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  1. 1. 4-16 ethical egoism
  2. 2. ethical egoism <ul><li>egoism is the idea that, in some way, one’s own interests are what is most important. as such, one ought to look to these interests above all else. that is, what is moral is acting to further one’s own interests </li></ul>
  3. 3. different types of egoism <ul><li>personal egoism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>this is not a moral system, and, as such, it does not provide any moral prescriptions. rather, it is unconcerned with what is “right” or “wrong.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can be thought of as simple selfishness </li></ul></ul><ul><li>individual ethical egoism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>what is moral is what is in my interests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>implausible as it provides no reason others can’t put themselves in the “me” position </li></ul></ul><ul><li>universal ethical egoism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>everyone ought to serve his or her own self-interest </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. arguments for universal ethical egoism <ul><li>economist argument </li></ul><ul><li>ayn rand’s argument </li></ul><ul><li>hobbesian argument </li></ul>
  5. 5. economist argument <ul><li>says that rational self-interest leads to the good of all (in that the good of all is the concern, this is really a form of utilitarianism) </li></ul><ul><li>the idea is that when everyone looks out for themselves in terms of enlightened self-interest, the best overall situation is achieved </li></ul>
  6. 6. problems <ul><li>it is unclear that one can move from an economic system to a moral system </li></ul><ul><li>traditional laissez-faire capitalism is no longer trusted by the majority </li></ul><ul><ul><li>nations relying on capitalism have long ago supplemented that system with various governmental guarantees of security that have a socialist flavor, e.g. social security, welfare, medicare, etc </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. ayn rand’s argument <ul><li>argument rest upon the supposition that happiness is the highest goal </li></ul><ul><li>our moral duty is to reach our highest goal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>hence, our moral duty is to achieve our greatest happiness </li></ul></ul><ul><li>altruism is thought to be incompatible with this moral duty as it demands we sacrifice ourselves for others’ happiness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>if everyone did this, no one would ever achieve happiness, so no happiness would ever be had </li></ul></ul><ul><li>egoism is in line with this duty as it demands we serve our own interests, those things most likely to make us happy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>hence, egoism is correct </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. problems <ul><li>seems to be a false dilemma. there seem to be a variety of positions between an absolute egoism or an absolute altruism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>even Christ suggested you love your neighbor as yourself </li></ul></ul><ul><li>suggests you are obligated to harm others when it serves your interests. that is, you ought to further your own interests even when that means harming other people </li></ul><ul><li>rand’s definition of altruism seems terribly flawed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>see p. 424 in [q] </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. hobbesian argument <ul><li>we have a powerful predisposition to care only for ourselves. </li></ul><ul><li>as we cannot overcome this urge without great effort, it is morally permissible to act entirely out of self-interest </li></ul><ul><ul><li>often it is in our long-term self-interest to cooperate with others. however, we should not confuse this with the claim that we ought to act for others. we must recognize that our own interests are king. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in order to ensure our own interests, we must impose a moral code by means of a strong central government, a powerful police force, and effective system of punishment </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. problems <ul><li>assumes that our nature is to only care about ourselves, that we are essentially all egoists, but this does not appear to be true </li></ul><ul><ul><li>if we are currently “in a state of nature” then clearly we have no problem with cooperating with others. indeed, we have good reason to believe that we are biologically predisposed to cooperate with others </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. the inconsistent argument outcome <ul><li>cannot be a moral system as it cannot be a guide to action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>moral principles must be universal and categorical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>i must universalize my egoist desire to come out on top of everyone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>i must also prescribe everyone else’s desire to come out on top of all others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>hence, i have prescribed incompatible outcomes and have not provided a way of adjudicating conflicts of desire </li></ul></ul><ul><li>response is we can separate our beliefs about ethical situations from our desires. so, like various games, you can recognize what a person should do while hoping he does not do it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>this seems to miss the point as these are prudential concerns and not ethical </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. the publicity argument <ul><li>in order for something to be a moral theory its moral principle must be publicized. that is, principles must be put forward as universal prescriptions if they are to serve as guides for action </li></ul><ul><li>once the egoist puts forward such principles, his self-interest is harmed as others are now serving their own interests, and such are commonly opposed to his own </li></ul>
  13. 13. the paradox argument <ul><li>things like companionship, friendship, love, etc seem to be important aspect of our lives. given these are in our interests, it looks as if one must, in order to attain the above, put aside many of one’s other interests for the purpose of attaining what is most important. this seems, in some way, to be paradoxical </li></ul><ul><li>of course, this could simply suggest that some desires are more important than others. as what is truly in our interest is the fulfillment of our greatest desires, we are serving our interests by taking others’ interests into consideration when we are deciding what actions are appropriate </li></ul>
  14. 14. argument from counterintuitive consequences <ul><li>absolute egoism not only permits egoistic behavior, it demands it </li></ul><ul><li>it is morally wrong to help others at one’s own expense </li></ul><ul><li>even if i am simply in a position where i cannot be sure some action, such as helping you, will benefit me, i am morally obligated to abstain from helping </li></ul><ul><li>such behavior seems, intuitively, required in order to be moral </li></ul><ul><li>the response to the above is that one is simply relying on a different morality, one which is contrary to the egoist’s morality. however, to criticize the egoist on this count is question begging </li></ul>
  15. 15. evolution and altruism <ul><li>it looks like we are predisposed to be altruistic and cooperate </li></ul><ul><li>however, this is largely irrelevant since to deduce an “ought” from an “is” is one of the most well-known fallacies we have, the naturalistic fallacy </li></ul>