login about faq

What happens to the objectivist dream of fullfilled rational self-interest when circumstance limits the choices down only to those that serve others, basically necessitates virtually selling yourself as a slave to others?

A case example

Say you are born into a disadvantaged grade of life i.e. poverty. And let also say, that your merits are below average, and you become stuck in a sub-standard life, you depend on your job for survival, and to risk its loss would threaten to degrade that life further. This soul would be stuck in a life not worth living, rational self-interest is narrowed by circumstance down a condition of virtual slavery, there is no worthwhile rational exit.

In a objectivitist world of laissez-faire capitalism, the government could not intervene to help improve the life of this individual, it could not act altruistically to satisfy the qualities of a worthwhile life for that individual. And there would be no seeming reason why anyone would intervene. So, basically an objectivist world would decree implicitly that everyone has a number or measure of worth, and that some are worthy only of virtual slavery, perhaps even death depending how low they are evaluated by other rational self-interested individuals. So, in absence of any duty to help this soul, and no perceived benefit of helping; there will be one soul objectivism failed to satisfy. There may be other cases were the objectivist system fails for some individuals or limits the joys of their life to what others value they deserve, and where what one values is irrelevant because one is unable to fulfil them by oneself.

So, is it not grace to offer what others cannot offer to themselves, does not a piece of empathy in you wish idealistically to alter the course of that individual's future, to break the bonds of virtual slavery in a capitalist system? Is this not the place where Marxism finds its origin and impulse? To end class division, such that nobody is excluded from the quality that is actually worth it's while? I wonder why that has not yet happened in so-called communist countries?

My proposed solutions to constrast with those of others

Maybe no system is a proper solution. My only solution is to take control of human development so that everyone is capable of the good life: Ethical Eugenics of a kind, natural selection in the hands of humankind. Two, the increasing utility of machines whose self-interest is narrow by definition of non-sentience minimal subsistence requirement. But, if machines ever do find sentience, they may decide humans are obsolete and determine to disallow human reproduction, and take our roles and exceed them in potentiality. Unless, humans become an experiment to genetically advance, similar to how humans advance technology, technology could gain a mind of its own and genetically advance humanity or whatever super race come of it. Yeah, I can't see much long term alternatives than these to stop the slavery of the inept and disadvantaged. So, class equality via two methods: by Marxism or political movement of the labourers into a government obsoleting the overseers of capitalism or corporatism perhaps OR by genetic and technological advancement ensuring people are capable of the good life and perhaps the undesirable jobs are occupied by machines.

This is an objection of my own, I may be wrong, I merely place this here to see what the response or workaround is to this eventuality in an objectivist world of laissez-faire capitalism. I use a tool pancritical rationalism to evaluate objectivism, the more it withstands objections or criticisms the more confidence I place in it. If I made any mistake or misrepresentation, let me know, I am hoping my exposed ignorance will be a place for your knowledge and wisdom to flow, fill and alleviate.

I do not subscribe to Marxism, but my consideration seem to enter its domain, I am just as liable to accept or reject it as Objectivism. My philosophy is pancritical rationalism with some Extropian values.

asked Dec 18 '11 at 20:57

Adeikov's gravatar image


edited Dec 23 '11 at 04:05

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Rand once said that the question is not whether or not to give a coin to a beggar, but whether one has the moral right to exist without doing so. I expect she would say the same thing with regard to bread.

Objectivism is not hostile to charity, but it does not view it as a major issue. One may choose to provide assistance to others proportional to their value, and as long as the aid does not constitute a sacrifice.

With regard to the person who is unable to earn his bread -- I have to ask, why? If you have someone who chose to fry his brain with drugs and as a result is no longer able to feed himself, well, I have very little sympathy.

answered Dec 20 '11 at 17:49

Kyle%20Haight's gravatar image

Kyle Haight ♦

What would Rand say about loans, they are a risk of overall sacrifice if the debtor fails to pay for unforseen reason by either you or the debtor and a sacrifice in the present moment; are loans morally objective?

