chap. 3 notes - One response is to argue that it is selfish...

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One response is to argue that it is selfish to live pursuing wealth and selfishness is morally wrong. But is it? What makes being selfish morally wrong? Conversely, what makes self-sacrifice morally good? The underlying philosophical and ethical issues have to do with what some call ethical egoism versus ethical altruism. Ethical egoism refers to the view that people ought to do what is in their own self-interest. Not to do so is to seriously violate one's integrity and self-esteem. Ethical egoism is often contrasted with altruism (the view that people ought, at least sometimes, to do what is in the interest of others). Much of the morality we have inherited stresses an altruistic viewpoint. Selfishness is, many tell us, at the root of immorality. Some might say that if there is no God, then anything is morally permissible. There is no reason at all to limit our freedom to do what we want. Both Kant and Mill were concerned with the issue of the foundation of morality and wanted to make a rational case for morality. If we cannot rely entirely on a religious answer to our question, perhaps-human reason itself, without relying on alleged revelations of God's will, can supply an answer. What if human reason should fail? What if Kant's categorical imperative and Mill's principle of utility turn out to be inadequate answers? Where might we turn next? Perhaps there is no answer (a view some have dubbed ethical nihilism) or, if there is, we cannot not know it (ethical skepticism). Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a German philosopher, thought both the religious answer and the reliance on human reason failed. If all religious and ra- tional accounts of morality fail, what are we left with? Some have argued that Nietzsche gave a negative answer. We are left with nothing (nihilism). Others have argued that Nietzsche tried to overcome ethical nihilism with a theory of his own. Exactly how to characterize this theory, however, is problematic. For some it amounts to a version of
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chap. 3 notes - One response is to argue that it is selfish...

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