The pursuit of own self-interest describes ethical egoism. This moral intuition dictates that people ought to do what they perceive as morally right. Thus, acts whose results benefit the doer qualifies to be ethical. It represents a true contrast with ethical altruism that advocates for helping others. Despite acting on one’s interest, ethical egoism cautions against harming the wellbeing of others. Ethical egoism is further divided into three categories which include personal, individual and universal ethical egoism. Personal ethical egoism stipulates that an act arises from the self-interest motive with no regard to other motives. Individual ethical egoism upholds that people should serve one’s self-interest. On the other hand, universal ethical egoism dictates that all persons have the right to pursue own interests in exclusivity.
Arguments for ethical egoism
The best approach to promoting the general good arises from allowing people to pursue their own self-interest. In most instances, as individuals gratify their insatiable desires they unintentionally benefit the society through an invisible hand. In fact, all persons are better off if each follows their own interest.
Coercing individuals to sacrifice their moral interest for the large society implies denying them their fundamental value of personal decision-making. Nonetheless, one’s well-being is a moral concern for that person that calls for non-interference from other sources. Also, an act should be motivated by the benefits one derives from it. One ought to only care for oneself.
The concept of ethical egoism promotes admirable virtues like rationality, productivity, and personal responsibility. These virtues are crucial for personal development and growth. Therefore, allowing external influence hinders cognitive independence.
Arguments against ethical egoism
Traditional morality embraces the fact that the well-being of people forms part of one’s jurisdiction or act. Caring for others is a warranted concern without which, it leads to egoist radicalization. Radical ethical egoist will care less about causing harm or pain to others so long as they receive their benefit. In essence, ethics exist to limit harms while maximizing benefits arising from people’s actions.
It lacks a moral basis through which people can amicably resolve conflicts. It never suggests a resolution amidst conflicting interest yet individuals are encouraged to serve their interests. Without a moral obligation to compromise or sacrifice for another, radical egoists will never have a common ground. Unlike egoism, altruism dictates the need to sacrifice one’s good for the benefit of other people.
The occurrence of interpersonal decisions may transcend an egoist’s opinion. Self-denial sets in due to the intersection of interpersonal benefits. Thus, it is difficult for an ethical egoist individual to advise others as it creates self-contradiction.
Ethical egoism fails to uphold the impartiality principle. It acknowledges preferential treatment to oneself instead of discouraging discrimination. Under morality, a fundamental principle exists that stipulates that we should treat others equal and never make exceptions of ourselves. The human race is rich in diversity and rarely can one act in the similar capacity as another.
In conclusion, the virtue of selfishness does not count in egoism. Self-sacrifice is not a virtue but a detrimental aspect to egoists. Ethical egoism promotes individualism leading to a drawback on the observation and adherence to societal morals by individuals. Unfortunately, egoism operates in a society where people constantly interact. Therefore, ignoring the actions, reactions and influence of other people on one’s life and decisions are hardly inevitable. Nonetheless, meeting personal interests sometimes requires the sacrifice of other self-interests to create a balance in life. This is to quantify the fact that ethical egoism may not function in a vacuum but requires the intervention of other ethical standings.
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