Ethical egoism specifies that one is supposed to uphold their own self-interest. It is within the preservation of one’s self interests that they are in a position to maximize on their potentials. An individual cannot flourish if they supress their needs so as to satisfy the needs of others. Therefore, for morality to be achieved, one must first preserve their personal interest, then once satisfied, they can satisfy those of others. A worldwide truth is that whatever would help in survival is good, and whatever hinders survival is evil. As such, an individual who would not principally reserve their own life as the major purpose is so good as dead.
Ethical egoism is categorized by Medlin into hypothetical and categorical egoism. Categorical egoism argues every individual is supposed to pursue their individual interests. Hypothetical egoism on the other hand argues it is necessary for one to observe their interests wisely, if they are interested in attaining this specific end. Medlin states, “…hypothetical egoism is the view that by maximizing one’s own utility, we will all be better off. This is not really egoism but a version of closet utilitarianism that cites a utilitarian for emphasizing self-interested reasons in acting.” What he argues is that ethical egoism must comprise of both universal and categorical egoism. However, he argues categorical egoism is inconsistent since the egoist cannot sell their idea to other individuals. In the event he does, he faces the risk of convincing them to look at their own interests which can be detrimental in attaining his goals. I am in agreement with the theory since categorical egoism places every individual in extreme positions where they are unable to depend on others for purposes of achieving their interests and that can be quite risky. Additionally, this kind of attitude would also make the individual dependent on themselves and once they convince others of the same, they inconvenience themselves in that process.
Utilitarianism and Deontological Ethics
Utilitarianism refers to an ethical principle through which an action is rights if it has the tendency of getting the most happiness for both the individual executing an action and all others. Utilitarian therefore focuses on an actions repercussions rather than on its intrinsic nature or intentions of the individual. Classical utilitarianism is hedonist, though morals apart from, or in addition to, pleasure can be employed, or- more objectively, and in a description common in economics- anything might be considered as valuable if it seems to be an object of informed or coherent desire. Check of utility maximization can also be directly applied to single acts or acts only directly through some objects that are inappropriate of moral assessment like, rules of conduct. Utilitarianism, refers ta theory that makes up Normative Ethics. It holds that desirable and definitive course of action pursues to maximize on satisfaction and happiness and minimizes on pain or suffering. Its theories are based on utility explaining the reason people seek satisfaction. The measure of an individual’s happiness is what determines the measure of their wrong or right. Utilitarianism is a kind of consequentialism that means, so as to establish right action, there is a need to analyse consequences that arise as a result. As such, the relevance of consequences differentiates utilitarianism from egoism. As such, utilitarianism, unlike egoism is where one seeks to acquire knowledge for the overall good of others while also seeking to satisfy their own needs.
Utilitarianism was supported in full by Bentham and Mill. They did this by linking the good with that was pleasurable. They recognized the theory people are supposed to maximize good. Also, they gave views one should impartially display they seek to maximize their own good. Consequently, the reasons one has in promoting the overall are the same reasons another individual would promote good. John Stuart Mill, on utilitarianism topic stated, Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness”. According to him, happiness can be equalled to pleasure, and absence of pain, while unhappiness can be equalled to pain and absence of pleasure. He further added, “Pleasure and freedom from pain, are the only things as desirable ends… all desirable things are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain.”
As far as political history goes, utilitarianism is very influential. Bentham and Mill argued that utilitarian rule of governance was quite a realizable policy through democracy. Jeremy Bentham, regarding the utility principle argues, “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out to what we ought to do… by the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.”
Bentham goes on and formulates a technique for calculation of values of pains and pleasures. Over the years, this has been known as hedonic calculus. According to Bentham’s formula, there are factors affecting pleasures and pain and these are: certainty/uncertainty, duration, intensity and remoteness/propinquity. Such factors aid in establishing the value of pain or pleasure. Benthan also defends his formula by making the argument that, “In all this, there is nothing than what the practice of mankind, wherever they have a clear view of their own interest, is perfectly comfortable to.”
Also John Stuart Mill, goes a long way to offer his argument in support of utilitarianism. However, he rejects quantitative utility measurement. He states that, “It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognise the fact that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.” Consequently, Mill believes there are some pleasures of intellect which are fundamentally superior to physical pleasures. Further, he states, “Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the lower animals, for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast’s pleasures; no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool, no instructed person would be an ignoramus, no person of feeling and conscience would be selfish and base, even though they should be persuaded that the fool, the dunce, or the rascal, is better satisfied with his lot than they are with theirs… A being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy, is capable of more acute suffering, and is certainly accessible to it at more points, than one of an inferior type; but in spite of these liabilities, he can never really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence… It is better to a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question…”
Mill on the other hand contends “many who are capable of the higher pleasures, occasionally, under the influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower. But this is quite compatible with full appreciation of the intrinsic superiority of the higher.” He maintains his appeal to the individuals encountering relevant levels of pleasure that are equally similar to what should happen when making an assessment of pleasure quantity. Mill also goes on to establish that people not only desire happiness but rather, it is the only thing they ever desire. He therefore, disapproves the argument individuals could desire other things like virtue. Conclusively, Mill argues, “The principle of utility does not mean that any given pleasure, as music, for instance, or any given exemption from pain, as for example health, are to be looked upon as means to a collective something termed happiness, and to be desired on that account. ”
Immanuel Kant formulated the theory known as Categorical Imperative which offers moral judgment of an action according to specific set of rules. Deontological ethics as such is referred to as duty/rule based ethics. Therefore, people who act from duty are those considered to be acting in a manner that is morally right. What makes actions wrong or right are not consequences, but rather, motives of the individual executing an action. Kant makes the argument that the highest good is supposed to be good in itself without any qualification. Of something good, he says this, “Nothing in the world-indeed nothing even beyond the world-can possibly be conceived without qualification except a good will.” Kant had 3 major establishments of categorical imperative. First, one is supposed to act according to a rule that they would consider as a universal law. Secondly, one should act, in a manner to treat humanity not as a means but always an end in itself. Third, every individual is supposed to act as if they were part of legislating team in a global kingdom of ends.
