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The benefit of not harming others?

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Veritas
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I see in Objectivism the value of not harming yourself, but if your own life is the standard of value what benifit is the life of someone else? Why not just kill them if they are bothering you? What is the objective value in valuing another persons life at all?

How does Ayn Rand address this?

I was reading a book by George Smith and he mention some of the psychological effects that you take on by harming others, but what if you do not feel the psychological effects?

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Your method of thinking is entirely wrong here. Cost-benefit calculations have no role in creating the principles of morality. What does matter is the characteristic human mode of living by thinking and acting rationally. By identifying another entity as a human being everthing you know about being human applies to them as well. In principle the value of persons is their value as allies in thinking and acting rationally.

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There have been numerous threads on this issue already -- perhaps a mod would like to merge this with those?

As for me, I am not an expert on this subject, but here is my take on it.

Man, alone, is not able to create nearly as many values as a group. He can do a fine job at it, and for some people perhaps even find contentment, but in the end mere survival is probably all that he'll attain. On the other hand, if he moves to a city of individuals, he has access to hundreds, thousands, even millions of other individuals who themselves create values. Now, to take advantage of these other values, he has, basically, two venues open to him -- he can use force to get them, or he can use reason.

Now, if he uses force (And assuming he has the power to do what he wants without reprisal), then he can find himself inundated with riches. But after a little while, it will all be gone -- spent, or used up. The people who created those values are now either dead, have fled, or refuse to be used as slaves. So, now the looter is left with nothing -- and, never having learned to use his mind in the first place, he will probably die because he no longer has anyone else to mooch off of.

On the other hand, if he uses reason -- i.e., he took the values he created himself, and traded them for the values of others, he will not immediately find himself flowing in riches. But he will find that the people around him will continue to trade their values for his, and if he finds some values that are worth enough to many other people, he will find himself with far more riches, both physical and intellectual, than he could ever steal. And, through mere association with so many minds, he will find himself enriched by their values by proxy.

And that's not even accounting the profound psychological effects of achieving your values through the simple sweat of your mind and brow.

EDIT: Man, that sounds rationalistic... Grames answer above is far better, I think, though perhaps could be expounded upon a bit.

Edited by Sarrisan
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I do not waste my time with "morality" because ....

I have not played the video game Bioshock but I do know from reading about it that Andrew Ryan is the so-called Randian founder of the underwater city in that game. Is this a fair representation of what Andrew Ryan in the game is about?

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I have not played the video game Bioshock but I do know from reading about it that Andrew Ryan is the so-called Randian founder of the underwater city in that game. Is this a fair representation of what Andrew Ryan in the game is about?

No, it's not (at least, I don't recall anytime he said anything close to that). Most of what the character said actually matches up with Objectivism fairly well (I found), except for only one specific comment that he makes (which is nowhere related to the quoted post).

...Which is why I found his user-name especially humorous. Talk about missing the point two ways (i.e., missed Ryan's point, who [through his writers] missed Rand's).

[Edit: Wording and adding point]

As for murder itself, consider this: if it is okay to just murder anyone who gets in your way or annoys you, then it's fine for anyone else to murder you for the same reason. I don't like that you won't approve my loan? *Stab*

Don't like your taste in music?

*Bang!*

While this isn't the full application of the ethics, which is regarding men as (at least having the likelihood) of equal traders.

Edited by Nacirema
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Your method of thinking is entirely wrong here. Cost-benefit calculations have no role in creating the principles of morality. What does matter is the characteristic human mode of living by thinking and acting rationally. By identifying another entity as a human being everthing you know about being human applies to them as well. In principle the value of persons is their value as allies in thinking and acting rationally.

I still dont get why in Objectivism I should care about anyone other than myself. What is irrational about taking someone elses life as long as mine is preserved in this view? What if I don't view them as a good ally in thinking rational?

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I have not played the video game Bioshock but I do know from reading about it that Andrew Ryan is the so-called Randian founder of the underwater city in that game. Is this a fair representation of what Andrew Ryan in the game is about?

He's been rendered impotent and will not be spewing his memes around here.

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I still dont get why in Objectivism I should care about anyone other than myself. What is irrational about taking someone elses life as long as mine is preserved in this view? What if I don't view them as a good ally in thinking rational?

If you're seriously interested in understanding this issue, my suggestion is that you listen to Dr. Peikoff's talk (available for free via registration at the Ayn Rand Institute: http://www.aynrand.org.), "Why Should One Act on Principle?" (It's on the "Registered User Page" - link on left-hand side; use search if you can't find it after registering.)

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I still dont get why in Objectivism I should care about anyone other than myself. What is irrational about taking someone elses life as long as mine is preserved in this view? What if I don't view them as a good ally in thinking rational?

Because yours WON'T be preserved in this view, that's why. Human life can't be sustained by any random means, it requires a *specific* set of virtues and a *specific* set of means. Randomly murdering people does not sustain human life--it destroys it. Why is this hard to understand?

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"I see in Objectivism the value of not harming yourself, but if your own life is the standard of value what benifit is the life of someone else? Why not just kill them if they are bothering you? What is the objective value in valuing another persons life at all? How does Ayn Rand address this? I was reading a book by George Smith and he mention some of the psychological effects that you take on by harming others, but what if you do not feel the psychological effects?"

Veritas, I suggest that you try to understand the ideas of Miss Rand by reading her books and novels. Start with the Anthem, then The Fountainhead, then Atlas Shrugged. Then again, I don't know if that would help you since your problem seems to stem from your faulty methodology.

You seem to try to deduce the value of another person from the fact that man's life is the standard of value. I do not think that is possible. And given your inability to draw the proper conclusion, I know that it can't be the proper method. Instead you should start with the facts, especially the facts of your own life, and induce.

Do you have any friends? Do you not value them? Don't you get some pleasure from their existence? Don't you enjoy their company? Do you have some love partner? Have you ever been in love? If so, then you have in essence already answered your own question. Other people are, for a variety of different reasons, of a selfish rational value to you, precisely because they make your life better, richer, more enoyable, etc.

Of course, only good, rational, honest people can be of a true, objective value to you, because they are the only kind of people whose existence can make your life better and more enjoyable. That's why you want John Galt or Thomas Jefferson as your neighbor, not Saddam Hussein or George W Bush. Incidentally, that's why it's so important to practice the virtue of justice.

How do you benefit by killing a John Galt or a Eddie Willers or a Thomas Edison or a Thomas Jefferson or any of your friends or your love partner? The answer should be obvious. (Yes, it would be in your rational self-interest to imprison or, if necessary, kill bad people in self-defense.)

In fact, the only way you can benefit from the existence of good people, is if you let them enjoy their life in freedom, i.e., recognize and respect their individual rights. An enslaved John Galt or Thomas Jefferson, in Cuba or North Korea or Iran, you will never notice. But you will notice what a free Steve Jobs or Bill Gates can do to improve your life. That's why life in the USA is great and life is rotten in places like Cuba or North Korea or Iran.

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I still dont get why in Objectivism I should care about anyone other than myself. What is irrational about taking someone elses life as long as mine is preserved in this view? What if I don't view them as a good ally in thinking rational?

Its very simple - its a quid pro quo.

I agree not to kill, harm, threaten, nor initiate any other type of force against you, so long as you also agree not to kill, harm, threaten nor initiate any other type of force against myself, or any other rationally capable person who has not harmed, threatened, nor initiated any other type of force against you.

If you choose to initiate force against someone else when they have initiated none against you, then our agreement is concluded, and I will take action to protect my own life. If the action required is to kill you, I will do so.

If you want your right to live to be respected by rational people, you must respect the right of rational people to live.

If you do not, then you are irrational, and acting as an animal, and if you become a threat to me, I have no obligation to respect your life.

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You do? Sweet. Articulate it for us so we can see!

I think that the error in my thinking is that I have made the idea of harming others to simple. If the fact of existence is to continue existing then to harm another person for an irrational reasons contradicts that fact that I exist. Therefore, there is only a benefit in harming another in as much as there is value in it (i am gaining something from it). This would include self defense. There is no value in harming a person for no good reason. I do not truly gain anything. I would would only lose something. I would lose my liberty if i got caught and if I didn't get caught there is still the fact that it is irrational because it contradicts the fact of existence.

I also like what Greebo says,

If you want your right to live to be respected by rational people, you must respect the right of rational people to live.

If you do not, then you are irrational, and acting as an animal, and if you become a threat to me, I have no obligation to respect your life.

If I chose to live rationally then I must accept the terms or else suffer the consequences of the alternative.

Edited by Veritas
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I think that the error in my thinking is that I have made the idea of harming others to simple. If the fact of existence is to continue existing then to harm another person for an irrational reasons contradicts that fact that I exist. Therefore, there is only a benefit in harming another in as much as there is value in it (i am gaining something from it). This would include self defense. There is no value in harming a person for no good reason. I do not truly gain anything. I would would only lose something. I would lose my liberty if i got caught and if I didn't get caught there is still the fact that it is irrational because it contradicts the fact of existence.

I am sorry Veritas, but this is pretty incoherent. I do not think that you understand the issue properly at all.

I think that my answer should have made it more clear to you. But this explanation of your indicates that you either did not read it or you did not understand it.

Please, for your own sake, re-read it. And re-read the relevant essays by Ayn Rand. Then do some more thinking.

Here is just a suggestion: When you read and try to understand something, always try to concretize it, like I did in my answer to you. Your ability to concretize reflects your level of understanding.

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