While Ayn Rand’s writing is an exercise in sophistry trying to justify utter, base selflessness as the highest virtue, it is not only morally abhorrent, but it goes against what we know of human behavior.
This is what happens when you take Ayn Rand seriously • 2016 Feb 16 • Denise Cummins • PBS Newshour
Economists alternately find alarming and amusing a large body of results from experimental studies showing that people don’t behave according to the tenets of rational choice theory. We are far more cooperative and willing to trust than is predicted by the theory, and we retaliate vehemently when others behave selfishly. In fact, we are willing to pay a penalty for an opportunity to punish people who appear to be breaking implicit rules of fairness in economic transactions.
When the theory does not fit the evidence, do we (1) discard the theory or (2) discard the evidence? Randian Objectivism’s disregard for empirical evidence is an epistemological black hole from which the mind cannot escape.1
If you reward assholery, then of course assholery will proliferate. Unfortunately, if you have too many assholes on board, it will destroy your company or your civilization or whatever collective endeavor you are futilely trying to run with a bunch of narcissists and sociopaths.2
We know from studies of human behavior that people generally don’t think very far ahead, and that they generally prefer immediate reward instead long-term reward.
Babies exhibit prosocial behavior.
People perform acts of altruism that kill them and do not benefit their kin.
So I am more inclined to believe that we are prewired to behave altruistically/prosocially and that most of us aren’t really calculating that far ahead.
Although I suppose one could still argue that the dopamine and oxytocin hit from doing something altruistically/prosocially is still selfish self-interest.3