Selfish Capitalism Debate Q & A - Libertarian and Objectivist



see their own lives can a selfish person contribute voluntarily to a safety net and still remain selfish well I think Harvey Weinstein probably contributed to a safety net and and he's a real selfish Pig but look how it kind of I'm like completely listening to me I said indeed I agree with him that a flourishing capitalism where everybody participates will take care of most people the vast majority of us well it will let the less standard of living of the brand broad mass of people that has to be taught to people absolutely and yerry is an important voice for that of course indeed compassion is a relatively minor affair in that on the other hand we do what idealist likes like Steve Jobs people and how it worked by the way who want to change the world through their products real visionaries who care about changing the world that's what most of the great entrepreneurs were all about they cared less about money than about changing and helping the world in a compassionate way before I go to the podium to take questions from the audience I can't see you are are there questions alright good reserve the right to to edit them to rephrase them or redirect them so no speeches just the questions all right your on jeans started off twice by referencing an ran statement that selfish is a neutral term so I guess you lose but the whole book is entitled the virtue of selfishness so isn't there a equivocation between the word selfish and selfishness the action you're on are we hair splitting over the meaning of words or is there an inherent conflict between the concept of selfishness and the concept of virtuousness no there's no there's obviously no conflict I think the two are the same I think we're not splitting woods because at the end of the day gene and I disagree about the content of morality in spite of here trying to deny that facts to put aside the wood let's forget selfishness the actual concept of morality we disagree on and he's trying to paint my view as again he returned to this idea of money nobody and money a man doesn't mention money in that essay money is not what she's talking about when she talks about the virtue of selfishness the virtue of substance is about living it's on making the most of your life that's what selfishness is that's what selfishness means and while in the big good I don't know what dictionary she pulled that definition of I will leave I will research that for genes sake I will send him the reference in the dictionary where she took that farm ok bet you there was such a dictionary she didn't make it up gene would you have this conflict with your on if the word selfishness did not have the odious sting that it does suppose it was the word flowers well that's the word I guess I guess if the word greed didn't have the odious sting is greedy back greedy usually it's pretty bastard the opposite of the word greedy I guess is kid everybody gives the word greed the word hateful the word Jew hater the word all of those things if those words didn't have a sting I guess I'd be all for yerin that would be fine however there are words that we use for people who are morally odious and that's part of our language they're important parts of the language now I don't know if Harvey Weinstein was in it for the money it seemed like he basically what did the sex of course that's true so I didn't say that selfish predators like Weinstein are only after money of course they may be after others odious things of course but but these hypothetical questions obviously have no point running bad people good call Weinstein selfish you then a confusing people by putting him in the same back at Steve Jobs because everybody knows Steve Jobs was selfish because he was out there to pursue his vision for the world not your vision for the world his vision for change so so what I'm asking for is two separate Weinstein out and keep the purity of Steve Jobs and you do that by not calling Weinstein selfish but by calling him what he truly is which is a predator a self-destructive human being his behave see selfish means promoting self Weinstein to not promote himself Weinstein destroyed himself and just look at him he's a destroyed human being and he is a self just like Bernie Madoff these people are self-destructive and to call them selfish confuses people about the nature of capitalism and this is why one of the reasons why we cannot convince people because they think we know that businessmen are selfish you're not gonna convince us otherwise right ok next question from the audience Steve Jobs had a vision to change the world and offer us bows next from the audience yes yeah yeah this question is for your on so I'd like to probe a little bit how you feel about a situation where your self flourishing and your self-actualization has to pit against some kind of social duty or responsibility towards say your family members so you know a classic example is a person who is called to be so passionately involved in some kind of calling that they may abandon their parental responsibilities or other kinds of social responsibilities and you know is that selfish and how do you feel about that okay so can selfishness justify the impairment of other voluntarily accepted duties and responsibilities like being a good parent so I don't consider being a good parent of social responsibility I don't know what social responsibility means I don't know what that concept is when you have a baby you are taking on a responsibility you're taking on a implicit contract to take care of this child until they're an adult and that is a primary responsibility so that the only responsibility you have but a primary responsibility that you have to for your own well-being for your selfish own life now I know but you look sometimes I sign a contract right and halfway through the implementation that contract I change my mind tough right I still have the contract right and the same thing with having kids you can change your mind suddenly many of us somewhere around between nine months and three years had a change of heart over and over and over again but you made that commitment when you have that baby and it's in your selfish interest to fulfill that commitment because you couldn't live with yourself I think as a complete human being otherwise many people abandon that commitment and I personally think I mean gee might not agree with me I think Weinstein and all those scumbags in Hollywood suffer the consequence of innate evil behavior I think people abandon their children suffer the consequences not in an afterlife right here and now this life you know they are dealt with psychologically there let's thank you thank you hold on hold on let's have another a question and this one for Jean Epstein please so who's up next with a question for Jean Epstein sir do you think there's a difference between sacrifice and investment like a baseball player does a sacrifice pop fly for his team I sacrificed a Mike but it was my kids that went to college does anybody really do something for something less or as you said is it just is it a bad investment or I think you use the word unreasonable yeah I okay now I do think that there is a word called compassion which Adams worth used and that we all feel it and so people who make sacrifices are to some degree sacrifice of money sacrifice of time they they feel compassion and they feel good about it they are not selfish and just a comment it's the oddity and Aaron's view is indeed that all selfish and hateful and predatory people eventually have to pay the piper or that they're deeply unhappy this is that honesty is always the best policy this is unfortunately terribly naive you and so again I add that other Hollywood producers Jack Warner Harry Cohn Alfred Hitchcock Louie B mayor they all got away with it and it's only lately that people are not getting away with it and it's a little silly it's a little childish for us to say oh well they were deeply unhappy in their heart or that Paul Krugman or Thomas Piketty actually will eventually look at themselves in the mirror and realize what professional liars they are and even though they've been enriched by the market again unfortunately rather naive in that case as I say the crucial point to bear in mind is that at least these people are functioning in the market they are selling snake oil and the market is buying it Iran but how much more dangerous would they be if they were in government Iran do you want to reply yeah I mean I'd say yeah I am completely convinced that Paul Krugman is suffering from the fact that he is a real scumbag there's no question about that but but again I don't equate money with happiness yes he's making a lot of money that doesn't mean much