Front Page Titles (by Subject) Is Egoism Subjectivist? - Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1980, vol. 3, No. 3
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Is Egoism Subjectivist? - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1980, vol. 3, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Is Egoism Subjectivist?
“‘Because It is Mine’: A Critique of Egoism.” The Personalist 60(April 1979):186–200.
The egoist's moral position has represented a constant and formidable dilemma for those seeking a rational justification for a universal ethic, because the egoist bases his stand on a universal principle and he universalizes it. Nonetheless, he gives preference to his own claim whenever it comes in conflict with the claims of others.
Many ethical thinkers have sought to undermine the egoist stance with charges of subjectivism by arguing that justice, like all general and impersonal principles, must be applied universally, unless we can identify some relevant difference which distinguishes a situation or a person from a general category. The egoist, they claim, makes exceptions in his own favor whenever his interests dictate, ignoring the moral criterion of the relevant difference.
The egoist might reply that, besides universalizability, reason possesses another important dimension. Plato, for example, has defined reason as the faculty which makes possible the identification and achievement of the good of one's self as a whole. Justice or fairness thus becomes to ta heautou prattein—doing one's own work to attain one's total good. As for “relevant differences,” certainly the fact that the other person is not oneself constitutes a most relevant difference. The “Individualistic Argument” thus runs: “I ought to do x simply because I am I...and it is in my interest to do x.”
Prof. Beatty replies to the egoist that “I am I” is a statement that can be made by anyone. As such, it does not constitute a relevant difference. Furthermore, he asserts, “what makes a reason a good one is not its source—that would be authoritarianism—but rather its content, features of the reason on its own merits independently of its pedegree or the power or status of its advocate.” To say otherwise would be to fall into the very subjectivism which the egoist tries to avoid by his reasoning.
Nonetheless, one might salvage the “I am I” principle by another approach. Kant has pointed out that freedom is the presupposition of all moral claims. To assert that persons are free is to assume that there is a domain in which they may enjoy freedom from interference precisely because it is their own domain. Exceptions in favor of one's interests thus become licit because personal ownership is itself requisite for the autonomy presupposed by any moral principle.
However, Prof. Beatty asks, what principle allows the egoist to violate the theoretically inviolate autonomy of others to further his own ends? According to Beatty, the egoist might reply that morality itself requires the freedom to choose from among moral principles. If a moral agent were compelled by argument to choose one course of action over another, that would in effect render him unfree and would undermine the possibility of morality itself. The egoist thus would liberate himself to choose arbitrarily.
Closely examined, this form of freedom (or better capriciousness) appears intolerable. First of all, it leaves the egoist open to the depredations of others pursuing their own ends. In addition, by eliminating the requirement of justification, it subjugates the egoist to brute psychological or ideological compulsions which undermine the personal autonomy he defends.
Thus, Prof. Beatty concludes, the egoist who grounds his self-preferential claims on ownership and property must finally resort to the subjectivist “autonomy of morals.” In doing so, he must abandon all pretence that his position is intellectually grounded or indeed that it is a morality at all.