06 Ethical Theories - Egoism comes from the latin ego that...

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Egoism – comes from the latin ego that means I. In philosophy, egoism refers to the kind of theory that focuses on the self. Two kinds of egoism delineated by Rachels: 1. Psychological egoism – a theory about human nature (not ethical). Whether it’s true or not would make a difference in the ethical theory, though. It says that we are inherently selfish. Everything we do involves self-interest. A philanthropist gives money to a hospital to congratulate themselves on their success or to broadcast their name or to know in their heart that they have done something good. What’s in it for me? There always at least an elliptical reference to self-interest. Arguments that can be brought up in psychological & ethical egoism: a. A person always does what he or she wants. Every action is an expression of what a person wants or desires. If John stays home from Spring Break to help Tom study for a calculus exam, John’s not an altruist. He’s doing exactly what he wants, to help Tom. Abraham Lincoln held to a hedonistic form of psychological egoism. Story: Lincoln and a farmer are riding in a coach in the rain. Lincoln had been explaining to the farmer that everything a person does if for himself. They come to bridge and hear a mother pig howling b/c her piglets are slipping down the bank. Lincoln gets out, rescues the piglets, gets muddy, etc. Farmer chuckles, well it looks like you’ve sacrificed. Lincoln says no he didn’t want to feel guilty. b. Darwinism – every animal for itself. c. People who are outwardly selfish. There really are no good arguments for psychological egoism. About Lincoln and the pigs, why did he know he would feel guilty for not saving the pigs? It must be that he first cared about the pigs. Selfishness and Self-interest are two different things. The concept of selfish is not just descriptive, but it also condemns. Self-interest is simply descriptive. If you say a person is selfish, you are saying they have unfairly failed to recognize the interest of others. The word selfish is not a descriptive term merely, it is normative for it condemns. The analytical argument is no good either. If John stays to help Tom study, he’s doing what he wants to, but his doing of it is exactly what we mean by an altruistic action. He’s giving up something that otherwise he would have done to stay behind and help. More often, we do things that we truly do not want to do. Going to the dentist. Making a promise, even though as the hour for our fulfilling our promise nears we find we’d rather be doing something else. Darwinian evolution really does not support selfishness. Mutual aide theory: often times in animal world creatures help one another (symbiotic, etc. relationships). Female chimpanzees: aunts help take care of the young. Lots of examples of animals even giving up their life to save the member of a troop or pack or a young one, etc.
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