to me the fact that he is cheating on reality the fact that he is lying to himself and to the world has has because I understand human nature has consequences to his consciousness he is not a flourishing successful human being but let me answer the question about sacrifice sacrifice is another one of these terms that is muddled that is confused and many people use sacrifice instead of investment I I think that is a is bad English and bad linguistics sacrifice is what Jesus did he got crucified for sins he did not commit he got crucified for your sins sacrifice is giving up something more important your life for the sake of something less important your sins other people's sins so sacrifice is a negative it is a bad thing it's self-sacrifice but again a lot of people use it like in basketball he sacrificed for the team no he wants to win he's selfish he wants his team to win and he's willing to score few less points so take a few less shots in order to achieve victory that's what selfishness means so there are a lot of terms unfortunately the bad guys have made this very clear see in economics as well there are a lot of terms that have be muddled by the people who do not want us to realize our own potential as human beings and there's a lot of cleaning up the dictionary if you will and sacrifice and selfishness are two words that need to be cleaned up yarn and I are both Jews who chose not to follow Jesus so I agree with him about that part of it by the way did you have to bring Jesus into this and what's this Jewish stuff what are you talking about told me you told me if fans kept kosher you told me they kept kosher they're Jews oh yes okay gene do you wanna reply to this and then we're gonna go to the summations no it's okay no okay next question for gene please actually my question is to you both I want to bring up an unlikely thinker I think a lefty who by accident made the good points about this topic Richard Dawkins to be more precise in his book The Selfish Gene he explains that selfishness is about maximizing the probability survivability of your genes and also your means so that means of course your thoughts whether it is liberty or equality whatever so I think he explains well in that regard because that explains why I would care most about mine okay when you put this in the form of a question please sure could you please comment [Laughter] you want to take that one first mister energy I mean there's a lot to say about about the the books of Selfish Gene and I think a lot of issues there a lot of a lot of challenges and primarily human beings of different evolution has done something to human beings that is amazing and great and we have free will and we get – we get a recode we're not just in spite of the evolutionary psychologists we don't just do what our genes tell us to do will actually have reason and we have the capacity to dictate what our life will be so well Richard Dawkins perspective on The Selfish Gene says all you want to do is multiply and if that were the case all we'd want to do is you know what it is is everything everything we would do would be focused on sex and and and and and you know procreation I think we're more than that because of the capacity to reason because of the capacity to rewrite the software if you will because we have free one all rather than just saying god I can only comment on it that you know you could you know there's a movie I love called the hateful eight now there's a maybe could have called the book the greedy gene now obviously when people write books they use titles they might use our words and slightly odd contexts but obviously when we are talking in objective terms in rational terms about the world then and about human behavior then then then we have to use words according to definitions that in the case of selfish has never ever changed there are words that do change their meaning there are words that have ambiguous meanings not words like greedy hateful selfish all right in order to keep to our pre-arranged time schedule we're going to have the closing arguments now you're on will go first for five minutes and gene will follow for five minutes and then we'll have the voting so as Jean admitted woods change over time for two thousand years those who advocated for of sacrifice for for enslaving the individual to the group enslaving the individual to the collective have wanted this to believe that there are two alternatives in morality two alternatives in living one is to live for the sake of others to be altruistic to place the well-being happiness and good of other people above self the alternative to that has been presented as being a lying stealing cheating sob selfish in other words those are the two alternatives presented what Iran is offering is a third alternative an alternative that says that you can live for yourself rationally honesty with integrity pursuing justice try it be being proud committed to your own morality and your own moral perfection living the best life that you can live for yourself in pursuit of your own happiness that new mall code and it's a new mall code at least since the adverts the advent of Christianity it's it's it's somewhat reminiscent of Aristotle's of Aristotle's moral code again his focus on self on self on egoism guys so what Iran is asking is to is to eliminate this economy that has been set up by the enemies of the individual by the enemies of human life by the enemies of freedom and liberty it's not sacrifice for others or be an sob no there is the third alternative which is to be long term rationally self-interested long term rationally selfish long term rationally an egoist and if you understand what egoism means what it means to live a life what it means to flourish what it means to attain human happiness then you don't need the long term rational anymore it's just to be an egoist to be self-interested to be selfish it's time to change the definition of the word it's time to reject the 2,000 years definition of what morality was it's time for a new market I'm all caught on what leads to individual success what leads to individual happiness not it's not about money although money is a component of happiness and success and flourishing but it's not just about money it's about living the best life that you can live and making that your mall mission now what is morality morality morality is about the values the virtues and values that you choose in pursuit of your life the important values and the question is who should be the beneficiary of those values selfishness says you should be that beneficiary you should benefit from the stuff you produce any that nobody has a right to guilt you into taking the things that you could use they shouldn't feel guilty about your success so many businessman I me feel guilty why because they've been taught that their self-interest is somehow tainted that their willingness their interest in pursuing success in life put aside the money success in producing great products in changing the world based on their vision they are taught that that is amol somehow that they should feel bad about it and they're inflicted with guilty or incredibly successful people who've done wonderful things in the world and they feel guilty that's tragic and what why are they feel guilty because they're told that the motivation their motivation to make the most of their life they're selfish motivation is somehow tainted and somehow evil and that the ideal is some mother Teresa some way no mother Teresa is not the moral ideal them all ideal is a productive individual pursuing his values without sacrificing to anybody and without asking anybody to sacrifice for him living an independent rational successful happy life it's about each individual that's what morality should be about and that's what I knew and offers us in her book the virtue of selfishness thank you you don't go for altruism and charity and do good and liberal and and conservative you might as well ethical you know like the Conservatives either know what's the bass conservatory I want to help people I want to do good for other people what's so bad about that nothing if you do it by your own choice and if it's not your primary aim in life and if you don't regard it as a moral virtue on those conditions it's fine to help people if you want them why is it why can't I think of it as a moral virtue I mean can I take some vows for myself for doing all these good things because that would be cannibalism because that would mean that you preach altruism which means not merely kindness but self-sacrifice it means that you place the welfare of others above your own that you live for others for the sake of helping them and that justifies your life that's immoral according to my morality




