Ayn Rand’s egoism and condemnation of altruism is central to her moral philosophy. As Rand’s most controversial position, it is one about which students of Objectivism (old and new) often have questions. This course addresses some of the most common of these, highlighting the radicalness and profundity of the Objectivist ethics. Topics include: Rand’s reasons for fighting to redeem the concept “selfishness”; how her definitions of “selfishness” and “altruism” relate to conventional understanding of these terms; the relation between Rand’s morality and that of other (real or alleged) egoists in the history of philosophy; the ubiquity of altruism in moral philosophy and contemporary culture; how the arguments for egoism and against altruism found in Rand’s different writings reflect her development as a thinker; and the relationship between egoism and Rand’s identification of values as objective rather than intrinsic or subjective.
This course was recorded at the 2011 Objectivist Summer Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL.