In her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand makes the following claim, “If the [drowning] person to be saved is a stranger, it is morally proper to save him only when the danger to one’s own life is minimal; when the danger is great, it would be immoral to attempt it—Conversely, if one is drowning, one cannot expect a stranger to risk his life for one’s sake, remembering that one’s life cannot be as valuable to him as his own.” Do you believe that there are any moral (ethical) obligations that you have to other people (friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers) that are not based on your own perceived self-interest? If so, what are these moral (ethical) obligations and what are they based on? If not, does it follow that you do a kind of personal cost-benefit analysis every time you are required to make a decision about what to do or not do? (Notice that an affirmative answer to this question seems to undermine any possibility of genuinely altruistic actions.) If this is what you do, explain the kind of reasoning process that you go through. Can friendships and loving relations be genuine if they are based only on perceived self-interest? Your initial post should provide a clear explanation for the difference between actions based on perceived self-interest and actions based on something other than perceived self-interest and should define altruism and altruistic behavior. Reference Rand, A. (1964). The virtue of selfishness. New York, NY: Signet.
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