Quote Originally Posted by Torin View Post
It starts with the axioms that there is an objective reality, that things are themselves, and that we are conscious of the world.
We're not conscious of the world. If we were, we wouldn't have to work so hard to try and believe something plausible about it.

And different people have different capabilities and don't have anything like similar living conditions.

Quote Originally Posted by Torin View Post
From there Rand proceeded to argue that reason, understood as the faculty that identifies and integrates sensory data, is our only means of knowledge
Reason is not understood "as the faculty that identifies and integrates sensory data". It is "the ability that people have to think and to make sensible judgements".

Each of us every millisecond receives a big fat load of sensory data. No way we can think about it and assess it to make sensible judgements save for a very small part of the load. Most of what we do, every second, we do it much faster than what our rationality could possibly assess. We're not the pilot. We're on autopilot. Rationality, we use it only for thinking about a few things we deem important. And "important" here only means emotionally important, not rationally important.

Our primary means of knowledge of the world is our whole brain and most of it works unconscious processes. You have not the faintest idea why you do what you do in life except to say that it is what you want. I want to pee. Is that a rational idea? No. I just want it bad and i really don't have to think about it. Hell, I can even think about serious stuff without stopping one minute wanting to pee. We all do things without reasoning at all about them. Most of what we do is like that. Try to think about what your fingers do when you type a post on your keyboard. So, the rational mind, although it is obviously very important and crucial to what we are and to our ability to cooperate to produce civilisations, is in effect just one aspect of what we are. People do what they do first on emotional ground, i.e. what they want. Rationality then is the means to help them achieve what they want. Hitler. Mao. Stalin. A rational person doesn't even understand how his own rationality works. I'm interested in logic, and what is obvious to me now, after some empirical research, is that people, rational people, luminaries through the centuries, haven't made any progress at all in terms of understanding logic since Aristotle! We sort of accept it works, we don't understand how it works. So, we're not essentially rational beings. We're essentially emotional beings, at least in terms of deciding what we do at every moment. So, no, Rand's axiomatic doesn't work. A political system is a compromise between emotional people who can use rationality if they want. And, of course, many people, including many very intelligent people, are very seriously fucked up to begin with. So, rationality, yeah, when we have the time.

Quote Originally Posted by Torin View Post
and that we ought to live according to our rational self interest, which includes respecting the rights of others.
Yes, right, good idea and I'm all for it but we don't do that, not even me. People just don't do it. Most of us are potential war criminals and mass murderers. It's just a matter of happy circumstances that we are not.

So, why not respect the rights of the Nazis? Why respect this right and not this other right?

Political systems are compromises between emotional people who may decide to use rationality to work out a better solution. But, they will decide to do that on the basis of how they feel emotionally about it.

Quote Originally Posted by Torin View Post
The only economic system consistent with respecting the rights of others, for Rand, is laissez-faire capitalism.
You think it's possible to respect the rights of other people?

We all have the natural right to appropriate everything other people have and kill them. And that's essentially what people have done throughout history.

So, we definitely want some degree of laissez-faire, but the exact degree will be decided by emotional people who may decide to use rationality to work out a better system.

And, by and large, democracies have been essentially an effort at being rational. Democracy goes hand in hand with rationality. But, we opt for democracy essentially because we want to, not because people are rational, although rationality is nonetheless essential both in thinking democracy but also in bringing about democracy.

You should look into the long and protracted historical process that brought about democracy. Lots of spilt blood, there, and little rationality.