Talk:Rational egoism

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Unclear paragraph[edit]

"Sidgwick found it difficult to find any persuasive reason for preferring rational egoism over utilitarianism. Although utilitarianism can be provided with a rational basis and reconciled with the morality of common sense, rational egoism appears to be an equally plausible doctrine regarding what we have most reason to do. Thus we must ‘admit an ultimate and fundamental contradiction in our apparent intuitions of what is Reasonable in conduct; and from this admission it would seem to follow that the apparently intuitive operation of Practical Reason, manifested in these contradictory judgments, is after all illusory’ "

From what I can tell, and I'll admit I'm unfamiliar with Sidgwick, this paragraph is a bit unclear. The first line says, "preferring rational egoism over utilitarianism", but the paragraph seems to be about how rational egoism is as reasonable as utilitarianism. While the end effect is the same, it ends up with a disconcerting paragraph, and I'd suggest rewriting it. Not doing it myself in case I'm misinterpreting the information provided. (talk) 03:13, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Clean up[edit]

I've just completed a major clean up of the article. I've added references and made it not just about Ayn Rand's philosophy. Please keep in mind that Rand uses the term "rational egoism" for her specific view. But, on standard usage among philosophers and others, her view is the conjunction of both ethical egoism and rational egoism. That is, she holds that it is both moral and rational to act self-interestedly. (For more on that, see the "Ayn Rand issues" section below.) Also, please continue the standard citing format of providing the reference in the "References and further reading section" and then uses the "ref" tag in the article for making the citation.

Overall, the article could still use some clean up and expansion, though. For example, I would think that more on David Gauthier would be called for. - Jaymay (talk) 01:33, 13 August 2008 (UTC)


I've adopted this page, and will expand it. Please feel free to help out or leave comments or suggestions. I will appreciate everything.--Connor K. 19:51, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Original Research[edit]

I'm removing the tag, I rewrote the entire thing, and cited my sources. Please let me know if you disagree.--Connor K. 22:22, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Quick comment[edit]

This exhibits itself in politics, because rational government would be the least restrictive while protecting everyone's right to life, liberty and property, and forbidding the initiation of force by anyone against anyone.

Sounds to me like that's Rand's opinion- it's certainly not indisputable fact. So, it needs a qualifier.--AdamGomaa 18:35, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

That is why I wrote it under "Ayn Rand's Version". If it needs more, please let me know.-- ¢² Connor K.   23:10, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Ayn Rand issues[edit]

This concept is central to much economic and political science analysis, as a behavioral hypothesis, rather than a philosophical imperative. The Prisoner's Dilemma is just one example. And it was being discussed long before Rand, as witness George Meredith "The Egoist". The article should be restructured to reflect this JQ 22:18, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Well by all means. Update it. I must say, Rand's writing came up most on the internet when I googled "Rational Egoism". I understand it is not incredibly novel. I will say that Ayn Rand expanded it a lot, not because she found another writer so inspiring, but because it is what she always believed.
Of course, it goes without saying, site your sources. And please don't remove all of the information about Rand, she is definitely one of the more well known writers about it.-- ¢² Connor K.   23:05, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

The overemphasis on Rand is getting worse at the moment. Someone ( keeps trying to drastically change stuff on rational egoism in a bad way. The person seems to think that the view is something it's not. Person, please see any encyclopedia of philosophy entry (e.g. SEP or IEP). Rational egoism is view that it is rational to be an egoist---i.e. it's rational to be selfish in some sense. The person also seems to think that the view is specific to Ayn Rand. This is misleading. Whatever Rand calls her view exactly is irrelevant to how everyone in the field uses the term "rational egoism". You can note that Rand uses the term in a certain way, but don't make the entire entry on her. If you want to do that, then creat the article Rational egoism (Ayn Rand) or something. - Jaymay (talk) 22:31, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

Does This Belong in the Article?[edit]

In diplomatic, political and military terms, this situation is known, generally, as 'divide and conquer' which takes full and dependable advantage of the conflicting self-interests of the opposing allied parties group's individual members to overcome the allied group's collective interest.

I don't know if this is important in the article "Rational Egoism". In my opinion, this part is more important in the "Prisoner's Dilemma" article, and not in this particular one. Can comeone explain why it is needed in this article?-- ¢² Connor K.   23:23, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

I have recieved no comment, so I am going to remove it. If there is a problem, please discuss it on this page.-- ¢² Connor K.   20:41, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

Rational egoism in the social sciences[edit]

There is no sources referenced in this entire section. Please, JQ, place citations, otherwise it seems like original research (because it is definately not common sense). I understand that more is to come, but the citations are important.-- ¢² Connor K.   22:49, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Done. JQ 10:52, 20 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you so much-- ¢² Connor K.   12:00, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

Prisoner's Dilemma[edit]

From a Game Theoretic point of view the Prisoner's Dilemma game is an example of rational behavior, this is not a point of contention. However, the example is potentially misleading, to a reader who is unfamiliar with Game Theory, since the Prisoner's Dilemma "game" is not representative of many real-world situations insofar as it does not permit communication between the parties who are acting rationally, a Cooperative_game or a Coordination_gameis much more representative of real-world situations (depending on what you want to emphasize). Perhaps one should be used here, like Chicken_(game)

edit warring re:Rand[edit]

The continued edit warring about including/removing comments by Ayn Rand deserve more than just a brief mention in edit summaries. Since there is only one editor that wants to remove any mention of Rand, it seems only fair that they begin the discussion.--Buster7 (talk) 23:33, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

Rand's use of rational egoism is relevant to Objectivism, not philosophy, which rational egoism is. The absence of Ayn Rand on this article should dissuade people from thinking that she's important precisely because she is unimportant. Giving people the idea that she is important in the field of rational egoism is a disservice. She may have been influenced by rational egoism but she has had no influence upon rational egoism. There is an Objectivism article for that purpose of how she was influenced by rational egoism. This is not including her absence from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy when it comes to egoism, showing how insubstantial she is. (talk) 00:44, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia does not purport to be a specialty work on philosophy. Wikipedia is a hypertext encyclopedia. While Rand's views may not be liked within the philosophy academic community, they are relatively well-known in popular "philosophy", and a significant portion of the traffic to this article is likely to come from people who have heard the term "rational egoism" in relation to the works of Rand. If you want people to realize that Rand's use of the term is not the same as the academic use, the best thing to do is _tell them so_. Removing any mention of her from this article is only likely to lead readers to incorrectly believe the uses are the same.
WP:OTHERSTUFF notwithstanding, a quick random look at Moses shows that it includes not only numerous religious views including those of various "minority" religions, but even includes a section on Moses "In Freud's historical psychoanalysis", even explicitly pointing out that "Freud's interpretation of the historical Moses is not a prominent theory among historians, and is considered pseudohistory by most" - Rand's use of rational egoism is far more prominent than Freud's view of Moses!
Note that this is not about trying to make the whole article about her view (as it seems to have been at one point in the past), only about leaving in one paragraph clarifying how her use of the term differs from the academic usage. John Darrow (talk) 05:03, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Rational egoism is not a vague and confusing concept that only philosophers are allowed to consider. Whether or not Rand is a member of a philosopher hierarchy is of zero importance. Philosopher or not, her works of fiction and non-fiction have been a powerful marketing force for the idea of rational egoism. Editors philosophical commitments should not be a valid reason for standing in the way of sharing knowledge with our customer. Rand's ideas are topical, especially on the subject of this article. A is A. --Buster7 (talk) 11:54, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Probability nonsense[edit]

"Scott Aaronson notes that the likelihood of one vote being decisive is on the order of the square root of the number of voters" is complete garbage. Aside from the misuse of the word order,the square root of any number larger than one is also larger than one which makes this statement completely nonsensical. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 9 September 2012 (UTC)