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Ayn Rand's Derivation of Ought from Is

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"Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud--that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, become the enemies you have to dread and flee ... ."

 

Have you lied to your parents?  I think it would be safe to say that each of us had a time when we were young when we attempted to mold reality to our parents expectations by lying.  Your lie may have been a simple one ("Yes, I did turn in my homework.") or a complex one ("I'm going to spend the night at Jimmy's house.").  In the end, your lies to your parents placed you in the exact position Rand describes:  you sacrificed your reality to the whim of another.  In order to maintain your life, you had to continually fabricate your reality (i.e., lie some more) to match the demands of the perception of your victim (your parents).  Ultimately, your lies were discovered and you met the consequences of that choice (justice).

 

Grown, well-adjusted humans stop lying precisely because they recognize (even if only subconsiously) that the process of lying is more trouble than its worth.

 

Extended to other frauds, it becomes quickly apparent that in any fraud you must maintain your deceptions to your victims; subsequently, you are their slave.  You are unable to act according to your own judgment because you must maintain the false reality that you have presented to them.  The values that Rand speaks of are values only to those who can recognize them as values, as something earned.  A thief does not earn, and while he may enjoy the spoils of his "success" in the short term, he has to constantly live with the knowledge that he has not earned and that the only way for him to "succeed" again is to defraud reality.

 

Honesty is fundamental to ethics, because A is A.

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