Rand Ethics Of Altruism Essay

1377 words - 6 pages

Altruism is a concept in which the individual sacrifices regard for themselves in the interest of another. The ethics of altruism state that a person should act in a matter where their self-sacrifice yields the greater well being on the whole. To put that statement in the form of a fundamental principle of rightness, an action is right if and only if (and because) the action brings a net-gain of well being to anyone except the individual performing the action. The altruistic mentality of an individual according to this moral theory means that any action that they undertake should be in the interest of others rather than themselves. The ethics of this concept also state that relationships of ...view middle of the document...

There is another statement within altruistic ethics, which denies the concept that the value that individuals have to a person is based on the value the individual has for themselves. Rand points out the flaw in this logic stating that a person can only have so much respect for another person as they can have for themselves, by disregarding their own value they’re in turn devaluing the other individual, which seems intuitively wrong in the way altruism should regard the individuals involved. To make an example, a grown-up man has a candy-bar, which he can give to a child without, or to give it to his child whom is also without, but has asked for the father to buy him the bar. By the ethics of altruism, the man, in order to act rightly, should give the candy bar to the child he has no relationship with since it will be more sacrificial to his own well-being to do so, but intuitively this seems wrong since a candy-bar seems without meaning and sacrifice in this situation does not appear to be a morally correct decision. From this example, the intensity of the situation appears to play a role in whether or not self-sacrifice should be necessary in making a morally right decision.
The critical nature of a situation should determine the proper response when it comes to altruistic action according to Ayn’s moral theory. The theory she proposes takes into account emergencies that require actions of individuals that are necessary in making sure that the value of an individual is taken into account properly. The example Ayn uses is to consider a man who values life aboard a ship at sea, the ship is then shipwrecked and there are people onboard the ship who need saving. In this situation he is responsible, though not at the expense of his own life, for helping out the individuals in need. Her theory also puts a limitation where the only extent of his duty is to help save lives, once he’s achieved that goal, he has acted morally right, therefore he can not be held responsible for other troubles that might arise for the people he’s saved. The goal that Ayn achieves in her theory is to limit the morally obligatory decisions for emergencies, and ensure that the individual isn’t always at a loss when acting morally right. Ayn’s moral theory can be stated as: An action is morally right if and only if in situations of (metaphysical) emergency the agent of an action acts to preserve human life. The main difference between her proposed theory and the theory of ethical altruism is that the altruistic theory needs constant self-sacrificing when making decisions, while her theory reserves self-sacrifice for situations of emergency.
The ethics of altruism moral theory can be compared to Utilitarianism by the fact that it has issues with being too demanding of people. Much like a Utilitarian would say its better to forego a major surgery for the sake of helping a greater number of people, the ethics of...

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