Class Note for PHIL 160 at UMass(1)
Class Note for PHIL 160 at UMass(1)
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Date Created: 02/06/15
Philosophy 1600 Fall 2008 jayme johnson Handout 3 Rachels s The Elements of Moral Philosophy Chapter 5 Ethical Egoism A Common Sense Assumption CSA We have a natural duties to others simply because tbg are otherpeople who mule he beg ed or harmed k what we do Ethical Egoism denies CSA EE each person ought to pursue his or her own self interest exclusively Note EE says that a person ought to do what realb is in his or her best interests over the long 7101 According to EE then CSA is false because our only natural duty is to do what is best for ourselves What EE Is NOT EE is not the same as a related theory Psychological Egoism PE Each person does in fact always do what is in his or her best interest alone 0 EE is a normative theory More speci cally it is a theory in NEB PE is an empirical theory It is not an ethical theory at all but a psychological theory 0 AND if PE is true the whole pursuit of ethics is in trouble lfwe always do what is in our own best interests regardless then trying to gure out what we ought to do is a pointless endeavor The Battleground of PE is the question whether there are ever any truly altruistic acts If genuine altruism is possible then PE is sunk That is to say ifwe can think ofa situation in which a person acts sel essly to bene t another person for the sake of that other person then PE cannot be true Question Is Altruism possible The Argument from Altruism 1 If PE is true then altruism is impossible 2 Altruism is not impossible 3 Therefore PE is not true 0 Rationale for premise 2 0 If altruism is impossible then Raoul Wallenberg acted from completely sel sh motivations 0 Raoul Wallenberg did not act from completely selfish motivations 0 Therefore altruism is not impossible The Argument that we always do what we most want to do 1 Every time we act we perform that action because it is the one that we most want to do 2 If this is the case then PE is true 3 Therefore PE is true 0 Critiiisln Preinise 2 Inaees an assumption that people always Inost want to do what is in their genuine hest interest This is ilearb zlse We o en want Inost to do things that are not in our hest interest at all The Argument that we do what makes us feel good 1 People only act unselfisth when it makes them feel good to do it 2 If so then they are not truly acting altruistically but because it feels good 3 And if this is true then so is PE the strategy ofreinterpreting motives once the motives ofa person performing an allegedly altruistic action are properly examined we can see that at bottom they are still acting in their own selfinterest 0 Critiiisln Preinise 7 is false While it o en does feel good to art unsel shl this is not I thine always one s onb Inotire or even the Inain Inotire Hg 1 aving the drowning hahy 0 Critiiisln Preinise 2 assuines that what feels good is the same as what is in one s hest interest Again we o en nd ourselves indulging in aetions that feel quite good hut are not in our hest interests Thus Preinise 2 is llse 80 PE is not true and even ifit were it would not help out the Ethical Egoist in any way Three Arguments in Favor of Ethical Egoism The Argument That Altruism is SelfiDefeating 1 Everyone will be better off if each ofus looks out exclusively for our own interests 2 Therefore we each should look out exclusively for our own interests Rationale for premise 1 I each knows their own wants amp needs best I looking out for others is unwarranted intrusion on their privacy I charity degrades the recipient Crz39tz39n39sln Preinz39se 7 z39s zlse Looeing at the rationale 7 sarnetz39lnes Inather knows hest 2 hetj is not always nnwelealne quothattz39ng in 3 eharz39g doesn t always degrade the renpz39ent It seems that there are eases z39n whieh it is more degradz39ng to starve or he denied Inedz39eal treatment than to reeez39refaad or treatment as eharz39y More serious draped not realh an argmnentfar ethz39eal egoz39sin sz39nee z39t presupposes sarnethz39ng eantrag to egaz39snz I ethical egoism to pursue the good of the one endorsed not as end in itself here I but as means to social betterment the good of the many I so social betterment the good of the many is presupposed as the overriding consideration Ayn Rand39s Arg1 1ment 1 We