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Posted: December 20th, 2022

Rachels’ Third Argument against Ethical Egoism

Ethical egoism is a theory of ethics that holds that the morally right action is the one that maximizes the agent’s own self-interest. According to this theory, the promotion of one’s own well-being and happiness is the ultimate goal of moral action.

Ethical egoism differs from psychological egoism, which is a theory that claims that all human action is ultimately motivated by self-interest. While ethical egoism holds that self-interest is the ultimate goal of moral action, psychological egoism claims that all action is motivated by self-interest, regardless of whether it is considered moral or not.

Ethical egoism does not necessarily require that we never do anything that might help other people. While ethical egoists may prioritize their own interests, they may still choose to help others if doing so is in their own self-interest. For example, an ethical egoist might choose to help a friend in need because it will make them feel good about themselves or because it will strengthen their relationship.

Rachels’ third argument against ethical egoism is that it conflicts with our ordinary moral thinking. According to Rachels, our moral intuitions tell us that there are actions that are wrong even if they benefit us, and actions that are right even if they do not benefit us. This is at odds with the idea that the only moral goal is to promote one’s own self-interest.
i can’t do both but you can choose from the two topics below. 1. Rachels’ Third Argument against Ethical Egoism. What is the main idea of Ethical Egoism (EE)? How does EE define morally right actions? How does EE differ from a theory known as Psychological Egoism? Does EE require that we never do anything that might help other people? Does the notion of “self-interest” employed by EE mean the same as “whatever one wants”? What is Rachels’ general principle concerning when we are justified in treating some people differently from others? How does acceptance of this general principle show that certain doctrines which advocate different treatment of some groups of people are arbitrary? How does application of this general principle to EE leads to the conclusion that EE is an arbitrary theory? Why being arbitrary – i.e., demanding that we treat people in ways which cannot be justified by relevant factual differences – is a problem for a moral theory? How is this problem related to the role of reason in ethics, as discussed by Rachels’ in his “ Minimum Conception of Morality”? OR 2. Thomas Hobbes’ “State of Nature” argument: Morality as a pre-requisite for peaceful social co-existence. What are the basic features of the hypothetical situation which Hobbes’ calls “The State of Nature” (SN)? What are the specific facts about the conditions of human life in SN as described by Hobbes in the excerpt from his book The Leviathan? How do these specific facts lead Hobbes to conclude that human life in SN will be governed by constant fear of other people (the situation Hobbes calls “state of war”)? Given that humans would find life under constant fear of being harmed unacceptable, what can they do to escape such an unpleasant situation? What are the two fundamental conditions (described by Rachels) which would enable people to co-operate with one another, and thus to escape the State of Nature? Why does putting these two fundamental conditions in place amounts to an agreement (“social contract”) among people to obey the basic rules of morality?

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