The Three Reasons Of The Consequentialist Theory Of Ethical Egoism

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The Consequentialist theory of Ethical Egoism sets out to prove that the morally right action is one that aims to maximise one’s own self-interest. The moral theory runs on the premise that the principle of self-interest accounts for all one’s moral obligations, therefore one ought to act in their own self-interest. This essay will provide three arguments for Ethical Egoism, and argue that they do not succeed in proving Ethical Egoism is sufficiently coherent and consistent when applied as a moral theory everyone should follow in the real world.

The three arguments for Ethical Egoism discussed are: 1) Altruism is self-defeating; 2) Ethical Egoism as the moral theory of a rational agent; 3) Ethical Egoism is compatible with common sense morality
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The Egoist argues that what is morally right is for an agent to maximise their own self-interest. If it is in one’s self-interest to speed as they are late for work, the Egoist argues that it is the agent’s moral duty to do so. Violating the speed limit is thus given moral justification, simply because it was in one’s own self-interest. If this moral rule applied to everyone equally, the disorder is conceivably undesirable. To further illustrate that this theory is problematic; Ethical Egoism would argue it would be morally justified for one to steal from someone else if it was in their self-interest (Moseley). If this moral theory were universalized, the notion of proprietorship would be meaningless. Ethical Egoism promotes social chaos, and is thus self-defeating as a moral theory.

Ethical Egoism is further self-defeating as it creates unresolvable conflict (Moseley). There are inevitably scenarios where two people’s self-interests will clash. Person A may see their greatest good lying in obtaining Z through murdering the owner of Z. C, the owner of Z, sees their greatest good in maintaining their possession of Z; in other words, preventing their own murder. Both actions are morally justified according to Ethical
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EE presents us a world in which the self-interests of those who are more powerful than others will prevail at the expense of those who hold less power in society.

The Ethical Egoist may reject the charges that it is self-defeating and contradictory by contending that firstly; Ethical Egoism argues for self-interest in the long run (Shaver). The morally right action will be one that truly benefits the agent in the long run. Violating the speed limit, or harming others for short-term gain would be detrimental to one’s long-term benefit. EE as long-run theory enables an ethical framework to be logically extrapolated from EE that will be discussed in this essay’s second argument (Moseley).

The second argument discussed in this essay, laid out by Ayn Rand, argues that an action is rational only if it maximises self-interest (Moseley). Therefore, if we value rationality, we ought to act in our own self-interest. The reasoning follows that if we value the life of the individual, the agent should always be the one to benefit from their own actions, so the agent must act in their own true self-interest. The ability to act in one’s own true self-interest in the long-run requires a commitment to reason rather than feelings. Ethical Egoism is the moral theory any rational agent should follow as furthering one’s own interests is in accordance

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