week two discussion forum

Mathew Moon’s response

Question:

Explain the concept of ethical egoism and in doing so, point out how it differs from psychological egoism. How does Ayn Rand defend ethical egoism and in particular, how does she justify her claim that selfishness is a virtue? What problems do you see with ethical egoism, if any? Consider perhaps the most defensible form of ethical egoism: We ought to treat others as we wish to be treated so that we can ensure our own welfare, safety, and prosperity. What can be said in favor of this position? What can be said against it? What is your own stand with respect to ethical egoism, and why do you take that stand?

Answer:

“Psychological egoism is the empirical doctrine that the determining motive of every voluntary action is a desire for one’s own welfare. (Psychological Egoism) What I take from this is that you may stop and help someone in need, but you are doing it for your only selfish reason. So, maybe someone will do a good deed and donate clothes to good will, but the driving force behind that good behavior is that that person knows that that good dead can now be a tax write off, or maybe it’ll impress my boss/spouse. Ethical egoism is the normative or prescription doctrine that each individual’s own welfare. (Psychological Egoism) What I take this as is looking more so at the end game. Meaning, be a great person, help everyone you can when you are able to but as long as it doesn’t affect you or prohibit you from getting or doing what you ultimately are seeking out to do. This kind of reminds me of when you’re on a airplane and they tell you before it even takes off, of course it’s on the pamphlet also, that if the oxygen masks are deployed, put yours on first and then help someone around you. Ultimately, take care of your welfare first and then if you have time and can, help others. So, it seems like to me, the difference between the two is that on one side, you do a good deed but because of a particular reason and the other (Psychological Egoism) and on the other side, you help when/where you are able to as long as it doesn’t affect your wellness or the path you have choose for yourself (Ethical Egoism).

This seems to be a lot of people in society today, driven by what their needs, aspirations and goals are and won’t hesitate to step on anyone they need to get to where they need or want to be. Rand defends these actions and the concept of self-interest and claims that people have a right, even a duty, to look after themselves and seek their own happiness, and it is moral cannibalism to advocate selflessness as an ideal where people are supposed to feel obliged to help those who have no wish to help themselves. (Rosenstand, 2018). I believe to a degree that Rand is correct but feel from not only stories ‘ive read and seen on the news, but experienced myself, that we can not only help others but also take care of ourselves without hindering our wellness or the path in which we chose to take.

There are stories all the time about regular, everyday people to professional athletes to celebrities who chose to help those only because they want to help regardless of if it affects their wellbeing or not. But on the other side, there are some people that fall into the category of ill help this person because I know it will make the news, make me look better and ultimately gain me more fans, leading to the driving force behind their action is ultimately how it benefits them and where they are trying to go in their profession or life. I know we are taught from a young age to put others and their wellbeing before yours, and that can be true to an extent, but ultimately the only person that is going to help you, take care of you and get you to where you want to be is you. So yes, be a good patron and help others but don’t allow it to affect or throw you of course because in this day and age, people will take and take until you can’t give anymore and then once you have nothing left to give, they will find the next person to take from.

Psychological Egoism. https://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/egoism.html

Rosenstand, N. (2018). The Moral of the Story: An introduction to Ethics (8th ed.). Boston, MA:

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