Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Boydstun

"Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

***** Split from Objectivism in Academia *****

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is in its eighteenth year of publication (Penn State University Press). It issues twice a year, July and December. I have all its issues, hardcopy, from its beginning. I’ve mentioned elsewhere on Objectivism Online an extensive review, in the July 2018 issue, of Harry Binswanger’s book How We Know. I notice also in this issue a paper “Egoism and Others” by Merlin Jetton, a long-time friend of mine.

In his contribution “Egoism and Others,” Jetton draws Rand’s ethical egoism as an extreme position, polar opposite the extreme altruistic ethics of Comte. That sketch seems right. But Jetton writes “Contra Rand, one can benefit others without self-sacrifice” (85). I don’t think that statement in itself is an exact representation of Rand. She characterizes voluntary productive, romantic, and esthetic relationships as benefitting both self and others. Jetton later tempers that statement on Rand, thankfully, in his addressing for example her ambitious essay “The Conflict of Mens’ Interests.”

Jetton conveys altruism as taking various forms. Rand’s notion of altruism, he correctly takes as entailing self-sacrifice. He maintains that Rand disdained altruism in any form and that this stance “may actually detract from a person’s self-interest” (85).

“Rand advocated self-interest all the time and typically treated acting for the interest of others as equivalent to self-sacrifice” (86). Correct.

Jetton concurs with Rand’s stance that one should not live for the sake of another. Contra Rand, he writes: “Acting for the sake of another is sometimes the rational thing to do” (87). I concur, and I concur that this is contra Rand (notwithstanding denials or fogging of this ascription to Rand by some sympathizers with Rand’s egoism).

Jetton observes that among our choices of action, there are ones “you might agree that anyone similarly disposed would have in such circumstances” (87). He dips into a work by Charles Larmore, a former professor of mine, in filling out this idea. From the reflective plane of regarding ourselves as responding to reasons and binding ourselves to reasons, Jetton goes on to gauge the morality of benefitting others in business, familial, fiduciary, governmental, and charitable relationships, marking up Rand’s pertinent words all along the way.

An additional basic frame of Rand’s ethical egoism I think would be worth examining in future examinations and assessments along the lines of Jetton’s present study is her proposition “Life is an end in itself.” This is a basic frame not only for her ethical egoism, but for her case for universal individual rights. And the latter, with their justification, could have fertile ramifications for treatment of others, even going beyond scope of the law.

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

Jetton concurs with Rand’s stance that one should not live for the sake of another. Contra Rand, he writes: “Acting for the sake of another is sometimes the rational thing to do” (87). I concur, and I concur that this is contra Rand (notwithstanding denials or fogging of this ascription to Rand by some sympathizers with Rand’s egoism).

This asserts that Rand's egoism, since it guides a person to avoid "acting for the sake of another", when (sometimes) it is the rational thing to do, is, to that extent, irrational or non-rational. 

This seems like an impossible assertion given the nature of Rand's egoism.  What is the standard of "rational" used in the "rational thing to do", and on what principle of Rand's egoism would a person be guided to conclude she should avoid doing it?

Insofar as Jetton and Rand are contra, in Jetton's gauging "the morality of benefitting others", what is Jetton's standard of morality and how does it differ from Rand's?

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This asserts that Rand's egoism, since it guides a person to avoid "acting for the sake of another", when (sometimes) it is the rational thing to do, is, to that extent, irrational or non-rational. 

This seems like an impossible assertion given the nature of Rand's egoism.  What is the standard of "rational" used in the "rational thing to do", and on what principle of Rand's egoism would a person be guided to conclude she should avoid doing it?

The following are Rand's own words from VOS.

"Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men's actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the nonactors, of the moral to the immoral. Nothing could ever justify such a breach, and no one ever has. ... The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action" (Rand 1964, ix-x).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, merjet said:

The following are Rand's own words from VOS.

"Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men's actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the nonactors, of the moral to the immoral. Nothing could ever justify such a breach, and no one ever has. ... The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action" (Rand 1964, ix-x).

To an honest and direct set of questions, this simply does not constitute a respective set of considered answers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, merjet said:

The following are Rand's own words from VOS.

"Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men's actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the nonactors, of the moral to the immoral. Nothing could ever justify such a breach, and no one ever has. ... The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action" (Rand 1964, ix-x).

Incidentally, out of context it is not easy to interpret, however, the line "sacrifice of some men to others", actors to non actors, moral to immoral, and the description of a breach "between" the actor and beneficiary "necessitating an injustice", strongly suggest a context of third party causation for the breach.  Rand would not have viewed free unforced voluntary action as possibly constituting anything she would call an "injustice" to the actor, so in this context this must be third party intervention with force.

We know Rand would not support the idea of metaphysical givens creating any sort of "injustice", so the third party is implied to be a person(s) acting to cause the involuntary, i.e. undesired breach.

The conclusory statement that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action, in this context, means no more than a person should not be forced to act divorced from the benefits thereof nor the benefits of an action be forcibly divorced from the actor.

 

On the above basis alone, and I suspect reading these statements in context would even provide more support for the above position, this isolated pasage does not have relevance to the questions I have asked.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SL,

There is a scene in The Fountainhead in which the narrator lays out the sort of third-party situation you describe. It’s upshot, it has struck me, is that when the outside pressure to help your fellow man is lifted, as it is lifted in the mind of Roark, then men feel a natural benevolence towards each other. This narrative is at the opening of Roark’s ultimate court trial, in which Rand will give him an extended soliloquy to lay out her main positive message of the book.

However, I think you are mistaken concerning the passage Merlin quoted from the Introduction to The Virtue of Selfishness. She means exactly what she wrote there, full tilt. She makes clear there that she is not assuming at the outset of argumentation that “the proper beneficiary of moral values” is oneself. That is not a moral primary in her view, rather, “it has to be derived from and validated by the fundamental premises of a moral system” (x). She takes her argument in “The Objectivist Ethics” to have shown that “man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions. / . . . Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men’s actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice . . . . Nothing could ever justify such a breach, and no one ever has” (ix).

From “The Objectivist Ethics” ~

Man’s life is a continuous whole. . . . ‘Man’s survival qua man’ means the terms, methods, conditions and goals required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan—in all those aspects of existence open to his choice. / Man has to be man by choice—and it is the task of ethics to teach him how to live like man. / The Objectivist ethics holds man’s life as the standard of value—and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man.” (24–25)

“It is only on the basis of rational selfishness—on the basis of justice—that men can be fit to live together in a free, peaceful, prosperous, benevolent, rational society. / Can man derive any personal benefit from living in a human society? Yes—if it is a human society.” (32)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any disagreement about what Rand means by "injustice" in that context is likely beside the point.  My aim was not to get side tracked or drag anyone into a debate but to obtain clear and direct answers to my honest questions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SL,

None of us want to get sidetracked from your original honest questions. Talk of injustice was part of Rand's answer, but her answer to your questions are crystal clear. She did not think it right to have as motive for your actions the benefit that accrues from the action to persons other than you the agent. I suspect that you disagree with that view of hers. I gather Merlin disagrees with it. I disagree with it, have often said so, and speaking only for myself, I count it as a serious suspicion one should have of the possible complete correctness of any authentic ethical egoism whatever, from Socrates to Rand. I applaud that long string of philosophers who have made a valiant effort to justify all moral virtues on the basis of self-interest. It is a worthwhile effort and has shown the great extent to which moral virtues ARE justifiable by purely self-interest. Moreover, for my own part, I enthusiastically agree with Rand on the virtue(s) of selfishness. I agree with her there are things rightly condemned as wrong and wrongly called selfish. I agree with her that there are things rightly called selfish and wrongly condemned as wrong. But that does not amount to ethical egoism, not as the sincere challenge has been sincerely taken on from Socrates to Rand. EVERY moral virtue must stand on the rationale of purely self-interest in all the settings for moral virtue in any theory of moral egoism with no tap dancing. And in this effort, Rand did not distract or confuse or water down. She went for a real ethical egoism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

