Ethical Thought C. Ethical Egoism The achievement of his own happiness is mans highest moral purpose. Ayn Rand Recap add 10 key terms for each theory Divine Command Theory Virtue Theory What is ethical Egoism? Ethical egoism is a meta-ethical investigation that is focused on the agent, this is, individual character, to give an understanding of norm or behaviour. In looking at the individual character, and the
motives behind an individuals actions, there is a very important question that emerges. Do we behave in a manner that is purely driven by our self-interest? See the example that follows A normative agent focused ethic based upon self-interest as opposed to altruism (acting for the interests of others) Ethical Egoism An example
A selfless good deed - fri ends Is There a Duty to Contribute for Famine Relief? Each year millions of people die of malnutrition and related health problems. A common pattern among children in poor countries is death from dehydration caused by diarrhea brought on by malnutrition. The executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has estimated that about 15,000 children die in this way every day. That comes to 5,475,000 children annually. Even if this estimate is too high, the number that die is staggering. For those of us in the affluent countries, this poses an acute moral problem. We spend money on ourselves, not only for the necessities of life but for innumerable luxuries-for fine cars, fancy clothes, stereos, sports, movies, and so on. In our country, even people with modest incomes enjoy such things. The problem is that we could forgo our luxuries and give the money for famine relief instead. The fact that we don't suggests that we regard our luxuries as more important than feeding the hungry.
Why do we allow people to starve when we could save them? Few of us actually believe our luxuries are that important. Most of us, if asked the question directly, would probably be a bit embarrassed, and we would say that we probably should do more to help. The explanation of why we do not is, at least in part, that we hardly ever think of the problem. Living our own comfortable lives, we are effectively insulated from it. The starving people are dying at some distance from us; we do not see them and we can avoid even thinking of them. When we do think of them, it is only abstractly, as bloodless statistics. Unfortunately for the dying, statistics do not have much power to motivate. Ethical egoism In 1928, H.A. Pritchard delivered a lecture entitled Duty and Interest in which he questioned the true motive behind a dutiful action. Richard Norman writes Pritchards central argument is this: if justice is advocated on the grounds that it is advantageous to the just person, it is thereby reduced to a form of self-interest. In other words, duty is not really duty unless it is done for duties sake.
If we act because then end product is advantageous to us, whether we are consciously aware of the fact or not, we are, in essence, acting from self-interest. This is the meta-ethical point of focus for what is called ethical egoism. Distinction between ethical egoism and psychological egoism Types of egoism Psychological egoism Psychological egoism is a theory of human nature that purports to describe what motivates people to act Julia Driver We know of only one principle, that men always act from self-interest. Lord Macaulay e.g. humans always act for what they think is their self-interest, humans are not altruistic. Can you think of an example? Humans give money to charity to look good
to others Ethical egoism Ethical egoism, on the other hand, is normative. It purports to tell us how people ought to act. Julia Driver e.g. We ought always to act selfinterestedly Long-term and short-term self-interest Ethical egoism does not mean that we should always For example act selfishly. a. Giving to charity Acting in self-interest involves a more complex consideration of both short-term and long-term benefits.b. Giving up time to visit an For example, an action that clearly helps another person elderly relative
in the short term may have a less obvious purpose of self-benefit in the long term. Frankena It should be noted that an ethical egoist need What are the immediate not be an egotist or even an egotistic and selfish man in benefits? the everyday sense of these terms. Ethical egoism is an What could long term benefits ethical theory, not a pattern of action or trait of be? character, and is compatible with being self- effacing and unselfish in practice. Max Stirner - introduction Max Stirner (18061856) is best known as the author of The Ego and Its Own Not academically or financially successful during his life time, His writing was chaotic and repetitive and therefore hard to understand Said to have influenced many later thinkers Nietzsche style and substance
Sartre - existentialism God and mankind have concerned Marx early idea themselves for nothing, for nothing but themselves. Let me then likewise Anarchists concern myself for myself. Stirner Max Stirner - Summary of ideas He claimed humans needed to act in self-interest but only when we understood what the self actually is. We cant be free to make moral decisions in religious or philosophical systems of behaviour as they control us. The true self needs to be free from the control of external ideologies (sets of ideas) and not controlled from within by the senses, so that it is truly self, and therefore, unique see stages in development slide The only way to engage ones uniqueness in the world is to cooperate
