The topic of the Ayn Rand Society this year will be Tara Smith’s new book “Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist.” The ARS meeting will be held in conjunction with the APA Eastern Division meetings in Washington DC, at the Marriott Wardman Hotel, Dec. 27-30, 2006.
Ayn Rand is well known for advocating egoism, but the substance of that instruction is rarely understood. Far from representing the rejection of morality, selfishness, in Rand’s view, actually demands the practice of a systematic code of ethics. This book explains the fundamental virtues that Rand considers vital for a person to achieve their objective well-being: rationality, honesty, independence, justice, integrity, productiveness, and pride. Tracing Rand’s account of the value and harmony of human beings’ rational interests, Smith examines what each of these virtues consists of, why it is a virtue, and what it demands of people in practice. Along the way she addresses the status of several conventional virtues within Rand’s theory, considering traits such as kindness, charity, generosity, temperance, courage, forgiveness, and humility. Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics thus offers an in-depth exploration of several specific virtues and an illuminating integration of these with the broader theory of egoism.