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Contemporary Moral Problems complete notes

Contemporary Moral Problems complete notes - Contemporary...

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Contemporary Moral Problems: Class notes August 31, 2006 James Rachels; “Egoism and Moral Skepticism The ring of gyges – Plato’s republic - What would you do? - What does this tell you about ethics? - Sheppard follows sheep but falls into a snake pit and finds a mummified body with a golden ring. Takes the ring and puts the ring on finger and the tomb crashes. He discovers when he puts the ring on he turns invisible. He figures out he can be invisible whenever he wants. - ring makes you invisible - What would I do with the ring? - see if people were talking about me - go to a bank - stalk celebrities - spying - what does this tell us about morality? - fear of getting caught - temptation - what does it make us do (morality) - how many aspects are there? * AT ROOT* all of us human beings are selfish → FUNDAMENTALLY EGOIST -psychological egoism – all human actions are self interested - ethical egoism – all actions ought to be self interested - descriptive morality – what do people do? - ethical morality – what should people do? - psychological egoism example of descriptive morality - ethical egoism example of normative moral - psychological non egoism - sometimes we do things for others just to do it for them - are we doing it for ourselves all the time? Argument of Psychological Egoism - just because you get satisfaction from doing something doesn’t mean that the satisfaction is selfish -deriving satisfaction from an unselfish action does not make the action selfish - we derive satisfaction from attaining a goal, and if the goal is to help other people, then the resulting satisfaction is a byproduct and not the aim - satisfaction = byproduct Psychological Egoism -some actions appear altruistic but… - whenever someone does something, they are simple doing what they most want to do and this is actually altruistic - Egoist: all about themselves - don’t want to help other people
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Responses to psychological egoism - we do sometimes do things not because we want to but because we think we are obligated to do it. Such actions are usually not self-interested - Even if all actions were based on what agents want to do, sometimes we want to help other people, and not because it is good for us. This is what makes actions unselfish - some things do not benefit us in the long run - these are always cases when people do things selfishly, but often time’s people don’t Undermining psychological egoism - we must distinguish selfishness and self interest - every selfish act is self-interested - selfish: taking too much - many self-interested actions are not selfish, precisely because they take proper account of the interest of others - many stupid actions are neither self-interested of altruistic - many times we do things for our own self interest, sometimes we do things not in our self interest - satisfy a desire - do things for all reasons → both selfish and self interested - impulse: help others - we are more strongly influenced by our self Ethical Egoism - I should act only for my self-interest even if I can act otherwise
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