Reason as the Leading Motive

Kindness and Generosity: Are They Really ‘Virtues’?

Posted by Jerry on March 20, 2006

Greg Perkins, the newest inductee of Noodlefood, recently posted his thoughts about Kindness, Generosity and Charity – concepts of human behavior that have been typically considered as virtues belonging to the altruistic domain.

Greg reacts to Tara Smith’s discussion of this issue in her larger study of the egoist ethics in her forthcoming book, Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist.

It might help to keep in mind that a virtue is that which you do to achieve your rational values, and a vice is that which you do to achieve your irrational values. Therefore, about Kindness, Generosity and Charity, one must ask – what are the values I will be achieving inorder for my kindness, generosity and charity to be considered acts of virtue? Are the values rational?

Here are some excerpts from Greg’s post:

People commonly presume that egoists must be averse to kindness, generosity, and charity because of the focus on benefit to others. And it doesn’t hurt that these are high on the list of altruist virtues that are drilled into people from birth as demanded by said sacrificial code.

…Dr. Smith turned that defensive stance around and talked about how the common presumption is utterly backward. It is the selfish egoists who are naturally inclined to kindness, generosity, and charity, while the selfless altruists are not.

…altruists work to constantly convince themselves that kindness, generosity, and charity are important virtues they must strive to practice — and no accident that they are reflexively concerned with how we egoists fare regarding them. Well, I for one expect rational egoists to fare wonderfully because our creed actually encourages us to value our lives and the people in them.

…egoists are all about trading on every level and in every way — people can be very valuable to us… it is easy and natural for us to look well upon those close to us (and at least neutrally on those we don’t know) and express our esteem for them and their actual or potential value in the form of kindness, generosity, and charity. Especially when it is an expression of our more important values. Acting this way can be good and is indeed “no big deal,” so we certainly don’t need to have it drilled into us. We are naturally predisposed to (appropriate) use of kindness, generosity, and charity.


One Response to “Kindness and Generosity: Are They Really ‘Virtues’?”

  1. Semperviva said

    hey!!!!!!!!!!! are u still in america??? where you at? 😉 miss you kiddo

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