Ethical Egoism 1



hello everybody today we're going to look at ethical egoism which is a view in moral philosophy and the basic idea of ethical egoism is that morally you ought to maximize your own self-interest your own welfare your own happiness alone you should not be concerned about the fortunes of other people and you should help other people only insofar as this will be of benefit to you so it's morally obligatory for you to and if it yourself morally wrong for you to sacrifice your own welfare to benefit others now as a point of clarification it's worth distinguishing ethical egoism from what we might call personal egoism ethical egoism as I mentioned this says that each person ought to do only what is in their own self-interest personal egoism by contrast says simply I ought to do only what is in my own interest and it doesn't say anything about what anybody else ought to do so ethical egoism is kind of universalized it tells it says how everybody ought to act worse personal egoism this is just about me now this is a very important distinction I could adopt personal egoism as a rule for living my own life but since it's only concerned with my own behavior and says nothing about anybody else it doesn't really seem to be a moral theory moral principles need to be universal in some sense they need to direct the behavior of all moral agents indeed actually personally egoism is arguably not even a form of egoism because if you remove the indexical you you just get it you just get came Baker ought to do what is in cane Baker's self-interest and if anybody else endorsed this view there wouldn't be anything inherently egoistic about that on the other hand if you were to say that personal egoism is a rule that should be adopted by everybody so everybody should endorse the claim that I ought to do what is in my own self-interest you're referring to themselves well obviously that's just ethical egoism that would just be to say that that everybody ought to do what is in their own self-interest so anyway we're going to be looking at that's ethical egoism now we can distinguish a few different types of ethical egoism for example we could adopt a consequentialist egoism or a virtue egoism consequentialist egoism says that you ought to act so as to maximize your own utility exclusively and this has a similar form to utilitarianism which I'm sure you're familiar with this is view that the right action is whatever maximizes utility in general where everyone's utility should be given equal consideration the greatest happiness for the greatest number is the slogan of utilitarianism you should be impartial try to maximize the utility of all consequentialist egoism has a similar form it just says will maximize your own utility exclusively place no importance on anybody else's utility another kind of egoism would be virtue egoism this is a kind of virtue ethics and so this kind of view might say that selfishness is a virtue or it's it's virtuous to be motivated only by self-interest and and similarly any character trait that would tend to improve one's own welfare is also a virtue so discipline courage intelligence temperance many of these standard virtues will will be of benefit to you so they would also be considered virtues according to virtue egoism and virtually because egoism will also say that a trait like I guess we could call it calculated beneficence so being charitable in ways that benefit you helping others in ways that ultimately benefit you that's also going to be a virtue so you might make big public donations to charity to raise your public profile or you could donate to charities that will help improve your own life like how a gay man might donate to a charity that promotes more gay rights for instance virtue egoism would would support that kind of that kind of character trait but traits that tend to encourage concern for other people traits like sympathy compassion pity these would be vices virtue egoism would say that of good moral character is somebody who has cultivated the selfish traits and suppressed the altruistic ones now in this video I'm not gonna put too much emphasis on these differences we're going to talk about ethical egoism in fairly general terms but you know still it's it's worth bearing in mind that you can develop the theory in these in these different ways okay also just a final point of clarification is that ethical egoism doesn't say that you should just you know pursue whatever would bring you the most pleasure in the moment right I mean there are many things I might want to do but that would not promote my interests I I really hate exercising for instance I absolutely I absolutely hate it in the short term I would prefer to just be lazy but of course what I really want is a long and healthy life and exercising is important to achieve that I would regrettably have to agree that I'm doing a bit of exercise every day is worth the benefits of a longer life expectancy so if I were to give in to my immediate urgent to be lazy and never exercise ethical egoism would condemn this is a very serious moral failing I would be sacrificing my you know might make my stronger longer-term interests for short-term pleasure so you know ethical egoism is not the idea that you should as I say that you should just pursue your immediate pleasures right it's supposed to be a kind of you know rational and light and it's enlightened theory that says you know you've got you've got to think very carefully and and act so as to promote your long term interests now ethical egoism is a fairly unpopular doctrine in moral philosophy as is the case for most general moral theories there are not so many clear arguments in favor of ethical egoism there are many arguments against it but in this video I'm gonna look at some arguments in favor of it we'll look at the objections in the next video so what are the arguments for ethical egoism well one argument begins by asserting psychological egoism now this is the claim that just as a matter of fact all people always do act in their own self-interest so this is just a descriptive claim about what people are actually like ethical egoism of course is a normative claim psychological egoism is a descriptive claim it just says that that in fact people are in fact motivated by self-interest it's impossible it's impossible to do otherwise we are never and and we can never be genuinely