Ambition as a Virtue
Q&A Radio: 27 April 2014, Question 1
I answered a question on ambition as a virtue on 27 April 2014. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.
Is ambition a virtue? Ayn Rand defined ambition as "the systematic pursuit of achievement and of constant improvement in respect to one's goal." If we apply ambition only to rational goals – as happens with the virtue of integrity, where loyalty to values only constitutes integrity if those values are rational – then could ambition be considered a virtue? Or at least, could ambition be an aspect of a virtue like productiveness?
My Answer, In Brief: Ambition is not a virtue: it doesn't share the core qualities of the virtues. However, ambition is morally significant: it's a moral amplifier. So ambition is a quality of character that makes a good person better and a bad person worse. It's a quality that you should cultivate in yourself – and then deploy selectively, based on the context.
- Duration: 19:45
- Download: MP3 Segment (6.8 MB)
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- Ayn Rand Lexicon: Ambition
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to [email protected].