A person that has a strong belief in ethical egoism would advise me to act in my own self interest. He would advise me to take a course of action that would enable me to achieve my own personal interests at the expense of my neighbor’s interests. Therefore, he would advise me to claim the prize on the lottery ticket I bought for my neighbor. This choice would serve my interests well because it would help me clear college fees, credit card debts and other financial obligations.
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An ethical egoist would advise me to lie to my neighbor that I only bought one card which had the winning number. He would advise me to focus on my own goals and make a choice that helps me achieve these goals. The ethical egoist would advise me to lie because this would help me satisfy my personal material needs (Hills, 2010, p. 54).
Ethical egoism is a principle that argues that moral individuals need to make choices that help them achieve their own individual objectives. An ethical egoist holds a strong belief that people should only engage in actions that help them satisfy their own interests whenever they are faced with an impasse. This helps them take care of their material and psychological needs because they make moral choices that only serve them as individuals.
An ethical egoist would encourage me to take care of my own interests to increase my own happiness (Hills, 2010, p. 56). He would advise me that by claiming the prize, I will not hurt the feelings of my neighbor as long as I do not do anything to make her suspicious. He would advise me to consider my personal needs first because that is what common sense dictates before anything else.
An ethical egoist would encourage me to refund my neighbor’s ticket money to ensure she does not suspect I bought two tickets. This is because he values actions that bring the highest material rewards in form of cash or wealth. He would likely insist that my perspective of what I think is right differs from my neighbor’s perspective. Therefore, he would make me consider my needs as more important than those of my neighbor.
He would encourage me to focus on my long term goals to ensure they get fulfilled. This would only be possible if I take advantage of all opportunities that come my way. Therefore, an ethical egoist would advise me to focus on my own objectives because I have a moral responsibility to make choices that help me achieve my own interests (Hills, 2010, p. 61).
The ethical egoist’s advice
The ethical egoist’s advice would help me clear all my debts. This would bring me higher levels of comfort to help me satisfy my personal financial obligations. If I use this advice, I would be able to pay my college fees, house rent and other debts I need to clear.
This would make it possible for me to pursue my ambitions because financial constraints will not stand in my way. However, this may affect relationships I have with other people because my personal integrity and moral standards may be negatively affected. My neighbor may not be willing to trust me anymore which will strain the good relations we have had in the past. I will also be affected by personal guilt as a result of my inconsiderate attitude (Hills, 2010, p. 67). This would have a severe impact on my moral conscience and personal integrity.
The ethical egoist’s advice would make me betray my neighbor’s trust in me. If my neighbor finds out in future that I lied to her, she will think of me as selfish and greedy. This action may also compromise my personal beliefs and moral standards. This would portray me as inconsiderate and may have a negative impact on my character. I have a strong belief that every individual needs to be selfless to ensure that his actions bring positive change to the society (Hills, 2010, p. 72).
It is necessary to consider other people before taking any action to ensure that individual choices a person makes do not expose other people to harm or ridicule. I need to take precautions to ensure my choices do not harm other people either physically or psychologically. If I fail to follow the ethical egoist’s advice, I may not be able to pay my college fees and other debts that I owe. This is likely to affect my personal welfare negatively.
Ticket has just won the lottery
I would make my neighbor aware that her ticket has just won the lottery. This would ease any guilty conscience on my part because it would help me maintain my integrity and high moral standards. This would make it possible for me to maintain good relations with my neighbor to ensure our mutual trust is not negatively affected. Selfishness is a negative trait that motivates people to engage in immoral acts. If I fail to divulge the truth to my neighbor, it will affect my character negatively and this will affect the way I relate with other people.
I need to ensure that my actions do not affect my neighbors’ happiness and wellbeing (Rachels, 2002, p.192). There is a possibility that she needs the money more than I do to help her fulfill some personal needs and desires. If I fail to disclose what happened, I may end up ruining her life and future aspirations.
It is necessary to avoid actions that corrupt the mind and the soul. Ethical altruism encourages people to help others. I have a moral obligation to help my neighbor to increase her happiness and comfort. Ethical egoism encourages selfishness and this motivates humans to become greedier and insensitive. It is important to consider other people in whatever we do to ensure they are not negatively affected. I would also use the concept of ethical utilitarianism to make my decision.
I would consider my neighbor as the owner of the ticket I have just purchased before making any decision (Prichard, 2002, p.196). If I claim the prize, then this act would be fraudulent because the ticket belongs to someone else. My actions would mean that I have broken the law and the trust conferred on me by my neighbor. Therefore, I need to consider the overall consequences of my actions before making any choice.
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Altruism and utilitarianism are important ethical concepts which all human beings need to respect. This will make them less selfish to encourage them to help others regardless of the situation. These two concepts encourage me to make good choices that do not harm other people.
Hills, A. (2010). The beloved self. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Prichard, H. A. (2002), Moral writings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rachels, S. (2002). Nagelian arguments against egoism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 80, 191–208.