10-02-08[1] - The Grains of Truth in Egoism o There may be...

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The Grains of Truth in Egoism o There may be grains of truth in psychological egoism and ethical egoism: 1. People often pursue self-interest (and they are often very partial to friends and family, demonstrating a limited altruism, rather than egoism) 2. Moral demands need to be reasonable ; we seem to be justified in rejecting moral principles that demand too much self-sacrifice 3. Behaving morally may often (or perhaps always) make us happier, or be in our self-interest in some other way, but this doesn’t show we follow morality because we feel it is in our self-interest to do so Unacceptable Arbitrariness o Ethical egoism may seem attractive to some people because it really strikes each of us that our own self interest matters o However, if my own self interest matters, that must be because my pursuit of pleasure matters, or the satisfaction of my desires matters, or it matters that I acquire knowledge, good health, etc o As soon as I point to something that makes the pursuit of my self interest worthwhile, it seems I should acknowledge that this feature is valuable wherever it is present (i.e. in myself or in others). After all, there is nothing particularly special about me o If this feature is good wherever it occurs, why think that I ought to pursue it only in my own case? This seems unacceptably arbitrary – it involves making an ethical distinction between the good here and the good over there without any justification Compare someone claiming that men and women ought to be treated differently with respect to the apportioning of good jobs Wellbeing o We can think self interest is an important topic without being drawn to egoism o When we ask whether an outcome is in someone’s self interest, or contrary to it, we are asking whether that outcome positively or negatively affects their wellbeing o There are three competing accounts of wellbeing, i.e. four competing ways of
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2012 for the course PHIL 1305 taught by Professor Gordon during the Fall '08 term at Texas State.

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10-02-08[1] - The Grains of Truth in Egoism o There may be...

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