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Virtue and Selfishness

Virtue and Selfishness

2 Mins
July 18, 2014

Atlas Summit 2014 -- The Objectivist ethics is based in a recognition that, for each organism, its life is its ultimate value. This is the egoism, or "selfishness," that lies at the root of the Objectivist ethics. In this session, William R Thomas discusses this meta-ethical view and contrasts it with other ethical conceptions.

Also explored: the idea of Objectivism as a virtue ethic, or an ethic of principle, where treating others benevolently and justly, and seeking to offer them benefits, is a key aspect of flourishing. Is Objectivism actually "selfish" at all? When does its egoism matter for practical action? Recommended reading: "The Objectivist Ethics" in Ayn Rand's "The Virtue of Selfishness" and the Conclusion to The Logical Structure of Objectivism.  

Note: This video is from the multi-session "Intermediate Course" that was delivered, by multiple instructors, at the 2014 Atlas Summit. Most of those sessions were heavily dependent on classroom participation, and were not recorded.


William Thomas

William R Thomas writes about and teaches Objectivist ideas. He is the editor of The Literary Art of Ayn Rand and of Ethics at Work, both published by The Atlas Society. He is also an economist, teaching occasionally at a variety of universities.

William Thomas
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William Thomas