Objectivism Is The Everyman's Philosophy
In the universe, what you see is what you get,
figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,
and each person's independence is respected by all
Rand's Philosophy in Her Own Words
- "Metaphysics: Objective Reality" "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed/Wishing won’t make it so." "The universe exists independent of consciousness"
- "Epistemology: Reason" "You can’t eat your cake and have it, too." "Thinking is man’s only basic virtue"
- "Ethics: Self-interest" "Man is an end in himself." "Man must act for his own rational self-interest" "The purpose of morality is to teach you[...] to enjoy yourself and live"
- "Politics: Capitalism" "Give me liberty or give me death." "If life on earth is [a man's] purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being"
Objectivism Online Chat
- 19 replies
- 2940 views
- Add Reply
- 22 replies
- 301 views
- Add Reply
- 11 replies
- 1132 views
- Add Reply
- 7 replies
- 242 views
- Add Reply
While I agree with the majority of Objectivism on some level, there has always been one particular aspect of Objectivist morality that has troubled me, and reading an essay on the newly launched site ("Why theft is always wrong") brought it back into my mind. Objectivism states (correctly) that any rational morality has to be firmly human-centric, and intimately tied up with the nature of man as a rational being. A consequence of this is that all action has to be evaluated based purely on the effects it has on the long term happyness of the subject. Now, Rand often claimed that the morality involved in inheriting large sums of wealth was largely dependent upon how it was used. A heir that blew his fortune on crack and whores would be classed as a moral degenerate, whereas one who took advantage of his priviledged position and converted the money given to him into productive achievement (starting a successful business for example) should be praised, even if he would have been unlikely to have managed to succeed without his inherited wealth. I agree with this position. The problem is, why is this standard of judgement not similarly applied to stolen wealth? If a person steals money, the Objectivist will (to the best of my knowledge) decry this act as being automatically wrong, regardless of the use to which the money is put. Since the Objectivist evaluation of an action has to be carried out purely in terms of what it does to the subject's long term happyness, the justification given for this is usually that even if someone converts stolen money into productive achievement, the achievement will always be tarnished by the initial theft, the subject will know at the back of his mind that he could never have succeeded without the initial action, and this will plague his self-esteem and prevent him from gaining any real happiness. But this is a blatent contradiction. The idea is that self-esteem is gained from self-reliance, and productive achievement. But there is absolutely no difference in these terms between starting a business using inherited money, and starting one using stolen money. In either case, the individual would probably not have been able to suceed had they not obtained (from others) the initial capital. To claim that in the case of inheritence the future success would somehow 'cancel out' the unearned wealth while in the case of theft it would leave a permanent black mark on the self-esteem of the thief no matter how productively he used what he had stolen seems to be a completely unsupportable position. There seems to be a general consensus that a thief will always spend what he has stolen in a degenerate way ("crack and whores"), but I seriously doubt that this is always the case. It is certainly possible for someone to create a genuine value using money obtained through immoral means; in this situation, how would an Objectivist be able to morally condemn him in a way that wouldnt also condemn the productive heir?
Use the full power of your rational mind to answer, as best as possible, the following open-ended problems: 1) Predict the next five numbers in each sequence and justify your reasoning: a) 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,.... b) 0,1,3,7,15,31,63,127,... c) 0,1,-1,3,-5,11,-21,... d) 0,0,1,2,1,-2,-3,2,9,6,-11,... e) 0,0,1/3,1/3,2/15,7/90,73/630,... 2) Do the same as above except come up with a different answer and justify your reasoning 3) Which of your two answers is better? 4) Why?
