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Lecture

Ethical Egoism
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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 2380
Professor
Deirdre Kelly
Semester
Winter

Description
PHIL 2380 Jan 14 2014 Ethical Egoism ­An ethical theory ­People should always act in their own self­interest, and are morally obligated to  do what is best for them  ­Similar to utilitarianism ­Similar to consequentialism ­Not concerned with principles or characters, only consequences ­No environmental ethics ­The environment does not have much affect on a person as an individual ­EEism is very narrow, does not expand to interests of other ethics ­Governments often act as ethical egoists ­What may be best for the environment as a whole may not benefit a  specific country Strengths ­Action­guiding ­People are always motivated to do what they ought to do ­Adam Smith (1776) ­In free market situations we promote the best for society when we promote our  own self­interest ­Baker bringing people back to his bakery: everyone wins Weaknesses ­Is­ought problem ­Fact can’t give us norms and values ­We can’t look at the state of the world to know what we should do ­If all of our values came from facts, we’d never have been able to overcome  issues like slavery, sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. ­Paradox of egoism ­Friendship ­People are important to our own self­interest ­Requires that we put others first ­Putting your own self­interest beneath that of someone else’s Ethical vs. Psychological Egoism ­Psychological egoism ­Empirical claim ­We always act so as to maximize our own narrow self­interest ­Ethical egoism ­We should act so as to maximize our own narrow self­interest Prisoner’s Dilemma Player B Player A Cooperate Defect Cooperate A▯3 B▯3 A▯0 B▯5 Reward for mutual  Sucker’s payoff and  cooperation temptation to defect Defect A▯5 B▯0 A▯1 B▯1 Temptation to defect and  Punishment for mutual  sucker’s payoff defection  ­Best thing to do rationally is to defect ­If I cooperate and you defect, I will have the worst punishment ­Tit for Tat ­I will do for you what you do for me ­If you cooperate, so will I ­Split or Steal game Contractarianism ­The view that ethics is a coercively enforced social contract between ethical  egoists ­Thomas Hobbes (1651) ­“Life is nasty, brutish, and short” ­David Gauthier, Morals By Agreement (1986) ­People are almost always in PD type situations  ­To avoid suboptimal situations we need to have a contract that ensures  cooperation ­The Leviathan  ­Many people creating one person/being Problems with Contractarianism  ­Fosters bad character ­The only reason you’re doing what you’re doing is because it’s “in your best  interest” ­You aren’t developing a sort of character who would do these actions genuinely ­Not
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