Ayn Rand's Argument Against Individual Rights

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Ayn Rand presents an argument against individual rights in her essay, Man’s Rights. She believes that these rights do not actually exist outside of the right to life and the right to property; or less specifically, the right to action. Many critics see flaws in her argument however, finding flaws in her reasoning. Rand attempts to argue that egoism and rights entail each other. Egoism being the theory that believes that selfishness is the foundation of morality. Robert Bass claims that Rand does not create a compelling case to convince her audience that egoism and rights go together. Bass believes that Rand made a mistake when “she posited, as the alternative to egoism, a doctrine that she labeled altruism” (Bass, 330). Unlike Rand, Bass…show more content…
Ashford believes despite Rand’s claims that she was unaffected by outside influence during her writings, Rand unintentionally picked up ideas from other philosophers and events that impacted her life. Ashford writes that “Rand presents readers with a total philosophy for living in a period supposedly…Weary from Communism, fascism, and two world wars” (Ashford, 977). The questioning being that if her writing is meant as a way to live well after these events, and she lived through these events, how was her philosophy not effected by them. Despite her proposed solution to dealing with the world’s problems, it “was simply not what most established intellectuals were looking for in 1957” (Ashford, 977). This might be the result of the fact that she wrote philosophy for a movement she was not a part of. Ashford later notes the vast similarities between Ayn Rand and Max Sterner. One idea Rand and Sterner have similar views on is the idea that “the social theory of ethics substitutes ‘society’ for God” (Ashford, 981). Another is than socialism “claims that its chief concern is life on earth, it is not the life of man, not the life of an individual, but the life of a disembodies entity, the collective, which, in relation to every individual, consists of everybody except himself” (Ashford, 982). While Ashford does not specifically refer to Rand’s Man’s Rights, he still sees holes in Rand’s philosophical
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