Ethical Egoism We will be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of ethical egoism, but before we begin we first must understand what ethical egoism is and what is involved. Ethical egoism is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. It differs from psychological egoism, which claims that people can only act in their self-interest. Ethical egoism also differs from rational egoism, which holds that it is rational to act in one's self-interest. Ethical egoism contrasts with ethical altruism, which holds that moral agents have an obligation to help others.
Then, how can we determine what is okay from that which is not according to our human nature? The nature of human beings is a very complex definition. What human nature may mean to me may not fit with one’s ethical reasoning of what human nature means to another. In this regard, however, human nature to me is anything in which the person freely chooses to do, think, and act on. However, going back to human nature and ethics, we need to clearly define that although human nature differs among different cultures and societies, human nature must not be raped of its value for choosing good, and behaving on what brings the best solution for one’s problems in life.
Autonomy addresses the individuals’ right to freedom of choice and the responsibility of the counselor to encourage clients to make their own decisions and act on their values. Nonmaleficence is the concept of not causing harm to others. Justice means not treating every one the same. And finally, the principle of fidelity which involves loyalty, faithfulness and honoring commitments. When investigating an ethical dilemma, ask yourself if any of the principles relate to the case.
Next on the basis of James Rachel’s argument against ethical egoism will try to answer the question posed. This essay will also discuss the common sense view is the most appropriate way to act in most of the cases. Ethical Egoism is a normative theory, a theory which states how one should behave. It states that promotion of one’s own good is in accordance with morality. In other way we can state that it is always moral to promote self-interest and it is not moral not to promote it.
The two dominant theories of morality are relativism and absolutism. The former is the position which states that moral propositions do not reflect objective or universal moral truths but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or circumstantial conditions. The latter is the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged. The theory claims that certain actions are right or wrong regardless of the context of the act. Therefore, actions are inherently moral or immoral, regardless of the beliefs and goals of the individual, society or culture that engages in the action.
With this being said, society only has the right to restrict behavior on the basis of justice, and not because society deems it to be immoral. Within the Principle of Liberty, Mill also claims that it is not acceptable for society to put restrictions on an individual’s conduct, for reasons that they feel would be in the best interest of that person. The majority only has the right to develop laws that confine the conduct of individuals with the purpose of protecting the basic rights of others; otherwise they would be obstructing that person’s right to individuality. Mill believes that everyone is entitled to certain moral rights that cannot be denied. Every member of society is entitled to rights of security of his person and property, as well as basic liberties such as freedom of opinion and the right to live his life as he so chooses.
That goal is to do what is morally right, if it be through pleasure to avoid pain. This defines utilitarianism. Specific kinds of rules that tells a person what is right and why it is right defines deontology. A good person and doing the right thing, defines virtue. Even though each theory has its own unique way of portraying the act of doing ‘the right thing’, they seem to do just that.
Our actions, including the decision to choose to act or not to act, determine our personal identity. Choosing to perform an action, expresses the value we set on our human identity. The value we set on our human identity, and performing actions that clearly define those values, is the practice of self-constitution. Self-constitution is also referred to as self-integration, practical identity, and agency. Korsgaard argues that one cannot constitute oneself as the subject of a coherent, meaningful life unless one can act on a rational, non-arbitrary basis.
A conclusion can be derived from the reading on whether Ethical Egoism is truly a moral theory. Within the reading, along with Ethical Egoism, Psychological Egoism is discussed. Psychological Egoism differs from Ethical Egoism in that it asserts that each person does in fact pursue their own self-interest alone. To support the theory of Psychological Egoism it is stated that altruistic acts of kindness are performed only to produce good feelings about oneself. Another supporting argument of Ethical Egoism is that we always do what we most want to do.
Kant also believed in humans’ innate moral duty. Kant’s primary point was his theory that all of us have moral duty and that our conscience is what tells us when we go against this, through being guilty or shameful. Therefore, an action which can be classed as good or moral is one which fulfils this sense of duty. Kant also believed that reason was the way to reach realisation and that we can find out moral duty by thinking objectively. In addition, Kant said that we should not be inclined to do things and that we should think about things and try and apply his ethical theory before carrying them out, therefore, we should not do things because of our emotions.