Term Paper - Fonda 1 Will Fonda Dr. Debello Ethics November...

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Fonda 1 Will Fonda Dr. Debello Ethics November 19, 2007 Me, Myself, and I – An Argument for Ethical Egoism Most people in today’s society would frown upon Ethical Egoism. We are trained from a very early age to think of others as well as thinking of ourselves – even in preschool, we are taught to always share our toys. Egoism, however, turns these notions on their heads by asserting that the morally correct thing to do in any given situation is that which will fulfill your own personal desires. In this essay, I will make an argument supporting and defending egoism in its various forms, including Universal Ethical Egoism and Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. It is important to state, however, that I do not agree with and will not be supporting Individual Ethical Egoism or Psychological Egoism, as I will explain later. In short, in this paper I will assert that Egoism – the belief that all people do what is in their own best interest, be those physical, emotional, or rational interests – in its various forms is a sound and applicable ethical theory. First, it is prudent to discuss the various forms of Egoism that have existed throughout history. Hobbes was the first philosopher to imply a completely individualist philosophy regarding human nature (Edwards, 463). Hobbes’ explanation of altruism is that “what appears to be altruism is always in fact, in one way or another, disguised self seeking (Edwards, 463).” He asserted that any time anyone does anything that seems in
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Fonda 2 any way altruistic, they are really in some way serving themselves. To illustrate this point, Hobbes provides the example of giving alms to a beggar. He asserts that in giving the alms to the beggar, he relieved the beggar’s distress and also his own distress at seeing the poor situation of the beggar, and therefore his seemingly altruistic movement was truly done under selfish motives (Edwards, 463). He maintains that this is so because if people pursued their selfish motives openly and did not mask them with altruism, then that would simply lead to a great war to end all wars, fought between all sorts of men with differing selfish desires (Edwards, 463). Later along the philosophical timeline, a Bishop Butler came along to provide a slightly different view of altruism and selfishness. Butler came after a line of 18 th Century philosophers who attempted, but ultimately failed, to address the issue of altruism as relating to Hobbes’ picture of human nature. Butler asserted that “[men] have a variety of separate and independent ‘appetites, passions, and affections (Edwards, 463).’” He stated that self-interest is not always at odds with benevolence, and that in fact both are required to make a person truly and totally happy. We satisfy part of our desire and part of our happiness by seeking the happiness of others, and in this way, benevolence and self-interest work hand in hand (Edwards, 463). Many would argue that there is a divergence between benevolence or altruism and self-interest, and Butler’s only
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course PHIL 1105 taught by Professor Louisdebello during the Fall '07 term at Seton Hall.

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Term Paper - Fonda 1 Will Fonda Dr. Debello Ethics November...

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