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Are there logical arguments for why one ought to be Altruistic?

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Someone tried to logically prove to me why one ought to be altruistic. I found a list of logical fallacies here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies and I'd like to know which one's apply to what he wrote. This is what he wrote...

"You should be altruistic because in the long run it will be beneficial not only to society, but also to yourself. Being altruistic fosters and encourages a society in which people help those in need of help, which ultimately means you will be helped when you need it. Conversely, altruism also encourages a society where negative acts against others are discouraged, meaning for yourself that you are less likely to be attacked, stolen from, killed, raped, etc. On the evolutionary level it means that a society that protects and helps each other, and does not ransack his fellow man whenever he deems it beneficial to himself in the short run, has a greater chance of survival, both for the group as a whole, as well as for the individual within that group, which in the end leads to a much increased probability of reproduction, which is the ultimate evolutionary goal of any individual being."

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Point out that being truly altruistic, then you also give your money, help or whatever to the attacker, the robber, the killer and the rapist.

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His primary error is addressed in Howard Roark's courtroom speech in the Fountainhead. Essentially he is presenting a strawman/false dichotomy between altruism and predatorialism where every man must either sacrifice himself for the sake of others or sacrifice others for the sake of himself. Objectivism promotes rational selfishness in the literal sense of acting in your own self-interest. That is, human relationships should be based on the mutually beneficial exchange of values where neither party is sacrificed. It is not in an individual's self interest to use force to achieve his ends or to screw over potential and active associates.

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Not really a good argument.

For instance, lets say someone is in need, so much need that they require someone to care for them for all their life. You don't want to do this, and you know it won't be good for you, but according to altruism, you should. How does this benefit you in the long run? Why does society matter in this situation? Why do your genes matter at this point?

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"You should be altruistic because in the long run it will be beneficial not only to society, but also to yourself.

He begins his argument by contradicting himself. If you are told that you should do something because it's in your own interest then you are NOT being advised to be altruistic. Tell him that.

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Someone tried to logically prove to me why one ought to be altruistic. I found a list of logical fallacies here http://en.wikipedia....st_of_fallacies and I'd like to know which one's apply to what he wrote. This is what he wrote...

"You should be altruistic because in the long run it will be beneficial not only to society, but also to yourself. Being altruistic fosters and encourages a society in which people help those in need of help, which ultimately means you will be helped when you need it. Conversely, altruism also encourages a society where negative acts against others are discouraged, meaning for yourself that you are less likely to be attacked, stolen from, killed, raped, etc. On the evolutionary level it means that a society that protects and helps each other, and does not ransack his fellow man whenever he deems it beneficial to himself in the short run, has a greater chance of survival, both for the group as a whole, as well as for the individual within that group, which in the end leads to a much increased probability of reproduction, which is the ultimate evolutionary goal of any individual being."

There are a couple of false claims, and a false analogy. In general, he doesn't start with reality for his arguments, he starts with a set of false statements, and uses flawless logic to prove his case from there. All the premises are entirely unproven (the speaker makes no attempt to cite any kind of evidence for his claims whatsoever), but this one is the most blatantly false one:

"altruism encourages a society where negative acts against others are discouraged" is a false claim: altruism produces socialism, a system which encourages and creates parasitism (that's a claim that's easily verified through history).

The second part is just a false analogy between evolution and modern society (he doesn't even acknowledge that it is an analogy - that human society is in any way different from a herd of animals). In reality, the survival of the human species is not under threat from evolutionary forces and mechanisms. The notion that that should be our main goal: to out-compete other species for resources in our environment, is laughable.

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Someone tried to logically prove to me why one ought to be altruistic. I found a list of logical fallacies here http://en.wikipedia....st_of_fallacies and I'd like to know which one's apply to what he wrote. This is what he wrote...