concerned for other people now I mean obviously it's true that we often act in ways that benefit others we act in ways that might seem to be altruistic but the psychological egoists would say that we're always ultimately aiming for some benefit to ourselves so for instance there is reciprocal altruism I see that you are in need of food so I give you some of my food with the expectation that if I'm ever in need of food at food in the future you will give me yours right so there's a there's a kind of tit-for-tat thing going on there that kind of thing isn't genuine altruism because my my goal here is to make sure that I will receive food from you if I need to in the future and the idea of psychological egoism is that on analysis even the most seemingly selfless actions will turn out to be self-interested they will turn out to have arisen from self-interested motives and if this is true it seems that we're forced to accept ethical egoism if it is impossible for people to act selflessly then it makes no sense to adopt a moral theory that requires them to do that I mean there's a there's a sort of general consensus that to say that a person ought to do X implies that they can do X the X is within their power you can't be morally obligated to do something impossible according to psychological egoism no person can be motivated by genuine concern for anything other than their own welfare so that would that would seem to leave ethical egoism is the only option for a an ethical Theory now there are many problems with this argument one problem is even if this does in a sense establish ethical egoism it also makes ethical egoism completely trivial because what this argument says is nobody does anything selfless anyway where everybody already is selfish even in nobody can even in principle act selflessly so you know I think when you first encounter ethical egoism it comes across as a fairly striking and and radical theory it completely overturns our usual way of thinking about morality and and you think well this is going to lead to some pretty massive changes in our behavior if we were to adopt that as a moral theory but if you accept this argument from psychological egoism then ethical egoism is not really interesting at all because everybody already does act entirely in in their self-interest and that's all they can do right I mean it's like if somebody would say it would be morally wrong to destroy all of the protons in the universe well yeah okay maybe it would but nobody can do that anyway right so it's kind of trivial perhaps more importantly though psychological egoism seems to face some pretty obvious problems I mean surely there are some cases where people sacrifice their own welfare for others I mean not every altruistic act can be explained as a result of you know as being ultimately self-interested in the way that you know reciprocal altruism can just think about cases where somebody gives to charity anonymously and there's you know there's no chance of any kind of long-term benefit for them nobody even knows that they've done it I think surely that would be a purely altruistic action wouldn't it well there is a standard response to these kinds of cases there's a famous story that's often told in moral philosophy I don't know whether this story is actually true but the story goes that Abraham Lincoln was riding a carriage with a friend and he was arguing in favor of psychological egoism so he was saying people only ever act in their own self-interest and then the carriage passed a mud slide where a mother pig was trying to save her piglets from drowning Lincoln stop the carriage got out and save the piglets and so his friend said well you know haven't you obviously acted selflessly here but Lincoln countered that if he didn't save the piglets he he would have felt very guilty which is an unpleasant feeling he saved the piglets to ensure his own peace of mind so in general then if I let bad things happen to other people I will experience negative feelings of guilt whereas if I help them I will experience a sense of satisfaction a positive a positive feeling so really I'm helping them for my own benefit not for theirs and of course we can say this about any altruistic behavior in all cases I do what I most want to do I aim to satisfy my own desires even if those desires are for the welfare of other people letting other people suffer would bring me down whereas helping them would give me a sense of satisfaction so by helping them I help myself that's the that's the sort of response a psychological egoist might make the problem with this response is that it seems to make psychological egoism a completely uninteresting and trivial theory and it sort of seems to be redefining the very concept of selfishness and selflessness because surely the point of distinguishing between selfish and selfless actions is well you know we sometimes you know we sometimes want to benefit ourselves without thinking about other people and you know we sometimes want to benefit others even though you know this this won't bring us any particulars any specific material games if I want to help others if I derive satisfaction from helping others then by definition I'm not selfish I'm not an egoist in any interesting sense the feelings of guilt that Lincoln would have experienced had he not saved the pigs that just is compassion that just is altruism after all I mean yeah one way to think about this is well if Lincoln were genuinely selfish why would he feel any guilt out leaving the piglets to die if you only care about yourself what would what would provoke the guilt I mean there are people there are psychopaths out there who-who wouldn't care about that they'd be perfectly happy to watch the piglets drown or if they'd be perfectly happy to drown the piglets themselves and they just wouldn't care so you know surely the the important distinction there is is precisely the fact you know the point is precisely the fact that Lincoln would feel guilt about leaving them to die that is precisely what what makes him selfless and compassionate you know a self a selfish person is going to be somebody who helps grudgingly because the reason that it will be in their best interest in the long run an unselfish person the selfless person is precisely the person who derives genuine satisfaction from helping and who would feel guilt about leaving others to suffer