Book Discussion: In Defense of Selfishness by Peter Schwartz

For an upcoming book discussion, I drafted the following announcement:

“Every civilized culture is shaped by some view of right and wrong…In ours it is the principle of altruism…Our society takes as a given the idea that pursuing your own welfare is morally tainted but sacrificing yourself for the benefit of others is virtuous. [This book] asks you to question that assumption.” – Peter Schwartz

Come and join us for a discussion on the core of today’s moral conflict, which is rooted in idealism versus reality.  We will be discussing Peter Schwartz’s new book In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice is Unjust and Destructive. At OCON 2015, where the book was featured in several talks, Schwartz shared that his own title for the book had been The Tyranny of Need.

According to the publisher, “This provocative book challenges readers to re-examine the standard by which they decide what is morally right or wrong.”

Unlike most people, we understand that self-sacrifice is bad and that selfishness is good, so why read and discuss another book about it?

How did the last conversation go when you discussed self-sacrifice vs. selfishness with a non-Objectivist? How long ago has that been?

When you have discussions about other topics, how often does this moral conflict come up as the crux of a disagreement?

When you talk about being selfish, do people who like you try to talk you out of it based upon a genuine concern for your well-being while protesting that you do not act selfish?

More personally, are you genuinely making selfish choices in your life or have old habits and the cultural atmosphere led you into sacrificial decisions?

For a general audience, Schwartz analyzes in detail the nature and consequences of altruism; plus, he explains the nature of selfishness and choice to the reader’s life. What can we learn about effectively communicating these ideas from this book? Further, would this book make a good gift for someone about whom you care especially if that individual needs to make better choices?

C-SPAN’s broadcast of Peter Schwartz’s talk, which was delivered as a part of ARI’s Road to a Free Society tour, can be seen here.

Peter Schwartz’s interview with The Undercurrent can be read here.

The book is available in hardcover, Kindle, and audio formats.

As a selfish citizen, what could you do about this?

  • If you are in the DC area, let me know and I can invite you to our event.
  • Read the book!
  • Reuse the above (permission granted) to organize your own discussion of the book.
  • If you have a campus based organization, attempt to secure Peter Schwartz to speak at your campus.
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