with other unique individuals by being part of a union of egoists. Stirnerian egoism is perhaps best thought of, not in terms of the pursuit of self-interest, but rather as a variety of individual selfgovernment or autonomy. Egoism properly understood is to be identified with what Stirner calls ownness a type of autonomy which is incompatible with any suspension, whether voluntary or forced, of individual judgement. I am my own, Stirner writes, only when I am master of myself, instead of being mastered by anything else. This Stirnerian ideal of self-mastery has external and internal dimensions, requiring both that we avoid subordinating ourselves to others and that we escape being dragged along by our own appetites. In short, Stirner not only rejects the legitimacy of any subordination to the will of another but also recommends that individuals cultivate an ideal of emotional detachment towards their own appetites and ideas. Charity
example which would he approve of? Stage 1 The realistic stage childhood, behaviour is I give to controlled by outside forces. Freedom is attained as children charity learn to outwit their parents makes me Stage 2 the idealistic stage youth new sources of happy or feel an constraint enslaved to the forces of conscience and reason obligation Stage 3 The egoistic stage adulthood only with egoism do I dont give
individuals escape both material (external) and spiritual to charity (internal) constraints, they will learn to value their personal and feel satisfaction above everything ownness is achieved guilty I do as I please. Max Stirner stages of development in the quest for freedom Activity 1. Read the slides on Max Stirner 2. Remove them (hide under your file) 3. Remember the key information - Create an essay plan for the question Explain Max Stirners Ethical Egoism
4. Review Check you have included all the relevant information in your plans DIL Check Challenges to Ethical Egoism any problems Destruction of community ethos 1. What is an ethos? 2. How does it destroy the community ethos? Social injustices Now am I. who am competent for much, perchance to have not advantage over the less competent? We are all in the midst of abundance; now shall I not help myself as well as I can, but only wait and see how much is left me in an equal division? Stirner 1.
How will following ethical egoism effect other people? 2. Give an example to demonstrate this. 3. How did Stirner respond to this? The community stops us being _________ 4. Did Stirner believe we should overthrow the state? No, but we are free to decide whether or not to follow the communities rules whilst individuals have no duty to overthrow the state, Stirner does think that the state will eventually collapse as a result of the spread of egoism Stanford
Encyclopedia Ethical Egoism as a form of bigotry why is one moral agent more important than another? 1. What is bigotry? Humes arguments against The Selfish Hypothesis 1. Self interest opposes moral feelings altruism 2. Psychological egoism attempts to reduce human motivation to one single factor 3. Animals act benevolently 4. Concepts we use to describe benevolent behaviour cant be meaningless 5. We have prior motivations to self interest e.g. vanity, fame or vengeance that transcends any benefit to self
AO2 Evaluating Ethical Egoism Read the list of statements evaluating Ethical Egoism Decide if they are strengths and weaknesses Read the sample answers Self evaluation Read through your AO2 plans on page 31 of Booklet 1 Add any extra points you have found in the list and the sample answers Strengths It is a theory which is based on empirical evidence. It links with scientific understandings of human nature Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene It allows for a flexible approach to moral decision making. There is some Biblical basis for this teaching Treat others as you would like to be treated this suggests reciprocity should be our
motivation rather than the intrinsic nature of the act. Weaknesses We cannot make an empirical generalisation that all act out of self interest as we can never accurately verify this. Moral decisions based on reason rather than emotional self interest are more likely to be accurate. To determine morality we should concentrate on acts rather than motivation; as long as the act is good, that is all that matters. Long term interests are impossible to calculate and foresee. The future is unknowable and unpredictable. To reduce moral decisions to one single cause our own self interest belies the complexity of making moral decisions. Often our own self interests are intermingled with the interests of others. Also, it is possible to act in our own self interest, whilst not diminishing the interests of others. Not all our desires are in our own self interest eg gluttony.
Evaluating ethical egoism AO2 30 mark questions Ethical egoism inevitably lead to moral evil. Evaluate this view 1. Problem with ethical egoism. a. No absolutes b. No control but the self c. Encourages bigotry
d. Destroys communities e. Leads to social injustice 2. Strengths of ethical egoism f. Leads to virtuous self-interest g. Leads to moral good
Evaluation All moral actions are motivated by self-interest. Evaluate this view Introduction 1. Psychological egoists 2. Challenged by Peter Cave 3. Self interest is not a bad thing
4. Max Stirner unique self 5. Evaluation Whether DCT, Virtue Theory or Ethical Egoism is superior to the other theories In groups of three Divide up the three theories - find 2 S/W of your theory Add to the group plan Which do you think is superior?
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