so perhaps it's true that we only do what we desire to do but the important question is what do you desire to do if you desire to benefit only yourself and you care nothing for others this is selfish in the egoistic if you desire to help others where this will do nothing but bring satisfaction and it won't bring any other material or social benefits or anything but then that's selfless what matters is the object of your desire so I think psychological egoism is really only an interesting doctrine if it says something like you know we never have concern for other people and that's obviously false correspondingly if ethical egoism is to be an interesting doctrine it would need to say it would need to say something like you should not have concern for other people right you shouldn't get satisfaction and pleasure from helping people that's a that would be an inappropriate response feelings of satisfaction are only appropriate when you have received some benefit to yourself I think that would be an interesting form of ethical egoism so I don't find this argument especially convincing ok another argument for ethical egoism is that altruistic behavior makes society worse off behaving selfless selfishly would promote the common good society as a whole will be better off if everybody looked out for themselves now of course if we're concerned about promoting the common good we're not ethical egoists so no ethical egoists would want to say that we should act selfishly because it is a means to achieve you know the common good of society as a whole I think instead the way to understand this argument is that it's it's basically saying that altruism is self-defeating right concern for the good of all is self-defeating the idea here is the whole point of about truism is to you know improve the good of your community as a whole rather than just yourself but if people behave altruistically this will make the community as a whole worse off so it's kind of self undermining self defeating ethical egoism is not self defeating in this way so it's more appealing as a moral system so what why why would we think that altruistic behavior would reduce the common good there are a couple of reasons we might cite first of all I know my own desires and my own circumstances better than I know anybody else's I am the best placed to try to pursue my own desires my knowledge of your desires and circumstances on the other hand is is imperfect I mean especially if you're a stranger I might know hardly anything about you so there's a good chance that by trying to help you I'm going to mess it up and make a situation worse for example let's say you decide to support a project for building a new water delivery system in a foreign country where there's very little access to clean water so you decide to give some money charitably to this this project but then it turns out that most of the money gets stolen by the corrupt government in the area and since there's nobody to properly maintain the the water system that does get built it soon degrades and starts poisoning those who use it I mean we can easily come up with examples like these where charity behavior just leads to more problems in the long run because the circumstances of the situation have not been I've not been properly understood a second reason for worrying about altruistic behavior appeals to the invisible hand argument that it's found in economics so the idea here is that if everybody in a free market competes and tries to gain the most for themselves this will produce various unintended social benefits free trade by self-interested individuals will tend to automatically produce socially desirable ends as if those individuals were directed by an invisible hand as a simple example to see how this works suppose that I grow strawberries and I decide to act altruistically I set a very low price on my strawberries let's say one penny for a whole box and I also just give many boxes away for free to people who seem needy obviously the main problem with this is I won't be making any money I will start struggling to survive I'll be unable to keep my business going I won't even be able I won't be able to even consider implementing measures to expand my business and grow more strawberries or other fruits or anything like that on the other hand suppose I'm acting selfishly suppose I'm just trying to increase my own wealth well you might think that that being selfish like this would make me push the prices unreasonably high but the problem is if I start price gouging well I mean there'd be two problems first most people would just stop buying the strawberries they buy other fruits instead I'd lose almost all my customers just because they can't afford the product so I probably end up making less money overall second and even worse for me it's likely that a competitor strawberry producer would arise who would sell this would sell strawberries more cheaply and so then all of my potential customers would go to this producer instead so if I'm acting purely on self-interest I'll actually be driven to apply a fair price to the strawberries a price that allows them to be sold to the maximum number of people while also making enough profit for me to comfortably maintain and expand my business similarly consider the point of view of the consumer the selfish consumer you might think would just I don't know try to steal my strawberries but that's not really the case because given the laws against theft and given that I have an incentive to protect my product so I might harm or at least inform on anybody I catch trying to steal the wisest option for the selfish consumer is just to pay the fair price now this is a very simple example but this kind of reasoning supports the idea that self-interested behavior ultimately improves the common the common good you know it will ultimately lead to a stable system that you know supports growth and innovation and and so on now the main problem I think with this general argument is that while these kinds of points may be true in general there seems to be very obvious exceptions so regarding the first point about how you know I I know my own desires better than know anybody else's well yes it's true that I'm not intimately familiar with the desires of strangers but I mean I do have some useful knowledge of their desires I know perfectly well that the vast majority of people in the