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Q&A on Ayn Rand’s Ethics with Dan Schwartz and Ziemowit Gowin

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Dan Schwartz and Ziemowit Gowin answer reader-submitted questions about Ayn Rand’s Objectivist ethics.

Among the topics covered:

  • What are Ayn Rand’s thoughts on ambition in career?
    • How ambition can be moral or immoral depending on the goals pursued;
    • Career ambition versus second-handedly chasing salary increases and promotions;
    • Career ambition in the context of pursuing values generally, including non-career values.
  • How does Rand’s virtue of rationality differ from Aristotle’s virtue of practical wisdom?
    • Practical wisdom as the ability to deliberate well about how to act rightly in a given situation;
    • Why Rand does not divide virtues into intellectual and ethical virtues.
  • Why did Rand name seven virtues, and could there be more?
    • Why some purported virtues are not virtues at all, and others, such as courage, are aspects of virtues Rand identified;
    • Why any additional virtues, even if valid, would not be part of Objectivism — i.e., Rand’s own philosophy.
  • Why choose to live, and is this a moral choice?
    • How morality provides guidance for living and is only useful for someone who chooses to live;
    • Why the choice to live is an ongoing series of choices embodied in the act of pursuing values;
    • How we experience life as an end-in-itself, and why the choice to live is not groundless;
    • The sense in which morality applies to everyone, even though some do not choose to live.
  • Should I risk my dream job to save a life?
    • Why ethics is not primarily about resolving emergency scenarios;
    • When, and why, you can properly offer non-sacrificial help to others.

Mentioned in this podcast and relevant to the discussion are “The Objectivist Ethics,” “Tax Credits for Education,” “The Ethics of Emergencies,” and “Causality Versus Duty” by Ayn Rand; Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist by Tara Smith; Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff; and “Q&A on the Best Objections to Objectivism,” a previous episode of New Ideal Live.

This episode was recorded on September 11, 2023. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:


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