January 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm #19665
In Objectivist philosophy, it is in one’s best interest to do what best benefits oneself. Going by that logic, if one takes action in his own self interest and hurts another doing so, would that still stay true to Objectivist theory?January 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm #19666jerry3643Member
Does one benefit themself by being known or viewed by others as dishonest, a liar, or immoral in other ways verses someone who consistently attempts to be honorable?January 28, 2013 at 6:45 am #19667
That may be true but Objectivism says that you have to live life for yourself and not for others, therefore there would be no point in worrying about what others think of you.January 29, 2013 at 12:54 am #19668maester_millerParticipant
Not true, because what others think of you will greatly affect how you are able to live your life.
If you are well known to be a thief or a murderer or other such things, it is likely that nobody will be willing to trade with you, with the possible exception of other thieves and murderers. Doesn’t sound like a very pleasant life to me.
Also, I’m no expert on objectivism, but I have read Atlas Shrugged and the characters did not seem to hesitate to use violence in self-defense. If you attempted to assault or steal from an objectivist, they would likely defend themselves and their property against you.January 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm #19669
I couldn’t agree with you more. Our reputations certainly affect our lives. Howard Roark, the main charachter of The Fountainhead, who tipifies Objectivism, Numerously hurts his own reputation because he is unwilling to care about his image. He is rather focused on his own desires and goals.January 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm #19670
The premise that you start with here that:
“it is in one’s best interest to do what best benefits oneself.”
is false, or at least incomplete.
One can act according to one’s best interest only so long as you do not effect violence or threat of violence upon another in doing so. This qualification is an essential part of rational self interest.
If you think about it, a society in which everyone is free to commit acts of aggression against each other in pursuit of self interest makes life safe for no-one in the community. Therefore a complete ability to act in self-interest without the boundary of the non-aggression principle is, in fact, not in one’s self interest.January 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm #19671
I definately don’t condone a society in which everyone is free to commit acts of
aggression, I just see a minor flaw in Objectivism. Here’s a scenario: You are a cashier and a customer accidentally hands you an additional 20 dollars. What would Rand do? Take the money,keep your mouth shut, and make 20 bucks, while being dishonest, or give it back having not taken advantage of the situation and not benefitting
yourself.January 30, 2013 at 12:50 am #19672
Taking the 20 bucks without receiving an agreed upon good at an agreed price would be considered theft or at least expropriation and as such would not be consistent with the morality of rational self interest.
The fact of the matter is that the 20 bucks are the property of the customer and represents the portion of labor or investment that the customer engaged in in order to produce it. Keeping it without the knowledge or consent of the customer is the very definition of looting – just done so without the helpful force of government.
Honesty is actually a key and important part of rational self interest. Do not fall into the trap that many people do of assuming that rational self interest means that you do anything that favors yourself – even at the expense of others. That is NOT rational self interest or objectivism. Selfishness as Rand defined it is different from the conventional definition of the term – there are specific limits summed up in the non-agression principle.
There are no instances that I can think of where you could describe a deceitful or treacherous or villainous act as being consistent with Objectivism. There will always be a root of force or aggression which renders the act inconsistent with rational self interest.January 30, 2013 at 9:45 am #19673
Thanks for the answer. The only situation that I can think of like that would be a criminal who is questioned by police and given the option to rat someone out in return for a dropped charge. If you follow football a famous instance of this is the case of Ray Lewis, who was charged with murder and ratted his closest friends out so he could get off. As a result, he was acquitted and they served time. He later compensated them
With money, not that that justifies his actions.January 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm #19674
You bring up an interesting case – my take on that would be that if a criminal is caught and subject to the penalty of the law, then so far as the law is just, they are correctly subject to the punishment as the government has a just claim on them which should be proportionate to the crime. If, however, the government can see a means to bring a greater degree of justice by offering clemency to the first criminal in exchange for cooperation in capturing other criminals who represent a greater quantitative or qualitative ‘evil’ then that is a form of exchange which is not inconsistent with the idea of rational self interest.
It does put some mixed incentives into play which murkey the water a bit – I have heard of DA’s proposing much more serious sentences as a threat to the criminal in an effort to coerce them into cooperation. To the extent that there is an element of coercion involved, it cannot be considered a voluntary action. As the criminal is already subject to justice based on their prior actions, any negotiation that they engage in is not your standard voluntary fare.January 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm #19675msickmeierMember
I think you made some great points there JStreeter.
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