world want clean water and good food and because they explicitly say so and because they perform actions to try to get these things and there are plenty of situations where you know it's pretty obvious that you can you can behave charitably without making their situation worse if you come across somebody who's lost in the desert and they say you know please give me some water and they start grabbing at your water bottle well it's perfectly obvious what they want and it's also pretty obvious that giving them a bit of water is is unlikely to make their circumstances worse similarly the the invisible hand argument that applies to certain kinds of market systems it's not even intended to apply to all human behavior in general and again you know it's hard to see how giving some water to the desperately thirsty person in the desert could could harm society overall I mean it's certainly not going to impair my own ability to make contributions to society in the future yeah I'm not gonna lose all my money and be unable to survive and grow my business just because I've given a bit of water to a thirsty person and indeed giving this person water it will if anything probably improves society if you consider you know a person who is focused only on survival like if I'm desperately thirsty if a person is desperately thirsty and they're focused only on survival well this person will be unable to do things that might benefit others they will be unable to you know set up a new business or pursue creative ideas or you know make wonderful artworks it only wants each individual's basic needs for food water shelter and so on are fulfilled will they usually start pursuing that the the loftier sort of projects that will benefit society as a whole so you know I mean it's it's fair enough that we have to be careful with charitable behavior just blindly throwing money at a problem may well make the situation worse no you've got to be rational and consider the circumstances and so on just as you have to do with self-interested actions but I think it's extremely implausible that all kinds of selfless charitable behavior will leave other people worse off a very interesting argument for ethical egoism is proposed by Edward Regis in his article ethical egoism and moral responsibility actually Regis defended a more moderate form of ethical egoism than what we're discussing here but his argument can still be applied here so the basic argument goes like this promise promise one each person is solely morally responsible for the fact of their own being in need is to no person is morally obligated to satisfy needs that they are not responsible for creating so conclusion no person is morally obligated to satisfy the needs of any other person alright so premise one that that each person is morally responsible for their own being in need Regis is justification for this is that all needs are a result of free choices people make for which they're fully responsible the idea here is that needs are determined by one's goals take for instance my need to drink water that I would say that's a basic need for mine right but I need to drink water in order to survive suppose I no longer have the goal of continued life maybe let's say I'm very old and I've got some serious illness that's this caused me to be paralyzed and in constant pain and I I just feel that you know I've lived a full and rich life and I don't don't want to continue on anymore well in that case I don't need water instead I would what I would need is some method to end my life so my need to drink water that's not some kind of uncontrollable given right that that need exists only relative to my goal of continued survival and obviously I mean the same is true of other needs like food or shelter or freedom from assault and so on need then is a three place relation to say X needs Y that's incomplete it should be X needs Y in order to achieve goal Z the goal generates the need but if all of but but all of my genuine goals have been freely chosen without coercion you can't literally force somebody to choose a particular goal or to abandon a particular goal for example let's say Frank is homosexual and one of his long-term goals is to marry a man well he might live somewhere where gay marriage is illegal indeed maybe he lives somewhere where any kind of homosexual behavior is illegal that might prevent him from achieving his goal and it might prevent him from openly saying that this is his goal but it won't prevent him from from having the goal you know you can't there's nothing we can do to Frank to prevent him from from having that goal that the the goal of marrying a man incidentally it's important to distinguish between goals and desires goals are freely chosen desires arguably are not you can't generally control your desires I might desire to eat large quantities of chocolate cake because it's tasty but I don't have the goal of eating large quantities of chocolate cake indeed my goal is to cut down on the chocolate cake so goals are often based on desires but a goal is a free choice a goal is something you aim to achieve whereas desires just arise within you uncontrollably so so so I've freely chosen all of my dogs and since I have freely chosen all of my goals I and only I am responsible for those goals my needs arise only as a result of my goals so I and only I am responsible for all of my needs nobody else is is similarly responsible for my needs so that's premise one as for premise two while here Regis asserts what he calls a negative principle of responsibility he says needs for whose existence one is not responsible on needs for whose satisfaction one is not responsible you have no obligation to satisfy needs that you did not create if your need is due to goals that you have chosen and that you could just as easily choose to change and why should anybody else be responsible for satisfying that need you know that the need exists simply as a result of your choice to have a particular goal so you know we get this egoist conclusion that no person is morally obligated to satisfy the needs of any other person there aren't there are no constraints on how you can behave towards other people of course one obvious problem with this kind of argument is that many ethical theories would simply deny the second premise I mean according to utilitarianism for example all needs matter equally and should be given