Human Nature

Science Proves Ayn Rand Wrong About Altruism and Laissez-Faire Economics

Evolution clearly shows how altruism trumps selfishness.

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By Denise Cummins

In a previous article, I described the disastrous outcomes of two real-world attempts to implement Ayn Rand’s principles. Among the over 1,300 comments on the article were complaints from Rand’s followers that her views had been misrepresented. These complaints primarily objected to my assertion that Rand celebrated unbridled self-interest. As one reader wrote:

Rand’s good people do care about others. They do not care to be forced to give away the fruits of their invested time to others, but they are delighted to trade what they produce to others and delighted to see those trades improve the lives of others.

Such objections are without merit.

Human beings are social beings whose societies must depend on its members to look beyond their own immediate self-interest in order to function, as Rand herself acknowledged in “The Ayn Rand Letter”:

Man gains enormous values from dealing with other men; living in a human society is his proper way of life — but only on certain conditions. Man is not a lone wolf and he is not a social animal. He is a contractual animal. He has to plan his life long-range, make his own choices, and deal with other men by voluntary agreement (and he has to be able to rely on their observance of the agreements they entered). The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination.

Despite embracing sociality, Rand saw more evil than good in this kind of interdependence between people. As she wrote in The Fountainhead, “The choice is independence or dependence. All that which proceeds from man’s independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man’s dependence upon men is evil.”

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Perhaps the key to understanding this contradiction lies in a journal entry in which she writes, “Selfishness does not mean only to do things for one’s self. One may do things, affecting others, for his own pleasure and benefit. This is not immoral, but the highest of morality.”

Seen in this light, altruistic acts are sanctioned insofar as they bring pleasure or other benefit to the giver, who has no moral obligation to offer help to those who are suffering. This sentiment is expressed more fully in The Virtue of Selfishness:

The moral purpose of a man’s life is the achievement of his own happiness. This does not mean that he is indifferent to all men, that human life is of no value to him and that he has no reason to help others in an emergency. But it does mean that he does not subordinate his life to the welfare of others, that he does not sacrifice himself to their needs, that the relief of their suffering is not his primary concern, that any help he gives is an exception, not a rule, an act of generosity, not of moral duty, that it is marginal and incidental — as disasters are marginal and incidental in the course of human existence — and that values, not disasters, are the goal, the first concern and the motive power of his life.

In other words, me before you — first and always.

Rand notoriously loathed and demonized altruism. In her 1959 interview with Mike Wallace, she claimed that altruism was not only immoral, but impossible.

Rand’s distrust of altruism was rooted in her early experience living under Soviet rule. She was born as Alysa Rosenbaum in 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her father was a pharmacist, and her family was comfortably middle class. During the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, her father’s pharmacy was confiscated by the Soviets. She witnessed up close and personal the subjugation of the Russian populace to Soviet communism, which put the rights of the state above the rights of the individual. She was appalled by the strong-arm tactics used by the Soviet state to suppress free speech, to terminate property rights and to force other countries to submit to Soviet rule.

In her understanding, the justification for this kind of violent suppression was a misguided belief in altruism and the collectivist forms of government that it purportedly spawned. In her writings, there is no appreciable distinction between socialism and Soviet communism. Her main concern was the abolition of property and production rights, which she believed were the hallmarks of any form of socialism.

In a column titled, “Fascist New Frontier,” she wrote, “The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property.”

She felt that a free country should be vigilant in monitoring the introduction of social programs that would lead to a welfare state. In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, she claimed:

The basic and crucial political issue of our age is: capitalism versus socialism, or freedom versus statism… The goal of the “liberals” — as it emerges from the record of the past decades — was to smuggle this country into welfare statism by means of single, concrete, specific measures, enlarging the power of the government a step at a time, never permitting these steps to be summed up into principles, never permitting their direction to be identified or the basic issue to be named. Thus statism was to come, not by vote or by violence, but by slow rot — by a long process of evasion and epistemological corruption, leading to a fait accompli. (The goal of the “conservatives” was only to retard that process.)

It should come as no surprise that she was a member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, which was active in the blacklisting of actors and screenwriters who were either members of the American Communist party or deemed to be sympathetic to communism.

In Philosophy: Who Needs It she particularly directly ties socialism of any kind to altruism:

The socialists had a certain kind of logic on their side: if the collective sacrifice of all to all is the moral ideal, then they wanted to establish this ideal in practice, here and on this earth. The arguments that socialism would not and could not work, did not stop them: neither has altruism ever worked, but this has not caused men to stop and question it. Only reason can ask such questions…

So let us ask the question: Has socialism ever worked? The Prosperity Index measures over 100 countries on 89 economic analysis variables. The top 10 countries on this index in 2015 were Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Finland and Ireland. (The United States ranked 11th). What do these countries have in common? They all incorporate generous social programs with capitalist democracies. They confer generous welfare benefits through the redistribution of wealth, yet civil liberties are abundant, and there are few restrictions on the flow of capital or of labor. So it seems that countries that incorporate social programs into their socioeconomic policies do in fact thrive.

So how did Rand go so badly wrong? The answer, I believe, lies in her belief that altruism of necessity leads to exploitation and ultimately the destruction of the self:

As to altruism — it has never been alive. It is the poison of death in the blood of Western civilization, and men survived it only to the extent to which they neither believed nor practiced it… Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice — which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction — which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as the standard of the good.

Rand was not alone in her concern about the risk for exploitation inherent in altruism. Evolutionary biologists grappled with the problem as well. Altruism was problematic for evolutionary biologists precisely because it seems to hamper individual survival. According to gene-centric views of evolution, such as Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, altruism shouldn’t exist.

Altruism means benefiting the survival and reproductive success of another individual while imposing a cost on your own. Altruism could survive when conferred on genetic relatives because your shared genes would benefit from your altruistic investment. But your genes receive no benefit from altruism invested in unrelated individuals and may in fact hamper your own survival.

Now, Rand is correct when she describes how altruism can lead to exploitation in “Moral Inflation”:

Even though altruism declares that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” it does not work that way in practice. The givers are never blessed; the more they give, the more is demanded of them; complaints, reproaches and insults are the only response they get for practicing altruism’s virtues (or for their actual virtues).

By Rand’s reasoning, because altruism exposes the individual to exploitation, selfishness is the best protection. Evolutionary biologists, on the other hand, carefully investigated (and mathematically modeled) the conditions under which altruism works and when it fails. For unrelated individuals, the most influential theory is that of reciprocal altruism, proposed by influential evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers in 1971. In simple terms, the theory states “I will help you if you agree to help me.” If the recipient honors the contract by reciprocating, the survival chances of both parties increase. This is virtually identical to Rand’s concept of social contracts. In The Virtue of Selfishness she writes, “In a free society, men are not forced to deal with one another. They do so only by voluntary agreement and, when a time element is involved, by contract.”

The problem is that while a given individual can benefit from cooperating, he or she can usually do better by reneging. In that case, the recipient gets all the benefits, while the altruist suffers all the costs. The end result is that altruists go extinct. But Trivers showed that altruists can survive if one simple condition is satisfied: Those who fail to reciprocate must be punished through exclusion from subsequent cooperative ventures. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

In contrast, Rand believed that the primary role of government was to arbitrate and enforce such contracts. From the The Virtue of Selfishness:

If a contract is broken by the arbitrary decision of one man, it may cause a disastrous financial injury to the other… This leads to one of the most important and most complex functions of the government: to the function of an arbiter who settles disputes among men according to objective laws.

In other words, Rand clearly expected government to play a role in maintaining fairness in market transactions, a cornerstone of laissez-faire capitalism:

When I say “capitalism,” I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

Does laissez-faire work? The American and global economies are still reeling from one of its greatest failures: the 2008 economic meltdown. Alan Greenspan, an admirer of Objectivism and contributor to the 1986 re-issue of The Virtue of Selfishness, served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006. His is disdain for regulation is frequently cited as one of the major causes of the junk mortgage crisis, which in 2008, brought about the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression. In a congressional hearing, he admitted that he had made a mistake in assuming that financial firms could regulate themselves.

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Critics of laissez-faire emerged from the beginning, and included such luminaries as Thorstein Veblen, John Commons, Clarence E. Ayres and John Maynard Keynes of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1885, economists opposed to laissez-faire formed the American Economics Association. Critics of laissez-faire argue that it creates poverty traps that cannot be escaped through free choice, monopoly power that emerges naturally in the market and allows businesses to exploit consumers and exploitation of the working class that pushes wages down to subsistence and compels laborers to work in harsh and unsafe conditions. These conditions are very much on the public mind today, as is apparent from the strong showing Senator Bernie Sanders is enjoying in the 2016 Presidential primary elections with his decidedly socialist political platform.

