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James Rachels: Egoism and Moral Scepticism

Page history last edited by cAmz 13 years, 11 months ago

 

REVIEW QUESTIONS:

 

  1. Explain the legend of Gyges. What questions about morality are raised by the story?

In the legend of Gyges, it states that there is a shepherd where in he found a magic ring in a fissure opened through an earthquake. The ring when wear will give you invisibility power and enable anyone who wear it go anywhere and do anything undetected by anyone. Gyges, shepherd who found out the ring, used the power to enter the Royal Palace where he seduced the Queen, murdered the King and seized the throne.

The questions raised about morality in the story are to determine the two different rings given to a man of virtue and given to a rogue. Why shouldn’t a man simply do what he pleases, or what he think is best for himself? What reason is there for him to continue being moral when it is clearly not to his own advantage to do so?

 

  1. Distinguish between psychological and ethical egoism.

Psychological egoism is the view that all men are selfish in everything that they do, that is, that the only motive from which anyone ever acts is self-interest. Ethical egoism is a normative view about how men ought to act.

 

  1. Rachels discusses two arguments for psychological egoism. What are these arguments, and how does he reply to them?

The first argument about psychological egoism is “If we describe one person’s action as selfish, and another person’s action, we are overlooking the crucial fact that in both cases, assuming that the action is done voluntarily, the agent is merely doing what he most wants to do.”

The second argument about psychological egoism is “since so-called unselfish actions always produce a sense of self-satisfaction in the agent, and since this sense of satisfaction is a pleasant state of consciousness, it follows that the point of the action is really to achieve a pleasant state of consciousness, rather than to bring about any good for others.  

 

  1. What three commonplace confusions does Rachels detect in the thesis of the psychological egoism?

The three commonplace confusions detects by Rachels are the confusion of selfishness with self-interest, assumption that every action is done either from self-interest or from other regarding motives and assumption that a concern for one’s welfare is incompatible with any genuine concern for the welfare of others.

 

  1. State the argument for saying that ethical egoism is inconsistent. Why doesn’t Rachels accept this argument?

There is no inconsistency because the ethical egoism does not apply to all scenarios. There can be sometimes a conflict with what you desire and the welfare of other people, but I can say that it varies on the people involved in the scenario. Sometimes, we based our decision regarding the decision of people close to the circle of ourselves. In this way, we are not selfish because we are still considering other people.

 

 

  1. According to Rachels, why shouldn’t we hurt others, and why should we help others? How can the egoist reply?

If he honestly doesn’t care whether they are helped or hurt by his actions then we have reached those limits. If we want to persuade him to act decently toward his fellow humans, we will have to make our appeal to such other attitudes as he does possess, by threats, bribes, or other cajolery.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Has Rachels answered the question raised by Glaucon, namely, “Why be moral?” If no, what exactly is his answer?

Rachels answered the question raised by Glaucon, “Why be Moral?” because he explains his opinions that there are reasons why we should not hurt other and why should we help others.

 

  1. Are genuine egoists rare, as Rachels claims? Is it a fact that most people care about others, even people they don’t know?

Based on what I have read, Rachel claims those genuine egoists are rare because based on my observation in the society there are still people who are resulting to helping each other even people they do not know. It is a fact that most people care about others even people they don’t know because even a people who are emotionally depressed, there will be instance that his heart will soften and care about other people. No doubt of it because I mostly observed it in the culture of the country.

 

  1. Suppose we define ethical altruism as the view that one should always act for the benefit of others and never in one’s own self-interest. Is such a view immoral or not?

 

I think in this scenario, it still varies because it depends on how a person considers this scenario either an immoral or moral. I believe that we have different basis of morality and immorality because of our free will.

 

TITLE: Contemporary Moral Problems: Egoism and Moral Scepticism (Chapter 1)

AMAZON LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Contemporary-Moral-Problems-James-White/dp/0534584306

QUOTATION: “But why shouldn’t I do actions that will harm other?”

LEARNING EXPECTATIONS:

-          I want to have deep knowledge what is egoism all about.

-          I want to learn the different views to attack the conventional morality.

-          I want to know how I can depend morality in terms of egoism.

REVIEW:

In this section I become familiar to the legend of Gyges and become interested on what happened. Based on the book, Contemporary Moral Problems, discussed by Rachels, In the legend of Gyges, it states that there is a shepherd where in he found a magic ring in a fissure opened through an earthquake. The ring when wear will give you invisibility power and enable anyone who wear it go anywhere and do anything undetected by anyone. Gyges, shepherd who found out the ring, used the power to enter the Royal Palace where he seduced the Queen, murdered the King and seized the throne.

I just become confused why there are people who tried to do things like these. I think it is immoral in my personal view because to gain the power and throne he need to do bad things which is really a neglected behavior in my personal assumptions because I believe things can become yours in a good way.

I cannot blame that shepherd, assuming the present King is really an abusive King, because in this instance he thinks it can be a revenge and thinks that it is still good to have the power because he can relate the state of other shepherd so he have this notion in mind that it is really better that he will rule the land because he knows what the people lower social level experiences in the power of other.

In this section there are many points that Rachels discussed such as the difference of ethical egoism and psychological egoism, the argument with the psychological egoism, the three commonplace of confusion in the psychological egoism and the argument that ethical egoism is inconsistent.

I really appreciate how Rachels discuss each point to understand how really people can understand the egoism and how can people will give their reaction on their views if it is either moral or immoral.

 

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED:

-          Egoism exists in the earlier era.

-          People tend to care even to people they don’t know.

-          The difference between the ethical egoism and psychological egoism.

INTEGRATIVE QUESTIONS:

  1. Who is Gyges?
  2. What are the skeptical views of egoism?
  3. What are the different arguments on psychological egoism?
  4. What are the commonplaces of confusion in psychological egoism?
  5. Why Smith derives satisfaction from helping his friend?

 

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