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David Kelley, founder of the Atlas Society, recently debated John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and admirer of Ayn Rand, on the role of selfishness in our lives and in our societies. I just watched it and had a response that I felt compelled to write down and then share here. The debate is here: http://www.atlassociety.org/david-kelley-debates-john-mackey David Kelley defends Rand's conception of selfishness while Mackey accepts the traditional view of selfishness and argues that some selfishness is good, but too much is a bad thing, and it should be balanced with other virtues. I think this is an important position to respond to primarily because we hear it so often, and there's much confusion on the issue. Also, I don't think Kelley's response was nearly adequate. So, I'll post my own response to the debate in the next post, so as not to have a huge OP.
Let me start off by saying that I'm relatively new to these forums, and I don't know if this is the right forum to post this in. Please feel free to move it if there is a better place for it to be. I am a member of my school's local chapter of the National Honor Society, and we have an induction for new members coming up in a few days. It's the 50th anniversary of the chapter too, so many local alumni will be there. I am supposed to deliver the part of the speech about leadership, but I find some of the content to be highly objectionable. I have asked the head of the chapter, and she said that I could re-write it (in fact, she encouraged me to). I was wondering how you all think I should go about it, as I'm not the best at writing for public addresses. Here is the original piece: I will then read a quote before passing on the podium to the next speaker. I am considering the following Latin proverb. I really like it and I'm taking Latin so pronunciation shouldn't be an issue, but I don't know if the audience would follow along if I suddenly switch to a foreign language. I might warn them beforehand or omit the Latin text altogether: I'm sure you can see where I take issue with the stock piece (the part about self-sacrifice is especially horrible), but I'm not entirely sure what to put in its place. There is already someone else presenting a piece about character, so I probably shouldn't infringe on his territory. I think I also want to change the part that begins ". . . the real leader strives to . . ." Note that I in no way want to moralize to the audience, I just don't want to come across as espousing altruistic ideas such as these. Any pointers in the right direction where the rewrite is concerned would be appreciated.
I basically have two questions. Often when asking theoretical situations, opponents of Objectivism concoct some absurd hypothetical and impossible situation and the altruist connotation of selfishness to somehow prove it's a bad thing. I have a question today, and I'll be citing a legend that could have actually happened and would like to get your take on it. You're a slave escaping through the Underground Railroad and you're in a group. Unfortunately, a baby is crying and will not stop crying and you fear the people nearby will hear and wonder what is going on. The only way to keep the baby from crying is to kill it. What do you do? Approaching this from what I know of Objectivism, I can see both angles to this. 1: Killing the baby. While the baby is not using force, or even the broader negation of the mind, (lying, fraud are two examples I can think of that don't precisely fit under force) it does fundamentally attack one's highest value: life. Life simply would not be worth living as a slave, which is why Ayn Rand obviously escaped to the United States. Since this baby threatens one's value life and because to keep the baby alive you must sacrifice yourself, it is perfectly moral to kill the baby. Questions arose from this: If you accept this, doesn't it mean that if one stands in the way of your values, you may treat them as simply an obstacle in your way to be hurdled over? Isn't this an example of "sacrificing the individual for the greater good"? How could an Objectivist support this? Objectivism is founded upon the value of life. How can it be appropriate to kill? 2: Not killing the baby. Basically the questions from before. You're using initiating the use of force against the baby, while the baby has done nothing to harm you. Oism also protects individual rights, therefore it's completely inappropriate to kill the baby. Obviously I'm wrong in my thinking on either one of these, so if someone could clear it up for me it'd be appreciated. QUESTION NUMBER 2: How does Objectivism rationally come to the conclusion that polygamy or incest are immoral, while being gay or lesbian is moral?
I have recently been put in a awkward situation at work and I would like to share it with you to see if you can offer any advice from an objectivist point of view. I decided to have a career change a year ago which appeared to be a good decision. I excelled in my new position and was told that I am getting promoted to manager when I have been there a year. The reason I have been told this is because of the excellent client feedback I get and my ability to interact with clients and sell them various different services. I am also very good at getting results and a high return on investment for my clients. Recently things have changed. A client has came to us from another business and, to cut a long story short, he has asked us to provide a marketing service to him. After doing research on my clients business I found that he will not get a return on investment for his budget and therefore it would be useless for him to do this. The issue was that my director wanted myself, and my business development consultant to find something that we could do for him with the budget he proposed. We pointed out that this was impossible as it is far too low. So, my director then ordered us to sell him a research service which usually comes before the main service that we offer. However, selling him the research document is pointless as he doesn't have the monthly budget that is required for the full marketing service. So basically we would be taking nearly £2000 off him for nothing. Here is the issue.. I think taking £2000.00 off this client knowing that it will be money down the drain is pointless as it will jeopardise any long term relationship - most people in the work place agree with me. It also seems morally wrong. What I have advised my director is to tell the client to hold off just now and engage in our marketing service when he has a realistic budget - this caused a major arguement. I have basically been told to stop arguing with him about it and it is not debatable. He now understands that taking the £2000.00 off the client is pointless but he still wants to do it anyway. As a result of this I have had a fall out with my director and he has basically told me it is his business and I should do what he says. Here is my dilemma... As I have been told that I am pretty much guaranteed a promotion in the next month or two, I have totally shot myself in the foot by arguing with my director. It is likely that if I continue arguing I will not get this promotion and a pay rise. What would an objectivist do in this situation?