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...for nobody is allowed to impose their will on another, true?

Or doing anything for that manner that is silly and annoying to others, for enshrined in law "do as you please, if it is in your interest as a rational being; let no one stop this one in their choices, regardless of the impact or consequence on others".

asked Dec 23 '11 at 22:26

Adeikov's gravatar image


edited Dec 26 '11 at 13:30

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦


A snow storm.

(Dec 24 '11 at 03:00) garret seinen garret%20seinen's gravatar image

What people wouldn't be allowed to do in an Objectivist world is violate rights.

If it is my property, I get to decide whether you may run around naked on/in it; if it is your property, you get to decide that. (Notice that the potential violations of rights go both ways.) If it is nobody's/everybody's property (i.e., government property), then it would be up to a vote or whatever political tool is in vogue.

Without a clear focus on rights -- specifically property rights -- there is no way to tell who is imposing their will on whom and bad things will happen.

answered Dec 24 '11 at 03:14

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

First, do not pretend that the result of freedom of dress would be seeing lots of nubile ladies and gorgeous hunks in the nude - it wont all be the idealised Californian beach. Rather, until the whole thing was normalised over the course of a generation or two I imagine that a lot of people taking the opportunity to show more than presently legally allowed would be those deluding themselves about their attractiveness and trying to flaunt what they only think they have, fat blokes strutting around, leering teenage males being even more uncouth, flashers being far more brazen than they are today, and so on, and that the good-looking would instead tend to keep themselves covered in circumstances where they had no control over who could see them on the premise of limiting exposure only to those whom they think deserve to see or don't mind being seen by. Be prepared to lose your lunch more often than have opportunity to smile.

Now, as to the law, "property rights" - yes, certainly ... but I think one of the real questions is what should the legal position be when the owner of some property with public access - eg a mall or a beach - is silent or vague on the matter. For example, the dress code could simply say "neat dress required" as it actually does on many mall doors. How much of their bodies are people allowed to expose under a requirement like that? What would be acceptable today - eg sandals, short shorts, bare midriffs, and bare shoulders - would have caused a crapstorm several decades ago even though the wording of the mall dress code has not changed since then. Should the law enforce a shift back to 1950's cultural norms in interpretation of those words, then? Or even 1850's norms?

Another real question is what about where people who do have owners' permission to show amounts of body that others find offensive when those others can see the said body from another property. For example, consider a mother breast-feeding her baby in an open-air cafe with proprietor approval to feed and where the only thing delineating the cafe grounds from another piece of property used as public access (eg the footpath) is the likes of roping-off or low hedges or glass-pane walls etc. This particular issue is part of the front line today.

Of course, the same works in the opposite direction too. A shop owner could say "women are required to burqas" and be well within his rights to do so even though the burqa is predicated on an extremely offensive view of sexuality in regards both men and women alike and as such constitutes a publicly-made insult. Yet, as offensive as religious requirements regarding covering up are, this exercise of property rights must be accepted - a ban on burqas etc on public is as equally wrong as bans on nudity in public.

The legal solution is to identify motives for what they are and separate them from objectivity in the matter, and have the courts focus strictly on the latter. The idea that the naked body is inherently offensive is itself an offensive idea. The motive is usually mere emotional reaction originating in religious belief, though need not be as the otherwise legitimate concerns of feminists regarding irrational expectations that elements of many cultures have of women demonstrate (in which case the law against nudity would be intended as a protection for women in the same way as a legally-enforced Sabbath is intended as a protection for labourers). Note also that laws against showing "too much" are on par with laws against public display of controversial art, which includes but is not limited to said art itself including exposed bodies - should say Lee Sanstead be prosecuted for what he publishes? How about republishers of Leni Riefenstahl's work or of Socialist Realism? Obviously, in both cases, NO.

As such courts have no business entertaining "offensiveness" when formulating judgement - to do otherwise is essentially to sanction censorship and to sanction the idea that a legitimate role of government is enforcement of public morals. Accordingly - as a matter of objectivity, of separation of church and state, of property rights, and of freedom of speech - the law should find in favour of freedom of dress to the extent that property owners' rules of access do not expressly stand against particular modes of dress, and also to defend property owners' rights to specify whatever dress codes they please. If the results in either direction (nudity vs total covering) offend others, tough. People have no right to require bans on displays of body-parts or body-coverings or art-works or philosophical opinions or anything else simply because they find it offensive.


answered Dec 27 '11 at 02:43

JJMcVey's gravatar image

JJMcVey ♦

In the comments, the questioner states: "I wished someone would explain how the self-interest of rational persons would not conflict on any issue."

