I would certainly prefer it if you decided to stop being alive and allowed me to carry on, but I don’t know how I can rationally infer, from the fact that we are both alive, that pushing you out of the lifeboat is the moral thing to do. It’s equally true that I can’t rationally demonstrate that I ought to give my place on the lifeboat to you. Without some premises to work from, I can't rationally or logically demonstrate why I ought to do anything at all. I don't know how to get from any kind of "is" to any kind of "ought".
I understand that David Hume didn't, either.
To say that something is the right thing to do because it is part of the tao is to admit that I can't say why it is the right thing to do: it just is. Rand will only convince me that she has come up with a rational basis for ethics if she can teach me how I ought to behave without ever appealing to the tao. And that includes explaining what she means by what that pesky little word ought.
Or are we allowed to say “Maybe you did love your dog more than your child, but you ought not to have done”?
If we take the first line, then what set out to be rational theory of ethics turns out to mean “be guided by your emotions: do whatever will make you happy”. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, without even the qualification about harming none. This is exactly what Prof. Lewis warned us would happen. There is a certain irony about how much of our rational ethic comes down to emotions like love, joy and happiness.
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