Yet incarnations of John Galt continue to dominate economic policy. CNBC’s Rick Santelli, a Rand fan, recently declared that, “we are now living in an Atlas Shrugged world” in which “those that made the trains run on time” are getting “fed up.” He suggested shutting down Wall Street and energy companies for a day to see how people like it. Like Galt, he appears to believe that workers need people like him more than people like him need workers.

Back in 2011, Senator Elizabeth Warren eloquently countered such sentiments:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody… You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

The take-home point is this: The annals of history show that even if one is talented enough to create enormous wealth, monopolizing that wealth for oneself is a dangerous course of action. Or as billionaire Nick Hanauer puts it, “Beware, fellow plutocrats: The pitchforks are coming.” Wealth is never created in a social vacuum. You may have the genius to design a better mousetrap, but you will inevitably depend on the work of others to implement and distribute your produce and the income of others to enable them to buy your product. The auto industry needs more than a few billionaires to buy their cars in order to stay in business. The finance industry needs employees with surplus income to buy their investment products. Put simply, wealth must be distributed to keep the wheels of commerce turning.

2016 March 17

Originally published here.

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  • “In her 1959 interview with Mike Wallace, she claimed that altruism was not only immoral, but impossible.”

    Denise Cummins misinterpreted what Rand said in the linked video. She did not say that altruism is impossible, she said that an altruistic LOVE is impossible. To the extent you are self-sacrificial, you don’t actually love the person you’re sacrificing for. Love is when you want another person to live, prosper and spend time with you, out of your own self-interest; that is, for your own mental and physical well-being and happiness. As Ayn Rand says, a self-sacrificial love for your spouse would mean you could tell them that you care for them only for their own sake; you get no benefits out of it whatsoever. You would be much happier without them, but instead you choose to sacrifice for them. That is not love, it’s pure drudgery and self-abnegation.

    I recommend: Other People as Egoistic Values Versus Other People as Objects of Self-Sacrifice in Ayn Rand’s Philosophy.

  • This essay becomes a muddle at the end. Up until the paragraph “Rand clearly expected government to play a role in maintaining fairness in market transactions, a cornerstone of laissez-faire capitalism.” Rand and the evolutionary biologists are all on the same page, but using different terms. The evolutionary biologists’ “altruism” is the equivalent of Rand’s contractarianism. Both agree that this can be enforced through the state or tit-for-tat punishments leading to a spontaneous order of norms.

    The remainder of the essay is logically unmoored from the initial part. It is essentially a summary of various famous people and descriptions of how they have opposed various aspects of laissez-faire. Needless to say it is unpersuasive!

    Perhaps the fault is not all Ms. Cummins’ as Rand appears to have chosen to use phrases like “the virtue of selfishness” and “altruism is evil” more for their iconoclasm than their ability to persuade skeptics.

    • Aajaxx

      I agree. Rand suffers more from the loaded terms she used than from her actual philosophy. It’s possible she also underestimated the workability of enforced altruism in small enough doses, as the apparent success of other countries may be demonstrating. But I suspect the US is dealing with some unique social problems which will not be solved simply by redistribution, health care coverage, and/or education expenditures.

  • advancedatheist

    In the real world, “altruism” can serve as a cover for people who want to live as parasites. Old-stock Americans (this would include America’s blacks, BTW) who object to taking in people from random parts of the world have legitimate concerns about what these newcomers do when they get here, if they can’t earn enough to support themselves, they go on welfare or they become criminals or even terrorists. You can shame us for our alleged “selfishness” because we close our hearts to such strangers, but we’ve done so out of concern for protecting our own families, communities and the entire country.

