"Obligation" in the writings of Ayn Rand


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This is a carry-over from the altruism thread. I thought this topic merited separate consideration.

I don’t think Rand had a fully developed theory of “moral obligation.” This isn’t a criticism (she couldn’t cover everything), but this lack leaves some questions unanswered.

I therefore thought it would be interesting to fire up my Objectivism Research CD-ROM and do a search in all of Rand’s writings (including her journals, letters, etc) and find every case where she used the word “obligation.”

There were many hits, of course. Some are passing references and of no interest. Others seem more significant.

To post all of the (possibly significant) references at once would be overwhelming and prove counter-productive. I will therefore post chunks at a time.

It would have been tedious for me to provide citations for every quote, but when the quote is from a fictional character, Rand letters, journals, and the like, I have indicated that much. If someone needs to know the source of any other passage, let me know and I will find it.

I post these without comment.

OBLIGATION IN RAND’S WRITINGS, Part I

"Do you ask what moral obligation I owe to my fellow men? None—except the obligation I owe to myself, to material objects and to all of existence: rationality.” (John Galt)

The United States has a treaty to protect Taiwan. A treaty is more than "an interest," it is an obligation.

…when a foreign country initiates the use of armed force against us, it is our moral obligation to answer by force—as promptly and unequivocally as is necessary to make it clear that the matter is non-negotiable.

The only "obligation" involved in individual rights is an obligation imposed, not by the state, but by the nature of reality (i.e., by the law of identity): consistency, which, in this case, means the obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes one's own rights to be recognized and protected.

No man can have a fight to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man. There can be no such thing as "the right to enslave."

The epistemological chaos of today makes it necessary to stress that men have the right and the moral obligation of self-defense, that is: the right to use physical force only as retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.

"The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man's first duty is to himself. His moral law is never to place his prime goal within the persons of others. His moral obligation is to do what he wishes, provided his wish does not depend primarily upon other men. This includes the whole sphere of his creative faculty, his thinking, his work. But it does not in-dude the sphere of the gangster, the altruist and the dictator.” (Roark)

There is no moral obligation to know and solve everything, to have an independent judgment upon everything. There is a moral obligation that such judgments as you do hold must be your own.

Actually, if I can sum up my attitude on the question of God, it's this: from all I can gather, the definition of God is "That which the human mind cannot grasp." Being a rationalist, literal-minded and believing that it is a moral obligation to mean what you say, I take the persons who made the above definition at their word, I agree and obey them: I don't grasp it. (Letter to Isabel Paterson)

…you must understand that I do not believe that friendship means an obligation to turn oneself into an object for the use of one's friends. (Letter to Mimi Sutton)

To be continued -- maybe, if anyone is interested.

Ghs

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This is a carry-over from the altruism thread. I thought this topic merited separate consideration.

I don’t think Rand had a fully developed theory of “moral obligation.” This isn’t a criticism (she couldn’t cover everything), but this lack leaves some questions unanswered.

I therefore thought it would be interesting to fire up my Objectivism Research CD-ROM and do a search in all of Rand’s writings (including her journals, letters, etc) and find every case where she used the word “obligation.”

There were many hits, of course. Some are passing references and of no interest. Others seem more significant.

(big snip)

To be continued -- maybe, if anyone is interested.

Ghs

The questions arise of her various views on moral obligation (which would involve more than listing out all her statements on this -- as I'm sure you know), the variations of her followers here (which would mean looking to where people like Peikoff, Kelley, Tara Smith, etc. address the issue), and what views on the same (including ones she rejected or didn't consider) are actually compatible with the fundamentals of Objectivism. Sounds like material for a long essay.wink.gif

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This is a carry-over from the altruism thread. I thought this topic merited separate consideration.

I don’t think Rand had a fully developed theory of “moral obligation.” This isn’t a criticism (she couldn’t cover everything), but this lack leaves some questions unanswered.

I therefore thought it would be interesting to fire up my Objectivism Research CD-ROM and do a search in all of Rand’s writings (including her journals, letters, etc) and find every case where she used the word “obligation.”

There were many hits, of course. Some are passing references and of no interest. Others seem more significant.

(big snip)

To be continued -- maybe, if anyone is interested.

