Ethical Philosophy: Altruism and Selfishness

Many cultures and moral philosophies have promoted so-called selflessness, like the ethical doctrine of altruism by Auguste Comte (who coined the expression altruism). Perhaps as a outcome, other philosophies have promoted so-called selfishness, including the ethical doctrine of Egoism and Ayn Rand’s strategy of Objectivism.

Putting prescriptive morality aside, I contend that the self-interestedness supported by pro-selfishness philosophers refuses to really conflict with all the kindness supported by pro-selflessness philosophers.

The 2 philosophical viewpoints appear to straight oppose each alternative, but that appearance stems within the utilize of divisively perplexing terminology.

Firstly, let’s consider the utilization of expression selfish. Usually talking, what many pro-selfishness philosophers call “selfishness,” I would really call self-interestedness. To many persons, ‘selfishness’ commonly pertains to acting upon incredibly greedy, uncompassionate or narcissistic motivations. On the other hand, ‘self-interestedness’ will merely refer to acting from one’s own interests, including indirect interests. Many folks, including myself, argue that all persons are inherently self-interested because, by description, a individual desires and values what he or she desires and values. Those desires and values equally develop into goals, and the individual makes their decisions in an attempt to many fulfill those desires, values, and goals. While everyone is self-interested, the label ‘selfish’ is generally reserved just for individuals whose interests are more greedy, uncompassionate or narcissistic than different people’s interests.

Then let’s consider the utilization of the expression selfless. Usually talking, what many pro-selflessness philosophers call “selflessness,” I would only call kindness or compassion. Utilizing the expression ‘selflessness’ appears to absurdly recommend that an allegedly “selfless” individual refuses to have any desires, values or goals or at least that the individual refuses to try to act from their desires, values or goals at all. But that is probably not what many pro-selflessness philosophers mean. When they call a individual “selfless,” they possibly merely imply that the individual has compassionate desires, values and goals, in that the individual loves to aid others and additional people’s joy makes the individual happy. On the other hand to the misnomer ‘selfless,’ referring to such individuals as type and compassionate more precisely portrays that the individuals each have type and compassionate interests which they each act out as opposed to without interests or not acting from their interests.

In conclusion, so-called “selfishness” and “selflessness” may really be compatible because the previous will signify ‘self-interestedness’ and the latter could signify ‘kindness.’ And self-interestedness is compatible with kindness. In truth, I believe it really is in many people’s self-interest to aid others, not merely because others will return the favor, and because we naturally love each additional. We empathize and sympathize with each additional. We feel superior when we observe others feeling superior. We feel bad when we observe others feeling bad. We feel enjoyment and reassurance by helping others and by creating others feel happy.

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