    • fgbouman

      “people who want to live as parasites.” Who exactly would those people be? Have you actually met anyone or know of anyone who wouldn’t prefer the dignity of a properly compensated job providing him or her with dignity and a path forward to perpetual dependence? If you do, have you examined how they got that way? Darned few such people exist on the planet, and the ones that do are generally the offspring of well-to-do parents, I’d wager.
      Our immigration policies don’t favour parasites, but our country provides no opportunity to many of the people who arrive legally. The problem is the policy, not the people. Policies that are made for humane reasons, such as bringing families together, sometimes results in parents arriving who have little or no ability to function economically in the U.S. and that results in welfare payments. But how large are these numbers, actually?
      “Random parts of the world.” Really? Which random parts would those be? There is hardly a place that we have been involved with since WWII than isn’t worse off because of our involvement and we have have spread the cancer of our hegemony everywhere. (South Korea is the obvious exception.)
      While I agree that our immigration policy needs improvement in order to screen for the quality of immigrants, I think it is necessary to recognise that this has nothing to do with the factors that push people to come to the U.S. and everything to do with our desire to continue to grow our prosperity at the expense of others. Between our overt wars, covert wars and political manipulations throughout the globe we’ve ensured a steady stream of desperate people seeking economic or physical refuge. We’re in a position to benefit from them. Our restrictive policy toward many Muslim nations is actually depriving us of many well-educated, highly performing potential citizens. When it comes to admitting folks from the Middle East, we’re clearly not the home of the brave.

  • Some truth in many of the views here, and little sign of the beginnings of comprehension of the complexity that results when evolution is working recursively on multiple levels in multiple domains.
    Genetic effects require sharing genes. Every human shares at least 50 genes for every one that has a slight variation. To a reasonable first order approximation we are genetically homogeneous.

    Mimetic evolution is something else entirely.
    To a good first order approximation we display a set of mimetic “genotypes” and phenotypes that displays greater variability than is expressed in the entirety of the ecology of the biosphere.

    Rand’s logic is mixed in many important ways.
    She does not draw clear distinctions between the deep time genetic influences upon our likes and dislikes, the more recent but still reasonably deep cultural influences on the unexamined heuristics underlying most of the assumption sets that masquerade as truth and desire in the minds of most people, and the influences of science and logic on how we build our models and understandings and experiential being.

    There are enough classes of complexity in the paragraph above to fill libraries, and take decades to develop the beginnings of a conceptual map and understanding of the sorts of classes of strategies involved, without getting too specific as to the details of any of them.

    We are social entities.
    No individual can develop language or science or engineering or philosophy or anything else of significance alone.

    Nor is it viable to force subjugation of anyone to anything.

    Those are not the only two options.

    Cooperation can work, provided that secondary strategies are in place that effectively mitigate the risk of destruction of the cooperative by “cheating” strategies.

    When most things were in fact genuinely scarce, market exchange and capitalism had a certain utility, and a certain set of associated problems.

    Now that we have the technical ability to automate any process (from mining to refining to manufacture to delivery to service delivery), the idea of valuing things by their exchange value in markets actively works against the interests of all of us. That is so because markets cannot give a positive value to any universal abundance, and automation allows us to deliver a large an exponentially growing set of goods and services in universal abundance.

    It is automation that provides the key that allows both liberty and abundance.

    So in one respect, it is not at all simple, it is complex beyond the current conceptual abilities of the vast bulk of humanity to even glimpse.
    I fell in love with mathematics 55 years ago, evolution 50 years ago, biochemistry and behaviour 45 years ago, and computing, complexity, logic and philosophy about 40 years ago.
    What I know that I don’t know vastly exceeds that of which I reasonably confident in most common situations, and I suspect that which I don’t know, and don’t know that I don’t know, is, and will always remain, infinite (should I manage to live the rest of eternity).

    And I have had to go through the process of completely retraining my neural network in respect of taste, having gone vegan 6 years ago, after 55 years of being a carnivore, as a result of a terminal cancer prognosis (now 5 years since the last tumour) – so I have a certain scepticism about the applicability of many of the genetic systems of our past to our current situation.

    So I am clear Rand was wrong about the levels of cooperation, and she was very close in respect of the need to value life and liberty. What she did not conceive of, was the possibility of indefinite life extension, combined with exponentially increasing computational ability, providing a strong incentive to cooperate with others in creating an environment of freedom that supports us all to live as long as we choose in as much safety as we choose. That is a very long way past Rand’s set of assumed and unexamined truths.

  • Jan de Jonge

    Many people who discuss issues as self-interest or altruism take human nature as their point of departure. This is attractive, because it seems self-legitimizing. But this was not Ayn Rand’s point of view according to Cummins. She writes that Rand thought we were born as ‘tabula rasa’ and that our attitudes are the result of a process of socializing and upbringing.

    Rand’s view of human nature is based on the idea that the human mind enjoys complete sovereignty over the mind and the body. Man is, given his body, his mind, and the ‘mechanisms of his consciousness’! The most significant aspect of Rand’s theory of human nature involves the denial that human beings have any innate dispositions. She never commented eminent figures in Western social science as Hume, d’Tocqueville, Weber, Freud or even Hayek. She was not a champion of Western civilization. (Greg Nyquist, “Ayn Rand and Human Nature”)

    In my view Rand was a victim of her own past, her experiences during the Bolshevik revolution made a lasting impression upon her and she wanted to picture an ideal state that was just the opposite of the Sovjet Union. Just as Hayek was a victim of his occupation with the socialist calculation debate, and who, when only reading about income re-distribution, saw images of enslaved people living in a totalitarian state.

    An ideal social system is a free, productive system, which demands and rewards the best in every man. A system that makes it possible for ideal men to exist, function and prosper. Both the ideal system and the ideal man do not refer to existing entities but are products of her imagination. A free market society is nearest to the ideal system. Pro-social attitudes are kind of “diseases” imposed on us by societies that are not ideal.

    Freud, on the other hand, thought that civilization (a term that Rand never used to my knowledge), has the function to protect us against our nature, against the dark collection of often unconscious drives, passions and urges and to keep them in check by imposing rules upon ourselves. Civilized behavior can never be taken for granted; it is a continuous, internal battle.

    The discussion about self-interest and altruism is a discussion about civilized behavior. Self-interest should not be ignored as an appeal for self-care; altruism is an expression of other-care, even when it concerns strangers. Both, and attitudes in between, are necessary as normative rules to prevent that a society disintegrates.

    Civilization requires maintenance; restraining oneself, sharing polite public conduct, and policies that work for everyone.

  • LeonardCTekaat

    Maximum profit, and maximum efficiency is the plague that infects our economy. To a certain point they are both good for our capitalist economy. The income tax code encourages profits and efficiency.
    When the economy starts devouring itself that is when tax policies, and ownership policies need to change to provide prosperity for as many members of the economy as possible. Private ownership of bussinesses by workes, and management has been shown to be an effient means of sharing the wealth that a business creates. You can learn more about co-op ownership by listening io Prof. Richard Wolff at
    You may also want to check out this site.

  • chris goodwin

    (Line 10) “Such objections are without merit.” OK. So we can conclude that all the following words are also without merit.


    • robertmkadar


    • kootzie

      That meritless path of facile fandom has already been taken.
      Try some originality

  • BeSkeptical

    The US does not have laissez faire capitalism now and did not have it in 2008. The market is not at fault for the troubles in the mortgage market the govt is. The govt’s heavy handed dealings and threats to banks, its insistence on a home for all (with the beginning in Carter’s community reinvestment act – pure govt interference in the market out of altruism) created all the high risk loans. The market had no choice to but to deal with them.

    To suggest that Warren knows anything about wealth creation is absurd. Does the govt create weath? Surely not. Govt squanders wealth. Where did the money to build the roads come from? The money came from another factory, that made and sold products and hired and paid people not from some politician’s re-distributive inclinations .

    Greenspan was an early acolyte of Rand’s but he completely denied that legacy and became a Keynesian. He actually wrote an article in “Capitalism” The Unknown Ideal” that supported the gold standard. He doesn’t hold that view anymore. People change.

    This essay is poorly reasoned. I suggest the author read some Mises.

    • robertmkadar

      “The market had no choice to but to deal with them” – Where can I find this market person? Do you have an address? Please see your way out of the conversation with this drivel.

      • BeSkeptical

        The market is the spontaneous. agrgegate actions of those engaged in that particular segment of the economy. Your question and suggestion are childish and as poorly reasonaed as the article. You should just read what the adults write and try to understand.

  • Bryan Hann

    I wonder of Rand would distinguish between altruism and magnanimity. I believe that to her a sense of magnanimity would be part of a sense of life, but psychologically something quite different than altruism.