Ghs

The questions arise of her various views on moral obligation (which would involve more than listing out all her statements on this -- as I'm sure you know), the variations of her followers here (which would mean looking to where people like Peikoff, Kelley, Tara Smith, etc. address the issue), and what views on the same (including ones she rejected or didn't consider) are actually compatible with the fundamentals of Objectivism. Sounds like material for a long essay.wink.gif

Yup. When do you plan to write that essay?

I'm not sure if citing bare passages where Rand uses the word "obligation" will yield any useful results, but it might, even if it only points us in a certain direction. As I have mentioned before, I have done similar searches for key words before. Some yielded useful results, and some did not.

I haven't kept up with most of the secondary literature, but I have a copy of Liberty and Nature: An Aristotelian Defense of Liberal Order,, by Doug Rasmussen and Doug Den Uyl. I haven't read that book since it was first published in 1991. I will need to reread it.

Ghs

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The questions arise of her various views on moral obligation (which would involve more than listing out all her statements on this -- as I'm sure you know), the variations of her followers here (which would mean looking to where people like Peikoff, Kelley, Tara Smith, etc. address the issue), and what views on the same (including ones she rejected or didn't consider) are actually compatible with the fundamentals of Objectivism. Sounds like material for a long essay.wink.gif

Yup. When do you plan to write that essay?

I'm not sure if citing bare passages where Rand uses the word "obligation" will yield any useful results, but it might, even if it only points us in a certain direction. As I have mentioned before, I have done similar searches for key words before. Some yielded useful results, and some did not.

I haven't kept up with most of the secondary literature, but I have a copy of Liberty and Nature: An Aristotelian Defense of Liberal Order,, by Doug Rasmussen and Doug Den Uyl. I haven't read that book since it was first published in 1991. I will need to reread it.

Ghs

I had what I believed to be a witty rejoinder, but somehow I must have closed the browser before clicking Add Reply. rolleyes.gif

Anyhow, I'd have to reread the two Dougs book too and I haven't read their more recent work. I also recall Reason Papers running a symposium on the first book, but I don't recall any of the papers in it covering this topic.

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This is what I wrote over in the Altruism thread, I think it's applicable here:

From http://aynrandlexico...icon/duty.html:

"The meaning of the term “duty” is: the moral necessity to perform certain actions for no reason other than obedience to some higher authority, without regard to any personal goal, motive, desire or interest."

From http://aynrandlexico...obligation.html

"Accepting no mystic “duties” or unchosen obligations, he is the man who honors scrupulously the obligations which he chooses. The obligation to keep one’s promises is one of the most important elements in proper human relationships, the element that leads to mutual confidence and makes cooperation possible among men . . . .

The acceptance of full responsibility for one’s own choices and actions (and their consequences) is such a demanding moral discipline that many men seek to escape it by surrendering to what they believe is the easy, automatic, unthinking safety of a morality of “duty.”"

From http://aynrandlexico.../sacrifice.html

"“Sacrifice” is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of a nonvalue...

This applies to all choices, including one’s actions toward other men. It requires that one possess a defined hierarchy of rational values (values chosen and validated by a rational standard). Without such a hierarchy, neither rational conduct nor considered value judgments nor moral choices are possible."

Back to the example:

"If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty."

Restated:

If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, she has not surrendered the higher value in her hierarchy which she has chosen for herself: she values the child higher than the hat which is at the lower end of her chosen hierarchy; but if the hat is on the higher end of her chosen hierarchy then she surrenders this value if she chooses to feed the child (which is on the lower end of her chosen hierarchy) - in this case she would prefer her child to starve, but feeds him only because she feels she must based not on her own choices, but those prescribed by others.

In the first instance she is "obligated" to feed the child because it is in keeping with her own rationally chosen hierarchy of values.

In the second she has not chosen to feed her child out of "obligation", but because society tells her she must (duty).

You could argue that this is not a very good example because any mother who would choose a hat over feeding her child is obviously a psychopath making it overly simplistic, but as an illustration it works fine. Basically it says that it is okay to feel or be "obligated" (moral even) to do something if it was rationally chosen and fits your hierarchy of values - it is not okay to do something that is of lesser value in your rationally selected hierarchy while sacrificing a higher value (this would be done out of a sense of "duty", not obligation - you are only "obligated" to follow your rationally selected hierarchy of values).

The question here could be if the mother did indeed consider the hat of higher value than feeding the child - would Rand consider her actions moral if she bought that hat? But that's the wrong question. The act is not immoral based on the mother's actions (buying the hat instead of feeding the child)it is immoral because the chosen value is incommensurate with being a rational human, that is, it is not a rational value because it would not support the continuation of life (in this case). Rand, as I understand from this site and my limited reading, did not say that people could do whatever they wanted as some think Nietzsche advocated for his Ubermensch(I don't necessarily agree with that reading of Nietzsche, but that's beside the point). Simply put you can't rationally choose to value doing harm to others because if everyone held a value like that man would not survive.

Ian

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If I'm reading things right I think it would be fair to say this about "moral" "obligation": an obligation implies that one must choose to act upon the highest rationally chosen value that is in play in a given situation. That would in turn be a "moral" act. To act upon a lesser value, a value that is not "rational", or out of "duty" (imposed values) would be "immoral". If this is right it seems that the "obligation" in "moral obligation" must take on a different meaning. In order for something to be an "obligation" and not a "duty", as Rand defined it, it must already imply a value and in that sense the word does not simply mean "something one must do" it means one must do the "right" thing. To hold yourself to this type of system would be "moral". So if Rand says "moral obligation" it could be that she means that one has an "obligation" in the common sense of the word to act morally, that is, staying true to one's hierarchy of chosen rational values.

Where have I gone wrong George?

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Back to the example:

"If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty."

Restated:

If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, she has not surrendered the higher value in her hierarchy which she has chosen for herself: she values the child higher than the hat which is at the lower end of her chosen hierarchy; but if the hat is on the higher end of her chosen hierarchy then she surrenders this value if she chooses to feed the child (which is on the lower end of her chosen hierarchy) - in this case she would prefer her child to starve, but feeds him only because she feels she must based not on her own choices, but those prescribed by others.

In the first instance she is "obligated" to feed the child because it is in keeping with her own rationally chosen hierarchy of values.

In the second she has not chosen to feed her child out of "obligation", but because society tells her she must (duty).

You could argue that this is not a very good example because any mother who would choose a hat over feeding her child is obviously a psychopath making it overly simplistic, but as an illustration it works fine. Basically it says that it is okay to feel or be "obligated" (moral even) to do something if it was rationally chosen and fits your hierarchy of values - it is not okay to do something that is of lesser value in your rationally selected hierarchy while sacrificing a higher value (this would be done out of a sense of "duty", not obligation - you are only "obligated" to follow your rationally selected hierarchy of values).

The question here could be if the mother did indeed consider the hat of higher value than feeding the child - would Rand consider her actions moral if she bought that hat? But that's the wrong question. The act is not immoral based on the mother's actions (buying the hat instead of feeding the child)it is immoral because the chosen value is incommensurate with being a rational human, that is, it is not a rational value because it would not support the continuation of life (in this case). Rand, as I understand from this site and my limited reading, did not say that people could do whatever they wanted as some think Nietzsche advocated for his Ubermensch(I don't necessarily agree with that reading of Nietzsche, but that's beside the point). Simply put you can't rationally choose to value doing harm to others because if everyone held a value like that man would not survive.

Ian

Rand wrote:

"but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty."

Sometimes it's tough to figure which "duty" she refers to, but let's just take this at face value. What she's trying to prove is that the only way one can "sacrifice" is to be immoral; that sacrifice, motivated by duty is an immoral act. The sentence right before the quote is this:

"If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions a “sacrifice”: that term brands you as immoral."

This is proposterous, and it angers me, because I think it's a deliberate con. Of course it's very easy to brand a mother who values a hat higher than her child as immoral, but her act of sacrifice (when she actually does the right thing and feeds him) is NOT immoral at all, in fact it's indeed the exact opposite. The fact that she did the right thing (the sacrifice) only motivated by duty means she was indeed an immoral person, but the sacrifice itself was a moral act (but of course that's MY morality substituted).

But take the immoral mom's perspective then. Here it's different. She has to give up a higher value (the hat) for a lower value (her child) due to a sense of duty only. Fine, an immoral act from her perspective. Look what he have though: The sacrificial act is immoral but ONLY BECAUSE SHE'S A MORAL SCUMBAG ALREADY!! So Rand wants to conclude that only a immoral person can sacrifice, but she conveniently left out that if the woman DIDN'T sacrifice, she'd be EVEN MORE immoral (substituting again)! But true to her values though. In other words is she less immoral without the sacrifice?

