The Ethics of Emergencies

The moral environment today as explained by Any Rand in her book titled “The Ethics of Emergencies” is very different to how we used to know it in the past. She does not extol consequentiality egoism. She discusses how one should act when faced by a metaphysically normal scenario where human survival is impossible. She argues that if the person who is to be saved is a stranger then it is only morally proper to take the risk of saving him if the danger to one’s life is minimal and if the danger is great it would be regarded as immoral to try and save the victim (Rand 1964). This is the egoistic aspect where the danger involved to oneself dictates the agent’s act.

The personal interests of such an agent are not considered especially after not saving the stranger who was drowning. The closer the victim is to the person passing by, the higher the risk that the passer-by should accept in the attempt to rescue the victim. From her arguments we can conclude that only the sentient creatures have some welfare and they should be well aware of the welfare and through this welfare and its awareness we are able to develop values (Robert 2007). From this we can conclude that only the sentient creatures should have values.

The goal-directed behavior shown by its nature implies that there is always an alternative present for every situation. This behavior requires an existence of another entity which is faced by alternatives and this alternative should make a difference. The goal of life according to her is to act in a manner that suits the beings of similar kinds. Humans should act in agreement with the nature of all humans and being under the principles that guide all humans, towards successful lives as being rational beings (Mimi 1999). If an individual acts against the set principles they are not allowed to exclude themselves from the set principles and if they exclude themselves then they should also exclude themselves from the set of human beings.

According to Rand, values are the things that we act to gain or keep and virtues are the ways and the means by which we are able to gain and keep the values. Virtues are pride, rationality and productiveness. Rationality in this case means the acceptance and recognition of reason as the only source of knowledge, judge of values and the guide to action. Rationality includes independence, integrity, justice, and honesty (Rand 1964).

The ethics of altruism if accepted has the following consequences: lack of self-esteem because life is about the sacrifices that you make; lack of respect for other people  because people are described as beggars who are always crying for people’s help; a nightmare view of existence because individuals are trapped in this malevolent universe in which disasters are the primary and constant concerns of their lives; and finally a lethargic indifference to ethics because they are left to live without any kind of moral principles. In today’s world many reasonable and well-meaning men do not know how to conceptualize or identify the moral principles that usually motivate their affection, love, or even goodwill and therefore they do not find any guidance in all the fields of ethics that is always subjugated by the stale platitudes of altruism (Machan 2009).

Friendship and love are selfish and personal values because it is one’s selfish and personal happiness that one derives, earns and seeks from love. Any action taken to protect or rescue those that one loves is not taken as sacrifice but it is always important to differentiate between the rules of conduct in a normal condition of the human existence and the rules of conduct in case of an emergency (Robert 2007).

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