Re: Ethics

Hiro Protagonist (
23 Jul 1998 19:47:13 -0700

Daniel Fabulich <> writes:

> That's why I asserted that egoism demands that we steal only to the extent
> that it is profitable, *and no further*. If the risk increases every time
> I steal, as you claim, then egoism claims that I should steal only up to
> the point where that risk would become unacceptable.

Well, let me re-phrase then, 'principled egoism' over the long term recognizes the immense advantage of honesty. Your brand of 'pragmatic egoism' might imagine that in the short-term, or if done infrequesntly enough, crime pays.

> Can you prove that? Remember, I don't necessarily have to provide any
> representation at all in order to get away with a crime: I just have to
> keep it a secret.

How do you keep the fact that a crime has been committed a secret from the victims? How do you prevent them from getting at the truth unless you misrepresent reality - wear gloves, shave your head so there's not hair left behind for DNA analysis, establish an alibi, frame someone else... all standard practices when trying to get away from the facts. To evade facts is clearly anti-egoism, because the facts don't care if you are evading them or not. It's the same as standing in the path of a high-speed train on an acid trip because you don't believe the train exists. And the outcome, in the long run, will be precisely the same.

> If objectivism is true, it should be trivial to prove that you can
> never keep a secret for a long time.

The issue here is maintaining a lie, not keeping a secret, though it's obvious that people are very bad at the second, too, especially in the face of determined efforts by others to get at the secret.

Crime is a losing proposition, at least for principled egoists who can see past immediate gains to long-term consequences.


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