SL,

None of us want to get sidetracked from your original honest questions. Talk of injustice was part of Rand's answer, but her answer to your questions are crystal clear. She did not think it right to have as motive for your actions the benefit that accrues from the action to persons other than you the agent. I suspect that you disagree with that view of hers. I gather Merlin disagrees with it. I disagree with it, have often said so, and speaking only for myself, I count it as a serious suspicion one should have of the possible complete correctness of any authentic ethical egoism whatever, from Socrates to Rand. I applaud that long string of philosophers who have made a valiant effort to justify all moral virtues on the basis of self-interest. It is a worthwhile effort and has shown the great extent to which moral virtues ARE justifiable by purely self-interest. Moreover, for my own part, I enthusiastically agree with Rand on the virtue(s) of selfishness. I agree with her there are things rightly condemned as wrong and wrongly called selfish. I agree with her that there are things rightly called selfish and wrongly condemned as wrong. But that does not amount to ethical egoism, not as the sincere challenge has been sincerely taken on from Socrates to Rand. EVERY moral virtue must stand on the rationale of purely self-interest in all the settings for moral virtue in any theory of moral egoism with no tap dancing. And in this effort, Rand did not distract or confuse or water down. She went for a real ethical egoism.

How then, or in what sense is real ethical egoism, as claimed above, sometimes not rational?  

Second, I'm not sure what you are getting at with regard to "the" benefit of an action.  If a person is a value to me and I act to help them say become a better person we both benefit.  Unlike altruist duty, the fact some action taken in my self interest benefits a person i.e the act is for both of us, does not negate its morality. This is asymmetrical with those moralities which claim any amount of self interest negates the morality of the action.

Also, Is there some zero sum aspect in some particular measure of "benefit" of which I am unaware?  Rand talks of a mother valuing a child more than a hat, and clearly holds action to save the child by selling the hat as moral.

As a father and a devoted spouse I have yet to see any problem between my life and my values and the faculty of reason by which I gain and keep them.  Where is the breach, the conflict, the inconsistency?

Quite frankly I am utterly at a loss which is why I keep looking back to my initial questions.  

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

She did not think it right to have as motive for your actions the benefit that accrues from the action to persons other than you the agent. 

Can you give an example of this kind of action, where benefit accrues among other people more than yourself? From what I gather, you think that there are types of actions where other people primarily benefit, and that these actions would be moral, while Rand would say the opposite. Something more concrete would help here, so I can understand your position.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you love a person, doing something that benefits that person also benefits you, and the action is moral as long as the benefits are not outweighed by some harmful side effect.  This is true even if the benefit to the one you love is greater than the benefit to you.

If you are running a business, it can be good business to go an extra mile to help customers.  If you are trying to succeed and advance in a job, it can be good strategy to go an extra mile in doing the job.  Both are true regardless of how much or how little benefit accrues directly to you from a particular instance of extra-miling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The essence of Randian egoism is a hierarchy of values rooted in that which is necessary for a human being to survive as required by his nature.  Each value must, in some way, contribute to that specific form of survival.  The virtues are principles that, enacted, result in gaining and/or keeping such values.

At this level of abstraction, it would be improper to have, as a beneficiary of one's acts, anyone other than oneself.  But as these abstractions are particularized, as one fills in the relevant values and virtues, it becomes apparent that some actions can be taken that also benefit others and, concretely and short-term, benefit others more than oneself.  This would be true in relationships, where one might act "altruistically", benefiting others, to satisfy the long-term goals of gaining or keeping appropriate relationships.  Or politically, where one might act "altruistically" by putting one's life on the line to protect one's society.

Such "altruism" is not justified on the premise that the good is that which benefits others.  (Hence the scare quotes.)  Rather, it is justified on the premise that to obtain certain values -- a proper relationship, a proper society -- values that benefit oneself -- one must put others' immediate welfare above one's own immediate welfare.

If, at this point, one drops the context, ignores the value hierarchy, one can mistakenly see a mother's actions that benefits her child but cost her dearly, or a soldier's putting his life on the line and even losing it, as actions "for others", a sort of altruism that egoism supposedly rejects.  But keeping the context, it's clear that the person who chooses motherhood also chooses the emotional bonding that requires that she "sacrifice".  But she does so for the long-term benefits of motherhood, as she conceives them.  Similarly for the soldier; if he chooses to defend his society, he also chooses the soldierly virtues that go with it, which may involve "sacrificing" his life.

Keeping the context, remembering that humans have a nature, and refusing to accept contradictions -- those are how and why Randian egoism, even though it requires that the beneficiary of one's actions be oneself, also permits and even requires acting for others, sometimes even "sacrificing" for others.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, merjet said:

 

"Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action" (Rand 1964, ix-x).

I don't get how "one can benefit others without self-sacrifice” isn't compatible with the above? It doesn't seem to follow, from the above quote, "another can never benefit from one's actions." I mean if you categorized it thusly:

(1) actions which benefit myself and not others

(2) actions which benefit both myself and others

(3) actions which benefit others and not myself

 

It seems 1 and 2 are entailed by Rand's quotation. And why would you always want to be the beneficiary? If "benefit" in this taxonomy is defined as that which contributes to my survival and flourishing, then you just wouldn't want to be going around doing 3 all the time. Even on the margins, time is scarce and life is short, if the standard of ethics is that which contributes to your survival and flourishing, doing 3 is ultimately a drain on your resources and harmful in that sense.

Also, as most economical analysis of positive externalities will tell you, most human action lies in 2. Suppose I enjoy gardening and have a rose garden outside, well you can enjoy my garden by looking at it. Is this a 1 or a 2? I work out and educate myself in manners and etiquette, you too can then enjoy my attractiveness and good manners as a little bonus. The point here is, most action is 2, the human race would have died out long ago if only 1 was allowed.

 Of course, I haven't read the paper in question, and you could break the categories down a lot more, so I shall reserve my judgment, but it just seems silly to interpret that as "no one else can ever benefit from my actions." The scope of actions that fall under 2 that Rand does recommend, friendship, love, commerce, living in a human society, if all of these things seem squarely under 2, then it seems a big problem for merjets interpretation.

Edited by 2046

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

The essence of Randian egoism is a hierarchy of values rooted in that which is necessary for a human being to survive as required by his nature.  Each value must, in some way, contribute to that specific form of survival.  The virtues are principles that, enacted, result in gaining and/or keeping such values.

At this level of abstraction, it would be improper to have, as a beneficiary of one's acts, anyone other than oneself.  But as these abstractions are particularized, as one fills in the relevant values and virtues, it becomes apparent that some actions can be taken that also benefit others and, concretely and short-term, benefit others more than oneself.  This would be true in relationships, where one might act "altruistically", benefiting others, to satisfy the long-term goals of gaining or keeping appropriate relationships.  Or politically, where one might act "altruistically" by putting one's life on the line to protect one's society.

Such "altruism" is not justified on the premise that the good is that which benefits others.  (Hence the scare quotes.)  Rather, it is justified on the premise that to obtain certain values -- a proper relationship, a proper society -- values that benefit oneself -- one must put others' immediate welfare above one's own immediate welfare.

If, at this point, one drops the context, ignores the value hierarchy, one can mistakenly see a mother's actions that benefits her child but cost her dearly, or a soldier's putting his life on the line and even losing it, as actions "for others", a sort of altruism that egoism supposedly rejects.  But keeping the context, it's clear that the person who chooses motherhood also chooses the emotional bonding that requires that she "sacrifice".  But she does so for the long-term benefits of motherhood, as she conceives them.  Similarly for the soldier; if he chooses to defend his society, he also chooses the soldierly virtues that go with it, which may involve "sacrificing" his life.

Keeping the context, remembering that humans have a nature, and refusing to accept contradictions -- those are how and why Randian egoism, even though it requires that the beneficiary of one's actions be oneself, also permits and even requires acting for others, sometimes even "sacrificing" for others.

 

 

The content is more or less correct.  I just have a quibble with some of the words you use.

I would remind you that characterizing some short term consequences as a "sacrifice" or "altruistic" are just as erroneous, and for the exact same reasons, that we here all are aware that short term gains which predictably creates a greater long term loss, are not in fact "selfish" actions but the opposite.  The latter we call self defeating quite correctly because a reasoned analysis thereof reveals that is what they are, and the former, I would suggest we call "selfish" or "self interested" because a reasoned analysis (which takes into account the totality of value and takes into account the long term) reveals that is what they are.

Other than quibbling over terms your analysis of context and the need to think long term is very relevant and correct.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, 2046 said:

I don't get how "one can benefit others without self-sacrifice” isn't compatible with the above? It doesn't seem to follow, from the above quote, "another can never benefit from one's actions." I mean if you categorized it thusly:

(1) actions which benefit myself and not others

(2) actions which benefit both myself and others

(3) actions which benefit others and not myself

 

It seems 1 and 2 are entailed by Rand's quotation. And why would you always want to be the beneficiary? If "benefit" in this taxonomy is defined as that which contributes to my survival and flourishing, then you just wouldn't want to be going around doing 3 all the time. Even on the margins, time is scarce and life is short, if the standard of ethics is that which contributes to your survival and flourishing, doing 3 is ultimately a drain on your resources and harmful in that sense.

Also, as most economical analysis of positive externalities will tell you, most human action lies in 2. Suppose I enjoy gardening and have s rose garden outside, well you can enjoy my garden by looking at it. Is this a 1 or a 2? I work out and educate myself in manners and etiquette, you too can then enjoy my attractiveness and good manners as a little bonus. The point here is, most action is 2, the human race would have died out long ago if only 1 was allowed.

 Of course, I haven't read the paper in question, and you could break the categories down a lot more, so I shall reserve my judgment, but it just seems silly to interpret that as "no one else can ever benefit from my actions."

Agreed.  Here is one stark example I am reminded of:

"In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the “competition” between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of “exploitation” for which you have damned the strong."

Galt's Speech (For the New Intellectual, 186)

Although the above involves a mix of material and spiritual values (both of which I think would qualify as "benefit"), I think it is clear that it accepts that the act of invention involves conveying a great degree of benefit to others (perhaps given the quote this is an understatement?).

 

To my knowledge, Rand did not make it a point to state that it is not in a man's rational self-interest to invent anything, i.e. although she did strongly suggest that being a parasite or a thief are inimical to a persons life and thus those "careers" should be avoided, she did not make the same pronouncement about the vocation of "Inventor" notwithstanding the imbalance of "benefit" quoted above. 

She was a strong supporter of Patents and Copyrights, and as far as I know nothing in her analysis of a proper intellectual property system addresses the issue of the inventor receiving only a "small percentage of his value" NO MATTER what millions he earns. In essence, "free riding" here (at least in spiritual values) is inevitable, and unavoidable, BUT at the end of the analysis, irrelevant since inventing is still in the inventor's self interest, and VERY much so if one both enjoys it and can do it in a lucrative manner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Boydstun said:

I disagree with it, have often said so, and speaking only for myself, I count it as a serious suspicion one should have of the possible complete correctness of any authentic ethical egoism whatever, from Socrates to Rand.

 

If ethical egoism meant it is wrong to benefit others in any way, I would be suspicious too.

But ethical egoism, meaning "it is wrong to act against your own interests" is what has allowed humanity to survive this long.

If ethical egoism is not a valid concept, if the ethical necessity of being beneficiary of one's effort is not valid, then justice becomes meaningless.
If you are expected to act against your interest, then all sorts of heinous activities become okay with the assent of the victim.

It is the rejection (of an injustice) BY the victim which is at the heart of the validity of egoism. 

If it was right to act against one's self-interest, being the victim loses its meaning. You can be harmed, the right thing to do becomes  "allow it". 

If there is no victim, being the perpetrator loses its meaning too. If there is never a victim and no perpetrator, there is no justice.

If everyone supported the idea "let them harm you" (allow it), would life be worth living?

Ethical egoism is what has protected us all along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few personal musings... 

I value my house and take care it for my own sake.  The productive effort I spend on it is worth it because I "make value".  I've carefully chosen to create personal spiritual wealth long range as real as any money that was ever made.  The actions so taken result in my reaping more than was "spent".

I value my land and nurture it for my own sake.  I make spiritual wealth through my efforts on it, and I am the richer for it. It matters not that the grass and the trees benefit, they nor I mind.

I value my family and friends and support and care for them for my own sake.  Because of the riches I gain making my spiritual wealth, fueling my life, my health, my flourishing... there is no standard by which anyone could dare accuse me of not being the beneficiary of my actions or dare claim that any other path is more in my rationally pure self interest.

No.  