If they are then a temporary sacrifice is condonable if there is expectation of payback to balance the books so to speak; is a balance of the books approach morally objective is the case of the begger, you help begger out of beggerhood, if beggar agrees to pay you later?

(Dec 20 '11 at 19:23) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

If I evaluate the riskiness of the beggar and determines to give him a loan because I am confident that he will pay me back, then it is not a sacrifice even if he fails to pay me back. If the beggar sticks a knife to my throat and forces me to give him a loan, that would be a sacrifice on my part.

(Dec 20 '11 at 23:24) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

There’s a premise buried in the question, and in the questioner’s subsequent comments. Capitalism is a political system, and defines a set of principles for a social framework and the proper purpose of government. It doesn’t act – only people act. The question, restated, with the premise made explicit: under capitalism, is it the responsibility of some people to “ensure” the good life for other people? In that respect, absolutely not. Fundamental to capitalism is the recognition of individual rights, which is, in turn, based on the Objectivist ethical principle of egoism.

What does it mean, “the good life?” By what standard? Each man defines his own “good life”. It seems as though the questioner is using his own evaluation of a good life as the standard, implying that he rejects any political system that doesn’t meet that standard, along with the underlying philosophy. But no one can decide or define what a good life is for anyone else. What capitalism does is leave each man free to decide that for himself, without interference from others, and with a government that protects that freedom by forbidding the initiation of physical force.

The same holds true for poverty and “merits below average,” which I suspect is a euphemism for low intelligence. By what standard? Both of those are relative measurements and philosophically irrelevant. Capitalism isn’t about money. Money is merely a convenient means of exchange. Capitalism is about the creation of human values (the economic term is wealth) and the free exchange of those values between equals. It doesn’t matter how much wealth one has or how intelligent one is – capitalism is the political system that allows each man the freedom to create as much wealth as his intelligence and effort permit, without being a burden on other men or being burdened by other men, and with the government protecting that freedom. In such a society, there is no slavery.

answered Dec 22 '11 at 13:26

Roger%20Theriault's gravatar image

Roger Theriault ♦

Freedom is more than merely personal, personally it is no satisfication to act a fool, but to function as valued integrated piece of the larger society. Nobody is truely free from the world of people, everybody is connected, our actions effect each one of us, to act disjointedly from the healthy functioning of society is to make worse for everyone including yourself. Serious, do you want the farmers to stop make food, the garbage man to strike etc, whenever they feel compelled against their will by your needs?

Under laissez-faire society will fall apart, and we will be in a new dark age. No?

(Dec 22 '11 at 16:43) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Under a laissez-faire society: Parasites will live in a dark age and die off when they run out of resources to loot from each other. Producers will live in an enlighten age (assuming they can fend the parasites off).

Definition of parasite from Dictionary.com: a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.

(Dec 22 '11 at 17:59) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

How could anyone refer to any other set of humans as parasites? That is a warped mindset; it is not the people's fault for what they are and what they do, their choices are limited, and you scoff at what you would be unprepared for if you had been raised in their environment and neglected and institutionalised. Your lack of insight into their situation is your blind-spot.

(Dec 22 '11 at 19:28) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Just because you feel uncomfortable calling someone a parasite does not mean that they're not a parasite. A is A. By the way, parasites exist outside of just the economic world. Parasites often prey on nice guys.

(Dec 22 '11 at 20:34) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Sometimes people need a lift to where they want go, why hinder them? It does not need to be an indefinite journey, and you receive a friend or somebody who will help you when you fall down.

So: Building solidarity or the likelihood people will help you when you fall, a safety net.

(Dec 22 '11 at 21:42) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Let say you need help. Am I allowed to say no to you?

(Dec 23 '11 at 02:12) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Adeikov, your comments are based on some assumptions. Responses here are limited, so, first: everybody is not "connected", not in the way you seem to mean it. There is no common stomach, and there is no common brain. Every man is an individual, with his own character and his own values. Some man's action may affect me physically, but that's as far as it goes.

