Can self-interest be moral? <ul><li>Henry David Thoreau </li></ul><ul><li>Ralph Waldo Emerson </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates </li></ul>FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO WRESTLED WITH THIS IDEA:
Can SELF-INTEREST and the TRUTH coexist in such a manner that actions are moral? Many philosophers and persons associated with the humanities believe that self-interest is not always evil, but is sometimes necessary and important to society.
MACHIAVELLI believed that politically enlightened self-interest was the only possible means to a stable and harmonious society, thus assuring morality. What is ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTEREST, and does it assure a moral existence?
What role does ECONOMICS play in SELF-INTEREST, and if the two are linked, is morality still a possibility? ADAM SMITH believed that the perfect society was one in which all people were free to pursue self-interest.
How can one TRANSCEND SELF-INTEREST to assure that one is being moral? A widely admired—and for some, purely theoretical—moral path that transcends self-interest is the path of ALTRUISM, the extreme opposite of self-interest.
Jeremy Bentham : Moral Mathematics He believed in the greatest good for the greatest number. John Stuart Mill : Liberalism The Tyranny of the Majority —the majority can be wrong, and government is needed to balance the irresponsibility on the part of the general population. Immanuel Kant : The Moral Imperative His moral imperative states that the sense of right and wrong is inborn and that this “sense of ought” is an intuitive classification of actions and choices as morally acceptable and unacceptable.
RELIGION AND MORALITY The major world religions—Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have provided what we might call “moral orientation” for most of the world’s population.
WORK AND MORALITY The workplace is for many people the means to the good life, but others envision an ideal world of friendship, trust, and security—qualities associated with altruism—that is separate from the adversarial world of working for self-interest.
MORAL RELATIVISM The belief that right and wrong have no universal meaning but must be defined within a given context. MORAL RELATIVISM is in opposition to MORAL ABSOLUTISM, in which actions are right or wrong, no matter what the situation.