Since deontological theories are understood well as opposed to consequentialist ones, brief look at consequentialism and the review of glitches inspires deontological challengers, offers supportive introduction to taking up deontological theories themselves. Consequentialists give such argument choices-acts and/or intentions- are supposed to be evaluated ethically by the state of affairs they cause. Therefore, consequentialists are supposed to stipulate initial state of affairs that are of fundamental great value-often known, jointly, “the Good.” They are in a position to emphasize whatever varieties lead to an escalation of the good, can bring more of the same, are choices that are morally correct to implement and make.
Consequentialists can and they always differ widely when it comes to specification of the Good. There are some consequentialists who are monists regarding the Good. Utilitarian’s, for instance, attach the Good with joy, pleasure, desire gratification or “welfare” in another sense. Other consequentialists are pluralists concerning the Good. Some of these pluralists trust how the good gets dispersed among individuals (or all sentimental beings) is in itself, partly constitutive of the Good, while conventional utilitarian’s merely average or add each individual’s share of the Good in order to attain the Good intensification.
From these two criticisms, the account that is most plausible is that made by Immanuel Kant. This is attributed to the fact that it is true the motives of an individual in executing a given action are real determinants of whether the actions are wrong or right. Additionally, as opposed to utilitarianism, deontological ethics demands one is supposed to act by adhering to a set of rules, while they maintain humanity. Deontological ethics is what makes it possible for one to regard the good highly while also seeking to achieve their own satisfaction. Therefore, this ethics portrays less selfishness compared to utilitarianism.
Objectivity refers to the act or portraying the truth without taking into consideration subjects of feelings or perceptiveness. An objective truth exists independently from the mind of the subject. Objectivity makes it possible for moral judgment to be made without external partiality or influence. On the other hand, subjectivity offers the theory that the mind can offer a solid base for factual experience. Subjectivism as such uses an individual’s experience as the basis of all law and measure.
Rachel looks at cultural relativism as a theory regarding nature of morality. No absolute or objective truth exists in morality. Aspects of wrong and right are just matters of opinion and opinions are always the subject of differing cultures. Rachel makes the argument that if cultural relativism should be held as true, first, no customs of other societies need to be judged as morally right. Second, the theory should forbid us from criticizing the values and codes of other societies and our own. Third, if cultural relativism theory is to be held, then decision on whether actions are morally wrong or right would be made by simple use of societal standards. Additionally, holding the theory also means there would not be any reason for progress morally. Additionally, holding the theory means there would be no moral progress reason. From the reasons aforementioned, Rachel disputes cultural relativism.
Cultural relativism is an aspect that stipulates for one to have an understanding of culture of a given society, they are supposed to first and foremost, put aside their cultural assumptions in order to avoid prejudgements. On the other hand, ethical relativism attempts to compare ethical differences of 2 or more cultures. It also explains no foundation exists that directs one to make judgements of values on whether one thing is better than another. Rachel also distinguished ethical and cultural relativism by stating cultural relativism is a theory on morality nature, while another instance, he states cultural relativism is a theory on nature of morality, while still on another instance, he states one can learn some good things from a bad doctrine (referring to ethical relativism). As such, it is wise to have evidence that is conclusive on what is bad or good. Take for instance the case discussed by Rachel- that of female genital mutilation. One could argue, basing their reasoning on global ethical criteria that female genital mutilation is not supposed to be practised on others. However, it never would be wise to make the conclusion those engaged in the practice are the ones to blame. They could be influenced by false beliefs, and, driven by differing customs in society, they had to do what they did.
Rachel believes in the theory that, “…moral language is not a fact-stating language, it is not typically used to convey information. Its purpose is entirely different. It is used, first, as a means of influencing people’s behaviour; if someone says ‘you ought not to do that’, they are trying to stop you from doing it. And second, moral language is used to express (not report) one’s attitude. Saying ‘Betty Friedan is a good woman’, is not like saying ‘I approve of Friedan’, but is like saying ‘Hurrah for Friedan!’ The difference between emotivism and subjectivism should now be obvious. Simple subjectivism interpreted ethical sentences as statements of fact, of a special kind- namely, as reports of the speaker’s attitudes.” I am in agreement with his conclusion because emotivism, in so much as it is superior to subjectivism, has one major problem, which is: it cannot justify the position of reason in ethics.
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