Put it another way, shouldn't you kill or steal if your life requires it?
This is the biggest doubt I have with the Objectivist morality.
asked Dec 04 '10 at 08:25
Addressing your title question, I think you are referring to the fundamental alternative of existence/living vs. nonexistence/death, which is what makes values both possible and necessary:
Now, in the specific case of the existence/living of a human, we have to attend to the fact that every living thing has a distinctive mode of existence -- a manner and means of existing as that kind of thing -- and consider what is required in the case of humans. We are not an insect or fish or cat, so what is appropriate to their existence isn't appropriate to ours, and vice versa: in our case, we're rational, conceptual animals, and the requirements of our existence of course reflect that. So the standard of value for humans is what is required for the life of a human -- the life of a rational being -- or, simply, "man's life" (because we aren't aware of any other rational animals):
answered Dec 04 '10 at 09:04
Greg Perkins ♦♦
Rational selfishness does not allow for stealing or forceful taking (the same thing?) from others for one's own self advancement. Survival as a rational being requires that we trade with each other exchanging value for value. If a member of society steals or seizes others' property, that member will not find honest members of the society willing to trade with him (or her). Dagny Taggert states this quite clearly when she says to Dan Conway, "If the rest of them can survive only by destroying us, then why should we wish them to survive? Nothing can make self-immolation proper. Nothing can give them the right to turn men into sacrificial animals. Nothing can make it moral to destroy the best. One can't be punished for being good. One can't be penalized for ability. If that is right, then we'd better start slaughtering one another, because there isn't any right in the world!" (site 1976 of Kindle edition of Atlas Shrugged). She is speaking of moochers stealing from producers. Is there any way in which one can justify the same immoral actions being performed by one who considers himself as a "producer?"
answered Dec 04 '10 at 18:14
If you kill or steal from another, you change yourself from a producer to a predator. As a predator on men, you become the prey of men. Thereafter, every man you pass on the street has the moral right to strike you down and take whatever you possess. You can prey on others at the cost of becoming a fugitive, but what you cannot do is save your life as you know it, at someone else's expense.
Life prior to crime means life qua man, but afterwards means a degenerate sort of existence, even if that involves fine dining and tailored suits. You may break the rules and try to continue as you were, hiding in plain sight, but contradictions do not exist, and satisfaction is impossible to a cheat.
Logically, then, it is not possible to save one's life by killing or stealing.
answered Dec 04 '10 at 19:40
Mindy Newton ♦