Friday, October 21, 2005

Ethics: A primer

Well, faithful reader (yes, reader), I have returned to write some more. Surprised? So am I. Let me explain.

I am currently reading "The Fountainhead", a piece of tripe written by Ayn Rand. It has infuriated me so much, that once I have finished, I plan to publish an entry completly proving her, and that book, wrong.

In order to grease the wheels a little, and speed things up, I wanted to put a primer on some of the ethical terms that I will be discussing. Just makes things easier. Plus, I need to stroke my ego, by pretending that I am smart.


Egoism: Not to be confused with Egotism. Egoism is a school of thought that says that all human actions are motivated by the desire to help ones-self. This was originally invented by Thomas Hobbes. Now, just to clarify, this does not mean that people will then NEVER do a 'selfless' act, but that it will ALWAYS (and this is important) be motivated by selfish means. For example, one might give to charity (a selfless act), but do it to aleviate guilt, or to fullfill some deep-seeted need to help others. This leaves no possibility for Altruism. Which leads me to...

Altruism: An ethical doctrine that holds that individuals have a moral obligation to help others, if necessary to the exclusion of one's own interest or benefit. This doctorine believes that people can, and should, perform actions that help others, and not (nessicarily) themselves. However, usually, this is the case. The essential idea is that the action should benefit OTHERS foremost, and not ourselves. If the actions benefits ourselves more that the other person, it is not altruistic.

Utilitarianism: A variation of Altruism. This principle, started by Jeremy Bentham and John Stewart Mill, believes that one should always strive to do what delivers 'The Greatest Good for the Greatest Amount of People'. There are other parts to this philosophy, but this is the most important one. Naturally, one can see a visible flaw in it: The Greatest Good is often directly opposed to your best (and normal) interests. For example, if you were to walk in to a hospital, and three people needed different organs, it would be alright for the hospital to kill you, as it would deliver good to three people, as opposed to one (and one can infer, through logic, that the good provided to one of these people is equal to the good of you being alive).
A few more intro points:

1) I personally, am an egoist. If you really want, I can explain my position, but the only relevant thing is that it is what I believed.

2) If all humans are motivated by self-motivation, how does any morality get started? According to Hobbes (and me extrapolating on his thoughts), because humans will benefit in the long run from social order, we voluntaritly subject ourselves to a 'Social Contract', whereby we give up some of our liberties, in exchange for overall security. Thus, morality.

I think that's it, for now. I might need to update further, but I'll let you know that in my final publishing.

This is Michael Herman saying - "I'm not cynical, its just no one has proved me wrong yet"

PS - "Its true"


At Saturday, October 22, 2005 9:21:00 AM, Blogger Erika said... why didn't you agree with the tripe again?? and i'm SURE you have more than one reader:-)

At Sunday, October 23, 2005 6:33:00 PM, Blogger A Cranky Old Jew said...

You suck. Uh oh I think he saw me. Run!

At Sunday, October 23, 2005 8:08:00 PM, Blogger Herman said...

I didn't agree with her philosophy, and I will explain why in my next post. I have to finish the book first.

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