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Ethics: Ayn Rand And John Stuart Mill

1367 words - 6 pages

Ethics is defined as the study of moral standards and how they affect conduct in a society or individual. With such a definition it is not wonder that the idea of what is ethically right or wrong can be interpreted differently depending on whose moral compass you use. Though there are many scholars to choose from I chose two very specific doctrines to evaluate for the purpose of this class. Ayn Rand and John Stuart Mill are two scholarly writers who both developed their own ideas and opinions on how morals should be carried out in our everyday lives. Thought the two have many differences, the fact that they are both worldly centered, setting then apart from, for example, and the Christian ...view middle of the document...

, if you don’t focus on yourself, you will neglect what you need to survive and will ultimately die.
Rand believes that rationality is the fundamental moral virtue, but virtue is not an end in itself but just another mean to the ultimate goal of life. Rand has three variations to what a person can interpret life as. Survival; literal survival is the end goal of human kind. Survival Qua Man: leading a virtuous life using the cardinal values (reason, purpose, and self-esteem) to obtain the cardinal virtues (rationality, productiveness, and pride The main connotation for life under survival qua man is the realization of the individuals full potential. Happiness: a successful state of life, “achievable only by a man who desires nothing but rational goals seeks nothing but rational values and finds joy in nothing but rational actions” (32).
Rand’s philosophy appealed to me because of the assigning of value to things according to how much they aid survival. I believe, subconsciously, humans use this kind of assessment to decide what is valuable to them and what is not on a regular basis. Food, water and shelter are all very important for this reason. Though my religious beliefs do allow me to believe in afterlife state, which Rand doesn’t believe in, I support her philosophy and its implications of survival being the key to life. To me, my religion is necessary to life and therefore valuable through Rand’s moral lens. The breakdown of the three versions of survival also appealed to me because the three faucets give an all-inclusive way to look at Rand philosophy, everyone can choose one of those avenues that they find valuable enough to live for.
Reading her literature on the paradigm of objectivism, Atlas shrugged, The Fountainhead etc., Rand illustrates that she values commodities like money or love, as not a mean in itself but as tools for survival. I found this take very refreshing when most often the acquisition of these things are the focus of life, Rands perspective take them out of center focus but admits they are important.
John Stuart Mill is an English born philosopher, who is characterized as a utilitarian. According to Mill the worth of an action is judged by the result of its consequences. Often Mill’s criteria go against natural moral intuitions, which sometimes judge the intention of the action and waver depending on feelings.
To Mill the acquisition of pleasure and avoidance of pain is the main goal of every moral action, steps along the way are parts of pleasure. Mills most prevalent reason for this goal to be apriority is that all humans require pleasure, it is in our nature. A criticism of that logic is that Mill is basically saying because we need pleasure, we should need pleasure (which in ethics is not a sound argument).
Mill defines welfare as a satisfied pleasure, where the quantity and quality of the pleasure counts in how much good it dose. Mills is persistent to remind people that the quality of the...

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