal that government could live up to." (Underline added), which is what I was attempting to convey, and which you missed. That was my argument. The highest form of government would have the freedom to pursue happiness as its greatest ideal; this was already mentioned in this article and will be expounded upon further.
"I can name lots of perfectly harmless things I could be punished for doing." You are right, and you should not be punished for them. Victimless crimes should not be a crime. Period. An inventor harms no one by creating a new motor; he only benefits others by having his achievement on the market. He should neither be punished or rewarded by the government, but should allow those who choose to value his creation be his reward or punish. A drunk harms nobody (except himself) by the drinking of alcohol, unless he gets in a car. If he gets in a car, the decision started with the drinking of alcohol and the decision to loose his consciousness. If you consciously decide to loose your consciousness and create a victim other than yourself, you should be punished. This can be established in a government that protects against force; it leaves no lenience for a person who claims his force was a response of his decision not to think. However, if you are the only victim, then nature will punish you without the help of government. This is what I mean.
To conclude, I recognize the false theory in my reasoning: that the pursuit of happiness always results in the good, in the creation of life. I did not realize that it could also result in the stealing of life. So I again amend my title, back to its original wording, but keep my previous amendment to show the trek my reason followed in this argument. It is the virtue of pursuing happiness that I subconsciously recognized, but failed to see rationally until now, that I was rebelling against J. for asserting. He only saw the negative in the pursuit for happiness. He only would allow himself to recognize that destruction results from men's attempts to grab happiness out of others hands; he ignored that it is in the pursuit of happiness that anyone has anything in their hands, that when truly moral men pursue happiness they do so by creating wealth. It is in the pursuit of happiness (wealth, respect, personal rational self-esteem) that a person develops a song, or a car, or a train, or an airplane; while at the same time it is in the pursuit of happiness (which does not lead to self earned wealth, an original song, the invention of a car for the first time, or self esteem) that men loot those who pursue the other ends of happiness. So while most (maybe all, but I doubt so) negatives come from the pursuit of happiness, all positives do. It is the idea that happiness has no virtue that I subconsciously rebelled against because of the values which I have accepted, and now rationally define in this argument. The pursuit of happiness can result in death, or life; depending on that persons values, which means, on that persons philosophy and sense of life. This is what the freedom to pursue it means, which is why the highest form of government would have it as its only banner. To extol the virtue, while allowing the immoral to attain what it most desired: forcing him to steal the self respect he requires for his zombified existence to be stolen from himself; and thus potentially be able to realize the horror of his ways. If not, justice will be brought upon him in the ends of his philosophy: death. If I am that person, the person who has an immoral base, then nature will judge me, and I will see the error of my values, or if I am stubborn in my error, I will see death; if that death comes from nature, and not from other men. This is why an active mind is critical; so the man may view the immorality or morality of his ways; as judged by his identity in reality.