equal consideration we're responsible for satisfying all other needs and it's totally irrelevant who is responsible for creating the needs so yeah so it's a premise to certainly isn't isn't just obvious another problem is that with a site with with premise one that each person is solely responsible for their own being in need that doesn't apply to babies or to animals because they're not morally responsible for anything they don't have the capacity to make choices or at least you know not in the kind of sense that they're adults do I mean they do they do choose things but we wouldn't hold them responsible for their choices now of course I'm not responsible for creating the whatever needs a baby has but perhaps there's a sense in which its parents are responsible similarly if you I don't know choose to in a buying at by an animal then you know and have it as a pet then maybe you're responsible for its its needs also there might be some science fiction scenarios where you know the evil neuroscientist alters somebody's brain and so creates their goals so in that situation the neuroscientist would be responsible for their needs so this argument perhaps doesn't get us to true ethical egoism it doesn't get us all the way to to the idea that you were you are you should be you should be focused solely on your own self-interest but but it does get us close right I mean generally speaking you shouldn't have any concern whatsoever for the the needs of other people ok another argument begins with the question why should we be moral why behave in morally good ways when it would be in my self-interest to be bad this is one of those big questions of moral philosophy in Plato's Republic he tells the story of the ring of guy geez a shepherd comes upon a ring that he can use to make himself invisible and with the power of invisibility he commits various morally bad acts to his own benefit we want to condemn the shepherd but then why should he do otherwise it seems like the shepherd could say well I have a reason to do things that are in my own interests and no other reason for action there is no reason to be moral no reason for me to do the right thing if the right thing is not in my own self-interest and so you know the question is can we come up with a compelling argument against this kind of view what we need here is an argument that would convince somebody who simply doesn't care about morality that they have a good reason to care Allisyn hills in her book the beloved self calls this the holy grail of moral philosophy now I mean people will disagree about how serious this problem is speaking for myself I this is not a question that I find all that interesting or troubling but if you do find this question troubling then the ethical egoist has a very simple response for you because she will say the moral action just is whatever action is in your interests so you know to ask the question why be moral rather than do what is in my own interests that's not sensible that's that's just a silly question because yeah because because the moral action is the action that is in your own self-interest so that gives us a pretty straightforward solution to this problem a pretty radical solution to this problem and you might actually argue that this looks less like solving the problem and more more like just capitulating you know have we how we really solving the problem or have we just given up but you know ethically aggressed as I say does does have a a pretty simple response there now before I end actually it's worth noting that this this particular argument raises an important question about ethical egoism because some philosophers have suggested that ethical egoism is not actually a moral theory at all so you know you might say that that ethically go with the egoism not necessary I'd not not ethical egoism but but egoism is the is the rational position in the sense that you know people should be egoist so if you were granted the power of guy Jesus ring it would be irrational of you not to use it for your own benefit even if this harms others but even so it might be argued this isn't a moral theory where I technically go ISM is not actually an ethical theory the intuition here is that the whole point of morality is to be concerned with the good of others the common good the function of morality as a social institution is to regulate people's behavior so as to produce the best outcomes for society as a whole and as such morality makes demands on us beyond our own wishes morality demands that we take into consideration the needs of others I mean that the whole the whole reason why morality exists is because people's desires and goals conflict and you know we we need to have some sort of system for regulating that and producing the outcome that is that is best and most fair and most just so what we've called ethical egoism just isn't a moral theory now there are a few things to to say about this is it true that ethical theories are concerned simply with the good of others well I mean certainly not exclusively virtue ethics for instance focuses on excellence of character where this involves developing traits that will be of benefit to the person who bears them the primary question for virtue ethics is not how should I treat other people but more generally what is it to live a good life and that's going to include character traits that you know that as I say are of benefit to you as an individual virtual earth exfol you know the flourishing of the individual improving the individual's character interestingly one of the standard criticisms of virtue ethics is precisely that it's too egoistic because the acquisition Virtue's is it's primarily about improving the agents own well-being the agents own flourishing so that's so certainly there are you know other moral systems that are kind of focused on the self that don't just focus on how you should you know how you're obligated to behave towards other people but good of other people now like other moral systems ethical egoism is an answer to the question how ought we to act and the answer is universal all people should act in their own self-interest and should never act against their self-interest for the benefit of others so to this this obligation is one that applies to all we all have this obligation to pursue our own self-interest and in this respect ethical egoism makes demands on all people and