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Lecture

Egoism as a Universal Principle.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 1100
Professor
U.Abaci

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Egoism as a Universal Principle  Egoism (problematic view of Absolutism) o Do not get this confused with ethical subjectivism (what happens to be right or wrong is dependent on how we think about it) o The highest moral value is for humans to pursue their own happiness o Largely fueled by self-interest; what we do in our self-interest is something good o Does not mean we should be selfish (selfish is different from self- interested) o As an egoist, I can sacrifice and do something that is to my best interests over time o Subjectivists would say: don’t do it if you don’t want to o Don’t confuse this with EGOTISM; it is entirely different, it means being arrogant and boasting about yourself o When our interests conflict, we are all allowed to do what’s in our best interest o How does it work?  Two Forms of Egoism: ethical and psychological  Ethical egoism: people can act contrary to their self interest but they shouldn’t o The belief that the highest moral value for all humans is to pursue their own happiness. o This does not mean that you should be selfish, rather, it expresses the view that your needs and interests should take precedence over the needs of others o Normative, tells us what we ought to do o Every person’s duty to act in their own self interest o Usually, it should be rational self interest o Rational self interest to be seen as a good person in society o Moral value that is binding on all humans  The Ring of Gyges o Plato  There is a shepherd and suddenly there is an earthquake  Rifts occur and the shepherd climbs into the rifts  He discovers a gold ring; when he puts it on, he disappears  Gyges has this power now, once he puts the ring on, he is invisible  He wants some power – he is going to go see the King, becomes messenger of the court  He is in love with the Queen, he wants more power  Kills the King and becomes the King himself o If you were given the opportunity to be absolutely free from consequences, you will end up doing something bad o The reason why we decide to get along is because of a social contract o You should behave in a way that allows you to pursue self interest but not at the expense of everyone else  The Social Contract Theory o The view that the main reason people agree to form political communities is out of necessity because life in a pre-political “state of nature” would be extremely difficult o In the absence of society, we’ll pursue self interest until death o What do we do as human beings? o We don’t want to live like we are animals o Agree to a set of rules  anyone who does not follow these rules will be punished o If you look at the development of society, it is because everyone signs a social contract o Everyone at root is evil o In the state of nature, there is only what’s good for you; no such thing as good or bad o Sometimes you have to act not in your self interest in a group; sometimes you have to tend the flock o It could be your best interest to work in a group; not only pursuing in your own self interest o It is a myth that we are all good people o The egoists think it is rational to follow a social contract o Imagine coming to class and always defending yourself from people trying to steal your laptop and phone, etc. It would be chaotic. o Laws don’t reflect morality necessarily, only rules that we follow in society o Ethical egoists freely enter into a social contract to escape the danger of the “state of nature” reluctantly  Psychological egoism o The view that we are compelled by our psychological makeup to always pursue our self-interest above all else o It is human nature to always act in our own self interest o Impossible to act against human nature  Ayn Rand o She is a well known egoist o Atlas’s Shrug, The Fountainhead o She is not a philosopher. o Argued against communism and that acts of altruism is immoral o Selfishness is not evil, altruism is evil o The achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purpose o A true ethical egoist would look at an altruist an idiot; immoral and irrational o Wrong to provide help to the weak because it causes them to be weak o Mo
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