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Encyclopedia > Ethical egoism

Ethical egoism is belief that one ought to do what is in one's own self-interest, although a distinction should be made between what is really in one's self-interest and what is only apparently so (see psychological egoism). What is in one's self-interest may incidentally be detrimental to others, beneficial to others, or neutral in its effect. Ethical egoism is not to be confused with rational egoism, which holds that it is rational to act in one's self-interest, but not that it is ethically imperative. Ethical egoism must also not be confused with individualism, because individualism does not force that one ought to do what is in one's own self-interest. Psychological egoism is the view that humans are always motivated by self-interest, even in what seem to be acts of altruism. ... Self-interest can refer to any of the following concepts: Egoism Selfishness Ethical egoism Psychological egoism Individualism Objectivist ethics Hedonism Epicureanism Enlightened self-interest This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles associated with the same title. ... Rational egoism is the philosophical view that it is always in accordance with reason to pursue ones own interests. ... Individualism is a term used to describe a moral, political, or social outlook, that stresses human independence and the importance of individual self-reliance and liberty. ...


Ethical egoism does not necessitate that individuals disregard the well-being of others, nor does it require that an individual refrain from taking the well-being of others into consideration. It allows for the possibility of either as long as what is chosen is efficacious in satisfying self-interest. For some, it is the philosophical basis of their espousal of libertarianism or anarchism, which advocate that individuals do not coercively prevent others from exercising freedom of action. The well-being or quality of life of a population is an important concern in economics and political science. ... Libertarianism is a political philosophy advocating that individuals should be free to do whatever they wish with their person or property, as long as they do not infringe on the same liberty of others. ... Anarchism is the name of a political philosophy or a group of doctrines and attitudes that are centered on rejection of any form of compulsory government (such as the state)[1] and support its elimination. ...


Ethical egoism is in contrast with the ethical doctrine of altruism which holds that individuals have an ethical obligation to help or serve others. A philosophy holding that one should be honest, just, benevolent etc., because those virtues serve one's self-interest is egoistic; one holding that one should practice those virtues for reasons other than self-interest is not egoistic. This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims. ...


Many contend that the view is implausible on its face, and that those who advocate it seriously usually do so at the expense of redefining "self-interest" to include the interests of others. Or, it may be argued that harming or enslaving others is what is one's best self-interest. An ethical egoist might counter this by asserting that furthering the ends of others is sometimes the best means of furthering one's own ends, or that simply by allowing liberty to others one's self-interest is resultingly furthered.


On the other hand, ethical egoism has also been identified as the basis for immorality. For instance, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to Thomas Law, in 1814: Morality is a complex of principles based on cultural, religious, and philosophical concepts and beliefs, by which an individual determines whether his or her actions are right or wrong. ... Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 N.S. – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. ... Thomas Law (born 17 December 1992) is a British actor who plays Peter Beale in the popular BBC soap opera EastEnders. ... 1814 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ...

Self-interest, or rather self-love, or egoism, has been more plausibly substituted as the basis of morality. But I consider our relations with others as constituting the boundaries of morality. With ourselves, we stand on the ground of identity, not of relation, which last, requiring two subjects, excludes self-love confined to a single one. To ourselves, in strict language, we can owe no duties, obligation requiring also two parties. Self-love, therefore, is no part of morality. Indeed, it is exactly its opposite.

Ethical egoism is present in the philosophies of individuals such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner (who was the first philosopher to call himself an egoist). Others, such as Ayn Rand, Thomas Hobbes, and David Gauthier, have argued that the conflicts which arise when people each pursue their own ends can be resolved for the best of each individual only if they all voluntarily forgo some of their aims — that is, one's self-interest is often best pursued by allowing others to pursue their self-interest as well so that liberty is equalized among individuals. Sacrificing one's short-term self-interest in order to maximize one's long-term self-interest is known as "rational self-interest." And, this is the idea behind most philosophers' advocacy of ethical egoism. Morality refers to the concept of human ethics which pertains to matters of good and evil —also referred to as right or wrong, used within three contexts: individual conscience; systems of principles and judgments — sometimes called moral values —shared within a cultural, religious, secular, Humanist, or philosophical community; and codes... In psychology, self-esteem or self-worth is a persons self-image at an emotional level; circumventing reason and logic. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... It has been suggested that The Ayn Rand Collective be merged into this article or section. ... Hobbes redirects here. ... David Gauthier (born 1932) is a Canadian-American philosopher best known for his neo-Hobbesian social contract (contractarian) theory of morality, as laid out in his book Morals By Agreement. ... Rational selfishness, a term generally related to Ayn Rands philosophy of Objectivism, means to seek to make yourself happy before others. ...


