In this radio interview from the 1960s, Ayn Rand is interviewed by a three-person panel on the topic of altruism. Rand defines what altruism means when the idea is taken precisely, explains how altruism should not be confused with mere concern for the welfare of others, and addresses some of the psychological consequences of attempting to embrace altruism. Questions addressed by her comments include:
What is the difference between altruism and benevolence?
What defenses are typically offered for altruism?
Can anyone consistently practice altruism?
Can altruism be self-interested on the basis that it makes you happy?
Is there a connection between altruism and a lack of self-esteem?
Does morality consist basically of a choice between sacrificing yourself to others or sacrificing others to yourself?
One of the three panelists interviewing Ayn Rand is Dr. Allan Gotthelf, who was then a graduate student in philosophy at Columbia University and is now a leading Rand scholar and professor of philosophy at Rutgers University.
Selfishness as a Virtue
Ayn Rand made this 1960s media appearance to promote her collection of essays called The Virtue of Selfishness. Rand explains why she considers selfishness to be a virtue, and the host challenges her on a number of issues that would occur to educated laymen: taxation, regulations, the purpose of government, government financing without mandatory taxation, Christian ethics, the welfare of the poor under free market capitalism, people who are born with exceptional natural talents, and the idea of “owing a debt to society.”
“Psychology of Altruism” is 30 minutes long, and “Selfishness as a Virtue” is 19 minutes.
(MP3 download; 49 min., 34.91 MB)
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