Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Objectivist canard about Duty

Duty, it is claimed, can arise only in a social context, and is closely related to the concept of altruism. Objectivist egoism therefore rejects "duty" as evil, particularly Kant's version which is an alleged all-out war on the individual.

That is just a Randian straw-man argument against duty, it does not take into account Kant's actual arguments in its support.

Duty is, generally speaking, that activity which requires an effort of free-will to perform, this says nothing about society. But more specifically, Kant would have all duties oriented in the direction of the CI which he considered a product of reasoning and not of society,
external authority, or subjective whims and inclinations.

Indeed, if duty to the CI were socially oriented as they claim, then that would render Kantian morality heteronomous, which means dependent on and enslaved to empirical factors. It is very basic to the understanding of this topic that Kantian morality is not heteronomous, it is a theory of moral autonomy, which means, in my view, freedom from enslavement to the empirical (whims, authorities, and society).

It is my view that Objectivism holds to a heteronomous view of the will which enslaves the will and reason of its followers to the natural, empirical inclination toward happiness - and implicitly, to Ayn Rand's will to follow her philosophy and way of life through the power of the writings she left behind. The will of the Randroid is not autonomous, that is why they are described as Randroids. They may assert that it is only the power of her reasoning which is so influential. But this alleged reasoning is supported by a great many attacks on her alleged "opponents," real or imaginary. Such attacks are not reasonable or philosophical, they only serve as emotional rhetorical devices aimed at making her alleged absolutes seem beyond reproach.

So how could Kant hold to a view of the will as autonomous and yet hold to a form of deontology at the same time? He doesn't. I deny that his morals was duty-centered at all, they were CI-centered. The CI is based upon reason, and it is by your autonomous will that you choose
to follow it by doing your duty to reason vs. following inclinations or "whim."

It is the Randroid, on the other hand, who has relinquished his autonomous will in favor of doing his duty to the will of Rand.

No comments: