Ayn Rand - Ethical Egoism

1.  Virtue - what the action is to gain and keep value - what one acts to gain & keep.

2.  Only one alternative in the universe - to live or not to live.

3.  We do not have an instinct to preserve ourselves, only a desire.  An instinct would be to know

how to do it.

4.  Everything conducive to survival is good - the reverse is evil.

5.  Man=s life = the standard of morality

One=s own life is his purpose.

A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and purpose is acting on the standard of death.

6.  Help others only as you desire based on selfish pleasure in the value of his person and his



James Rachels - Ethical egoism vs. Psychological egoism

Ethical egoism endorses selfishness, not foolishness.

3 arguments in favor of ethical egoism:

1.  We are familiar with our own wants and needs

2.  We are best fit to pursue them

3.  We know desires of others only imperfectly.

4.  To be others= keepers would be >bungled.=

5.  Looking out for others is intrusive

6.  Making others the object of charity is demeaning to them.


NOTE: all of these are non-egoistic reasons.  Paradoxical.


Three Arguments against Ethical Egoism:

            1.  Cannot provide solutions to conflicts of interest..  B and K example. 

            2.  Logically inconsistent.  If B and K try to protect themselves, their actions are both wrong and not wrong at the same time.

            It does not work because it depends on the notion that "one ought not to prevent another from doing his duty."  If we reject this, it is not inconsistent.

            3.  Egoism is an arbitrary theory - we divide people into types and then say that "I deserve X" and you don't