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Objectivist Ethics

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What's a "formal outline"? Try Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (frequently abbreviated as OPAR) by Leonard Peikoff. Or you could try Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics by Tara Smith.

I just meant a regular outline compared to a logical construct, such as several syllogisms.

I don't have access to those books where I am do you know of anywhere online that would have her ethics in an outline form?

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I just meant a regular outline compared to a logical construct, such as several syllogisms.

Hmm. That's actually a fairly tough assignment as I don't think you'll find something quite that simple around here. I suppose I could give it a shot. Then I can get shot down while everyone argues with me. Hey, why not, it may be fun.

Be warned, however, that since you specified ethics I'm not going to cover the roots in Metaphysics and Epistemology except very briefly: I'm taking for granted that you know what those are and understand how they are derived.

1. Why does man need an ethical system?

Living creatures are faced constantly with an alternative: live or die. Whether a creature will live or die is based on whether it successfully executes a course of action. Men don't automatically know what course of action to pursue, and their knowledge is not infalliable. So they need some sort of guide to tell them what they should do. That guide is ethics.

2. So, what should men do?

Well, if you look at the nature of man, you'll observe several things. The first thing is that man isn't particularly suited, physically, to just getting along any old how. He doesn't have claws, or fangs, or massive crushing jaws or fur or horns or a shell. The only thing he really has to keep him alive is his mind.

Man's mind, however, operates a certain way. (See above: it doesn't work on its own and it doesn't automatically arrive at the correct conclusions.) So, in order for man to survive he has to choose to use his mind and he also has to know how to use his mind correctly. Reason is the correct means of using his mind. (This ties back in with epistemology here.)

Reason, however, has certain operational constraints of its own. In order to use reason, you have to place reality first. You can't put priority on fitting in or following the crowd or obeying other men. First and foremost, you have to look at reality. Making a commitment to always look at reality and exercise your reason to the best of your ability is the virtue of Rationality.

Ayn Rand also identified some derivitive virtues that are a part of Rationality: independence, honesty, productiveness, integrity, justice, pride.

Independence means acknowledging that other men can't think for you and you can't think for other men. Each must exercise their own reason to the best of their own ability.

Honesty means acknowledging that just as reality exists, reality is the only thing that exists. The unreal (lies) can have no value.

Productiveness means acknowledging that in order to fully make use of your reason you have to translate the results of your thinking into action.

Integrity means allowing no breach between thought and action: neither thinking without acting nor acting without thinking.

Justice means acknowledging that there's no such thing as a free lunch. It's the commitment to grant to yourself and other men what they deserve.

Pride means that you make it the purpose of your life not just to exercise your reason because of duty, but that it becomes the source of your happiness and self-esteem as well. You aren't rational because you have to be, but because you've chosen to be. I'm sure there's a better way to explain it, but there you go.

Anyway, there's the basic overview.

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Hi Veritas,

Do you happen to be affiliated with the Veritas Forum?

Nope

Hmm. That's actually a fairly tough assignment as I don't think you'll find something quite that simple around here. I suppose I could give it a shot. Then I can get shot down while everyone argues with me. Hey, why not, it may be fun.

Be warned, however, that since you specified ethics I'm not going to cover the roots in Metaphysics and Epistemology except very briefly: I'm taking for granted that you know what those are and understand how they are derived.

1. Why does man need an ethical system?

Living creatures are faced constantly with an alternative: live or die. Whether a creature will live or die is based on whether it successfully executes a course of action. Men don't automatically know what course of action to pursue, and their knowledge is not infalliable. So they need some sort of guide to tell them what they should do. That guide is ethics.

2. So, what should men do?

Well, if you look at the nature of man, you'll observe several things. The first thing is that man isn't particularly suited, physically, to just getting along any old how. He doesn't have claws, or fangs, or massive crushing jaws or fur or horns or a shell. The only thing he really has to keep him alive is his mind.

Man's mind, however, operates a certain way. (See above: it doesn't work on its own and it doesn't automatically arrive at the correct conclusions.) So, in order for man to survive he has to choose to use his mind and he also has to know how to use his mind correctly. Reason is the correct means of using his mind. (This ties back in with epistemology here.)

Reason, however, has certain operational constraints of its own. In order to use reason, you have to place reality first. You can't put priority on fitting in or following the crowd or obeying other men. First and foremost, you have to look at reality. Making a commitment to always look at reality and exercise your reason to the best of your ability is the virtue of Rationality.

Ayn Rand also identified some derivitive virtues that are a part of Rationality: independence, honesty, productiveness, integrity, justice, pride.

Independence means acknowledging that other men can't think for you and you can't think for other men. Each must exercise their own reason to the best of their own ability.

Honesty means acknowledging that just as reality exists, reality is the only thing that exists. The unreal (lies) can have no value.

Productiveness means acknowledging that in order to fully make use of your reason you have to translate the results of your thinking into action.

Integrity means allowing no breach between thought and action: neither thinking without acting nor acting without thinking.

Justice means acknowledging that there's no such thing as a free lunch. It's the commitment to grant to yourself and other men what they deserve.

Pride means that you make it the purpose of your life not just to exercise your reason because of duty, but that it becomes the source of your happiness and self-esteem as well. You aren't rational because you have to be, but because you've chosen to be. I'm sure there's a better way to explain it, but there you go.

Anyway, there's the basic overview.

Thanks, that was helpful.

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To expand on JM Snow's first point, in Objectivism you must get all your concepts from reality. Within this framework, the concept of "value" - the idea that a thing could be "good or evil" instead of simply "is or is not" - can not be obtained as a primary - it can not be "just seen" outright like some concepts can - it requires a certain juxtaposition of entites.

You need something that can act, facing an alternative. An alternative means: one of two different futures are possible to it depending on how it acts. You can see that you need at least this, since if no matter how it acted the future is exactly the same, how can there be any barometer of whether the action was good or not, since *everything* is the same?

The only things in nature that satisfy this concept-derivation requirement are living entities. And the fundamental alternative they face: the alternative at the end of all the alternatives, is existence or non-existence. It is in the context of a fundamental alternative faced, that an ultimate value arises (if there are no more alternatives beyond there can be no more value scenarios beyond and therefore no higher value), and that ultimate value (corresponding to existence or non-existence) is life.

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