The Individual as the Proper Beneficiary of His Own Moral Action

An excerpt from chapter 7 on The Good from Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff.

Now let us turn to the last of the three basic ethical questions, the question of the proper beneficiary. The answer involves a distinction between the standard of ethics and the purpose of ethics.

An ethical standard, writes Ayn Rand, means

“an abstract principle that serves as a measurement or gauge to guide a man’s choices in the achievement of a concrete, specific purpose. “That which is required for the survival of man qua man” is an abstract principle that applies to every individual man. The task of applying this principle to a concrete, specific purpose—the purpose of living a life proper to a rational being—belongs to every individual man, and the life he has to live is his own.”

Each individual must choose his values and actions by the standard of man’s life—in order to achieve the purpose of maintaining and enjoying his own life. Thus Objectivism advocates egoism—the pursuit of self-interest—the policy of selfishness.

The concept of “egoism” identifies merely one aspect of an ethical code. It tells us not what acts a man should take, but who should profit from them. Egoism states that …

Read the rest in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

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