Egoism tends to receive a bad reputation or negative connotation because it is often confused with selfishness rather than the preservation of self-interest. Ethical egoism is the view that morally right actions are those that are in one’s own best interest. Since this is a consequentialist theory, the outcome is the determining factor. If the outcome is in the person’s best interest, then it is the morally right thing to do.
For example, Molly’s friends want her to go watch a band play, but she needs to do hours of homework because this is week two of the quarter. Molly’s friends complain that they never see her anymore because of her dedication to obtaining an education. If Molly neglects her homework and goes out, her grades will suffer and she risks failing the course. While she knows watching a band would be a lot more fun, she knows this is a time where she needs to assert her own self-interest of obtaining an education so that she can gain long term outcomes such as a better job and career advancement. After she explains this to her friends, they better understand why her schoolwork comes before social activities. This is the difference between self-interest and selfishness.
For this week’s discussion board, share a time like the example above when you had to assert an egoist approach. What were the facts surrounding the situation? Who were the other people involved (family, friends, coworkers)? How did you explain why your decision was not selfish, but rather in your own best interest?
2 For this first part of the project you will be creating a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet highlighting Utilitarianism and Ethical Egoism, which are two of the most well-known ethical theories. A FAQ sheet is a document that compiles a collection of information in the form of questions with their applicable answers. The goal of this sheet will be to provide some foundational information to the participants that they can take with them as they move through the Diversity Fair. It also works as a good conversational starter as people who visit your booth will be covering various aspects of ethics.
You will need to establish a FAQ document and provide the following questions with their applicable answers.
- What are ethics?
- Why do ethics vary from person to person?
- What are key features of consequentialist theories?
- What are key features of utilitarianism?
- What are key features of ethical egoism?
- What are the differences between utilitarianism and ethical egoism?