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The Major Virtues: Justice and Benevolence

The Major Virtues: Justice and Benevolence

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March 12, 2013

Summer Seminar 2010 -- “’Value’ is that which one acts to gain and keep,” wrote Ayn Rand, “’virtue’ is the action by which one gains and keeps it.” This six-session course focuses on the distinctive virtues highlighted by Objectivism: their basis in fact, their contrast with traditional moral ideals, and their role in a rational, value-seeking human life. We will go into depth on the meaning and importance of  pride, rationality,  integrity, productiveness, independence, and justice, devoting one lecture to each virtue. Discussions of honesty and benevolence are integrated into the course as well. The course presumes some basic familiarity with Objectivism, but should be intelligible to anyone with a sincere interest in ideas.

SESSION 6 OUTLINE:

A. Introduction:  justice and benevolence as social virtues

What is justice?

  • Legal justice vs. moral justice

What is benevolence?

  • Sensitivity, courtesy, and generosity

Justice is to benevolence as rationality is to productiveness

B. The virtue of justice: evaluating human actions rationally

The metaphysical vs. the man-made

Moral sanction

  • The impotence of evil
  • No existential aid
  • No moral support

C. The art of moral judgment

  • Judging actions
  • Judging character

D. Benevolence and Justice in service of values