  • Oberon Black

    “There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody… You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
    Elizabeth Warren, and her apparent mentor Barrack Hussain Obama (who said the same thing to Joe the Plumber in 2008) has materialized an underlying social contract that only exists in the mind of liberals, and manifests in legislation they misguidedly impose on the more productive members of society. When she says “…you take a hunk of that and pay it forward…” she really means “…a hunk of that will be taken from you and re-distributed by the more enlightened…”. She is ignoring the fact that the infrastructure she refers to was there for anyone with the idea and ambition to take advantage of, and the individuals who do, have already satisfied the only true “social contract” of providing a product or service that benefited society. Taking the resultant fruit of their labor is tantamount to theft, indistinguishable from the “marauding bands” Warren thinks society has protected you from.

    • kootzie

      You clearly fail to comprehend, or more likely do comprehend but duplicitously misrepresent the source of the infrastructure and the existence of the social contract to suit the ideology with which you- in your priviledge-bubble – have been inoculated

      The Acts of Oh!Bah!Mah!! and other elitist crony-corporatist thieves in no way invalidates the principles they claim to espouse – and you are proud to despise

  • Ahmet Dizioglu

    Writer neet to read “The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins”

    • kootzie

      Why? Are you a donkey cart for your genes? See comment on this above…

  • 20Eduardo Villagrán

    From an evolutionary biology perspective the appearance of language in hominids introduced the spirit of cooperation in otherwise competitive species. Our ancestors had to agree on the meaning of words and substitute language for violence, both examples of cooperative behavior. Ever since the so-called struggle between Good and Evil is the evolutionary struggle between our selfish and our cooperative impulses. Cooperation being the newer element and having survived between 200,000 and a million years I would bet on it; the one thing that saddens me about death is that I won’t be able to witness the outcome!

  • Kaslo

    Dawkins gene view has largely been replaced with epigenetics and now Nick Lane’s work with his book “The Vital Question”, which expands on the gene centric view. We are not donkey carts for our genes as Dawkins thought. Also check out primatologist Frans de Waal’s work on altruism. Christof Koch’s work on the hard problem of consciousness. And Lee Smolin’s work in cosmology. It’s a new paradigm indeed.

  • Tim Wentzlau

    I am from Denmark and I don’t consider our welfare system as altruism it is more like an insurance system. It works because we recognize that all people could end up in a situation out of personal control, no matter how wealthy you are.

    We also try to give all people an equal start in life by giving all children the right to education. It should not be a lottery where only children lucky to be born by rich parents have a chance to succeed in life.

  • Treiz

    wow, cancer after only 10 lines. Don’t waste your time. Article is without merit.

    • kootzie

      As is your terse cryptic dismissal

      • Treiz

        Do try to keep up with those who actually read this nonsense. Perhaps if you weren’t too busy trolling to actually read the article you would have noticed my “cryptic” response was not cryptic at all, and very clearly indicates the point I was responding to, even using her own words. Don’t let your failure this time slow you down, though. I’m sure you provide endless amusement on various message boards and forums.

        • kootzie

          To discard the opening premise without reading or comprehending the argumentation and offering at least a well-supported counter-claim is merely facile fandom.

          • Treiz

            A faulty premise requires no further examination. Support of such a faulty premise is irrelevant.

  • Nar

    .She was pretty hot.

  • ευριπιδης

    Utter nonsense. The author fails to comprehend even the basic language of others writings and what they mean. Let alone anything else.

    Is this your day job ms Cummins? Give it up. Take up something easier.

  • FlorentinoM

    Rand made a contradiction in trying to separate what she understand as altruism and selfishness, in essence she claimed that altruism cannot come from a position of self-interest, which is false, self-sacrifice can be motivated by self-interest, accordingly to her definitions. Because self-interest is not equivalent of self-preservation (yes, suicidal person exists).

    She tried to define the reactive conduct of “goodness” and named it “altruism”, then she defined selfishness as the rational conduct in general. What she dismisses is that there could be reactive and rational conduct of “evilness”. She claimed that altruism is the equivalent of learned morals and society rules, and exacerbated the opposite with almost no ethical consideration. This is the reason why the examples she made of a greatman were a rapist in novel and a murdered in real life, both very independently minded, selfish as Rand would put it, but rapist and murderer at the end, and that was more ethical in her world view, than altruism under her defintion. “Free” of external influence in their desitions (like being totally free of influence would be possible).

    Finally, she may have wrongly selected the terms or intentionally tried to create confusion, so her public would think that this philosophy was so special that few people could understand it, but in reality, at most, was a marketing stunt.