As Nietzsche (in Beyond Good and Evil) and Alasdair MacIntyre (in After Virtue) are famous for pointing out, the ancient Greeks did not associate morality with altruism in the way that post-Christian Western civilization has done. Consequently, followers of Ayn Rand may argue that Greeks like Aristotle (for whom pride was a virtue) were ethical egoists. However, Nietzsche, MacIntyre, and the Greeks do not associate ethical egoism with morality, either. Aristotle's view, for example, is that we have duties to ourselves as well as to other people (e.g. friends) and to the polis as a whole. Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882 Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 - August 25, 1900) was a highly influential German philosopher. ... Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (Jenseits von Gut und Böse) is a major 19th century philosophical work by Friedrich Nietzsche. ... Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre (born January 12, 1929 in Glasgow, Scotland) is a philosopher primarily known for his contribution to moral and political philosophy but known also for his work in history of philosophy and theology. ... Ancient Greece is the term used to describe the Greek_speaking world in ancient times. ... Morality refers to the concept of human ethics which pertains to matters of good and evil —also referred to as right or wrong, used within three contexts: individual conscience; systems of principles and judgments — sometimes called moral values —shared within a cultural, religious, secular, Humanist, or philosophical community; and codes... This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims. ... For alternative meanings for The West in the United States, see the U.S. West and American West. ... It has been suggested that The Ayn Rand Collective be merged into this article or section. ... Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BCE – March 7, 322 BCE) was an ancient Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... A polis (πολις) — plural: poleis (πολεις) — is a city, or a city-state. ...


The term ethical egoism has also been applied retroactively to philosophers such as Bernard de Mandeville and to many other materialists of his generation, but none of them declared themselves to be egoists. One must also note that being a materialist does not necessarily imply egoism, as indicated by Karl Marx, and many other materialists, who espoused various forms of collectivist altruism. Bernard de Mandeville (1670 – 1733), was a philosopher, political economist and satirist. ... It has been suggested that Marxist philosophy of nature be merged into this article or section. ... Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818, Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883, London) was an immensely influential German philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... This article primarily focuses on the general concepts of matter and existence. ... Collectivism is a term used to describe any moral, political, or social outlook, that stresses human interdependence and the importance of a collective, rather than the importance of separate individuals. ...


Ethical egoism is opposed not only by secular altruist philosophies, but also by the majority of religions. Most religions hold that ethical egoism is the product of a lack of genuine spirituality and shows an individual's submersion in greed. Particularly anti-egoist religions are Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism (see Atman, Anatman and Pudgalavada). This article concerns secularity, that is, being secular, in various senses. ... Look up greed in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is becoming very long. ... Hinduism (Sanskrit: , , also known as , ) is a religion that originated on the Indian subcontinent. ... Buddhism is a dharmic, non-theistic religion, a philosophy, and a life-enhancing system of psychology. ... Atman is a Sanskrit word, normally translated as soul or self (also ego). ... The Buddhist doctrine of Anatta (Pāli) or Anātman (Sanskrit) specifies the absence of a permanent and unchanging self or soul (ātman). ... The Pudgalavāda or Personalist school of Buddhism broke off from the orthodox Sthaviravāda (elders) school around 280 BCE. The Sthaviravādins interpreted the doctrine of anatta to mean that, since there is no true self, all that we think of as a self (i. ...


See also

Altruism is an ethical doctrine that holds that individuals have an ethical obligation to help, serve, or benefit others, if necessary at the sacrifice of self interest. ...

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