Analysis of Sidgwick's Third Axiom Essay

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This paper will object to Sidgwick’s axiom that from the point of view of the universe, the good of one is no more important than the good of another on the ground that it is analytic. I present the purpose and content of the axiom with a further explanation of what I take ‘the point of view of the universe’ to mean. I then consider the response of the Egoist to the axiom and Sidgwick’s counter-response to illustrate the tautology of the argument. The tautology of the argument brings it in line with other axioms that Sidgwick rejects as insignificant. Thus, I argue that the third axiom fails to meet Sidgwick’s own standards, making its utility and significance questionable. In response to this, I consider that the axiom may be analytic but…show more content…
Thus, the axiom holds that we must regard the good of others as equal to our own good unless, when viewed from an impartial position, it is less due to special circumstances . For example, Sidgwick states that it would be wrong for a man to pursue his own good on any occasion if it would result in another individual having to sacrifice a greater amount of their good. The problem with the axiom lies in the use of the phrase ‘from the point of view of the universe’. The phrase must be included because without it an Egoist could easily reject the axiom, which would be unacceptable for Sidgwick. However, the inclusion of this phrase could lead one to object to the axiom on the basis that it is analytic. As it stands, the Egoist can escape the axiom so long as he holds his happiness as his ultimate end. He can simply say he is not interested in taking up that point of view and thus it does not apply. Sidgwick acknowledges this to be true, so long as the Egoist does not believe that “his happiness or pleasure is Good, not only for him but from the point of view of the Universe... as by saying that ‘nature designed him to seek his own happiness.’” If the Egoist believes something like this, Sidgwick thinks it becomes relevant to tell him that, when taken universally, his good is no more important than that of any other person. Thus, his argument becomes, ‘if you adopt the
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