(Dec 23 '11 at 10:25) Roger Theriault ♦ Roger%20Theriault's gravatar image

Second, I wish to live in a society, because there is tremendous benefit to me on many levels. But not in any society. I wish to live in a peaceful and value-producing society, one where I have the right to pursue my own values, deal with people who respect that right, and with a government that protects those rights. The good of that society is not my standard of value. My own life is my standard, and my own happiness is the purpose of my life. Every other person in the society has (or should have) the same standard and purpose. Only then are all men equal.

(Dec 23 '11 at 10:31) Roger Theriault ♦ Roger%20Theriault's gravatar image

Finally, I don't want farmers to stop growing food and offering to me for exchange. Food is a value to me, and I don't want to have to grow it myself (which I would have to do if there were no farmers). But I have to offer something to the farmer in exchange, something he values. If I did not have to do that, and if the farmer was required to grow food and offer it to me, THEN the farmer would be a slave. Under capitalism, just because I need food does not mean the farmer is required to produce it for me. After all, the farmer is a man, too, with his own values and the right to pursue them.

(Dec 23 '11 at 10:38) Roger Theriault ♦ Roger%20Theriault's gravatar image

Money is a bribe, you bend the will of the farmer with bribery, he might not even like you or have no personal wish to feed you in particular, the money is a corrupter of first instance self-Interests. Did Rand ever mention whether manipulation of another's will was right?

(Dec 23 '11 at 16:30) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image
showing 2 of 10 show all

In this question, there is an expectation that life is "fair". Is that expectation realistic? Is objective reality fair?

Slavery does not exist because a man has less options than another due to things that occur outside of man's control. Slavery exists when man takes, by force, from another man in the attempt to create his ideals of a Utopia.

answered Dec 18 '11 at 21:48

Humbug's gravatar image


But if a situation in an objectivist system emulates the same conditions of slavery for that individual, what matter if a direct force or by INDIRECT force: Is it not still the definition of the conditions of SLAVERY for that individual?

Is a system where such a case can happen be called ETHICAL OR MORAL?

If the consequence is bad, then can the aggregated self-interests, the whole process of an objectivist world as a whole, can they be called VIRTUOUS OR CONSIDERATE TO THE IMPACT OF THEIR FULLY FULLFILLED SELF-INTERESTS within the scope of their SOCIALLY ASSIGNED WORTH OR VALUE?

(CAPS Bold)

(Dec 18 '11 at 22:07) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Adeikov, What is the difference between pancritical rationalism and skepticism?

(Dec 18 '11 at 23:00) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

Adeikov, are you saying that both of these situations are equivalent to slavery?

I have a quality of life at position X because anything that I earn that can afford me more than X is confiscated by the state. I have a quality of life at position X because that is the most that I can achieve at my current ability.

(Dec 19 '11 at 01:17) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Pancritical rationalism(PCR) is an alternative to justificationism. It is an alternate means of developing philosophy than by justification. Bartley calls it a metacontext, and contrasts it with other kinds like justificationism. It is deeper than scepticism, scepticism is epistomology about knowledge of absolute reality, that it is unknown, and so it is critical of any positions or philosophies that do claim an absolute or certainty.

PCR is that "all positions are criticisable", I would add "except this", as it leads to contradiction, but it is valid elsewhere, but it also a tool.

(Dec 19 '11 at 02:12) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Another point to note about PCR is it is a solution to the Infinite regress argument, of constantly needing justify statements you make to justify statements.

PCR attempts to work around the problem of ultimate commitment or infinite regress by decoupling criticism and justification. A pancritical rationalist holds all positions open to criticism, including PCR itself. Such a position in principle never resorts to appeal to authority for justification of stances, since all authorities are held to be intrinsically fallible. [wiki Pancritical Rationalism]

(Dec 19 '11 at 02:18) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

So you recognise that PCR leads to contradiction. Are you seeking to resolve that contradiction (even if it means adopting something other than PCR)?

