Saturday, September 6, 2008

Emotions are not irreducible primaries

I'm seeing posts from Objectivists impressed by Sarah Palin's "moral self-confidence". Some have apparently been bowled over by her performance in her speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday.

I did not see Palin's speech and would rather judge her by the content of her ideas than her performance before an audience. While moral self-confidence can certainly be impressive, it is not something I would judge a politican by all by itself. Given that I find so many of Palin's ideas repugnant, I am dismayed that any Objectivist could be positively gushing over her.

While moral self-confidence can certainly be worthwhile, it must be remembered that it is possible to have confidence in any morality, no matter how wrong, if one is willing to delude oneself that one's morality is correct. The ability to project self-confidence therefore says nothing about the validity of the morality one has accepted - though I suppose some moralities could facilitate a convincing projection of self-confidence better than others.

To judge a politician solely on the basis of her ability to project "moral self-confidence" without considering the content of her morality - much less her political positions - is emotionalism and I am having none of it.

(Update: I've done some editing on this since I posted it this morning.)


  1. Which Objectivists are you reading? I haven't seen anything like that. Sure, she is confident, but her whole morality is illfounded, which should be obvious to anyone.

  2. It's possible I may have over-reacted to something I was reading in a hurry this morning as I was getting ready for work, which is why I'm not going to name names, but it does strike me that there are some Objectivists who are a little too impressed with Palin's "self-confidence".

  3. Self-confidence can make a difference. A person with self-confidence can sometimes appear so convincing. Some people may not judge through a politician's moral self-confidence but they can be tricked by it.