The “Lucky” Man An 85 year-old man with no family who lives in a cabin in a remote part of Vietnam has a one-in-a-trillion biochemical property that allows his body to produce a powerful antibody against what is for others worldwide a common fatal and painful disease. This antibody is produced when he is subjected to a particular kind of intense pain. Researchers strongly believe they can develop a cure for the disease if they can access the antibody regularly. Accessing the antibody requires deliberate infliction of pain on the individual. Is this individual morally compelled to submit to these painful procedures to help save millions of people? Should he be forced to submit if he is not willing?
What if the “Lucky” Man were You? Are you morally required to submit? Why shouldn’t we force you to comply?
Promises Promises…. (page 471) You’re shipwrecked with a friend who is near death. He allows you to have all the available food as long as you promise to tell his nephew where the million dollars is hidden. Your friend dies, you’re rescued, you track down his nephew—who turns out to be a total wasteful loser. Do you keep your promise or keep the money for your self or give it to some other more worthy person/organization?
Ethical Egoism Are people psychologically driven to satisfy their own desires/needs before the desires/needs of others? Should they do so? Why should I ever take an action that does not serve my own interests? Is valuing self-interest the same as valuing selfishness?
Argument for Ethical Egoism #1: Altruism is Self Defeating Why can’t we advocate for the interests of others without harming them? Really know only our own interests. Intrusive into the lives of others when we try to act on their behalf. Charity is degrading. Therefore, if everyone is responsible for advocating for his/her interests only, everyone will be better off. Fair point? The Argument: 1. We ought to do whatever will best promote everyone’s interests. 2. The best way to promote everyone’s interests is for each of us to adopt a policy of pursuing our own interests exclusively. 3. Therefore, each of us should adopt the policy of pursuing our own interests exclusively. Can you spot the problem for Ethical Egoists with this argument?
Argument for Ethical Egoism #2: E.E. Respects the Value of the Individual Life If we value the individual—that is, if the individual has moral worth—then we must agree that this life is of supreme importance. The ethics of Altruism regards the life of the individual as something one must be ready to sacrifice for the good of others. Ethical Egoism, which allows each person to view his or her own life as being of ultimate value, does take the human individual seriously. Thus, Ethical Egoism is the philosophy we ought to accept. Is this a compelling argument?
Would an Ethical Egoist…. Refuse to cheat on a test, even if he/she could get away with it? Help his/her neighbor move some furniture? Diminish his/her business profits in order to give high-performing employees a raise? Save the life of someone who means a great deal to him/her?
Suppose…. You and I are on a lifeboat at sea. I’m an ethical egoist and have brought plenty of food and water for myself. You’ve brought none. I don’t need you to survive, and we’re simply waiting for a rescue boat. Why should I share my supplies with you? Should you kill me and take my supplies?
Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham (1748-1842 CE) John Stuart Mill (1806-1873 CE) Goodness/rightness and badness/wrongness are located in the consequences an act (consequentialism). An act that increases happiness or pleasure (or minimizes unhappiness and suffering) is right and good; act that decreases happiness or causes suffering is wrong and bad. Theory based on act, rather than act based on theory.
Bentham’s “Calculus of Felicity” Intensity (How intense is the pleasure?) Duration (How long does the pleasure last?) Certainty (How sure is the pleasure?) Proximity (How soon will the pleasure be experienced?) Fecundity (How many more pleasures will follow?) Purity (How free from pain is the pleasure?) Extent (How many people will experience pleasure? [social not personal hedonism])