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Author Topic: The Fountainhead & Atlas Shrugged  (Read 12118 times)
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« Reply #50 on: June 21, 2018, 05:41:09 pm »

At its core moral egoism doesn't really make sense. And I mean that not in a moralizing way but on pure logical grounds.

Could you expand on this?

Essentially, you can say that people ought to keep their own money even if they want to give it away. But that is pretty dumb.

Yes, nor does it really sound like moral egoism.

Alternatively you can say that people should just do what they actually do (since people sort of by definition do what they want) but that isn't a prescriptive moral theory. Rand sort of goes back and forth between the two in Atlas Shrugged. You can perhaps argue that people are brainwashed and that this should override what they think they want, but such a line would be the same kind of moralizing Rand is criticizing.

Max Stirner wrote that people always do what's in their interest, but because they often do so without admitting to themselves that that's why they do it (for example, by saying that they donate to charity because it's "the right thing to do", rather than because donating to charity makes them happy, and being happy is in their interest), people's thoughts and actions are confused and contradictory. Those who recognize that self-interest is the be-all and end-all of life, and actually think and act accordingly, are called "voluntary egoists", while everyone else is called an "involuntary egoist".
Is that really true? When I was 11, I deliberately misspelled a word in a spelling bee so I wouldn't win. I was teased a lot about being "smart" and having "a computer brain" and felt self-conscious. Clearly, misspelling the word was not in my best interest, though it did help avoid some of the negative emotions (self-consciousness and embarrassment) that would have come from winning. I think "everyone is selfish" assumes people are much more rational, assertive, and self-assured than they are in reality.
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