"You should be altruistic because in the long run it will be beneficial not only to society, but also to yourself. Being altruistic fosters and encourages a society in which people help those in need of help, which ultimately means you will be helped when you need it. Conversely, altruism also encourages a society where negative acts against others are discouraged, meaning for yourself that you are less likely to be attacked, stolen from, killed, raped, etc. On the evolutionary level it means that a society that protects and helps each other, and does not ransack his fellow man whenever he deems it beneficial to himself in the short run, has a greater chance of survival, both for the group as a whole, as well as for the individual within that group, which in the end leads to a much increased probability of reproduction, which is the ultimate evolutionary goal of any individual being."

First ask him to define altruism, because I get the feeling he doesn't have the same concept in mind that Rand criticized in her works. She wasn't criticizing benevolence and good will when she argued against altruism, in fact she felt her morality of self-interest provided the foundation for both of these things.

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By my evaluation, there are no logical fallacies, only false premises. Those premises are, that altruism can possibly include rational self-interest, that theft, rape and murder are selfish, and that values exist independent of human life and pursuit of happiness. To clarify the third point, he is referring to reproduction as if it is some sort of ultimate value regardless of whether reproduction is what makes us happy and serves our lives. He thinks that because it is a goal that drives evolution, that it is somehow an inherent goal in human life.

Listen to this for some more clarity: http://www.peikoff.com/2008/06/02/isnt-reproduction-a-source-of-values-in-its-own-right-just-as-your-individual-life/

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"On the evolutionary level it means that a society that protects and helps each other, and does not ransack his fellow man whenever he deems it beneficial to himself in the short run, has a greater chance of survival, both for the group as a whole, as well as for the individual within that group, which in the end leads to a much increased probability of reproduction, which is the ultimate evolutionary goal of any individual being."

I hear this all the time.. 'The main goal of life is to reproduce. That's all, no ifs ands or buts about it.' It's especially annoying when people use evolution to defend their argument. Yes, it's that true that for praying mantis,' the purpose of life is to reproduce. The male is eaten while he inseminates his mate, so that she can have enough energy to lay her eggs. The male allows this happen because his sole purpose is to pass on his genes.

But how does that apply to humans? While some of us are equipped to reproduce, it doesn't mean that reproduction is our 'ultimate evolutionary goal.' In fact, there is no such thing as an 'ultimate evolutionary goal,' because evolution has no goals. "Evolution is not a planned process. It does no engineering. The end products were never visualized. No goals exist. There is no thought of failure or success. There is no seeking of perfection. There is no seeking of anything. Evolution does not do anything. It only happens." [1] As animals we are sexual beings, but that doesn't mean we only have sex for the purpose of reproduction. This is really easy to prove: people who are infertile have sex, get married, etc; couples who are fertile may also choose not to have children for a variety of reasons.. yet they are still a 'couple' and they still have sex. So there are other reasons why individuals unite and have sexual relationships, besides reproduction. If your friend doesn't believe it, tell him to go up to the first woman he sees and ask her if she'll have sex with him. If reproduction is her ultimate goal, she'll say yes. (That's what a preying mantis would do, right, so why wouldn't a human?)

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If the logical argument for altruism is to increase the probability of reproduction, the first question that comes to mind is: "Why?" I'm not aware of any credible threat, other than overpopulation, to current reproductive yields... http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

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First, make the distinction between the common usage of "altruism" and "ethical altruism". Ethical altruism is essentially the doctrine that we exist for the sake of others. Comte coined the term and wrote:

The word "altruism" (French, altruisme, from autrui: "other people", derived from Latin alter: "other") was coined by Auguste Comte, the French founder of positivism, in order to describe the ethical doctrine he supported. He believed that individuals had a moral obligation to renounce self-interest and live for others. Comte says, in his Catéchisme Positiviste,[1] that:

[The] social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. After our birth these obligations increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service.... This ["to live for others"], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] Humanity, whose we are entirely."

The crucial point here is that justifying actions that benefit others on the basis that this will in turn benefit you is not proper in the context of ethical altruism. According to ethical altruism, you are obligated to serve others regardless. An argument that you ought to act in a way that benefits society for the reason that you will receive long term benefit is an inherently egoistic argument, not altruistic.

Second, keep this Rand quote handy:

Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.
Edited by Alfred Centauri

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