these are these are quite significant demands remember I think a legalism doesn't say well you should just do whatever you want to do people often have compassionate and sympathetic motives which may lead them to act selflessly against their self-interest ethical egoism regards this is morally wrong and holds that we should suppress such drives I mean that's that's tough it's not an easy matter the majority of people feel sympathetic emotions towards others so like other like other moral theories then ethical egoism it does make demands on people if furthermore I mean people often have motives that are concerned neither with the welfare of the self or the welfare of others consider something like a sense of duty to tell the truth this is something that we're inculcated with when learning philosophy philosophers have a duty to speak honestly to follow the argument wherever it leads now expressing oneself truthfully isn't necessarily going to improve anybody's welfare so you know it's it's not necessarily going to be of the benefit of others or the benefit of yourself ethical egoism would would reject this kind of concern for the truth if I know that I will get I don't know a better mark on an essay by lying and misrepresenting my views ethical egoism says I should do it if I if I can make lots of money by pretending to hold views that I that I actually don't then again ethical egoism says I should I should do it so in the same way that non egoists may have selfish motivations that they struggle to overcome the ethically grist is going to have various selfless drives that she struggles to overcome I think oligo ISM will even disapprove of some selfish actions ethical egoism says you should live usually you should act in your own self-interest but of course we're all weak we might want to be healthy and live long lives or you know we might want to be successful in business and unlocks of money and so on and yet we might eat poor diets or not do enough exercise or not commit ourselves to our work or fail to be assertive around others and back down when we would be better off standing our ground we might not bother thinking very carefully about what we actually want in like them we might end up having contradictory desires and goals that will be impossible to satisfy the ethical legal will will condemn this kind of thing is just undisciplined and lazy and and a serious moral wrong because you're not acting in your own interests if you're lazy in this kind of way so this is very different to liberal moralities which often hold that moral the moral rules are concerned with your treatment of other people while your treatment of yourself is not generally considered to be morally important ethical egoism by contrast is a morality of personal excellence it treats the self as being of central importance and so it matters a great deal how you treat yourself we can sort of place moral theories on a bit of a spectrum in terms of how much emphasis they place on concern for others versus concern for the self maybe actually concern isn't quite the right word here perhaps it should be more constraints imposed on your behavior to others versus constraints imposed on your behavior towards the south but you know hopefully you get the general idea on one extreme on the the left here there's what I'm calling de ontological libertarianism so this basically says you have you have no obligations to yourself provided your actions have no effect on other people provided directions don't violate the rights of other people there's just no moral question to be raised you can do whatever the hell you like no problems at all right if you want to take loads of drugs you know eat really unhealthily you know just go and visit loads of prostitutes and so on that's fine for the day ontological libertarian don't have anybody else don't steal anything for anybody else you know don't violate other people's rights you can do anything that there's just no moral issue very close to this extreme would be a kind of naive utilitarianism that says you should maximize everybody's happiness in a totally impartial way so on this sort of standard utilitarianism your happiness yourself right that does matter a little bit it would be it would be morally wrong for you to make yourself unhappy unless this producers greater happiness in others but obviously because you have to count you have to treat everybody everybody's happiness equally utilitarianism is is pretty far over over to the left there then there would be perhaps going a bit further to the right something like the ethics of care which is focused on interpersonal relationships and and and sort of social networks of supports and so on then in the middle there would be perhaps virtue ethics maybe various religious morality 'z would be in the middle as well so religion often imposes many restrictions on your behavior towards yourself you think about one of the main source of restrictions is usually sex where there's a lot of religions historically they've said masturbation is morally wrong obviously that's something that only affects the self and then on the other extreme there's ethical egoism you have no obligations whatsoever to other people but many obligations to the self so I just think that perhaps viewing ethical egoism on this kind of spectrum with other moral systems perhaps shows that it that it does it should be taken seriously as an alternative moral system so it's so it is genuine a genuinely moral theory anyway in the next video we will look at the objections to ethical egoism but that's all for now thanks for watching

4 thoughts on “Ethical Egoism 1

  1. For Regis (P1) the claimed distinction between goals and mere desires seems false and needs a much clearer explication.  I have a desire to do act (S) or achieve state (S) would normally entail that I have attainment of (S) as a goal; otherwise you apparently have the paradoxical claim that I may have a desire but no preference for its attainment.  Please don't say something like, "Well, you must have a plan formulated or you must be carrying it out," a' la the success seminar hucksters. 🙂

  2. I'm an EE moralist here. I want to further defend my position by refuting your examples:
    Your putative problems for EE's point number 1 are as follows:
    "First, this argument makes EE rather trivial. Everybody already acts in line with EE anyway."
    To which my defensive refutation is: No, it's not trivial at all. If everybody is selfish at least in Ayn Rand's sense, they will create simultaneous order in our society. To illustrate, they will NOT be able to justify demanding government intervention which is a huge source of corruption and a huge waste of public money and resources ALL IN THE NAME OF THE PUBLIC GOOD. Private sectors will grow without lobbied government imposing regulations banning sales of various different products and services. The result of their growth will benefit our society as a whole. How so?, you might ask. You need to further educate yourself on libertarianism.
    And no! Kane no! NOT everybody already acts in line with EE. Children are giving up their dreams to pursue a forced university degree and career path as dictated by their parents. If they don't, their parents accuse them of being SELFISH!! This implies following their parents' imperatives as children do is not selfish. People haven't already acted in line with EE, Kane.

    Seeing that you are a great philosopher, I wasted my time to cherry-pick the short and best representation of Ayn Rand's selfish philosophy for you Kane. Please please please take time to educate yourself more with the definition of being selfish in Ayn Rand's and libertarian's sense. The word is really vividly defined.
    Ayn Rand – Her Philosophy in Two Minutes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asery3UeBj4
    Ayn Rand on Love and Happiness | Blank on Blank
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQVrMzWtqgU
    Ayn Rand on Selfishness
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kbfy6_fMBiw
    Why "Atlas Shrugged" Changes Lives
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdcoDRpizv0
    Do you want to live in the world of Atlas Shrugged?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HfJ7km_SxU
    Atlas Shrugged's Deeper Themes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77nLgq0op-0
    Being Selfish : The Virtue of Selfishness | Dr. Yaron Brook | Full Length HD
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPTIlaeHYVQ

    "Second, psychological egoism faces obvious problems. There seem to be clear cases where people sacrifice their own welfare for others, as when people donate to charities anonymously."
    To which my defensive refutation is:
    I'm afraid I would lose my typed data here if I didn't post it immediately in the case of system errors. So post it before complete I did. I am continuing typing further arguments. Please wait and see.

  3. 28:50 "One obvious problem with this kind of argument is that many ethical theories would simply deny the second premise. According to utilitarianism, all needs are matter equally and should be given equal consideration. We are responsible for satisfying all other needs. It is totally irrelevant who is responsible for creating the needs."

    That is a rather unlikely form of utilitarianism. The video just finished discussing how needs come from goals and goals are freely chosen, so committing utilitarianism to satisfying all needs would create many obligations that very few utilitarians are going to agree with. Alice might have a goal of ruling the world, and that goal might create needs like raising an enormous army and developing powerful weapons, but let's not expect utilitarians to therefore agree that we are responsible for satisfying those needs.

    Instead, utilitarianism selects a few particular goals that it considers important, and we are only responsible for satisfying the needs that serve those chosen goals. The goal of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain for as many people as possible is popular among utilitarians.

    33:48 "Even if EE is the rational position, is it really a moral theory? The whole point of morality is to regulate people's behaviour so as to produce the best outcome for society as a whole."

    That would be a remarkably silly thing to say to an ethical egoist. That's clearly a utilitarian attitude and there's no reason to expect utilitarians to agree with ethical egoism about the point of morality, but there's also no reason why we should declare that moral theories are exclusively utilitarian. The utilitarian point of view ought to be that ethical egoism is a moral theory; it's just an incorrect moral theory. It's a moral theory due to making claims about what we ought to do, and its incorrect due to claiming that we ought to do things which we actually should not do.

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