Comments
  1. At 12:57 you demonstrated an embarrassing lack in understanding of evolutionionary psychology. Don't be an arrogant ideologue. You've talked to Gad Saad, ask him to explain why multiplying isn't the only thing humans want to do. Ask him why men aren't lining up in droves to donate sperm. Ask him why humans have evolved a capacity for reason if you're really too stupid to figure this out.

  2. Gene goes from selfishness to greed to Jew-hater, without a word of justification. Usually I like Gene but he turned into a complete Sophist for this debate

  3. Capitalism doesn't mean selfishness, it means "voluntariness" ! It means all transactions are made voluntarily, and while most of them will be done out of self-interest, SOME of these voluntary transactions will also be done charitably or out of friendship.

  4. The virtue of flowers doesn't have the same ring to it though.
    Seriously though, it might be easier to use the synonym 'self-centered' , which has the added value of still having the negative connotation altruists ascribe to it, while it's more clear what it's about : putting yourself in the center, not others.

    Then again, they are not going to agree that either, so maybe we shouldn't give any ground at all.
    Question is, what do we use in that case : there is a sort of irrational, pleasure driven destructive behaviour that we incorrect call selfish, but what do we call it then ?
    We need a catchy name to use it it's stead. Perhaps self-destructive , though it's not as catchy

  5. Still don't understand why Objectivists still want to redefine the world selfishness. if the Goal is to try to get people to accept their view harping on this will not aid the cause.

  6. I remember watching this a while ago. Every single time Gene opens his mouth to prove a point he first poisons the well. You'll notice he does this every single time.

    It's sad that a gentleman of his age and experience Stoops to such low IQ levels of argumentation.

  7. Okay, still trying to understand.Β  If a business owner one day just decides to cut wages to increase revenue (which I do feel is their right as the owner, though I don't advocate for doing so), is this selfishness to the Objectivist or not?Β  I feel like I get Yaron's expressed definition, but I'm having a bit of trouble applying it to various scenarios.

  8. The contrast between a principled individual and a pragmatic utilitarian libertarian.
    In short term the pragmatist wins. May we have patients.

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