each ought to regard this one life as of supreme importance or ultimate value to us 0 since we each have just one life 2 Ethical egoism and only ethical egoism allows each individual39s life to be of supreme importance or ultimate value to them 0 Other moral theories all directly or indirectly enjoin altruism I Altruism regards the individual life as something one may be required to sacri ce for the sake of others I so altruism does not allow each individuals life to be of supreme importance to them 3 Therefore we ought to be Ethical Egoists I Rachels39 criticism the argument rests on a false dichotomy How Rachels sees the argument 7 BE or RadieaAtmz39snt RA 2 regarding your life as afNO z39rnpartanee 2 NatRA 3 Therefore EB Rachels s rejoinder 0 altruism doesn39t demand regarding your life as of NO importance 0 due concern for oneself doesn39t require regarding one39s self as the ONLY important thing 0 there is a middle ground quotthe commonisense viewquot 0 sometimes you should look out for the interests ofothers 0 sometimes you should look out for number one Ethical Egoism as Compatible with Commonsense Morali yquot an inference to the best explanation following Hobbes 1 The egoistic quotpursue you own interestsquot principle actually equlains why we acknowledge the various altruistic obligations we do I We should do good unto others because ifwe do others will be more likely to do good unto us I So altruism is justified instrumentally by being in the best interests of each individual 2 Therefore we ought to acknowledge this egoistic principle I Two Objections 1 doesn39t show that altruistic concern is always warranted 0 If I enow I an get away with Innrder enow I won t oefonnd out and punished or snajeet to revenge then on this view I should do it 2 Proves less than it tries to 0 Even altruism is in In enlightened nest interest there Inig ae other reasons why it s good Mayne ootb instrumentalb good vis a vis In own se r interest and intrinsiealb good good in and ofitsew eontrag to egoisni Three Arguments Against Ethical Egoism The Argument that Ethical Egoism Cannot Handle Con icts of Interest following Kurt Baier 1 Morality is supposed to help us resolve conflicts ofinterest 2EE gives no help in this regard 3 So EE is not an acceptable morality I Pro EE rejoinder 1 is false morality shouldn39t try to ao ndieate moral disputes o disputes are resolved by someone winning out or by compromise between the warring parties 0 not by appeal to some supposedly impartial smndards The Argument that Ethical Egoism is Logically Inconsistent 1 Assuming EE people will often have conflicting duties 0 it39s in B39s best interest to kill K so B has a duty to do so according to EE 0 and it39s in K39s best interest to avoid being killed K has a duty by EB to prevent it 2 It39s wrong to prevent someone39s doing their duty 3 So EE entails a contradiction I it39s not wrong for B to kill K since it39s in B39s best interest to kill K I it is wrong for B to kill K I K has a duty to avoid being killed I and it39s wrong for B to prevent K from doing K39s duty 0 So EE being selficontradictory is false I Rejoinder o the contradiction doesn39t derive from EE alone 0 it derives from EE plus premise 2 quotIt39s wrong to prevent someone from doing their dutyquot 0 Friends of EE will reject this premise I it39s only wrong according to EE to prevent someone from doing their duty z39t x a eantrag taJan interests taprerent it I here it plainly is in K39s interest to prevent B from doing his duty I so K is not wrong W in fact K is Inaralb aal ged by EE W to prevent B from doing his duty The Argument That Ethical Egoism is Unacceptably Arbitrary 1 We eanjmtzjj treatingpeaple dg39 erentb any we ran show that there 239 507716 etnal dg39 erenee aetween tbern that 239 relevant tajmtzjjz39ng tbe dg39 rerenee in treatment 2 Ethical egoism says we should treat others and ourselves differently 3 But there is no factual difference between self and others that justi es this difference in treatment 4 So EE is unaccepmbly arbitrary I Rachels on this argument 88 0 quotcomes closest to an outright refutation of Ethical Egoismquot o quotsheds light on why the interests of others would matter to others I for the very same reason we care about our own I because they are in all relevant respects iee m
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