The Virtue of Selfishness Context

Ayn Rand


(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

The provocative title of Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness matches an equally provocative thesis about ethics. Traditional ethics has always been suspicious of self-interest, praising acts that are selfless in intent and calling amoral or immoral acts that are motivated by self-interest. A self-interested person, in the traditional view, will not consider the interests of others and thus will slight or harm those interests in the pursuit of his or her own. Rand’s view is that the exact opposite is true: Self-interest, properly understood, is the standard of morality, and selflessness is the deepest immorality.