The original Objectivist statement on this issue appears in Galt's Speech (FNI, p. 148 in the Signet paperback edition):

Just as there are no contradictions in my values and no conflicts among my desires -- so there are no victims and no conflicts of interest among rational men, men who do not desire the unearned and do not view one another with a cannibal's lust, men who neither make sacrifices nor accept them.

The latter clause explains the reason for the earlier clause; i.e., rational men "do not desire the unearned [and] neither make sacrifices nor accept them." The emphasis is on how rational men view themselves, others, and existence in general. Ayn Rand elaborates on this in detail in her article, "The 'Conflicts' of Men's Interests," published as Chapter 4 in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism. The article is also available on-line from The Ayn Rand Institute, here: link. Also refer to OPAR, pp. 235-237 and 403-406.

answered Dec 25 '11 at 03:41

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

If they're good looking would you really want to stop them?

answered Dec 23 '11 at 22:57

Humbug's gravatar image


And if you found them hideous, what under objectivist law, could you do but suffer it?

(Dec 23 '11 at 23:06) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

What kind of question is that? I believe in small government, but I think there should be laws against what you're describing as "streaking." Not only is it mindless and stupid, but I believe it's immoral to expose yourself in public, because it's offensive and could quite possibly affect your career. If you got in trouble for streaking, nobody would ever hire you. What I say: keep it covered, keep your future covered too.

(Dec 23 '11 at 23:58) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

So you're bothered by nakedness and you want to see that covered up? What if I'm bothered by women's faces and want those to be covered up too?

(Dec 24 '11 at 03:40) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

I am merely trying to see whether there are conquences on others that would be unacceptable even if they fully complied with Rand's philosophy.

I ment you, me or anyone that have a personal aversion to people based on appearance and behaviour.

(Dec 24 '11 at 05:43) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Greg answered the question. Nothing would stop people from running around naked on their own property, or with permission from the property owner. Running around naked on someone else's property, without permission of the property owner, would be trespassing.

He also mentions government property, but "in an Objectivist world" I doubt there would be much if any government property, because of exactly this kind of problem (tragedy of the commons).

I'm not sure where your quote is from. It seems to come from the viewpoint that people's rational interests are in conflict. They aren't.

(Dec 24 '11 at 09:22) anthony anthony's gravatar image

I wished someone would explain how the self-interest of rational persons would not conflict on any issue.

(Dec 24 '11 at 15:36) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

You don't need to know how the sun rises every morning to know that the sun rises every morning. It seems to me you are looking for a deductive argument about something which is first arrived at inductively.

In your experience, is it easier to deal with rational people through trade or through force?

(Dec 25 '11 at 19:43) anthony anthony's gravatar image

A deductive argument for this isn't going to prove anything without the experience. The deductive argument is that rational people are best dealt with through rational means. The deductive argument is that rational people are self-interested, and so the way to use them to your best advantage is to use them in a way that is in their self-interest.

(Dec 25 '11 at 19:47) anthony anthony's gravatar image
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In a society based on exchange (i.e., trading) of value for value and in which theft is the paramount crime, why would someone's nudity be of any concern to others? Traders not interested in seeing someone else's nudity can trade with someone who wears clothes. Traders who do not care one way or the other will, possibly, gain an advantage over the first group because of a wider selection of persons with whom to trade. If no one wishes to engage in trade with the unclothed, they will either don clothing or starve. The government simply has more important functions than to worry about the clothing or lack thereof of the citizens.

PS, Humbug, there are few human bodies that are not benefitted to some degree with clothing. That choice, however, should be the person opting for or against clothing.

answered Dec 25 '11 at 16:22

ethwc's gravatar image

ethwc ♦

Nudity would only be an issue if it were involved in some kind of objective threat.

For instance, if, in public, a naked man approached your child in a lewd way, that would constitute a threat of molestation (which is a kind of force against children).

But if your only complaint with a person is that you don't like looking at his naked body, then you should voice your concerns with the proprietor of the establishment where you see the naked person -- and then abide by the owner's choice to ask either the naked person, or you, as a complainant, to leave.

There is no right to force someone to wear clothing. There is, however, a right to remove naked people (or clothed busy-bodies) from one's property. And one has a right to try to persuade an owner.

answered Dec 26 '11 at 22:16

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

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Asked: Dec 23 '11 at 22:26

Seen: 1,975 times

Last updated: Dec 27 '11 at 02:43