Rational Self-Interest

“America First”? Rethinking the
Meaning of Self-Interest

On his latest foreign trip, President Trump again invoked the idea of “America first.” As someone who is repelled by Trump and his presidency, I am a little reluctant to justify something he nominally upholds. But actually his support for this policy is all the more reason it needs to be clarified and defended—defended not …

“America First”? Rethinking the
Meaning of Self-Interest
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Trump and the Meaning of Egoism

Here’s an observation that may surprise people: Donald Trump is not an egoist. And I say that not as praise, but as criticism. An egoist is someone whose self-interest is his highest value. But our genuine self-interest is not achieved by doing whatever we happen to feel like doing. Life is conditional. Since some actions …

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Reconceiving the Idea of Selfishness

In the realm of ethics, no characteristic is more widely condemned than selfishness. Practically no one challenges the premise, which we’re all taught from childhood, that acting for one’s own benefit is morally tainted, while sacrificing for the benefit of others is the essence of moral virtue. It is considered self-evident that selfishness is evil. …

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Memorial Day–But Don’t Call It a Sacrifice

As an Objectivist, I oppose the idea that self-sacrifice is the right way for people to deal with one another. I don’t believe you have a moral duty to subordinate yourself to others. Another person’s need should not create a moral claim against you merely because you are able to satisfy that need. Human relations …

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The Focus of
In Defense of Selfishness

Here is an interesting email I received from a prospective reader of IN DEFENSE OF SELFISHNESS: “I am considering buying the book, but I am on the fence. Looking at the table of contents, it appears it may be more focused on defeating a negative than upholding a positive. For example, the section headings seem …

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In Defense of Selfishness
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In Defense of Selfishness—Update

In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice Is Unjust and Destructive is now 99 days from publication—June 2, 2015. I’m working on the final page proofs, which should be finished by the end of February. The jacket copy is complete. The index is done and it looks great—which is a non-biased comment on …

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In Defense of Selfishness—a Summary

(This is a brief summary of my new book, followed by the Table of Contents.) What if the central idea we’re all taught about morality is wrong? Virtually everyone regards self-sacrifice as a moral virtue. From childhood on, we are told that serving the needs of others, rather than our own, is the essence of …

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Israel Has a Moral Right to Its Life

By Peter Schwartz and Yaron Brook (Indianapolis Star, July 24, 2002) As yet another appalling suicide-bombing takes place in Israel, killing 19 people and wounding dozens more on a bus packed with schoolchildren in Jerusalem—as Hamas claims credit for the massacre—America’s policymakers still insist on seeking an “even-handed,” diplomatic solution. In the past 18 months, …

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They Hate Us, Too

[This was published in the Canberra Times, March 19, 2003] The Sept. 11 attacks on America led many to ask, about the terrorists, “Why do they hate us?” Today, a similar question applies to those who virulently condemn a U.S. war against Iraq—along with a similar answer. It is not actually anti-war views that they …

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Foreign Policy and Self-Interest

By Peter Schwartz [This was published in the Contra Costa Times, July 19, 2003; the Canberra Times, July 24, 2003; and the Charlotte Observer, July 25, 2003] Those who claim that the United States has a moral obligation to send troops on a “humanitarian” mission to Liberia have it exactly backward: our government has a …

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