If anyone said I had to forego nurturing the greatest values to myself merely because it benefited others I would tell them to go straight back to hell... I would not sacrifice MY greatest self interest in order to fit so false, irrational, and arbitrary an edict.  

There simply is no basis in reason for giving up the greatest life I could have for my own sake... and no reasons could be offered to persuade me... I would not do it.

I will not accept a rule which says "me OR them" which means "me or my values" which finally means "me or my life"... not because I am selfless but because I am an egoist.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

The essence of Randian egoism is a hierarchy of values rooted in that which is necessary for a human being to survive as required by his nature.  Each value must, in some way, contribute to that specific form of survival.  The virtues are principles that, enacted, result in gaining and/or keeping such values.

At this level of abstraction, it would be improper to have, as a beneficiary of one's acts, anyone other than oneself.  But as these abstractions are particularized, as one fills in the relevant values and virtues, it becomes apparent that some actions can be taken that also benefit others and, concretely and short-term, benefit others more than oneself.  This would be true in relationships, where one might act "altruistically", benefiting others, to satisfy the long-term goals of gaining or keeping appropriate relationships.  Or politically, where one might act "altruistically" by putting one's life on the line to protect one's society.

Such "altruism" is not justified on the premise that the good is that which benefits others.  (Hence the scare quotes.)  Rather, it is justified on the premise that to obtain certain values -- a proper relationship, a proper society -- values that benefit oneself -- one must put others' immediate welfare above one's own immediate welfare.

If, at this point, one drops the context, ignores the value hierarchy, one can mistakenly see a mother's actions that benefits her child but cost her dearly, or a soldier's putting his life on the line and even losing it, as actions "for others", a sort of altruism that egoism supposedly rejects.  But keeping the context, it's clear that the person who chooses motherhood also chooses the emotional bonding that requires that she "sacrifice".  But she does so for the long-term benefits of motherhood, as she conceives them.  Similarly for the soldier; if he chooses to defend his society, he also chooses the soldierly virtues that go with it, which may involve "sacrificing" his life.

Keeping the context, remembering that humans have a nature, and refusing to accept contradictions -- those are how and why Randian egoism, even though it requires that the beneficiary of one's actions be oneself, also permits and even requires acting for others, sometimes even "sacrificing" for others.

 

 

In Rand's egoism, the aimed-for beneficiary of every action should be oneself. Not only the aimed-for beneficiary in organizing one's life as a whole. If one aids a Steven Mallory, it should be for the potential of a value one wants to see in the world. It should be for the joy one experiences in seeing such artworks and the joy one takes in the company of such creators in the world. It is one's own experiences and joys that should be the aim of such an action, not firstly the interests, potential achievements and experiences of Mr. Mallory himself. All proper examined values should be in relation to oneself as beneficiary, on Rand's view, although she would have the normal, healthy constitution of oneself significantly include need for self-visibility through certain others: Visibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

In Rand's egoism, the aimed-for beneficiary of every action should be oneself. Not only the aimed-for beneficiary in organizing one's life as a whole. If one aids a Steven Mallory, it should be for the potential of a value one wants to see in the world. It should be for the joy one experiences in seeing such artworks and the joy one takes in the company of such creators in the world. It is one's own experiences and joys that should be the aim of such an action, not firstly the interests, potential achievements and experiences of Mr. Mallory himself. All proper examined values should be in relation to oneself as beneficiary, on Rand's view, although she would have the normal, healthy constitution of oneself significantly include need for self-visibility through certain others: Visibility.

Still groping with what you deem are flaws with Rand's egoism...is it so much a difference on principle or is it a difference in application?

Please bear with me as this is slightly clumsy an analogy.

Two business men might hold the same philosophical principles, adhere to the same business principles, even endorse the same economic principles.  Given the same opportunity, they might

1. judge the risks differently

2. have different (rationally determined) levels of risk tolerance

So that in a particular instance one businessman will refuse an opportunity as too risky i.e. not worth it, i.e. NOT in his self interest, whereas the other businessman will embrace the opportunity as not too risky, i.e. worth it, i.e. IN his self interest.

A third businessman might only nominally hold principles (if any), or act in relation thereto, and he might only have vague rules of thumb, but essentially is unaware of whether any particular opportunity is in his own self interest.

 

When it comes to examining the values "in relation to oneself as beneficiary", are you and Rand actually in opposition in principle, or is it more in the realm of application of those principles to the complexities of an unpredictable reality? Is it more about how to judge when something is in one's self interest, the risks that it is not, and the different levels of risk tolerance? 

Is your beef with Rand the requirement that making the rational decision to expend resources relies upon whether one can "see" the value in relation to oneself in order to make it moral?  IS Rand's claim that if one cannot see the values in relation to oneself, or one foregoes any attempt at assessing the values in relation to oneself, one is acting immorally (or simply amorally)?  Does this come back to the idea of general practical principles (based on deeper philosophical principles) and how they affect one's life?

 

Boydstun, I am earnestly and sincerely interested in grasping what is being proposed...  I'm not seeking alms and I am not seeking to be understood.. I am offering and asking to understand you.

 

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SL,

Where I've mentioned Merlin Jetton, I was saying something about his views, but in any posts that I've not expressly mentioned his position(s) in his JARS (#35) paper, "what is being proposed" are my own criticisms of Rand's ethical theory, and probably have only some overlap with his thinking. (I do not agree with all the views he express in the article; if someone else reads it, perhaps we can discuss it.) I've bandied these criticisms of mine (with examples) about these Objectivist-type public posting sites a few years now. These are 'old hat' to me, and none include what I develop further upon them in my book in progress (which I'll leave secret). By the way, in the 1990's, in my philosophy journal Objectivity, I never wrote anything concerning my ethical differences with Rand, although I think their onset was in the early '80's. (I began reading Rand in 1967, my copy of The Virtue of Selfishness is the paperback Signet one, the pages are often separated from the binding, they are yellow and crumbling at the edges, and I hope no words of it go missing before I myself go missing. Economy, after all.)

Rand and I concur that to significant extent, one can choose whether one will make someone else's benefit the primary motive of one's action or make one's own benefit the primary motive of one's action. Her view and argument was that it should always be the latter. Because I disagree with that uniformity, I'd say my disagreement with Rand in this area is a matter of broad principle, not disagreements in complexities of application. Then too, my own theory, presumably eventuating in a combination of the former and the latter alternatives, will be from a systematic viewpoint, stemming from my fundamental metaphysics and my portrait of the nature of life per se and of the life constituting human consciousness; and this circumstance too, inclines me to say my disagreement with Rand in this area is a difference of broad principle.

I'm out of the present discussion. I've other things I need to think on. I hope some readers at this site will obtain the copy of JARS with Merlin's paper, and I hope this thread will not become useless as a thread for announcements concerning Objectivism in academia through inundation of other sorts of posts, excellent as these posts ensuing my announcement and taste of the Jetton paper have been. 

 

Edited by Boydstun

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/27/2018 at 10:51 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

I would remind you that characterizing some short term consequences as a "sacrifice" or "altruistic" are just as erroneous, and for the exact same reasons, that we here all are aware that short term gains which predictably creates a greater long term loss, are not in fact "selfish" actions but the opposite.

I'm very aware of this point.  Recall the scare quotes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/27/2018 at 7:55 AM, Doug Morris said:

If you love a person, doing something that benefits that person also benefits you, and the action is moral as long as the benefits are not outweighed by some harmful side effect.  This is true even if the benefit to the one you love is greater than the benefit to you.

I would argue that this is altruistic. It depends entirely on if the other person truly does gain greater benefit. 

I'm not sure though if this is the type of example Boydstun was thinking of. But if it is, I think Rand would be against it (which is his point). Except, it's hard for me to think of a case where helping someone you love without harming yourself could ever result in the other person gaining more benefit. By benefit, I'm also including the psychological effects. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

It depends entirely on if the other person truly does gain greater benefit

How does one objectively and accurately know what the other guy is "truly" gaining
(or losing for that matter)? 

The act of bargaining or bidding is supposed to be gauged by what is to one's self-interest. When we speak of one's own interest, is that based on what one sees at the moment or based on hindsight or some third party judging it?

This could end up going toward the idea of having a third party regulator determining who got what benefit and what is fair.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×