In his recent interview with Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro suggests that rational self-interest is just another name for hedonism.1 But that makes no sense. And Shapiro should (and likely does) know better.
Having been asked by Rubin whether he has any thoughts on Ayn Rand and Objectivism, Shapiro says that there are “very few expositors of capitalism who I think are better than Ayn Rand.” But, he continues, “as far as her life philosophy, and her relationship philosophy, I think that’s pretty garbage. I don’t think Objectivism applies in personal relationships.”
Shapiro goes on to say that the way Objectivists “get around” the idea that it’s in your self-interest to “abandon your wife and your children because there’s a hot chick at the bar” is by “redefin[ing] their terminology” and claiming that such behavior is not in one’s rational self-interest.
[Objectivists] say that you’re not making a sacrifice for your wife and children [by staying with them]. You’ve made a decision and it makes you happier to be with your wife and children—and the rational person would make that decision that it’s better to be with your wife and children. A lot of forty-year-old men driving Corvettes would disagree. So, I really don’t think that’s correct. . . .
The president’s been married three times, each time to a younger, hotter model. So I have less faith in human nature than to believe that the reason I stick with my wife and kids is because it always makes me happy. There’s plenty of times when I’m with a screaming child in the middle of the night, when what would best serve my interests is to thrust the child on my wife and go drinking.
I doubt Shapiro truly thinks that it is in his best interest to thrust his screaming child on his wife and go drinking. If he does think that, then honesty would require him to convey such “wisdom” to his children. Would Shapiro do that? Well, he justly chastises Sam Harris for suggesting that parents should lie to their children about whether they have free will (Harris says free will is an “illusion” but advocates telling children that they have it).2 So I suspect Shapiro would not lie to his children about what he thinks is in a person’s self-interest. . . .
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1 "Ben Shapiro: Trump, Trans, Religion, Abortion, and Tax Cuts," The Rubin Report, January 3, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9IwamztdqA.
2 "The Intellectual Dark Web (with Eric Weinstein and Ben Shapiro)," Waking Up with Sam Harris #112, January 3, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTWCl32j8jM.
3 Craig Biddle, Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts That Support It, (Richmond, VA: Glen Allen Press, 2002), 50-51.