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KyaryPamyu

My "Ethics Cheat Sheet"

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The following is a "cheat sheet" for the seven objectivist virtues that I have created with consultation from Tara Smith's Normative Ethics book. It assumes a general knowledge of Objectivism, so it focuses exclusively on the "how" of morality - no meta-ethics, detailed explanations, possible exceptions or applications to politics.
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OVERVIEW OF THE SEVEN VIRTUES

  • Rationality: In all of our waking hours, life requires of us that we gain new knowledge, choose values, make important decisions and discover how to act. If we are to lead good and happy lives, those decisions and actions must be in harmony with reality, i.e. must first be validated by a process of logic. The start of morality itself is a commitment to flip the switch, a metaphor for going into full mental focus and maintaining it throughout the day. "Mental focus" refers to a readiness to grasp reality (through logic) whenever you consider it to be necessary, not a permanent process of thought. You must never act without knowing exactly what you're doing (or on whim), because all human actions have consequences in reality.
  • Honesty: Never pretend that things are other than they are, either to yourself or to others. Deception is sometimes permitted in dangerous situations. White lies are an especially potent form of poison.
  • Independence: Sustain yourself through your own production, and make your way in the world through your own judgement. Before taking directions and advice from others, make up your own mind wheter to accept them or not (primary orientation to reality).
  • Justice: Judge the people in your life objectively, on grounds of their character and what they mean to your happiness. Give people what they deserve: praise, admiration, respect for people who inspire you or make you happy, and respond to evil people by not sanctioning their evil practices, steering cleer of them, or condemnation. Forgiveness can sometimes be appropriate, but mercy (undeserved leniancy) never is. 
  • Integrity: Loyalty, in the face of pressure, to rational principles (whether moral of any other kind). Do not betray your actual convictions in action - thus faking your consciousness - due to fear of other people's opinions, or because you're not in the mood, or because the required action will feel uncomfortable. To gain confidence and courage you need vision, which means: when needed, remind yourself of the full context.
  • Productiveness: Choose production (a productive career) as your central, most important activity, around which everything else gravitates. Commit to the constant improvement of your work methods, and adapt your work when unexpected circumstances occur. There is no limit to how secure, comfortable and enjoyable to make your life, therefore there is no limit to how productive you should be.
  • Pride: refers to a forward-driving ambition to always act rationaly, to the best of your particular ability and circumstances. This will make you earn a positive self-appraisal of yourself - of being capable of achieving values and worthy of values - which will, in turn, give you more motivation to pursue your happiness. Anything less will give you fair reasons to doubt your worth, which in turn weakens your fire for pursuing happiness.
  • The basic vice: the act of unfocusing your mind, the suspension of your consciousness. The refusal to see and the refusal to know.

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"FRANCISCO D'ANCONIA'S CREDO" - THE SEVEN OBJECTIVIST VIRTUES STATED IN A SINGLE PARAGRAPH

(Note: this is my own creation, not a quotation from Atlas Shrugged)

Spend your time in greedy pursuit of material wealth through a career you love, one that makes full use of your mind. Commit to the constant improvement of your work methods, and adapt your work when unexpected circumstances occur. Support yourself only with money you earn yourself. Flip the focus-switch on, so that in any issue, you're ready to understand, decide and act with your brain, not with your heart. Name things as they really are, to yourself or to others, avoiding even white lies. Never betray your rational convictions in action (moral or of any nature) - by believing something but acting against it; if you become afraid, or you're not in the mood, or the right action is uncomfortable to do, summon the full context to your mind and muster the confidence and courage to stick to your true convictions. Make your way in the world exclusively through your own judgement, and whatever advices others give, make up your own mind about them (reality is the final arbitrer). Pay people that you admire, or inspire you, or mean alot to you personally, with praise, rewards, love, friendship. Respond to vile or dangerous people with condemnation, steering clear of them, and refusal to sanction their evil. Gradualy become worthy of praise and esteem in your own eyes, by fashioning yourself into a man capable of achieving values and worthy of values, by means of pushing yourself to always act in your rational self-interest, to the best of your particular circumstances and ability - even when you don't feel like it.

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[Important note: Objectivism doesn't specifically prescribe that you become a millionaire. It states that you should greedily "squeeze" anything you can rightfully earn from life - the biggest enjoyment and paycheck from the job you love (whether industrialist or school teacher), the best that your money allows you to buy, the best lover that your character can attract. This is different from organizing your life around earning  wealth through a job that turns your days into a living hell (see Roark's discussion with the deen at the beggining of The Fountainhead.]

Edited by KyaryPamyu

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33 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

FRANCISCO D'ANCONIA'S CREDO - THE SEVEN OBJECTIVIST VIRTUES STATED IN A SINGLE PARAGRAPH

Is this your creation?  I suggest not attributing it to the character... it might confuse someone into thinking it was a quotation from AS.

 

VERY good post!

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Pretty good on the virtues! All stated clearly and directly. Could you state pride differently? It was the only one that seemed wordy and jumpy.

One issue on the credo part:

5 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Support yourself only with money you earn yourself.

I know what you mean - don't live off the unearned. But it's not a sign of laziness to receive money for assistance. Is there another way to say this?

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11 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I know what you mean - don't live off the unearned. But it's not a sign of laziness to receive money for assistance. Is there another way to say this?

True, there are many situations where it's proper to receive assistance, but as I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I am not adressing the possible exceptions. I wrote this to make it clear to myself what the Objectivist ideal looks like and what to strive for. That particular line is the existential half of the virtue of independence, which I've judged to fit very well near the virtue of productiveness (which opens the statement).

As for my rendering of Pride, I see exactly where the awkwardness stems from, but the original post can no longer be edited. Nevertheless, the rendering is accurate.

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It's not a possible exception, it is really common. The essential idea is that you trade value to support yourself. The "exceptionless" way to phrase it is this way, as all people will and are able to provide value. That's a clearer ideal, it emphasizes your creations. Money is virtuous to earn, but other means of self-support and creation are virtuous, too.

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21 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Money is virtuous to earn, but other means of self-support and creation are virtuous, too.

If to "earn" means to deserve in a trade for any physical or spiritual (read qualities of the mind and character) value, where exchange is voluntary and in accordance with justice, what other means are "virtuous, too"?

One can earn a scholarship if one works (get great marks... goes on to succeed) to achieve for the donor the value of seeing the money assist one to do great things.  Artists can earn a living wage from those who value their work... such is not a sacrifice if the benefactor values the art produced. 

It matters not whether trade is made with money, goods, or other values.

 

Are you disparaging money as such?  Or are you trying to re-define "the unearned"?

 

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Just now, StrictlyLogical said:

One can earn a scholarship if one works (get great marks... goes on to succeed) to achieve for the donor the value of seeing the money assist one to do great things.  Artists can earn a living wage from those who value their work... such is not a sacrifice if the benefactor values the art produced.

Yeah, this is all I was thinking of. I agree with your wording.

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Good morning, I really enjoyed your post and all about it, I love it, even when I do not agree with some parts of the analysis. I wanted to ask, what if the person doesn't have the opportunities to achieve those virtues? What if life had hit them so hard that is almost impossible to complete of maybe gain the potentials to do so? What if that person doesn't know anything about ethics? I'm interested in knowing how a person can change his way of seeing life and how to develops those virtues when you always had been a miserable person. Please answer me as soon as you see this message because I'm very curious about it.  

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Good morning, I really enjoyed your post and all about it, I love it, even when I do not agree with some parts of the analysis.

of Rand's virtues?

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I wanted to ask, what if the person doesn't have the opportunities to achieve those virtues?

You don't need opportunities to be virtuous, you are virtuous in order to create your opportunities. Objectivist morality is a guide to pursuing your long term self-interest. It will maximize the amount of success you can extort from your particular life situation by teaching you to work for the betterment of your life and to avoid mistakes that might hinder you. Many people don't have a rosy life situation, but if they're ambitious they can rise to great heights. It does take a long amount of time and work, but if you really want to be happy then it's all worth it.

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What if that person doesn't know anything about ethics?

Objectivist ethics boils down to one virtue, rationality, all the others are applications to various areas of our lives. Randian heroes such as Howard Roark or Hank Rearden do not know anything about ethics or Objectivism but they implicitly practice it because of their two ruling qualities: they're self-interested, and they know that happiness cannot be pursued in any manner - only by making decisions that will actually pay off in the long term, i.e. being rational. 

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I'm interested in knowing how a person can change his way of seeing life and how to develops those virtues when you always had been a miserable person.

Your emotions largely come from premises held in your mind - from the way you interpret the events around you, what your motivations and philosophical positions are etc. If you're really interested search the online Ayn Rand Lexicon for "sense-of-life", "benevolent universe premise", "malevolent universe premise" and "Byronic view of existence".

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On 12/14/2016 at 4:20 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

You don't need opportunities to be virtuous, you are virtuous in order to create your opportunities. Objectivist morality is a guide to pursuing your long term self-interest. It will maximize the amount of success you can extort from your particular life situation by teaching you to work for the betterment of your life and to avoid mistakes that might hinder you. Many people don't have a rosy life situation, but if they're ambitious they can rise to great heights. It does take a long amount of time and work, but if you really want to be happy then it's all worth it.

To be successful at building, what does one focus on, the virtue or the destination? There are times when we are just putting out fires, one will sort things out later. In this case, focusing on the action/virtue rather than what will happen later makes sense. When building a building, "just building", "simply being productive in that endeavor" creates so much opportunity. Creating an opportunity in that sense requires a lack of focus on "the building" and instead, being vigilant for opportunities.

What is the actual effort in being rational? Is it putting time aside to check one's premises? Is it focusing and "frowning" to clarity details? Is it making sure it is discussed with peers? Is it writing it out and checking for anomalies?

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On 10/13/2016 at 7:26 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

... You must never act without knowing exactly what you're doing

... unless you know exactly that you're taking your best shot in the face of uncertainty. (This is not an exception, it's pretty routine.)

 

On 10/13/2016 at 7:26 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

Deception is sometimes permitted in dangerous situations. White lies are an especially potent form of poison.

"Permitted" should not be used in this summary, since Objectivism says it is an Objective system where what's good is derived from a context. Saying that deception is "permitted' sounds grudging, when it can actually be a huge virtue in the right context.

The "white lies" comment seems out of place: seems to belong at another level of detail. Will only leave one wondering why white lies are worse the others.

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On 10/13/2016 at 7:26 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

Before taking directions and advice from others, make up your own mind whether to accept them or not (primary orientation to reality).

This is unclear, Why would one make up one's mind before asking for advice? It makes it sound as if there's not much point in asking for advice? Also, the concept of "advice" (and even "directions") is pretty fuzzy. When we train to be engineers, does a lecturer give us "advice" when they explain the best way to (say) draw an electric circuit? When we read Virtue of Selfishness, is Rand giving us advice about how to achieve happiness?

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Spend your time in greedy selfish pursuit of material wealth the creation of values through a career you love productive activity

Your career doesn't have to make money. It just has to be productive. Productive means it creates values. Material wealth is one value. There's a difference. You could make money at your job, and make no money at your career.

I like the virtue cheat sheet idea!

Edited by Nerian

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