Not a jab. Just a commentary on specific meanings of words being important for constructive debate, NOT drawing a comparative example from your comment.
A saint who sacrifices his life for others is still "self interested" because he does it out of concern for his own conscience. But this is still "selfless" behavior and is anathema to a Randian.
If I'm right you are concerned that its problematic ifeveryone decides for themselves what is right or wrong.
It would create far too many possibilities for the darker side of human nature to manifest. For example: I deserve that food more than that guy. Or I want to have sex with children. Or I would put that land to much better use than that guy.
If everyone gets to decide for themselves what their place in the scheme of things is, unverified or supported by any outside confirmation their is no "moral center".
And of course I am aware that no one does anything that isn't "selfish".
Even those things we do for others, other than for our children, are motivated by a need to overcome the discomfort one feels at their plight.
Not belittling the samaritan or altruist, just repeating how it was explained to me once.
The theory being explained was that this need to do something to correct anothers suffering, or stand in the way of "abuse", or whatever is genetic in origin, and actually may have been what got us off the savannah.
One of the differences between us and the other apes is this willingness to help others when there will be no reward.
It's more like deciding where the focal point of right and wrong should be fixed. An objectivist is basically a utilitarian that puts the focal point of morality as the personal experience of the individual (kind of ironic considering the name). That which offers utility to the self is the highest good to the Objectivist.
This differs from your typical Millsian or Rawlsian utilitarian, who will regard fixing the focal point of morality at the individual level to be arbitrary, because there are more people than the individual, and they are all worth considering. What makes ones own life more valuable than the life of another person, apart from the fact that it is is yours?
Incidentally, I am not a utilitarian, I am a deontologist. Intuitively, I find very basis of Objectivism to be revolting. It glorifies selfishness
I participated in an actual experiment in communism that failed for the reason it always will outside small groups of like minded AND like abled persons. The effective cannot carry the useless. And I used unconventional terms right now because I feel the usual ones are not really accurate and are too heavily weighted with preconceptions.
All these things are just economic theories anyway, made up by people. And most things made up by people tend to serve the people who make them up.
A self interested person values other people, not for the monetary or material benefits they get from them, but for what makes the person.
Selfish is such an emotionally laden term, it's not worth using.
Objectivism, like any form of libertarianism (including libertarian socialist) is not easy for most people to understand.
I was discovering that life just simply isn't fair and bask in the unsung glory of knowing that each obstacle overcome along the way only adds to the satisfaction in the end. Nothing great, after all, was ever accomplished by anyone sulking in his or her misery.