Re: Ethics

Hiro Protagonist (
26 Jul 1998 23:35:21 -0700

Daniel Fabulich <> writes:

> While choosing principles does happen to be rational, it is because egoism
> is not rational, not because egoism demands it. Indeed, egoism demands
> that we reject the principle whenever principled behavior would result in
> suboptimal agent utility.

No. Obviously you are not talking about 'rational egoism'. Real egoism demands rationality as the first principle, because it recognizes the value of rationality toward long-term prosperity, goal-achievement, and happiness. Pragmatism, which is what you have been arguing for all along, demands the rejection of principles for, yes, short-term, or one-off gains - that is living 'range of the moment' and is not rational and not egoism.

> believe that it's impossible to keep a secret. Might I reccomend an
> experiment? Go find someone who you know to be sane. Ask them if they've
> ever kept a secret which they didn't tell anybody. Repeat this until
> you're satisifed that just about everyone has done this, and that many of
> them are perfectly sane.

Might I recommend an experiment? Go find something obviously valuable, in a store or on the street, wherever, where nobody is watching and there are no burglar alarm systems, so that it is (apparently) quit safe to purloin this article. Now, proceed to do so and simultaneousl monitor your heart rate, breathing, and thoughts. Now, hide this article somewhere 'safe' and 'secret' and keep monitoring your reactions and thoughts for a period of a week or more... I think you'll understand my point about psychosis. In fact, that fear will not disappear in a week. Partly depending on the value of the article you swiped and other factors, that fear could last your whole lifetime.

> You keep making sweeping statements about the psychosis of egoism without
> backing them up *at all*. Prove to me that I'll go mad if I turn egoist.
> Use objective evidence to substantiate your claim; even one paper
> published in a respectable peer-reviewed psychology journal would suffice.

The evidence is all around us, if you care to look. Out of the hundreds of people who commit serious crimes every year, find me one who is not whacked out of his/her skull, and who has the sense to do cost-benefit and risk analyses in the manner you suggest. Read "Inside the Criminal Mind" by Stanton E. Samenow, or indeed, any honest book on criminal psychology (which may be hard to find, since there is much political motivation for obfuscating this issue) to understand the cover-ups and the lies a criminal tells himself in order to delay the inevitable breakdown of the integrating mechanisms in his mind. Of course, with every successive layer of deceit added to ward off that threat, he comes closer to it.

In any case, this is incidental to my main line of argument and I don't want to get too involved in it here, or go digging in psychology journals for you. I am quite convinced of this and you, perhaps, just need to do some practical experimentation like I suggested above, or some reading yourself. You could start with Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment' - it has some pretty vivid sections describing what I am talking about. And yes, there is no happy murderer and no happy thief, never was, and never will be.

> The self-interested egoist steals only when it benefits them in the
> long term.

... and is only rational on alternate tuesdays and thursdays? You are describing a pragmatist, not a rational egoist.


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