Critical Analysis of "The Objectivist Ethics"


The following are a series of independent statements that are joined together in classic aristoteolian deductive fashion. These statements are either taken from or paraphrased from "The Objectivist Ethics" by Ayn Rand. The statements are combined to recreate her argument in geometric form, and then the logic analysed therin. Statements 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 13, 14 and 15 are actually definitions in disguise given by Ayn Rand within the essay.

1. Morality is a code of values to guide man's actions.

2. Ethics is the science that deals with discovering and defining morality.

3. A value is that which one acts to gain or keep.

4. A virtue is the act by which one gains or keeps a value.

5. An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means.

6. An ultimate value is an end in itself.

7. A standard is an abstract principle that serves as a measurement to guide a man's choices in the achievement of a specific purpose.

8. The ultimate value for an individual organism is the preservation of its life.

9. The appropriate specific values for an organism are determined by its nature.

10. Man has no automatic code of survival.

11. That which must be volitionally sought after cannot be acquired automatically.

12. Conceptual knowledge must be sought after volitionally.

13. Conceptualization is a process of mental integration of two or more perceptual concretes, which are isolated by a process of abstraction and united by means of a specific definition.

14. Reason is the faculty that allows for a process of conceptualization.

15. Thinking is the act of using reason.

16. Thinking requires a state of focused consciousness.

17. The act of focusing ones consciousness requires a volitional decision.

18. Man's consciousness is a conceptual one.

19. Reason is mans basic means of survival.

20. A code of morality is needed in order to choose the values man's survival requires.

21. Ethics is an objective necessity of man's survival.

22. The standard of value of an appropriate ethics is man's life.

23. Only a living entity can have goals or originate them.

24. Life depends on both fuel from out side the body and appropriate action of the body.

25. The appropriate standard for the actions of a life is that which is required for its preservation.

26. The existence of life is both necessary and sufficient for the existence of value.

27. Life is the standard of all value.

28. Consciousness is the basic means of survival for those organisms which possess it.

29. That which is required for survival is determined by the nature of the organism.

30. Every human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or welfare of others.

31. Reason is man's primary value in an appropriate ethics.

32. Rationality is man's basic virtue, the source of all other virtues.

Syllogism #1: 28 + 18 + 13 + 14 = 19

Inference: The logic of this inference is correct and each of the premises are true, which leads to the necessary truth of the conclusion. The meaning of this is that every thing that is beneficial to survival requires a process of reason. Other activities may be required as well, but only when used in conjunction with reason will their true value be realized. That is what is meant by "Reason is man's basic means of survival."

Syllogism #2: 14 + 15 + 16 + 17 = 12

Inference: This inference is another example of correct logic with a series of true premises leading to a necessarily true conclusion.

Syllogism #3: 19 + 11 + 14 + 12 = 10

Inference: Here is the first example of previous conclusions being used as premises in a different inference. The correctness of this inference in addition to the truth of these premises indicates a true conclusion. This statement is a central theme with Objectivism, and in conjunction with 21 is our primary ideological weapon against the vast majority of non-objective ethical systems used today. "This isn't a game, this is life or death."

Syllogism #4: 23 + 24 + 3 = 26

Inference: If the logic in this inference is not immediately, intuitively obvious, just understand that a "value" is a type of "goal". Also, this conclusion establishes the material equivalence between the concepts of value and life which is such a significant issue within Objectivist ethics.

Syllogism #5: 3 + 24 + 25 = 27

Inference: This is a very similar inference to #4 yet both less certain and relevant. 25 is one of the only uncertain premises I have ever found within the core of Objectivist philosophy. The reason I attribute uncertainty here is that in nature there are animals (humans, lemmings) which occasionally or periodically act in direct violation to the preservation of their life. Regardless, the truth of the conclusion seems fairly certain.

Syllogism #6: 26 + 5 + 27 = 8

Inference: Correct logic and true premises strike again.

Syllogism #7: 8 + 10 + 1 = 20

Inference: Previously validated statements are here combined with a definition to bring us closer to a final conclusion.

Syllogism #8: 20 + 2 = 21

Inference: The significance of this conclusion cannot be overstated and it is one of the three primary conclusions of "The Objectivist Ethics".

Syllogism #9: 8 + 7 + 2 = 22

Inference: This conclusion will lead us directly to the two other primary conclusions.

Syllogism #10: 29 + 26 = 9

Inference: One interesting implication of this conclusion is that what one ought to value is not a matter of choice, but rather is pre-determined by the nature of what one is.

Syllogism #11: 6 + 22 = 30

Inference: 6 is necessarily implied within the previously confirmed statement, 5, and therefore requires no syllogism to prove its validity. This conclusion is the second of the three primary conclusions of this essay. It is also a useful tool in originating and evaluating appropriate actions.

Syllogism #12: 22 + 19 + 9 = 31

Inference: The truth of each of these premises is confirmed in previous syllogisms.

Syllogism #13: 31 + 4 = 32

Inference: The third of the primary conclusions, this statement helps us to understand much of Objectivism. In addition, it teaches us to strive for rationality in our own lives and to learn to appreciate it in others.


Here is a graphic depicting each statement, sylogisim and their relationships:



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