A common line of attack on Ayn Rand, from “professional” academic philosophers, is to go after her for her defense of egoism. This has always seemed disingenuous to me. Or, at best, uncharitable. The argument goes something like this: Ayn Rand defended selfishness as a virtue Thrasymachus in Plato’s Republic did the same thing Socrates humiliated Thrasymachus in that dialogue Therefore, Ayn Rand’s defense of selfishness is obviously wrong But, anyone trained as a philosopher should be able to recognize the problems with this argument without much effort.
The following quote is from a discussion of Plato’s dialogue “The Republic”, from this course on Coursera. The professor, a Dr. Meyer, is explaining the interactions early in the book between Glaucon, Adeimantus, Socrates, and Thrasymachus, wherein the group is debating the subject of whether it is more advantageous to be a just or an unjust man. Dr. Meyer, in this quote, is attempting to compare the vulgar egoism of Thrasymachus to Ayn Rand’s Virtue Of Selfishness, in a throw-away line clearly intended to virtue-signal, and intimidate younger students: