Every conclusion one reaches is conditioned by a certain context of knowledge, a context ordinarily consisting of a number of premises. In any intellectual discussion, therefore, we must consider our audience’s cognitive context. What then must we consider when trying to dissuade altruists? What are the premises conditioning a belief in the virtue of sacrifice and the evil of selfishness? More important, what is the hierarchical order in which we must address and refute those premises? And what kinds of concrete illustrations are required?
Mr. Schwartz had to answer these questions in preparing to write his soon-to-be completed book on altruism, The Tyranny of Need. In this lecture, he explains how he chose the central points in his book. He discusses the mistaken premises the typical altruist has in four crucial areas: altruism and benevolence; selfishness and predatory action; the role of moral principles; and the alleged conflict between “private” and “public” interests. This lecture methodically shows Objectivists what they should take as their audience’s context if they want to make a convincing case against altruism and for egoism.
This lecture was recorded at the 2012 Objectivist Summer Conference in San Diego, CA.