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In Defense of Instinct - Hobbesian egoism1 What is Hobbesian egoism First let me explain what I mean by Hobbesianegoism Egoism is of course the view that the onlything we ought to do is serve our own self-interest Hobbesian indicates what is regarded to be in ourinterests physical survival material comfortsabundant sexual gratification etc Hobbesian egoismmay be profitably contrasted with the egoism ofAristotle or Rand which hold that what constitutesour self-interest is much richer and deeper Rand implicitly contrasts her view with that of Hobbeswhen she writes that It the survival of man qua mandoes not mean a momentary or merely physicalsurvival of a mindless brute waiting for another bruteto crush his skull It does not mean the momentaryphysical survival of a crawling aggregate of muscleswho is willing to accept any terms obey any thug andsurrender any values for the sake of what is knownas survival at any price which may or may not last aweek or a year Man s survival qua man means theterms methods conditions and goals required for thesurvival of a rational being through the whole of hislifespan -- in all of those aspects of existence whichare open to his choice Partly Rand is stating thatwe should look to our long-term rather than ourshort-term interest which the Hobbesian egoistwould not necessarily disagree with but partly she isstating that eg only a rational purposeful anddignified existence can constitute our self-interest What practical difference does this distinction make For one the Hobbesian egoist would remorselesslykill or enslave another person if the risks were lowand the gain were large For the Randian egoisthowever this predatory lifestyle would conflict withour interest in being productive independent andjust individuals The Hobbesian egoist similarlywould happily steal if the gain were large and thepunishment were small but the Randian egoist wouldrefrain 2 The PuzzleThe behavior counselled by Hobbesian egoism iswidely condemned by most historical moral codes The puzzle that I see is that it is neverthelessextremely common Belief in
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