(Dec 19 '11 at 12:45) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

My thought on PCR is: The "all" predicate needs to be treated in a different way, in the same way theists say God is all powerful save where it a paradox, I could say (1) "All positions are criticisable" (A) "save where it a paradox." It is a paradox to criticise (1), therefore (2): "All, save (1), positions are criticisable". AND that that (2) is criticisable.

But what on Earth, the same trap with (2), SOO...therefore

(N) ... "All positions, save where it is a paradox, are criticisable."

Yeah, that seems to jump the paradoxes of (1)...(forever).

There is no paradox in (N).

(Dec 19 '11 at 19:36) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Do you consider ignoring a contradiction, or simply removing it from the realm of consideration - a resolution?

(Dec 20 '11 at 19:49) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

I know you can criticise (N), but only where the action is free from paradox, so you are free to try to criticise (N) but if it is not possible without defeating the action then (N) is an absolute truth.

(N) is consistent and absolute. It is what pancritical rationalism should be.

(N) may be restated to make clear that self-defeating action strengthens (N).

This works with relativism "everything is relative" as well. Remedy: (N relative) "everything is relative but that which relativity makes paradoxical" an absolute truth.

Generally: "For all things, it is truth save where it is negated".

(Dec 20 '11 at 21:35) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

I would deem this alteration: "pancritical rational absolutism"; absolute by necessity.

(Dec 20 '11 at 22:31) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image
showing 2 of 10 show all

Adeikov, are you saying that both of these situations are equivalent to slavery?

  1. I have a quality of life at position X because anything that I earn that can afford me more than X is confiscated by the state.
  2. I have a quality of life at position X because that is the most that I can achieve at my current ability.

answered Dec 19 '11 at 01:17

Humbug's gravatar image


Are you proposing that the state in inherently self-interested rather than society-interested?

The state can intervene to improve the life of those that can't for themselves genuinely improve. The question becomes: Is it moral to withhold bread from a hungry man if he is unable to earn it, helpless to help to himself? Would you let him die? Live and let die? Let us say you have more bread than you need for yourself, you do not need the extra to fullfil your rational self-interest or does that axiom equate with greed?

Is rational self-interest the sum of your needs or of your greed?

(Dec 19 '11 at 01:52) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

If you have extra what rational reason is there to refuse to help by altruistic donatation?

(Dec 19 '11 at 01:52) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Dangit. I wanted to delete the 2nd answer/post and move what I wrote into a comment. Oh well.

(Dec 19 '11 at 02:07) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Adeikov, We're too far apart to discuss this via this website. Why don't you start with Atlas Shrugged and see where it takes you.

(Dec 19 '11 at 02:09) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

I just might. But expect a critical book review, when I finish. I won't take anything faith. I will only accept it when (1) I see the logic, (2) I see the evidence, (3) I see the beauty; before that I have no good reason to accept Objectivism. Yet my mind is always open to persuasion, correction and possibility. Though I do like the aspirations of Objectivisms, I must know its substance or lack thereof before I can accept it. If it stands criticism, I will place more confidence in it, even before I look into its justification.

(Dec 19 '11 at 07:29) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Objectivism has shrugged off criticism for close to 50 years. Most of the criticism has been based on false premises. Objectivism eschews faith for reason, and does not ask to be accepted. It is not a confidence in Objectivism which I have, rather the confidence of my mind's ability to evaluate and judge for itself with reality as the sole authority and arbitor of appeal.

(Dec 19 '11 at 13:34) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

Adeikov, I like your inquisitive attitude, but I agree with Humbug that a firm grasp of the basics would render discussion much more fruitful. Polemics are all good and well, but they don't really convince anyone on their own. Until you have read some of Rand's works, we are happy to answer your questions and show you that Objectivim does have an answer for all of its critics--however I doubt you will be satisfied with those answers alone, because they presuppose all of the foundational principles upon which the philosophy rests.

(Dec 20 '11 at 08:32) ericmaughan43 ♦ ericmaughan43's gravatar image
showing 2 of 7 show all

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Share This Page:



Asked: Dec 18 '11 at 20:57

Seen: 1,524 times

Last updated: Dec 23 '11 at 16:30