morality

Calls to “Abolish Billionaires” Are a Moral Travesty by Keith Lockitch

There’s a new campaign slogan among Democratic politicians: “Abolish Billionaires.” Nobody can honestly deserve a billion dollars, they claim, so they want to impose radical new taxes on the super-wealthy. Indeed, people are arguing that the very existence of billionaires is some kind of moral outrage.

Wealthy people are being blamed today for all the world’s problems. Yet all of those problems are actually the result of the very ideas being preached by the same leaders and intellectuals who want to “abolish” the billionaires.

But instead of vilifying and hating billionaires, we should be thanking them for improving all of our lives on a massive scale with the products they offer for voluntary trade on a free market.

As Ayn Rand argued in her novel Atlas Shrugged, if anyone deserves thanks on Thanksgiving, it’s those productive Atlases who carry the whole world on their shoulders.

Join Keith Lockitch as he argues that the real moral travesty is the campaign to abolish billionaires.

Why Be Honest? by Ben Bayer

We live in an age in which fabricated stories pulse through social media, fashionable startup companies are founded on swindles and, of course, politicians of all stripes routinely lie. Whatever happened to the idea that honesty is the best policy? Most people would recognize honesty as an obvious example of a moral virtue, but the idea of being honest on principle strikes many people as a burdensome duty they owe to other people, which is sometimes too impractical to stick to consistently.

Is honesty really just a duty we owe to others? What does it mean to be honest and why should we bother being honest at all? 

Join Ben Bayer to explore one of life’s big questions: Why be honest?

What Makes Ayn Rand’s Philosophy Distinctive? by Onkar Ghate

Have you ever wondered what Ayn Rand’s philosophy—which she called Objectivism—is all about? Why is she such a controversial figure with millions of fans who love The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged but also with many, many critics who call her books and ideas evil?

Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, discusses Objectivism exploring especially Rand’s moral and religious views, which are at the heart of her radicalness. Ghate also considers why she championed self-interest and her new conception of a moral hero.

Why Are Principles Important in Life? by Keith Lockitch

When we describe someone as a person of principle, it’s often meant as a compliment. We mean that the person has a solid moral compass and that his actions are grounded in time-honored rules of conduct. On the other hand, though, we sometimes view principles as being rigid and constraining, a bunch of rules that stifle spontaneity. From that point of view we sometimes view the man of principles as being somewhat dogmatic, maybe even a bit of a zealot.

So is it good to be a principled person or is it a problem? What exactly are principles anyway and what do they do for us? Do we even need them in life? These are questions that Keith Lockitch will be exploring in this episode of Philosophy for Living on Earth.

Is Altruism Good? by Ben Bayer

Maybe you’ve heard of something called “effective altruism”? It’s a recent movement that encourages people to do research to figure out the best way to give away as much of their own money as possible, allegedly in order to help out as many people as possible. Now one wonders if calling it “effective altruism” implies that altruism up until very recently hasn’t been effective. 

In any case, what is altruism really, what’s it all about, and what motivates it? Is it simply an expression of generosity and good will among men? Or is it motivated perhaps by something else? These are the questions that we need to ask and think about it if we’re going to evaluate altruism, an idea that most people simply equate with the very idea of morality. Are they right to equate it? And if not, why would anyone challenge that equation?  

Join Ben Bayer as he asks one of life’s big questions: Is altruism good?

What Are Rights and Where Do They Come from? by Harry Binswanger

Join special guest Harry Binswanger for this entry in the series of Ayn Rand Institute webinars on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and its application to current issues. His topic is the one principle on which our very lives depend: the principle of Individual Rights. This concept—which the United States of America was based upon—has now vanished from the public understanding with tragic results. In his discussion, Binswanger will present the Objectivist theory of what rights are (their metaphysical status), how we know them (their epistemological status) and what they mean in political practice.

Harry Binswanger explores another one of life’s big questions: What Are Rights and Where Do They Come from?

Is Selfishness the Root of All Evil? by Keith Lockitch

If there is one thing that almost everyone agrees on today, it’s that selfishness is bad. From day one, we’ve been told, “don’t be selfish” or “selfishness is the root of all evil.”
 
But what if the way we think about selfishness is completely wrong?
 
What if our conventional understanding of what it means to be selfish is totally confused—and it’s not just that we’re mistaken, but we’re mistaken in a way that actually makes it harder for us to achieve a happy, fulfilling life and a better world?
 
Throughout history, various thinkers have challenged us to rethink conventional wisdom. Copernicus and Galileo challenged our view of a motionless earth. Darwin challenged our understanding of how all of life’s species developed.

Ayn Rand, the writer and philosopher famous for her bestselling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, was a thinker who challenged our conventional wisdom about morality.
 
She was a moral revolutionary in the same way that Galileo and Darwin were scientific revolutionaries.

Join Keith Lockitch and explore Ayn Rand’s moral revolution. He’ll be addressing one of life’s big questions: Is selfishness the root of all evil?

Can You Take Credit for Who You Are? by Ben Bayer

What makes you who you are? Is it nature or nurture—or a bit of both?

Or does that very way of framing the question leave out something very important, namely—you? Can you take credit for who you are? If so, how?

We can’t and we don’t create ourselves out of nothing. Some people are born with advantages that other people don’t have. So, how can we take credit for our achievements? How can we be blamed for our crimes?

Join Ben Bayer to explore one of life’s big questions: Can you take credit for who you are?

Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on August 10, 2019
Sign up up to attend the next webinar live at http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register

What Is Self-Esteem? How Do I Get It? by Elan Journo

Is having self-esteem a good thing?

Most people will say it’s part of living a good life. And we all know someone who lives with gnawing self-doubt, someone with little or no self-esteem at all. It really holds them back.

But is self-esteem something anyone can attain, or is it just for the lucky few? And who can give it to you?

Elan Journo explores these questions.

Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on August 03, 2019
Sign up up to attend the next webinar live at http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register

Can There Be Good Without God? by Onkar Ghate

Whether it’s the legality of abortion, the desirability of free speech, the power of social media companies, or the appropriateness of a president’s tweets, we seem to be increasingly divided by issues of value, by what we consider right and wrong,good and evil.

But whichever side we take on these and other controversies, if we’re asked to explain where our very ideas of good and evil and of right and wrong come from, and what exactly they mean, we’re often at a loss.

In the face of such puzzlement, one of the most common responses is to say that God is the source of morality and that if “God is dead, everything is permitted.”

In this webinar, we’ll challenge the idea that morality rests on an authority figure. We’ll discuss how authoritarianism plagues both our religious and secular thinking about ethics. And we’ll sketch an alternative approach to good and evil, one that treats morality as a this-worldly, ordinary, understandable form of knowledge.

Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on July 27, 2019
Sign up up to attend the next webinar live at http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register