(Original post by DaftPunk)
Imagine that Objectivism’s fondest wish has come true; we are living in a society governed by the objectivist philosophy. In many ways, it wouldn’t be so different from our own- we would still have families and many other social institutions because, even though we are all out for ourselves, relationships with others serve as means to satisfy our greedy ends.
Now, imagine that there was someone who I despised, and would like nothing more to see that person suffer. Suppose that I decided the most efficient way to make him miserable would be to murder his young daughter. Note that the desire to kill her is not an emotional one- it is rational because, through making him miserable, it would make me happy, and thus satisfy my greedy desires.Note also that the objectivist has no reason to care about the girls welfare. As Objectivism eloquently puts it;
So, acting upon this rational desire, I murder her. Let us imagine that I am caught, and punished. In this case, what I did was wrong- it led to my being sent to prison, and thus stops me from fulfilling my greedy desires. Now let us imagine I get away with it. In this case, according to objectivism not only is what I did not wrong it is actually MORALLY RIGHT, as it fulfils my desire to see my enemy suffer, without having any consequences that frustrate my greedy desires. In our non-objectivist society, such examples can be countered by saying that the person would experience deep remorse, so ultimately the act would not make him happy. However, as objectivism himself points out, in an objectivist society there would be no remorse- how could one feel remorse for fulfilling ones selfish desires and thus doing what is good? Remorse for wronging others is, from the objectivism view, nothing more than a product of our society’s misplaced emphasis on altruism.
You may argue that most murderers do not get away with it, so this example is not relevant. The point is, however, that if a moral system, even in principle, judges whether or not murdering a young girl is wrong depending on whether you get away with it, there is something deeply wrong with this moral system.
Alternatively you may argue that we can never know whether or not we will get away with a murder, so should err on the side of caution and not commit murder. However, this does not get rid of the central problem- murder is no more justified if we rationally judge beforehand that we can probably get away with it, than if we take an irrational risk.