You wrote:

"is immoral because the chosen value is incommensurate with being a rational human,"

Well, I'm not sure, but at the very least the immorality has nothing at all to do with the sacrifice, but rather the mindset pre-sacrifice.

So, we're left with a moral scumbag who sacrificed - yes. Yet is seems she wants to prove that ONLY moral scumbags can sacrifice - two completely different statements and one does not follow from the other. It's a con.

I value my personal money much more than I value giving it away and paying taxes (or at least the amount of taxes). This is not hypothetical. Say, a miracle happened, and one year my country said "We have too much extra cash, so this year everyone only pays the taxes they freely would like to give" - pure fantasy I know. But hypothetically, if I happened to feel a "duty" to pay something, something I would indeed rather keep, say 5%, and I paid it, would this sacrifice be immoral? Would it be immoral ONLY if I really wanted to keep it, but perfectly fine if I enjoy helping my fellow man? Or what if I gave it to the charity of my choice? Is the fact that I feel a "duty" means my rationality is already totally destroyed, so I'm already a scumbag like the hat-mom according to Rand's "duty the destroyer" definition?

Bob

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"If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions a “sacrifice”: that term brands you as immoral."

If you go back to Rand's definitions this makes sense and I don't see why it's so wrong. It basically says we should do something because we value doing it. In the case of the mom, it's obvious that any woman who would rather buy the hat is a psychopath. Perhaps a definition of the word psychopath would be helpful here because as I read it Rand would say a psychopath was immoral because the values they hold are themselves immoral because they are not rational. It depends on whether or not the value is rational. That's where the debate could possibly start - what makes a value rational? Some are easier to identify as "rational" than others, like feeding a child, but others aren't like charity. I agree with that, but we should be beyond getting stuck on the words.

I'd want to know this: can a person rationally value charity? Rand would probably say no which is why I have a problem with some of her more prescriptive language, but I'd like to find out if I have this right and how to get around, or are we at the mercy of Rand's rationality?

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If you go back to Rand's definitions this makes sense and I don't see why it's so wrong. It basically says we should do something because we value doing it.

This statement is fine on its own, but it does NOT necessarily follow that this type of action is 1)always moral and neither does it follow that 2)the opposite (doing something you do not value - sacrifice) is always immoral.

Rand indeed implies, if not states directly, that sacrifice is immoral. I think I have demonstrated two things:

1) Sacrifice for the psycho-mom could be described as the most moral alternative (from an exterior, 'rational' perspective) (teleological?) AND immoral from her egoistic (and deontological?) value-based perspective. The alternative, with NO sacrifice, is a dead child. I think this is clear.

2) (need to contemplate more) There are (or are there?) examples of sacrificial acts that are moral or neutral.

But if either of these cases are true, then "sacrifice is immoral" cannot be true.

Bob

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The only "obligation" involved in individual rights is an obligation imposed, not by the state, but by the nature of reality (i.e., by the law of identity): consistency, which, in this case, means the obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes one's own rights to be recognized and protected.

I don't understand how an obligation can be imposed "by the nature of reality", and also, how does the law of identity fit in?

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The only "obligation" involved in individual rights is an obligation imposed, not by the state, but by the nature of reality (i.e., by the law of identity): consistency, which, in this case, means the obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes one's own rights to be recognized and protected.

I don't understand how an obligation can be imposed "by the nature of reality", and also, how does the law of identity fit in?

As indicated by the rest of the sentence (after the colon), Rand is talking about consistency, which, in her view, is a practical implication of the Law of Identity.

My take on this approach, to put it briefly, is that Rand viewed "obligation" as a type of rational constraint. In other words, if you claim rights for yourself, you are rationally constrained, as a matter of consistency, to recognize the rights of others.

Of course, Rand doesn't argue the point in this passage, but the the nature of rights as reciprocal claims is an important part of her theory, and she was far from alone in holding this view. It's a standard view of rights theory, one that was defended by John Locke and by many other political philosophers.

Ghs

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The only "obligation" involved in individual rights is an obligation imposed, not by the state, but by the nature of reality (i.e., by the law of identity): consistency, which, in this case, means the obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes one's own rights to be recognized and protected.

I don't understand how an obligation can be imposed "by the nature of reality", and also, how does the law of identity fit in?