I'm new to this board, so I don't know if this topic has been discussed, but...: In order for a objectivist society to function in the best way, it is necessary that merit be the sole basis for advancement and reward. The enemy of such a system would be any way that someone could achieve success without themself earning it, or any way that someone with ability and merit would be hindered in achieving success. Two ways that someone could undermine the structure of the system while operating within the parameters of objectivism, as I understand it, are inheritance and monopoly. First, inheritance. Case and point: the Bush family. George W. Bush was born to a wealthy family, was grandfathered into Harvard, and now is fabulously successful despite never producing anything of consequence for anyone, ever. A system where a successful and talented parent might produce an inept child who would have an advantage over others to begin with, is the enemy of a meritocracy. The root of this is inheritance of any kind. Any way of gaining power in society, without earning it, is the reason that exploitation has led to the degradation of our system in America. This must be coupled with some uniform education system, which allows the talented, regardless of background, to excell and rise to the top. Thoughts? The other enemy, as I can identify, is monopoly. In capitalism, the ideal end of an individual more talented than his peers, would be that he could rise to the top of his field. If the less capable competition couldn't survive, it would die, leaving only the best to survive. However, due to economies of scale and the eventual ability to run temporarily at a loss, it would be, and is, possible, once on top, to prevent anyone else from entering one's field. This destroys the concept of a meritocracy, because someone with more talent might not be able to enter the field of his talent, due to the monopolist's ability to lower their prices until the virtuoso can no longer afford to stay in business, then subsequently reraising them. Or, the monopolist could operate at a higher profit margin, and offer lower prices, simply because he benefits from bulk production. The current solution is flawed, in that monopolies are simply illegal, because they limit one's ability to succeed ultimately, based on merit. How is it possible to avoid monopolistic actions while simultaneously giving the best in their field the ability to rise to the top? The combination of these two enemies leads, almost unavoidably, to exploitation of the disadvantaged. It's not always the incapable who are complaining about their plight, but those not given an equal chance to succeed due to their inability to compete with the wealthy from the very beginning. If I own a chair factory my father started, and you are a poor worker better at chairmaking than me, I still have the ability to predate upon you because you may have less access to the means of production than I do, independent of your superiority. How does one close these loopholes without infringing on the beneficiaries' right to succeed? Thanks!
In discussing politics, you may have heard the word “morality” or more specifically “ethics” discussed. What you may not remember or know is how you exactly define these words. In our short discussion here we will used “morality” and “ethics” interchangeably since they essentially mean the same thing. Ethics are actions, values or goals one chooses as guidance in decision making. Decisions are made every day from the simplest like choosing which ice cream flavor to consume today, to the more complex as in whom should I vote for, weather Alderman, Council Member, City Manager, Mayor, Governor or even President! Should I wave "hello" to my neighbor or ignore him all together.The array of important ethical choices in one’s life are almost limitless. So how does one decide or make these choices such as those above?. Which one’s are more value to me than another? Do I choose to buy a shiny new Cadillac even though I know I can’t afford to do so or do I choose more modesty and buy a more affordable mode of transportation? Do I build a bridge with “lego blocks” or hardened steel? So the question has to be asked, does one choose one’s ethics by emotion, faith and/or reading tarot cards or do I instead use logical rational judgement. Do I turn off my mind and hope for the best (and hope no one gets killed in the process) or rely on specific specialized topographical knowledge and logic? The answer of the first sections “blanks out” the answer to the second. All ethical choices reflects the inner characteristics (sometimes called epistemology) of the chooser. Show me a person’s choices and I will know what their ethics (value judgments) are so immediately. Try it yourself. You will be surprised how much you will learn about human nature in the very shortest time than you could ever believe. Ethics then, no matter how you look at it, defines codes of life one follows such as we said above, actions, values and goals by a standard chosen for oneself. Take the value (ethical choice ) of truth. If instead one lies consistently to gain an action, value or goal more simply (without applying much of themselves), then one not being honest (or ethical ) with oneself. Such actions can lead to disaster or worse. Such is with all ethical choices: integrity, honesty, independence, justice and other positive virtues. My point here is that the purpose of ethics is not to make life more difficult but to make life more enjoyable. The choice is yours!