[Get Solution] Ethical Egoism

PAGE 1: What do you think of ethical egoism? What objections for or against it do you find convincing? Unconvincing? Feel free to add to, develop, or critique those reasons given above. You can also work in aspects of rational egoism and conditional egoism as well. PAGE 2: Psychological and Ethical Egoism What is the difference between egoism and egotism (with a ’t’)?  What is psychological egoism?  Know that one of the central difficulties with psychological egoism is the fact that it is about motives—about the selfish motives that underlie all of our acts. After all, motives are very difficult—and usually impossible—to verify, observe, study scientifically, etc. This doesn’t mean the theory is false; but it does mean it may be useless as an explanatory principle. After all, one of the virtues of a good explanation – along with being simple, wide in scope, internally consistent, coherent with what we already know, and capable of making predictions – is that is can be testable or falsified. But if we can’t ever test motives in so many cases then the theory is useless as an explanation. Again, it doesn’t immediately follow that it is false; just that it is not testable and is, as your reading noted, a “closed” theory.  But if we look at the other side of the argument, we do have people’s sincere and, sometimes, carefully formulated first-person testimony of their altruistic motives. This strongly suggests that egoism is not just a poor explanatory device but also false. Of course, this evidence is a bit weak since it is also about motives that we cannot address from a third-person perspective, that is, from a perspective where everyone can see it like they can see a murder weapon in court. But first person testimony is something: it can be grasped in consciousness with a degree of clarity and conveyed to others. To refute the universal claim of psychological egoism we only need one counterexample. Perhaps the first person testimony of people’s experience is enough to provide one.  What is rational egoism?  What is conditional egoism? Know that one objection to rational egoism is that it may not always be rational to act in your own self-interest.  What is ethical egoism? What are some arguments for and against ethical egoism? Some reasons for ethical egoism are:  Acting out of self-interest will help you achieve more for yourself which, in turn, can maximize social welfare. For example, the more people realize their self-interest the happier they are which, in turn, has a positive effect on others. Or, the more people focus on the success of their own careers the more they will earn and produce thus leading to economic growth, competition, innovation, and so on.  Each person is uniquely qualified to know what his or her interest is.  If you act out of self-interest you have self-respect and refuse to be a slave for others, sacrificed for others, be manipulated by other people’s interests, and so on. Ethical egoism seems to support, rather than threaten, support for individual rights and egalitarian values. Why wouldn’t you choose to always act out of selfish motives? Here are a few suggestions:  Because ethical egoism can lead to runaway greed which, as we have seen so clearly throughout history and even recently in the wake of the 2008 bailout, can lead to massive devastation which could negatively effect you as well.  Because ethical egoism threatens to make objective moral truth meaningless. After all, what is good or right is what allows you to realize your selfish needs…and that is that. Morality would simply be a matter of personal preference and there would be no way to make objective moral evaluations. Egoism would then be unacceptable to those of us who think moral inquiry does indeed have an objective dimension that allows us to discern whether moral propositions are true or false.  Because acting out of self-interest can make us unfulfilled human beings by making genuine friendship (and also love) impossible. And this isn’t in the egoist’s interest! Here are two arguments in support of this point: Argument 1: Premise 1: To be a true friend to someone one needs to act, at least a lot of the time, for that person’s interest and needs to have such good will returned: genuine friends cannot always act out of purely selfish motives. Premise 2: The ethical egoist believes everyone should always act out of self-interest. Conclusion: Therefore, ethical egoists can’t have any real friends.  Argument II:  Premise 1: Having genuine friends is necessary for a healthy, fulfilling life (this is plausible given what we know from psychology and sociology). Premise 2: But ethical egoists can’t have any real friends (proven in argument 1). Conclusion: So ethical egoists can’t lead healthy, fulfilling lives.  If these arguments work then it would be in the interest of even an ethical egoist to, sometimes, act for the sake of others. But if this is the case then she would have to stop being an ethical egoist who maintains it is a right to always act in one own’s self-interest.  Social Contract Theory (SCT) Know that SCT is the view that persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live. As you will from the reading, SCT has many nuances in its long history. We won’t go over all these nuances in our class. But I want you to be able to compare and contrast Hobbes’ view of the social contract with Locke’s view of the social contract (see the entry on the SCT in IEP for details on both, as well as this week’s videos). Hobbes’ view, which is grounded in moral relativism, hedonism (pleasure is the ultimate good), egoism, materialism (reality is only matter in motion), and determinism (every movement is the necessary effect of previous causes and thus there is no free will), entails that we are all determined to avoid the violent “state of nature” (the state of the world without civilization which, due to our egoism and desire for pleasure and power, is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”) by entering into a social contract by adopting the following “the laws of nature”: (1) seeks peace if others do as well; (2) give up your all rights if others do as well; and (3) hand over all power to a Leviathan or powerful ruler who will keep the peace by force. In contrast, Locke does not view humans as egoists and thus doesn’t think the state of nature would be so bad. As a result, he doesn’t think humans would be so desperate to escape it by adopting a contract in which we lose our rights. Thus his version of the social contract included innate natural rights, a division of powers in government, the right to legitimate revolution, and, in general, a government of, by, and for the people. Our founding fathers, in considering these theories, chose to go with Locke. Should we side with our founders? If so why? Can we take a little of Hobbes and a little of Locke? Do we need some other political theory? If so, what? These are some of the questions we can ask here.  LINKS: https://iep.utm.edu/soc-cont/ https://iep.utm.edu/egoism/ VIDEOS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZiWZJgJT7I&t=2s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i4jb5XBX5s

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