As indicated by the rest of the sentence (after the colon), Rand is talking about consistency, which, in her view, is a practical implication of the Law of Identity.

My take on this approach, to put it briefly, is that Rand viewed "obligation" as a type of rational constraint. In other words, if you claim rights for yourself, you are rationally constrained, as a matter of consistency, to recognize the rights of others.

Of course, Rand doesn't argue the point in this passage, but the the nature of rights as reciprocal claims is an important part of her theory, and she was far from alone in holding this view. It's a standard view of rights theory, one that was defended by John Locke and by many other political philosophers.

Ghs

So in this case would the Law of Identity read something like "human is human" (or even "other is me" speaking on the level of the species) and therefore is similar to the "golden rule"?

Edited by Panoptic
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If I'm reading things right I think it would be fair to say this about "moral" "obligation": an obligation implies that one must choose to act upon the highest rationally chosen value that is in play in a given situation. That would in turn be a "moral" act. To act upon a lesser value, a value that is not "rational", or out of "duty" (imposed values) would be "immoral". If this is right it seems that the "obligation" in "moral obligation" must take on a different meaning. In order for something to be an "obligation" and not a "duty", as Rand defined it, it must already imply a value and in that sense the word does not simply mean "something one must do" it means one must do the "right" thing. To hold yourself to this type of system would be "moral". So if Rand says "moral obligation" it could be that she means that one has an "obligation" in the common sense of the word to act morally, that is, staying true to one's hierarchy of chosen rational values.

Where have I gone wrong George?

At this point I can't say whether you have accurately summarized Rand's views or not. I haven't seriously investigated this subject in many years; and when I did look into it, I got frustrated from being unable to find a coherent analysis of "moral obligation" in Rand's writings.

While skimming through some of Rand's essays the other day, I was struck by how often shes invokes the specter of Immanuel Kant. Many of her remarks are concerned with Kant's epistemological theory, which I don't believe is as horrendous as Rand makes it out to be; but when she comments on Kant's ethical theory, I sometimes feel like I want to throw her book across the room.

At times Rand seems to understand, if only in a general way, Kant's approach to ethics, as when she says (in "Causality Versus Duty") that, according to Kant, "devotion to duty for duty's sake" is the "only moral motivation." But elsewhere she contends that Kant was an altruist; in fact, she seems to regard him as the most pernicious altruist in the history of western philosophy.

One needn't even read Kant to spot the confusion here. If Kant regarded personal desires and goals as irrelevant to the moral worth of an action, then this excludes altruism as much as it does egoism. And Kant did in fact reject reject altruistic motives, along with egoistic motives, as criteria of moral worth.

Anyway, I don't want to get sidetracked into a detailed discussion of Kant's ethics; I don't have the time for that now. I simply want to note that Rand's excursions into the history of philosophy often frustrate me, and I think her inaccurate characterizations of previous moral philosophers led to some serious problems in her own approach. I say this because I think some of Rand's ethical theory was reactive; i.e., she saw herself as repudiating or correcting the pernicious errors of Kant and other philosophers. But in some cases (not all), she was reacting against positions that were never really defended, and this caused her to overreact, thereby leading to some strange imbalances in her own ethical theory.

I shouldn't write posts like this at 7:30 in the morning, when my mind is not yet running on all cylinders. I haven't expressed myself as clearly as I should, especially in regard to how Rand's distorted views on the history of philosophy vitiated some of her own ideas. Nor have I connected this point to Rand's views on moral obligation, even though I think there is a connection. But this will have to do for now.

Ghs

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I'm begining to think there is a real disconnect between the morality in Objectivism needed to bridge the gap between the basic philosophy (metaphysics and epistemology) and its politics and the Objectivst Ethics as such and hope to have time to do an article on this subject soon.

--Brant

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I'm begining to think there is a real disconnect between the morality in Objectivism needed to bridge the gap between the basic philosophy (metaphysics and epistemology) and its politics and the Objectivst Ethics as such and hope to have time to do an article on this subject soon.

--Brant

Can you clarify that for me Brant? I lost you.

"I'm beginning to think there is a real disconnect between the morality in Objectivism needed to bridge the gap..." Huh? What? :)

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George,

A development in Rand-land over the last 10 years (it might go back farther than that, but not much) is the importation of deontic terminology into presentations of the Objectivist ethics.

So in the writings of Tara Smith, Greg Salmieri, and other Orthodox Objectivists of the younger generations you'll find the phrases "morally impermissible," "morally permissible," and "morally obligatory."

One of the signs of Diana Hsieh's imminent conversion to ARIanism was her adoption of permissibility and obligatoriness talk. I made fun of it a few years go in "Contextual Virtues: A Wee Test."

I've found the entire trend really odd, because whatever the complexities in Rand's notions, she was inclined to handle moral obligation with tongs, and duty with even longer tongs.

Robert Campbell

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George,

It's good to know I'm not the only one using the CD-ROM that way. I have run several terms through it.

This is where I started noticing that Rand often used the same word with different meanings--and you had to extract which meaning from the context. But sometimes she did that in the same essay.

I would have to look it up to give you precise examples and I don't have time right now. I have posted a few around here on the forum somewhere, especially noting when Rand gives non-interchangeable cognitive and normative meanings to same word without saying when. I intend to do more term runs and even write some essays on them. But off the top of my head, here is an easy example: moral.

Sometimes moral to Rand means pertaining to ethics and volitional values. Rand was fond of using "morality" as a synonym for ethics. Look at her definition of rights, for example: "A 'right' is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context." She liked the phrase "moral judgment" a lot. "Moral cowardice" meant refusing to think in terms of principles--with fear built in. All these examples use moral as meaning ethics.

But sometimes moral means good with a special kind of emphasis--I believe to induce guilt in the wayward, enshrine the hero and intellectually slay the dastardly. Thus you get "moral and "immoral" deeds and acts, which more often than not, mean good and evil. You get "moral stature," which mostly means good if it is high and evil if it is low. You can find an "immoral contradiction" which is the vilest of evils. Galt says you are branded as immoral if you call you best actions as a sacrifice. And so forth.

I believe you are encountering a similar unclear meaning situation with "obligation" especially "moral obligation."

btw - If you want to see something kind of cool, type in

mock OR mockery OR mocking OR mocked

You get Francisco d'Anconia all over the place. :)

You also get Howard Roark all over her notes, but not in the final version of The Fountainhead. She took mockery out of his character descriptions and acts in the book.

Isn't that odd? They didn't have computers back then, so she had to have done this on purpose, knowing she was doing it.

I looked this up once when I was looking into Rand's humor. I began to suspect her sense of humor was mostly mocking, but then the thing went off in this direction. I haven't come to any conclusions so far except to note that there are these patterns. I want to delve deeper into these waters later...

Michael

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Hi all experts,

If you have a moment could you please comment on my posts #6 and #12, I would just like to know if you think I'm on track here. Even a simple "that sounds right" or "you might want to read x" would be appreciated. As with all the philosophies I have studied or am studying I like dive in and play in the mud in order to get a personal reading before consulting secondary sources or asking for help and then I appreciate a little guidance to make sure that my reading is at least internally coherent and I didn't botch something simple. I say this because I've taught graduate rhetoric and hated when student didn't take some initiative before asking me to explain things for them and I didn't want to come accross that way.

On another note I have to admit I forgot who my audience was when I first came here. I'm so used to seminars where everybody is feeling their ways through and there's a free flow of more right and more wrong interpretations and opinions before we all become more familiar and start to really focus in. I think that's why George and others felt like I was here to Rand bash and I want to make it clear now that my intent is to first and foremost make an honest effort to understand her philosophy. My approach to any philosophy is always to come in skeptical. I generally don't read philosophy looking for a guide to live my life - I read philosophy with an eye towards discovering new ways to think about the world and am fascinated by how much my world can change when looked at through a different lens. So I will be more careful to remember that I am here with people who are new and people who are experienced in Rand's philosophy and adjust the tone of my comments accordingly - like a good little rhetorician :)

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I'm begining to think there is a real disconnect between the morality in Objectivism needed to bridge the gap between the basic philosophy (metaphysics and epistemology) and its politics and the Objectivst Ethics as such and hope to have time to do an article on this subject soon.

--Brant

Can you clarify that for me Brant? I lost you.

"I'm beginning to think there is a real disconnect between the morality in Objectivism needed to bridge the gap..." Huh? What? smile.gif

Ah. I'm only a hologram. You never found me in the first place to lose me in the second. Now, take a deep breath, relax, and read it again.

--Brant

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Apropos my previous post: If you look at my signature line each philosophical item represents one of the four basic principles--one might even say principals for the metaphorically anthropomorphic--of Objectivism. They are all logically inter-related. Think of reality and reason qua man and you have a spinning self re-enforcing ball that logically leads to individualism (rational self interest) in ethics and capitalism in politics/economics. Rationality is the essence of individualism, and that's the bridge to ethics and politics in turn. I'm proposing a bridge between epistemology and politics that doesn't need but part, if that, of the Objectivist Ethics. Now when you go right into The Objectivist Ethics (The Virtue of Selfishness) you'll find at least some of the bridge, but a lot of it has nothing to do with it and a lot has to do with human control and limitation and Randian arbitrariness and valuing and social lubrication. My most serious criticism of the Objectivist Ethics by Rand is she has only one road to creativity, which she herself used, but is purblind to any other.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Apropos my previous post: If you look at my signature line each philosophical item represents one of the four basic principles--one might even say principals for the metaphorically anthropomorphic--of Objectivism. They are all logically inter-related. Think of reality and reason qua man and you have spinning self re-enforcing ball that logically leads to individualism (rational self interest) in ethics and capitalism in politics/economics. Rationality is the essence of individualism, and that's the bridge to ethics and politics in turn. I'm proposing a bridge between epistemology and politics that doesn't need but part, if that, of the Objectivist Ethics. Now when you go right into The Objectivist Ethics (The Virtue of Selfishness) you'll find at least some of the bridge, but a lot of it has nothing to do with it and a lot has to do with human control and limitation and Randian arbitrariness and valuing and social lubrication. My most serious criticism of the Objectivist Ethics by Rand is she has only one road to creativity, which she herself used, but is purblind to any other.

--Brant

Haha. That makes more sense, but no matter how much breathing and relaxing I do I can't make out that run-on sentence. You need some punctuation. :) As it reads you're saying that you need a real disconnect to bridge a gap - that's one article I'd love to read!

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Apropos my previous post: If you look at my signature line each philosophical item represents one of the four basic principles--one might even say principals for the metaphorically anthropomorphic--of Objectivism. They are all logically inter-related. Think of reality and reason qua man and you have spinning self re-enforcing ball that logically leads to individualism (rational self interest) in ethics and capitalism in politics/economics. Rationality is the essence of individualism, and that's the bridge to ethics and politics in turn. I'm proposing a bridge between epistemology and politics that doesn't need but part, if that, of the Objectivist Ethics. Now when you go right into The Objectivist Ethics (The Virtue of Selfishness) you'll find at least some of the bridge, but a lot of it has nothing to do with it and a lot has to do with human control and limitation and Randian arbitrariness and valuing and social lubrication. My most serious criticism of the Objectivist Ethics by Rand is she has only one road to creativity, which she herself used, but is purblind to any other.

--Brant

Haha. That makes more sense, but no matter how much breathing and relaxing I do I can't make out that run-on sentence. You need some punctuation. smile.gif As it reads you're saying that you need a real disconnect to bridge a gap - that's one article I'd love to read!

Here, kid, let me lend you a cane.

--Brant

or try whiskey

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Apropos my previous post: If you look at my signature line each philosophical item represents one of the four basic principles--one might even say principals for the metaphorically anthropomorphic--of Objectivism. They are all logically inter-related. Think of reality and reason qua man and you have spinning self re-enforcing ball that logically leads to individualism (rational self interest) in ethics and capitalism in politics/economics. Rationality is the essence of individualism, and that's the bridge to ethics and politics in turn. I'm proposing a bridge between epistemology and politics that doesn't need but part, if that, of the Objectivist Ethics. Now when you go right into The Objectivist Ethics (The Virtue of Selfishness) you'll find at least some of the bridge, but a lot of it has nothing to do with it and a lot has to do with human control and limitation and Randian arbitrariness and valuing and social lubrication. My most serious criticism of the Objectivist Ethics by Rand is she has only one road to creativity, which she herself used, but is purblind to any other.

--Brant

Haha. That makes more sense, but no matter how much breathing and relaxing I do I can't make out that run-on sentence. You need some punctuation. smile.gif As it reads you're saying that you need a real disconnect to bridge a gap - that's one article I'd love to read!

Here, kid, let me lend you a cane.

--Brant

or try whiskey

I prefer Bourbon :)

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