Tibor Machan

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  1. "Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do." Bertrand Russell (From THE WEEK, 4-22-06, p. 21)
  2. The defense of ethics being necessarily egoistic is just the topic of "The Objectivist Ethics." Those who hold to a contrary idea, or think there can be various bona fide ethics, are wrong. Just consider medicine (or any other discipline)--whatever is the science and practice of medicine is medicine proper--for example, wholistic or pluralistic or whatever. There can be different schools of medicine in the sense that different propositions or theories are advanced as to what medicine is. But only one will turn out to be medicine proper. So with ethics--all those schools, such as utilitarianism, altruism, hedonism, whatever, are proposed theories for what ethics really amounts to, what is the proper set of guidelines for human conduct. But only one, the best of these proposals, can be the answer, namely, ethics.
  3. Respecting opponets and their ideas really amounts mostly to respecting their right to be opponents and to have even the nuttiest ideas, if they so choose. It doesn't really have to mean respecting them or their ideas.
  4. Tolerance even suggests "putting up with," as when one tolerates a headache or sore foot. But it also means not making much of it.
  5. Regarding the Objectivist ethics of rational self-interest, it is vital to remember that in "The Objectivist Ethics" Rand is advancing the view that ethics is by its very nature egoistic. That is to say, if one wants to understand the nature of ethics, one needs to acknowledge that such a set of guidelines is required by human beings so as to live right, to flourish. Instead of instincts, which guide other animals automatically because they have them, as it were, hard wired, human beings require or need ethics, which, however, they need to choose to be guided by. One vital implication of this for the discussion of the ethics Rand defended is that ethics is by its very nature and purpose egoistic or rationally self-interested not, however, on a case by case basis--there can be many actions, much conduct, that does not deliver benefits to the agent which are, nonetheless, egoistic (like generous, kind, benevolent, charitable or disinterested ones) because it is acting in terms of the principles of ethics, whatever they turn out to be, that the agent is advancing his or her self-interest.