ETHICAL egoism is the view that each person ought, all things considered, to do that action which is most in his over-all self-interest. Kurt Baier ar- gues against. Rational egoism (also called rational selfishness) is the principle that an action is rational if and . Baier, Kurt (). “Egoism” in A Companion to Ethics. Peter Singer (ed.), Blackwell: Oxford. Brink, D. , “Sidgwick and the Rationale for Rational Egoism,” in. Ethical egoism is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their .. Baier, Kurt, , “Egoism” in A Companion to Ethics, Peter Singer (ed.), Blackwell: Oxford. ISBN ; Biddle, Craig, Loving Life.

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If we accept rational egoism, and if we accept ethical rationalism, then we must accept ethical egoism. Many of its supporters apparently think its truth is self-evident, so that arguments are not needed.

Sidgwick and Contemporary EthicsOxford: Rachels quotes Alexander Pope in support of this: The issue is whether you do or egois, not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. One might, for example, claim that one ought to achieve a certain level of welfare, but that there is no requirement to achieve more.

These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. On the most natural interpretation, Sidgwick is noting various non-normative facts.

As with ethical egoism, there are variants which drop maximization or evaluate rules or character traits rather than actions. If both theories can be validly maintained, and if the choice between them becomes the flip of a coin, then their soundness must be questioned. This is no more odd than claiming that my opponent in a game would be wise to adopt a particular strategy, while desiring that he not do so.

However, this accusation assumes that ethical behavior is necessarily other-regarding, which opponents would first have to establish. Against the punishment by others hypothesis, Batson found that letting high-empathy subjects believe that their behaviour would be secret did not reduce helping.

More importantly, games with such egoim options and results are entered into voluntarily and can be avoided we can argue that the prisoners chose to engage in the game in that they chose to commit a crime and hence ran the possibility of being caught! History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues.


Rational egoism

Each prisoner does not know what his partner will choose and communication between the two prisoners is not permitted. Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.

Perhaps subjects did not believe that the easy ways of stopping the painful experience Batson provided, such as leaving the viewing room, would stop it. Egoists can but friends but most people avoid egoists as they are thought to be untrustworthy.

Another reply to the arbitrariness worry is to claim that certain distinctions just are non-arbitrary. In this approach to ethics it is the consequence of the act that is the basis for determining its worth.

It would follow that for me, a distinction between my welfare and that of others would be arbitrary, and the rational egoist claim that each ought to baiwr his own welfare would be unjustified when applied to me. We think the former is acting unselfishly while the latter is acting selfishly. For the game, the optimal solution is assumed to be the lowest total years served, which would be both refusing to confess and fgoism therefore serving 2 years each.

One reply is to argue that non-arbitrary distinctions can be made by one’s preferences. Elements of Moral Philosophy.

Ethical egoism – Wikipedia

baire English philosopher Henry Sidgwick discussed rational egoism in his book The Methods of Ethicsfirst published in If my possession of x is good, then I must hold that others ought to maximize my possession of it.

It fits some judgments better than utilitarianism does. In addition, opponents argue that even in a world inhabited by a single being, duties would still apply; Kantian duties are those actions that reason dictates ought to be pursued regardless of any gain, or loss to self or others. The main problem here is that while this is a possible account of some cases, there is no reason to think it covers all cases. The term ethical egoism has been applied retroactively to philosophers such as Bernard de Mandeville and to many other materialists of his generation, dgoism none of them declared themselves to eoism egoists.


Indeed, without an estimate of how strong this desire is, there is no reason to think the egoistic hypothesis is less reliable. And the historical popularity of ethical egoism, which Prichard so often notes, indicates that self-interest is not obviously irrelevant to what one ought to do in a not specifically moral sense. I have a distinct history, memories, and perhaps special access to my mental contents.

It seems reasonable for me to care specially about Aand indeed to say that A is identical to me. There is another way to try to show that ethical egoism and standard moral theories do not differ much. However, most notable anarchists in history have been less radical, retaining altruism and a sense of the importance of the individual that is appreciable but does not go as far as egoism.

Sidgwick might instead be claiming that attacks on rational egoism from certain views of personal identity as in Parfit, discussed below fail because they rest on a false view of personal identity. After all, few if any ethical egoists think of egoism as giving the correct content of morality, while also thinking that the rational thing to do is determined by some non-egoist consideration.

In complying with ethical egoism, the individual aims at her own greatest good. In the cases above, AB and C are continuous with me. Often, and most plausibly, these desires are restricted to self-regarding desires. Psychological egoism, the most famous descriptive position, claims that each person has but one ultimate aim: Obviously, much here depends baeir the claim about the aim of moralists. To make the point in a different way — I would not take steps to ensure that only one of B and C come about.

Presumably, then, it is believing that I ought to act as a kin altruist, rather than as a rational egoist, that best increases my reproductive fitness.