Re: Ethics

Bryan Moss (
Fri, 26 Jun 1998 16:51:52 +0100

Daniel Fabulich wrote:

> You left off the second half of that paragraph,
> which was my *actual* response to egoism. I
> believe I said something like this: the fact
> that egoists will hurt others to benefit
> themselves is not logically inconsistent, but it
> is not consistently generalizible: if everyone
> were egoistic, we would actually be worse
> off. On some level, in order to be egoistic, we
> must reject egoism. THIS is my real critique,
> which was more or less the underpinning of
> Kant's argument: the correct answer to the
> problem of ethics ought to work just as well (if
> not better!) when everyone is acting ethically
> as when very few people are.

But, in egoism wouldn't the correct question be,
"if *I* were an Egoist would *I* be better off?
Again, it seems you are judging egoism by the
standards of utilitarianism.

> I argue that objectivism is wrong because it
> requires one to perform irrational actions in
> order to do the right thing, which is contrary
> to our earlier presumption that the right action
> is the rational one. With this alone, we could
> not reject simple egoism; if we add
> generalization to this rule, however, egoism
> fails the test, leaving us, IMO, with
> utilitarianism.

What I'm failing to see is how generalisation can
be justified *without* utilitarianism. It is the
idea of fitting ethics to that which you already
believe, that I find irrational.

If generalisation is detrimental to the egoist,
then the egoist should insure that others do the
wrong thing. That does not seem logically
inconsistent. Wouldn't this make it the most
rational choice?

> Even simple egoism may require us to commit
> suicide if we will experience more pain than
> pleasure in the remainder of our lives (though
> this is arguable).

Would this apply to the immortalist? Surely you
can make no such assumption when faced with the
possibility of eternal life.

> You may choose to reject the generalization
> principle; if so, simple egoism seems the most
> rational to me. However, if we DO accept the
> generalization principle, I think that we must
> accept utilitarianism.

The problem is, I see no rational reason to accept
the generalisation principle.