Thursday, May 31, 2012

Objectivist Ethics

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

Rational objective ethics, or the lack thereof plays a great part in one's life, and by extension their success and happiness. However they define these two terms.

I post this not to make a statement in support of Objectivist Ethics, although I personally subscribe to them, but rather to expose the individual reader to the concepts and leave it up to them whether to consider the validity or lack thereof..

Via: Ayn Rand Institute


  1. ok, Les, a question:
    what part does emotions or feelings have to play in the context of "Objectionist" ethics?

    1. griper, Obviously every individual (unless they are a robotron) has emotions and "feelings."

      It is therefore reasonable to think one's emotions and "feelings" will have an impact on their ethics, or at least how they react to different stimuli, circumstances, relationships, events, decisions etc, etc, etc...

      Now, in answer to your question... I would say that logic, reason, and rational thought should be the prevailing driver of one's ethics. To the greatest extent one's emotions and "feelings" will allow them.

      Emotions and "feelings" can be both a force for good as well as bad, or evil. Ethics, at least in my view should be a force for good. Which is to say acting in ones own self interest while understanding and respecting the right of others to do the same. Any ethics that result in intentional harm to another (or others) is bad or evil.

      Don't know if this answered your question griper. If not feel free to shot me another.

    2. Here's a small snippet of what Rand had to say about emotions/feelings:

      "An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man’s value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man’s reason and his emotions—provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows—or makes it a point to discover—the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow—then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction—his own and that of others."

  2. oops, you deserve an apology, Les, for the misspelling of "Objectivist" in my first comment.

    1. oops, I hadn't given it a though. Knew what you meant ;-)

  3. One has to accept Rand's premises for her theory on ethics to even make sense. And her main premise - her understanding of rational thought - just doesn't make sense. Besides, ethics are really just cultural norms, not some "rational" set of behaviors on which we all agree. In other words, one man's ethics may be strikingly different from another's, even in the same culture. We observe ethics whether we agree with them or not, for the most part. If we all acted on our own subjective sense of ethics, it'd be chaos.


    1. Well jmj, then I guess it may be pointless to have a dialogue with you as you reject outright anything Rand advocates simply on the basis of a lack of understanding of the fullness of Randian, or Objectivist thought.

      In as much as you are struggling to make sense of Objectivist ethics I am struggling equally as much to mack sense of what you are saying as I do not see the sense in it.

      As to subjectivity I think you are being quite subjective as opposed to objective.

  4. Jersey,
    your comment only adds fuel to Rand's and Les' concept of Individualism rather to the concept of Collectivism that you adhere to.

    Cultural norms is a phrase that would be synonymous with the phrase Collective ethics.

    the very fact you admit to the fact that each man holds to his own set of ethics is a trait of individualism and self interest.

    1. :) at comment. Individual as in the exercise of free will. Again, in so long as such exercise of free will does not threaten anthers exercise of the same. Respect for the individual rights of others is the key. As in there is no justification for the use of coercive force. The use of force is justified only as an act of self (there is that word again) defense. Again, ones rational self interest.

  5. Great post. Rand's ethics and philosophy can make this nation as great as it once was, and really should be. Of any thinker and writer Rand made the biggest impression on me as a young man. It's a shame that leftists like JMJ don't give her wisdom a chance.

    They're simply too far gone in collectivist worldview dogma.

  6. been sitting here studying your response to me, Les, these last couple of days.

    as you have worded it you appear to have a person's emotions and feelings as the dominant force and logic with rational thought being the subordinant force in the determining of a person's ethics. is that how you interpret Rand's thoughts on the issue?


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