Andrew Carnegie can be viewed as a person who could combine both altruistic and egoistic qualities. He can be accused of violating the rights of workers or even exploiting them. Nevertheless, he was willing to donate money to various charitable organizations. In his view, it was a moral responsibility of a well-to-do person to act in this way. To a great extent, his activities contributed to the social development of the United States. Thus, one cannot say that altruism and egoism are irreconcilable. These are the main aspects that can be singled out.
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Researchers and psychologists debate various aspects of a person’s behavior; much attention is usually paid to such conflicting values as self-interest and altruism. Very often, it is argued that egoism underlies various decisions of a person. In turn, the opponents of this viewpoint believe that the concern for the welfare of others is an inseparable part of being human. Overall, it is possible to say that these ethical principles can co-exist. This argument can be illustrated by looking at a famous industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who could be both an egoist and an altruist at the same time. These are the main issues that should be discussed more closely.
It should first be noted that by contemporary standards of social responsibility, Andrew Carnegie can be regarded as an unscrupulous individual who was concerned primarily with the profitability of his enterprises, rather than the welfare of other stakeholders such as workers. For instance, one can mention his attempt to quell the Homestead strike, which resulted in numerous causalities (Krause, 1992, p. 3). Certainly, such incidents could be widespread in the second half of the nineteenth century. At that time, many entrepreneurs could adopt similar strategies. Nevertheless, this incident tarnished Andrew Carnegie’s reputation. This is one of the points that can be made.
Nevertheless, it is important to mention that Andrew Carnegie perceived money as a method of achieving various objectives that were not always related to his own well-being. For instance, one should mention he had given away $350,695,653, which was an enormous amount of money in 1919. In fact, he spent more than 90 percent of his fortune on charity (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 2010). Admittedly, one can say that these charitable activities could be aimed at raising his self-esteem. Nevertheless, one should keep in mind that many contemporary industrialists spent their capital on luxury objects, but they did not donate money to educational institutions or libraries. In contrast, Carnegie believed that this investment could be critical for social progress. Apart from that, he believed that it had been a moral responsibility of a wealthy person to spend his/her money on charity. Therefore, one can say that he embraced altruistic values. Moreover, many criticisms of Carnegie are unfounded.
On the whole, one can argue that people cannot be divided into two opposing groups, such as egoists and altruists. The main issue is that a person can combine two forms of behavior. Andrew Carnegie can be regarded as an example of an individual who incorporated both altruistic and egoistic qualities. The decisions that he took during his lifetime were aimed at promoting his self-interest as well as the welfare of the community. Thus, his behavior was guided by opposing ethical principles. This issue is important for understanding the complexity of his character. These are aspects that can be distinguished.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. (2010). Andrew Carnegie: A Tribute. Web.
Krause, P. (1992). The Battle for Homestead, 1880-1892: Politics. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.