I posted a brief review of Harry Binswanger's new book on Amazon.Com.
Harry Binswanger is a philosopher who was associated with Ayn Rand in
her later life. This is his long awaited book on epistemology written
from the perspective of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. It covers
most of the major topics in epistemology, including some that Rand
didn't comment on, such as propositions.
Generally speaking, I
enjoyed this book. Although Binswanger is a rather dogmatic
Objectivist, the tone is surprisingly mild. More than the typical
Objectivist he tries to understand the ideas with which he disagrees and
present them in a fair manner.
The heart of the book is an
exposition of Rand's theory of concept formation, which her acolytes
consider her greatest achievement. She developed an elaborate theory of
"measurement omission" in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.
I'm not persuaded that all concepts are formed on the basis of
measurement omission (what measurements are omitted when we form the
concept "justice"?), but Binswanger makes a decent effort.
Unfortunately, he presents no evidence that the Objectivist theory of
concepts is true. I'd like to see the psychological studies that adults
(much less children) form concepts the way Rand and Binswanger claim.
Indeed I suspect that we often form concepts without having two or more
examples and a "foil." If I'm wandering in Borneo and see an animal
that no one has seen before, do I need to see another one to
On the negative side, Binswanger appears to
believe the urban legend that people in the Middle Ages thought the
world was flat. I was surprised that he doesn't mention David Kelley's
The Evidence of the Senses, an important Objectivist work on
According to open immigration Objectivists such as Craig Biddle, Harry Binswanger and Diana Hsieh, a person should be free to emigrate from country A to country B as long as he doesn't have a criminal record, an infectious disease, and isn't a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer.
I have a few questions.
1. In the modern age it's easy for anyone to come to the US. You can
hop on a plane and be here in 24 hours or less. If the US had open
immigration, what would its population be in ten, twenty, thirty years?
2. What are the potential negative effects, if any, of what might be the largest population transfer in human history?
3. What would happen to wage rates in the US if tens of millions of
low income workers arrive in a short period of time? Wouldn't it reduce
the wage rates of US citizens, in particular low skilled workers?
4. There are countries such as Greece and Israel which border much
more populous Islamic nations. Should they have open immigration? Will
the world be a better place when Greece becomes "Greekistan" and Israel
5. There are cities in Europe that are approaching 20% Islamic
population. Has this been good for Europe? Would Europe be better if
country after country eventually turned majority Islamic? Isn't this a
distinct possibility given the low birth rate of the natives and the
high birth rates of Moslems?
6. Is the creation of "no go" zones in major European cities related to immigration?
7. How should the US determine if a potential immigrant has a
criminal record? Do Afghanistan and Pakistan keep good records? Are
their officials in this area not subject to bribery?
8. How do we screen out potential terrorists? Assume someone from a
pro-Taliban region of Pakistan wants to come to the US. Explain the
process by which we determine if he is a terrorist or terrorist
9. California has become a one party leftist controlled state thanks
to immigration. Wouldn't this happen to every other state if the US
opened its southern border?
10. What would have prevented the Boston Massacre - restricting immigration or bombing Iran?