Reprinted from Navigator, Volume 2, Number 12, 1999.
Ayn Rand contrasted her morality of rational self-interest not just with altruism but with that irrational egoism which she acknowledged to be the popular usage of the word selfish. (See The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. vii-xii.) Objectivists may therefore be interested to know that a similar three-fold analysis of morality formed the basis of a major philosophical debate in Russia during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Such, at any rate, is the thesis of a recent article by James P. Scanlan: The Case against Rational Egoism in Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground.