“Why do libertarians shy away from the objective foundation of rights? I suspect that in many cases they do so because they are uncomfortable with the controversy of that foundation.
“The principle of rights is logically an expression of the principle of egoism: the moral truth that each person should act in his best interest and is the proper beneficiary of his productive actions. Rights exist precisely to ban physical force from social relationships and thus to enable people to act on their own judgment for their own sake—which means: Rights exist to enable people to be selfish. Rights morally sanction the very kind of action that religious ethics has for twenty-five hundred years condemned as evil: selfish action—action taken by the individual to sustain his own life and achieve his own happiness.
“The reason many people refuse to recognize and embrace the objective foundation for rights is that that foundation is the morality of egoism (as against altruism) and the philosophy of reason (as against faith). Being for egoism and reason—and thus against altruism and faith—in today’s world is controversial and can cause people to scoff.
“But here’s the thing: Egoism and reason are requirements of human life. They are, in fact, the fundamental requirements of human life. If we do not look at reality, use logic, and act in a self-interested manner, we cannot live and prosper. There is no getting around these truths, and—setting aside the pseudo reason of ‘But people don’t like rational egoists’—there is no reason to try getting around them. Truths are not our enemies but our friends. We need to know the truth and act in accordance with it so that we can live successfully, achieve our goals, and protect our rights in the realm of truth: reality.
“Rational people don’t decide what to believe by asking, ‘What do others believe?’ or ‘What will others think of me if I recognize this fact?’ Rational people use their minds to figure out what is true; they embrace the truths they discover; and they do so regardless of what others believe or think or say or do.
“If we want to defend rights—and thus liberty—we must embrace the morality of egoism and the philosophy of reason.”
The Objective Standard
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