North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Is charity a virtue under Objectivist ethics?

Is charity a virtue under Objectivist ethics?

Old Toad
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 194
What was Ayn Rand's view on charity?
"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." [From "Playboy's 1964 interview with Ayn Rand"]


From this quote, I would gather that Ayn Rand did consider charity to be a virture, albeit a minor one. Assuming for the moment that charity is a minor virture (but certianly not a moral duty), what is the philosophical basis for its being a virtue?

I was thinking this might be a subject matter we could invite an Objectivist speaker to address. In particular, I am thinking of Tara Smith, who appears to have made some prior speeches on this topic. Is there any other interest on this topic out there?

-- Todd
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 86
It's an interesting subject because a lot of people mistakenly think that just because Objectivism casts off altruisms as evil, then that must mean any charity is evil. It is a misunderstanding that I have run into, anyway, when I tell people I am studying Objectivism.

Just my 2 cents.
A former member
Post #: 10
what is the philosophical basis for its being a virtue?

I think that if it benefits both the giver and recipient and harms nobody then it is justified. Gad.
Dan
dbclawyer
Allen, TX
Post #: 30
A few preliminary thoughts:

The question, in my mind, is what value is being obtained through giving? Depending on one's personal circumstances, the values will differ. So long as a (rational) value is obtained, the giving is virtuous. A point worth remembering is that other people can be—and often are—of enormous value to any given individual.
A former member
Post #: 99
Todd,

I think that having Tara Smith or some other "local" (to Texas at least) Objectivist intellectual speak is a good idea. We should support Texas Objectivists as much as possible since we live here.
Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 41
I think the reasons for the charity would determine the virtuosity/virtuousness(sp? I'm too lazy right now to look up the right word and spelling). Lightning strikes the house and burns it to the ground of someone who's friendship you value and you help them with a place to stay, clothing, and food till they recover, wouldn't that sort of charity be virtuous? Charity that acts like a crutch and brings about a sense of entitlement I wouldn't consider virtuous.
Old Toad
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 198
My initial post really addressed two separate subject matters, which probably should have been raised separately:

1) Substantively, what is the philosophical basis for charity being a virtue? In response to Travis's (aka "Lathanar") post, this would help us determine which kinds of charity would be virtuous and which would not.

2) Would there be interest in having Tara Smith speak to us on this topic?

We have had responses to both subtopics:

1) So far, Gad, Dan, and Lathanar have spoken to the substantive question. I think that identifying the definition of a "virture" would be paramount to the analysis. I also think that in this regard Travis's (aka "Lathanar") comment that the reason for the charity would be important for qualifying as a virtue.

2) So far, at least Sherry and Dean have voiced support for seeing if Tara Smith might be willing to speak to us on this topic. Are any others out there interested in this topic?

-- Todd
A former member
Post #: 100

1) So far, Gad, Dan, and Lathanar have spoken to the substantive question. I think that identifying the definition of a "virture" would be paramount to the analysis. I also think that in this regard Travis's (aka "Lathanar") comment that the reason for the charity would be important for qualifying as a virtue.
-- Todd

Perhaps what we need to do is reduce the concept of "virtue".

(Don't know what it means to "reduce" a concept? Then you need to join my OPAR group! (I'm shameless, I know.)tongue )
Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 43
I'd be very interested in hearing a talk on this. I started to get into a converstaion with my children on this because of an article they were reading in their Time Kids newsletter about needing to feed the kids in Africa and why we can afford it. I didn't go much further than they can want to do it if they find value in it, but there was nothing that would make them have to do it. Eve had remarked she didn't want to be cold-hearted which led to another conversation. I had not completely thought out the charity issue completely yet, so this would really be helpful for me at least.

- Travis
A former member
Post #: 11
what value is being obtained through giving?

Our help to others is more effective at work, as opposed to charitable giving, because it takes money to make our actions effective.

Beside getting paid, the giver/helper in a work/business context may also benefit by having the satisfaction that they are effective in helping others. However, it is not common in a business environment that we can benefit emotionally from knowing that we promote our deepest and personally chosen values.

Some ways to give/help others may not be able to raise money. In such situations our help may not be very effective because there is only so much we can accomplish when we are not paid. But if we choose well what and how much money we give or work we do for charity, we may be able to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from knowing that we are doing something about our deepest personal values. It feels good in a very serious way to practice what you hold dear.
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