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Huemer Flourishes

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Mike Huemer is excellent as usual at the Cato Unbound Rand symposium.  Here's his take on the Objectivists' "survival vs. flourishing debate":
The important question, however, is not which view is Rand's, but which view is more likely true. On this, I think:

a) The flourishing view is much more ethically plausible. I don't think I would have been impressed with Atlas Shrugged if the heroes were just centenarians going around reading actuarial tables to figure out how to maximize their life expectancy.

b) The survival view is more clearly connected to the metaethical foundations Rand seems to be trying to lay, and the effort to avoid the is/ought gap. With the flourishing view, it is much more clear that you're going to have to rely on ethical intuition.


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COMMENTS (2 to date)
Look_think_do writes:

I'd say the instinct to extend one's life span is linked to the increased opportunities for reproduction that this brings; or the opportunity to contribute to the reproduction chances of related individuals.

Secondly, phrases like "ethical intuition" make me wince. Ethics/morality have a very logical underpinning, based on the increased societal evolutionary fitness they bring about. Here's an excerpt from my blog post on the issue:

"....However, some behaviors are transmitted as thoughts, codes of behavior or social rituals (also known as "memes"). Following the rationale of evolution, those codes of behavior that enhance the survival and reproduction of individuals or groups of individuals, will over time, become predominant, just like "good" genes become predominant over a number of generations.

It is here that "morality", a set of codes of behavior, emerges in its proper context. If you notice, all moral codes serve to enhance the productivity of a society that subscribes to these codes. As an example, the injunction against theft enhances the productivity of the society that subscribes to it, by freeing up time and energy of the citizens from guarding against one's neighbor (an unproductive activity) to accumulating resources, investing in technology development, etc. Likewise the injunction against murder etc. Over time, a society which subscribes to these codes will outcompete societies that do not, resulting in the preponderance of adherence to "morality" wordlwide...."

Murali writes:


Secondly, phrases like "ethical intuition" make me wince.

Same here. (But thats because I'm a Kantian)

Ethics/morality have a very logical underpinning, based on the increased societal evolutionary fitness they bring about

Dude. Just because evolution has produced a number of dispositions in us does not mean that we ought act according to those dispositions.

Why is it good that related individual's opportunity to survive increases?

And if you had to torture 10 children in order that your siblings be 100 times as fertile, is it right to do so?

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