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One of the major questions I have about objectivism is what it is that motivates Judge Narragansett - who represents the political/judicial authority in an objectivist society - if not a selfless desire to be a fair and balanced arbiter for the capitalists in the society? What selfish desires cause senior military/police figures to uphold the law, rather than profit more by engaging in corruption? How could a hypothetical objectivist President be driven by selfishness, and at the same time work incredibly long hours in the service of their country?

Edited by JMeganSnow
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What selfish desires cause senior military/police figures to uphold the law, rather than profit more by engaging in corruption?
The goal of living in a rational society (combined with the realization that the person can be effective in bringing it about). Selfishness is not defined exclusively in terms of acquisition of cash: it's about advancing your own goals.
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The goal of living in a rational society (combined with the realization that the person can be effective in bringing it about). Selfishness is not defined exclusively in terms of acquisition of cash: it's about advancing your own goals.

So what about those people who weigh it up and decide that quick cash and social status is more important to them than living in a free society, even if it means a poorer, more dangerous society for them in the long run? - isn't that a form of rational egotism? And can you really define protecting liberty as being about promoting one's own goals? It's not like building a house, writing a concerto or even building up a business empire - building and maintaining a free nation surely involves devotion to an abstract concept, like justice or freedom? I just can't see that Judge N. - or, to use a real-life example, Ron Paul - is selfishly focused on attaining their own happiness and ruthlessly competitive, like Henry Rearden. I can't think of anyone more selfless than Ron Paul. Isn't there a small bloc of the population in every society who need to be selfless?

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So what about those people who weigh it up and decide that quick cash and social status is more important to them than living in a free society, even if it means a poorer, more dangerous society for them in the long run?
That's the antithesis of rational behavior. Instant gratification and short-range thinking is inconsistent with the fundamental choice -- consider the extreme cases of taking drugs for the temporary high, which destroys your body. Rational egoism is not about "whatever arbitrary feelings you have", it's about objective facts. Try reading some of the "prudent predator" threads for an overview of the problem of such thinking (a propos the alternative of being a corrupt cop).
And can you really define protecting liberty as being about promoting one's own goals?
I can't imagine why not. Given the alternative of being a slave or a free man; of living in constant fear of having your property and very existence taken from you versus living a life without fear and keeping your property, only the latter kind of existence is compatible with man's nature. That is a value which a rational being would act to keep.
I can't think of anyone more selfless than Ron Paul.
Thanks: I'll add that to my list of evil things about Ron Paul.
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"That is a value which a rational being would act to keep."

I know, but there is a difference between being a businessman who occasionally gets involved in politics to protect your own liberty, and being a statesman who devotes your entire life to protecting it, which does strike me as fundamentally selfless.

Unless you're saying that there are people who actually enjoy military service/office/the judiciary, and do it out of a sense of personal happiness? If so, I find that mystifying, and perhaps even irrational.

Edited by exploringobjectivism
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Justice is a profoundly selfish virtue; and upholding justice is a profoundly selfish action. John Galt and the rest of those going on strike where doing that to insure their future of freedom and the pursuit of rational self-interest. It makes a big selfish difference to a rational man if he lives in a society where justice is upheld versus living in a society in which there is no justice. Justice is not just some abstract concept, it is getting what you deserve in real life and being able to earn it and keep it in a rational society. Do you really think it doesn't make a difference if a man is surrounded by traders or thieves? Do you really think the Founding Fathers of the United States had no selfish interest in breaking free from the rule of monarchy? Do you really think it doesn't make a difference to someone in the military that they are fighting to keep America free from foreign invasion? Do you really think it doesn't make a difference to a judge sitting on the bench that justice is upheld?

No, I don't think being a judge or a military man or a politician is selfless service to the masses. And I don't think anyone ought to go into any rational profession without a selfish motivation. Not "selfish" in the sense of getting cash or power -- as in a corrupt politician or a brute who joins the police force -- but selfish in the sense of making society one that upholds justice for his own selfish enjoyment of living in a just society.

I don't know about you, but injustice turns my stomach, and I cheer for justice.

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Why would a politician do it... Well isn't being a politician productive work? Wouldn't being the president of a country be the pinnacle of that kind of work?

People seem to forget that politics is a skill, and it is a demanding and I would imagine rewarding, career... So the question then is why wouldn't a person who is drawn to politics want to do the best job possible, why wouldn't he spend 18 hour days working his ass off and enjoying his career?

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I know, but there is a difference between being a businessman who occasionally gets involved in politics to protect your own liberty, and being a statesman who devotes your entire life to protecting it, which does strike me as fundamentally selfless.
I think the basis of your problem is that you're mistaking "cash value" with "value". The acquisition of the largest possible pile of cash (even through moral means) is not the central purpose in life of a rational man. Consider a simple example: Ayn Rand. Although she acquired a good-sized pile of cash in her life as a result of her writing, she could have acquired an even bigger pile of cash if she had compromised her philosophical values. In the case of a judge, the primary value, the one which defines his career, is the identification of certain moral principles. Since we moved out of the stone age eons ago and we are no longer hunter-gatherers, it is actually possible for a rational man to pursue an intellectual goal as his central purpose in life. That's what I do. The intellectual values that define the central purpose for a judge are slightly different from those that define mine, but there is something in common.

