The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Vol. 10, No. 2
one should sacrificially restrain one’s interest in wealth for the sake of others. Another form holds that others’ need for basic wealth is in conflict with one’s desire for luxuries, so one should in principle sacrifice luxuries and act charitably.
Egoism is the position that wealth is a value that must be produced, so one should commit to producing the wealth one needs. Yet one’s being productive is also beneficial to others, given that production creates value for mutually-beneficial trade.
Generalizing from wealth as an example to policies for all of life’s values: “Selfishness” holds that one should intentionally pursue one’s self-interest at the expense of others. Altruism holds that one should intentionally selflessly pursue others’ interests at one’s own expense. And egoism holds that one should intentionally pursue one’s self- interest, which has as a consequence the possibility of mutually- beneficial transactions with others.
Consequence to self
Consequence to other(s)
Benefit or neutral
Egoism and Selfishness agree on the moral intent—seek one’s self interest—but not about the necessary means and consequences of moral action. Selfishness and altruism agree that self-interests are in a zero-sum conflict—but not about whose interests should be rated highest.
The connection to Nietzsche and Rand is this: Both agree that altruism is bad, and Rand learned a great deal from Nietzsche. But when one turns to their positive ethical theories one finds an almost complete opposition. Nietzsche and Rand disagree about what the self is, what its major interests are, whether self-interests are mutually-