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What A Maroon

I think that if you look in the dictionary under "sanctimonious twit," you'll see a picture of this guy. I found the link in comments at this post which describes the sad state to which the Harvard Law Review has fallen (at least, I'm assuming that it was once much better).

Boy, as a commenter said, I'm sure glad that people associated with it don't go into politics...

[Update a few minutes later]

Geez. He's continuing to defend the stupid essay on a blog dedicated to the subject.

As someone else at Volokh's place said, why does he have both kidneys? He's guilty of murder because he hasn't donated one.


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Paul Hsieh wrote:

I think a far better approach towards charity is from Ayn Rand (which incidentally is not the same as the popular misconception of her views of "never help anyone"):

"My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue."

I completely agree. I've gladly helped others in need on multiple occasions (1) when I can afford it, and (2) if the recipient is worthy.

But life isn't about putting bandages on other people's sores; it's about creating value, achieving goals, and pursuing a happy full existence in accordance with our nature as rational beings. Charity towards others is a secondary aspect of life, not the primary purpose.

Hale Adams wrote:


I agree that life is about "creating value, achieving goals, and pursuing a happy full existence"-- those things make charity possible.

Yet one does have to be careful in pursuing those things-- too avid a pursuit can result in one's elbows getting a wee bit sharp.

My two cents' worth.....

Raoul Ortega wrote:

Wouldn't he be a Maroon if he went to the University of Chicago's Law School?

Paul Hsieh wrote:

Hale: You are quite right. Fortunately, I don't think that leading one's life and pursuing values in a fully rational fashion causes harm to others.

In fact, I don't believe there are any inherent conflicts of rational interest between humans in normal contexts.

For further discussion of this view, I'd like to point towards the excellent book by University of Texas Professor of Philosophy Tara Smith entitled, "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist" (Amazon link below).

Professor Smith discusses how a policy of rational ethical egoism is compatible with (and in fact the only consistent basis for) classical virtues such as honesty, integrity, justice, rationality, etc.

It dispels the notion that egoism must imply screwing other people. In fact, it shows that the exact opposite is true.">">

I also wanted explicitly challenge the author's primary thesis that there is any kind of a moral *obligation* to help those less fortunate.

My contention is that even if an innocent child in Africa could be saved by my giving him $200 of my salary, his need (genuine as it may be) does not create any sort of mystical *obligation* for me to part with that money for his behalf. In other words, I don't see any basis for the sort of moral calculus being proposed. In fact, to adopt it means that one's own life energy ends up being drained perpetually in a race to the bottom. One can never claim the fruits of one's labor as rightfully one's own - not when there is someone in greater need (and there will always be someone in greater need).

This nightmarish moral outlook is not conducive to life at all, and only leads to unnecesary, undeserved moral guilt. For similar reasons, I reject Peter Singer's moral philosophy.

In contrast, when charitable giving accords with my own values and priorities, then I am happy to donate, because it furthers *my* values. And I do give freely to numerous charitable organizations (predominantly to educational groups as well as various organizations like FIRE which defend freedom of speech and other individual rights) for precisely those reason.

As one of my friends pointed out to me in separate e-mail discussion about this article: "...[I]f UNICEF is so good, why are some people still starving? The real issue, though, is ...what the haves have that the have nots have not, is freedom. UNICEF gives a man a fish (a few men, anyway). Freedom gives a man the ability to fish for a lifetime."

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on May 27, 2008 7:21 AM.

Phoenix Descending was the previous entry in this blog.

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