I think Rand was wrong to emphasize selfishness and egoism so much, instead of placing more emphasis on rejecting inherent conflicts of interest, seeking win/win solutions, aiming for classical liberal social harmony, etc.
I have been wondering about this recently. It seems like rational self-interest has two constraints, in terms of who benefits from your actions:
- your actions should be good for you
- your actions should be good or neutral for everyone else, who are not initiators of force
I guess Ayn Rand wanted to emphasize that 1 implies 2 but not vice versa. Is that why she emphasized selfishness and egoism so much?
Is the idea of win/win solutions more general than rational self-interest? Or are they equivalent ideas?
GOAL: React to the article. Provide questions and thoughts that might demonstrate problems encountered by beginners.
From the article:
I’m concerned that my society is too corrupt to help with e.g. a scientific breakthrough or to sell my brains to work on other people’s goals (e.g. working for a big company or government in a way that significantly and uniquely helps them, rather than in a job where I’d be easily replaceable with someone else).
Do you think society is too corrupt for the scientific knowledge and technology that it already possesses? I notice that you said that you are concerned that society is too corrupt but I don’t think you are making a definite pronouncement that it’s too corrupt or that you are really confident that you shouldn’t use your mind to help society. What are some things that would convince you more one way or the other?
If society is currently too corrupt, has it always been too corrupt to help with scientific breakthroughs or is this new? Should none of the scientists who discovered things have shared those discoveries? If all the scientists who shared were wrong, that would go against my intuition because it seems like the world has become amazingly better as a result of science. I might also guess that science has helped improve some moral ideas and new science might help improve morality even more. Some bad philosophical ideas, or their implications, have been shown to be demostrably false in more obvious ways as a result of science. I think that science helped some people learn some additional moral knowledge without learning much philosophy. I guess I’m saying that science has added a bunch of ideas that have become more or less common sense. So, the common sense worldview has improved by being infused with scientific knowledge. Could scientific progress be a path to more people learning philosophy?