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Isn't reproduction -- not life -- the standard of value?

In "The Objectivist Ethics," Ayn Rand claims that "an organism’s life is its standard of value," meaning that "that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil." She claims that on the grounds that the physical functions of a living organism are "actions generated by the organism itself and directed to a single goal: the maintenance of the organism’s life." In fact, however, evolutionary theory teaches us that reproduction, not life, is the ultimate end of every living organism. Is that true? If so, does that have implications for ethics?

Anonymous , 17.02.2013, 14:09
Idea status: under consideration


Adam , 18.09.2013, 05:34
I would not say that modern evolutionary theory holds reproduction as the standard of value. If you are talking about gene centred theories, then it is the perpetuation of the genes which is the standard of value. This is not the same as reproduction from an individual's point of view; it might be in the interest of the genes for one individual to die so that a greater number of others may prosper. If you look at worker ants for example, their standard of value is the genes of the queen ant; they live to serve her, and cannot breed themselves.
Mike, 21.12.2013, 16:21
This is prevalent throughout all life. Even amoeba will gather together to form a tower to allow the amoeba at the top of the tower to use the wind to move to an area with greater nutrients. Those amoeba that build the tower die. All but the leaders of a pack of dogs deny themselves reproduction so the best of the group can reproduce. This ensures that the species continues, not the individual. Clearly we should be living our lives for the benefit of the species. Living for the individual goes against the reality of life. And respecting reality is important.

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