Rebirth of Reason


Objectivism and charity
by Jim Henshaw

Reason.com recently had a blog posting here about whether convicted killers with terminal illnesses should be pardoned for "compassionate" reasons:


Which developed, in part, into a discussion of Objectivist principles here, starting with the first entry:


And here is my take on the subject of the original article, and on Ayn Rand's views on charity (I comment under the name "prolefeed":



prolefeed | September 7, 2009, 3:30pm | #
A justice system's ultimate purpose is to protect the general population from the smaller criminal population; it isn't meant to satisfy people's desire for vengeance or schadenfreude. I don't know about this woman's general level of dangerousness, but I am of the opinion that if she won't -- or can't -- harm anyone else then there's no point in keeping her in prison.

Your second sentence is not necessarily the logical consequence if you accept the premise of your first sentence.

If someone murders their spouse in a moment of rage, and is clearly highly unlikely to ever kill anyone ever again due to the exceptional circumstances, is it a good idea to let them go unpunished? Or does it set a bad precedent that would encourage others to murder their spouses and then claim that this extenuating circumstance applies to them, too?

If you want to cut down on the number of murders -- to prevent further unlibertarian initiations of force -- there needs to be punishment for those who, acting with intent, kill another when it is not in self-defense.


prolefeed | September 7, 2009, 3:39pm | #

Before all the Ayn Rand slurs begin, she wasn't opposed to private charity, or course

I'm no Rand scholar, but she seemed not to be too keen on it, either. (Because of my reading that her view was that it seldoms serves a 'higher value' - however you wish to define it)

Ayn Rand was opposing to people sacrificing a higher value for a lower value. So, to her, "good" charity is when you care about the recipient of the charity, and value their delight in receiving the charity more than you value the thing being given away.

Rand wouldn't be opposed to someone like Mother Theresa if they truly enjoyed helping the people in question, and felt fulfilled doing it, but would be opposed if they were doing it out of a sense of duty and sacrifice.

Basically, if you feel even a bit resentful or imposed upon when performing charity -- if you feel like it's a duty rather than a pleasure -- then Rand would consider that a sacrifice and something wrongheaded to do.

And, since most people who give "charitably" seem to do so rather grudgingly, yeah, there would be less charitable giving -- and none at all by the government -- if everyone followed Objectivist principles.
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