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The Pursuit of Happiness And Tools for Attaining It

Historically, Americans have fiercely defended the idea that every man has a birthright to the pursuit of happiness. An individual’s success in attaining happiness, however, depends on what he does with that right.


While numerous goods can contribute to a happy life, this lecture examines a handful – three factors whose vital significance is not conventionally recognized and which are, in fact, routinely vilified.


The lecture opens by discussing what happiness is, focusing on features that particularly illuminate means for acquiring it. It then turns to three central conditions of happiness: pride; productiveness (including discussion of money and of greed), and unabashed selfishness.

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The Virtuous Egoist

Ayn Rand is well known for advocating selfishness, yet the substance of that selfishness is rarely understood. This lecture presents Rand's ideal: a virtuous egoist.

Professor Smith explains why a person should be an egoist, the kind of egoism that Rand does and does not endorse, and the kinds of virtues that a person must exercise in order to actually achieve his self-interest. Along the way, Smith differentiates Rand’s rational egoism from hedonism, materialism, and predation, and sketches Rand’s egoistic account of two vital but widely misunderstood virtues: honesty and justice

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