Ayn Rand the Hedonistic Utilitarian

 Posted by on 17 October 2004 at 12:15 pm  Uncategorized
Oct 172004

Did you know that Ayn Rand was a hedonistic utilitarian? Neither did I. But so says Dr. Abdullah Robin:

Many blame the US neo conservatives for threatening to embroil the west in a never-ending conflict with the Muslim world, but I believe that we are also witnessing another conflict, not between the west and Islam, but between western values and western philosophy. If only half as much attention were focused upon that front the world might gain something from the shame and scandal of Abu Ghraib. Western philosophy is of course varied, but secularism lies at its core. After releasing their societies from control by divine moral codes defining right and wrong, western societies have had to improvise. Many of the high sounding values of the west are based upon unprovable assumptions about the rights of man derived from consideration of man’s nature. The more pervasive utilitarian trend does not start from assumptions about nature or divine rights but upon the utility of increasing pleasure and removing pain. Of course one mans pleasure may cause another mans pain, so nineteenth century utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill devised methods, based on the idea of mathematical calculus, to balance pain and pleasure quantitatively for the maximum number of people. Mill went on to introduce a qualitative aspect to the subject that would give the state a degree of paternalism and reduce the chance of persecuting the minority for the sake of the greater good of the majority. An example of the application of this idea can be found under the heading, “the ethics of emergencies” in “The Virtue of Selfishness” by Ayn Rand: “If the [drowning] person to be saved is a stranger, it is morally proper to save him only when the danger to one’s own life is minimal; when the danger is great, it would be immoral to attempt it… Conversely, if one is drowning, one cannot expect a stranger to risk his life for one’s sake.”

Um, I think not.

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