Activity 3.4 - Essay on Rand's Ideas
Using "The Ethics of Emergencies" by Ayn Rand (pp. 215-218), develop an essay between 2 to 3 pages discussing her ideas in today's moral environment. Provide one other reference in addition to our text. The Ethics of Emergencies describes how some people base their ethical principles on emergency situations. The classic example is the lifeboat scenario. The scenario is that what if you are stuck on a lifeboat with some other people, and there's not enough water for everyone to survive the trip to shore. In order to live, you have to sacrifice someone else. The lesson of the scenario is that you have to choose between your life and the life of another person. There is a fundamental disharmony of interests, and it is to kill or be killed. Which means in life, you are either a murderer, you are a victim, or you can sacrifice your life for other people. The problem is that these ethics-derived-from-emergencies are anti-contextual. It is not true that there is a disharmony of interests and we do not have to choose between killing and dying in day to day life. We do not have to choose between sacrificing ourselves to others or others to ourselves. So abstracting general principles from these situations is a really bad idea. By trying to use these situations as a representation of real life, it actually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you accept that life is full of conflicts of interest, you will act accordingly and create conflicts where there are none. You will seek to sacrifice yourself where no sacrifice is necessary, or you will trample on the interests of others thinking it's either you or them. Rand described an emergency as a kind of situation where human life is not possible. That is not to say you would not survive an emergency. It means that if life were like that normally, it would be impossible. You may survive the lifeboat scenario, but only because you remove yourself from the emergency situation at some...
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