The “Ethics of Emergencies” is an essay published in “The Virtue of Selfishness.” It addresses two main issues: how to think about ethical problems, and when. The first is that this chapter was not written by Ayn Rand. Usually, this would not be especially important, since she did include it in the book. 1 Tara Smith, Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist (New York: . Rand’s essay “The Ethics of Emergencies”13 as discussing “the status of rights.

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Ethics of Emergencies

New American Library,pp. In so doing, he will always be purposeful but not always ethice. Obviously, Rand does not mean that death is inevitable in an emergency.

Nor is it immoral to help strangers Yeah, “Only in an emergency should one volunteer to help strangers” Ayn Rand writes. But this does not mean that after they all reach shore, he should devote his efforts to saving his fellow passengers from poverty, ignorance, neurosis or whatever other troubles they might have.

It’s in the Virtue of Selfishness, and it’s called the Ethics of Emergencies. The question put to her was whether a man, held at gunpoint and ordered to kill another man, should be considered guilty of murder. Wadsworth Publishing Company,p.

But during the emergency, lives are in danger. Is this a case of non-emergency or a chronic series of emergencies? Excerpt Submitted by Phil Howison on Sat, Hi Rick Giles, Submitted by krishna2 on Wed, How do moral principles apply in cases of life-or-death emergencies?


And that makes sense.

The goal isn’t to figure out how best to survive emergencies, but to figure out how to avoid them, or if you get into them, end them quickly. And then I hopefully realize that it was only an inflation of my worth, relative to everyone, that led me to believe that my interests supersede, ethically, those of others.

Do they really want to see Roark and what he does all the time? The first is that there are beggarsand they are not in their predicament necessarily because they did not employ reason and selfishness enough, and are therefore not necessarily responsible for their having to beg.

What Ayn Rand misses is that ajn like value, ethics, and meaning have intersubjective components.

The Ethics of Emergencies | SOLO – Sense of Life Objectivists

This also means that helping strangers who are victims of emergencies is not altruistic – rather, it stems from the general benevolence that Objectivists should have towards all humans, “in emregencies name of their human potential”. As the relationship develops and deepens, there are certainly goods that emerge from sharing the activities and there are underlying values that can only be experienced in response to and in some sense with the other person, but the underlying locus of such experience are the two selves who undergo, enjoy, and reflect on the experience.

Because everyone is responsible for all of ourselves; failures, success, and everything in between is emegrencies responsibility, right? Self-sacrifice is never called for, emregencies even in emergency situations.

Would one have to opt for suicide, if the possibility of overthrowing such a regime and having a life worth living was extremely low? The problem is that these ethics-derived-from-emergencies are anti-contextual.


The classic example is the “lifeboat” scenario. It could be alleged that Smith gets Rand out of one problem only to land her in another. It seems to make it impossible to find any different values which could possibly matter or be useful.

We follow principles because they make our decisions easier, not as a substitute for the need to make decisions. Objective morality, unlike subjective or intrinsic morality, is related to reality, and therefore dependent on context. The lesson of the scenario is that you have to choose between your life and the life of another person.

This ignorance is somewhat relevant to her next consequence of altruism. Nor is it immoral to help strangers. In fact, normal morality does not apply at all in an emergency – defined in “The Ethics of Emergencies” as “an unchosen, unexpected event, limited in time, that creates conditions under which human survival is impossible”.

Things that make you go “Mmmm”. We assume that it is possible to survive by normal means in this universe. And according to this supreme law of reality, the final say on this earth is always had by the highest.

As it is, I just find them pitiable.