I can't speak for Donald Trump, so I really don't know what his goal is. Quite possibly it is, simply, the acquisition of the largest possible pile of cash that he can get. We need not get into whether that is itself an objectively rational goal; it should be clear, though, that that is not the only possible goal of life.

I think this is really the issue that you have to come to terms with.

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Unless you're saying that there are people who actually enjoy military service/office/the judiciary, and do it out of a sense of personal happiness? If so, I find that mystifying, and perhaps even irrational.

Why? If, say, the practice of the law were so irrational there wouldn't be as many lawyer shows and courtroom dramas as there are. The law can be very interesting indeed. See how many discussions in this board concern the law, real or hypothetical, as part of an ethical system.

Likewise politics, which might be the second most popular subject thread in here.

As for military/police, I'll let those members with some experience in the area to talk. But I'll say I can see very selfish reasons for undertaking a military or police career.

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So what about those people who weigh it up and decide that quick cash and social status is more important to them than living in a free society, even if it means a poorer, more dangerous society for them in the long run? - isn't that a form of rational egotism?

Something which is not being stressed, I think, is the fact that an alleged range of the moment version of "value" or "self-interest" may in fact not be a value at all. Values have to be considered within the context of an individual's life, not just 3 days or 3 months or 3 years. What is your expected lifespan? What are the other values in your life, and will attaining one alleged "value" negate or destroy others? That is what you have to take into consideration when evaluating whether something is in your best interest.

Isn't there a small bloc of the population in every society who need to be selfless?

Assuming one's life is a value, then no.

Edit: for clarity.

Edited by prosperity
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One of the major questions I have about objectivism is what it is that motivates Judge Naranganesset - who represents the political/judicial authority in an objectivist society - if not a selfless desire to be a fair and balanced arbiter for the capitalists in the society? What selfish desires cause senior military/police figures to uphold the law, rather than profit more by engaging in corruption? How could a hypothetical objectivist President be driven by selfishness, and at the same time work incredibly long hours in the service of their country?

We need to be selfish in upholding our own values, be that sustaining a profitable enterprise or be that a mother who values the life of her husband and children above all else and is willing to stay home to nurture and care for their children. Neither is a sacrifice or a "duty" in that sense...it's merely the rational decision to uphold what one deems most important in life.

Edited by rtaylortitle
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What is evil about Ron Paul besides the selflessness? Is it his faith?

His foreign policy would embolden the enemy and invite pretty much any State that sponsors terrorism to attack us. We are not the bad guys, but he's bought into the "blowback" cycle of violence theory.

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I know, but there is a difference between being a businessman who occasionally gets involved in politics to protect your own liberty, and being a statesman who devotes your entire life to protecting it, which does strike me as fundamentally selfless.

Many people enjoy military/political careers. I personally know a couple of pilots who won't leave the military until forced retirement because they LOVE flying fighter jets and there's just NO WAY they can do that as a civilian.

The fact that YOU don't particularly like something doesn't mean that no one else likes it and practices it selfishly.

And for crying out loud, at least spell the names of the characters in Ayn Rand's novels correctly.

Edited by JMeganSnow
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What is evil about Ron Paul besides the selflessness? Is it his faith?

Plenty of topics on this, but to list a few

1. Anti-abortion

2. Suicidal foreign policy

3. Advocate of closed borders

4. His cohorts include the likes of Alex Jones.

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"That is a value which a rational being would act to keep."

I know, but there is a difference between being a businessman who occasionally gets involved in politics to protect your own liberty, and being a statesman who devotes your entire life to protecting it, which does strike me as fundamentally selfless.

Unless you're saying that there are people who actually enjoy military service/office/the judiciary, and do it out of a sense of personal happiness? If so, I find that mystifying, and perhaps even irrational.

I can speak only of the judiciary and I can tell you there is a great deal of selfish satisfaction to be found in solving disputes and disagreements. The more complicated the set of facts, the more pieces of seemingly contradictory evidence there are, the more exciting it is to work out what all those pieces of evidence are telling us and which of the parties has right on his side, and then to come up with an appropriate remedy. I've had more experience with the civil side, where there are various remedial options depending on the nature of the wrongdoing.

It certainly isn't an irrational occupation at all, nor is it selfless. It would appeal to anyone who has a taste for puzzles, and who feels strongly about being involved in seeing justice done.

I think it would be even more exciting a field if we had fully objective law to work with. In many civil disputes between two individuals, objective fact-finding & restitution are much more likely to be had than in litigation involving an individual vs. a labor union or a government-owned enterprise. The latter kind is making it more difficult to enjoy the work these days I must admit.

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