The “Ethics of Emergencies” is an essay published in “The Virtue of Selfishness.” It addresses two main issues: how to think about ethical problems, and when. The first is that this chapter was not written by Ayn Rand. Usually, this would not be especially important, since she did include it in the book. 1 Tara Smith, Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist (New York: . Rand’s essay “The Ethics of Emergencies”13 as discussing “the status of rights.
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I don’t actually consider any of my views as being dissenting of Objectivism. But this forum is so lonely I’m all about Objectivism. However, one serious point of departure I have with philosopher Ayn Rand springs from her essay ‘The Ethics of Emergencies.
We’ve a Universe of challange to cope with by the instrument of our philosophy. A Universe, I say. It is no mere summer holiday in peace time or well-supplied wintering season for which we must prepare ourselves but a Universe!
Predicate your philosophy on a Universe of peace and calm without factoring in hell and chaos? These etyics the times that test and prove philosophy, they tell you your wisdom is fit for a Universe and not some calm spot therein!
My philosophy is made to last, not to be surrendered in times of accident and emergency. I’m ready for peace AND I’m ready for war. My principles last longer than the next emergency and all the emergencies yet to come. It is only because it is a Universe of Reason that makes such a philosophy possible, desirable, necesssary. And you fair-weather philosophers who confine your scope to the best of times would og my philosophy contingent!? Give me a break!
The Virtue of Selfishness, Chapter 3: The Ethics of Emergencies | Skepticism, Properly Applied
But according to you the first axiom of the universe which is Existence Exists is not valid! You may or eemrgencies not be interested in this – But there is no one superior to me on this earth in this universe! Lf things are contained in philosophy, all men in the philosopher.
Don’t fob it off to some book or some message board- answer for yourself, and with superiority. Is there or is there not one reality and is there or is there not one metaphysic of reason? But the more profound and important fact is that my consciousness is exactly one and the same in any of mine past, present and future births though my body is different.
Because she is not! You may or may not be interested in this – But there is no one superior to me. This essay apportions a domain of reality beyond the powers of man- that is the contradiction.
Ayn Rand: The Ethics of Emergencies
A major tennet of Objectivism is that, with the right philosophy, man is fit to live in this universe; to apprehend reality. If it is true that we are subject to the full consequences of reality yet that only portions of reality are subject to our comprehension then Objectivism fails. In our experience, it almost always is.
Ranr very rarely come close to death, and usually things happen in a predictable way. Reality is “usually predictable?
That isn’t good enough. Normal application to philosophy MUST function unless the premise is that the philosophy does not fulfil its function. All of reality though- of which chaos and strife and emergency are as much a part as peace and normalcy.
There’s nothing in my philosophy that doesn’t hold up to hell or high water. If Objectivism is no use to us at those times then what good is Objectivism now? But I think that you can keep teaching Ayn Rand and objectivism to people for the next 5 billion years on this earth and they will still not agree with you because they don’t want to! So I think [and as Ayn thought], it all really comes down to A is A!
And will always remain so! And according to this supreme law of reality, the final say on this earth is always had by the highest. But your commentary doesn’t give me any perspective I lacked. I find that this essay contradicts the rest of the philosophy. But I don’t understand your argument. In fact, what IS your argument? Your first post is, consciously I suppose, pure emotive rhetoric well, and an amusing cartoon. I don’t have anything against emotive rhetoric, but perhaps you could explain why “Ethics of Emergencies” is contradictory emergenxies Objectivism – after all, the burden of proof is on you, the dissenter.
What about the benevolent universe premise? We assume that it is possible to survive by normal means in this universe. Objectivist principles are based on a benevolent universe – one where life is possible, and where you can make long-term decisions.
If life was hellish, and the universe unpredictable – all the time – then how could Objectivism help you? Ethicd assumes predictablity, and it assumes that life is worth living.
Thats why Rand specified that life is “impossible” in an emergency. She also didn’t say – as you seem to imply – that philosophy does not apply. Only certain moral principles. And that makes sense. I know you’re not using the same definition as me. A principle must be generalised from reality. You should smergencies in completely different ways in peace and in war, because the situations are so different.
It doesn’t mean you’ve abandoned philosophy or morality, just that you have accepted reality. Yeah, “Only in an emergency should one volunteer to help strangers” Ayn Rand writes. This also I find prima facie ridiculous. Apply a bit of context. What example did Ayn Rand use? What sort of help did she mean?
Does it seem so ridiculous keeping that in mind? Never the less, I’ve yet to find an Objectivist who didn’t swallow this essay whole, polylogical metaphysics and all. According to Ayn Rand, it is not immoral, in an emergency, emrrgencies kill or steal to survive. Nor is it immoral to help strangers. In fact, normal morality does not apply at all in an emergency – defined in “The Ethics of Emergencies” as “an unchosen, unexpected event, limited emergenxies time, that creates conditions under which human survival is impossible”.
Obviously, Rand does not mean that death is inevitable in an emergency. However, survival by normal means is impossible. This is because an emergency presents an entirely different context to our everyday existence. There may be a disharmony of interests, or it may be impossible to maintain your life by your own effort, for example. The Objectivist ethics apply to situations where there is a fundamental harmony of interests between rational men, so they would be counterproductive in some emergency situations.
Rand explains that for men hit by an emergency, “their only task is to return to those conditions under which their lives can continue”. This also means ayh helping strangers who are victims of emergencies is not altruistic – rather, it stems from the general benevolence that Objectivists should have towards all humans, “in the name of their human potential”.
Rand also suggests that if you must steal in order to survive, then once life has returned to normal, you should make restitution to the owner. Rand also discussed this issue in a radio interview in the s. The question put to her was whether a man, held at gunpoint and ordered to kill another man, should be considered guilty of murder. Rand concluded that “No exact, objective morality can be prescribed for an issue where a man’s life is endangered”.
The man in question cannot be held morally responsible, no matter what he chooses to do. These questions about emergency situations shed light on an important issue – the way in which moral principles are abstracted from reality. Objective morality, unlike subjective or intrinsic morality, is related to reality, and therefore dependent on context.
What would be an immoral act in one context is moral in another context. Following moral principles is not valuable in itself, but only to the extent that it furthers your life. We follow principles because they make our decisions easier, not as a substitute for the need to make decisions.
The opinions expressed here are the unmoderated views of the contributors who express them. They do not necessarily reflect the views of other contributors, or of SOLO, and do not necessarily align with Objectivism.
For any enquiries, or to report problems with the site: Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Who’s Online There are currently 1 user and 14 guests online. Online users Lindsay Perigo. So there is nothing ethiics you would disagree with me. Well that shut you up.
I’m very much at home with ranx one. I have tried you! And there is one reality and one correct metaphysics of reason! So what according to you is the first axiom of the universe? You really want the complete answer to every possible questions in this Universe?
Ayn Rand’s philosophy would, but for this essay, be bunk. In principle it’s all the same, only the applications change.