Thursday, September 27, 2007

Me, Myself, and I.

Jim: "Thanks for saving my life, good friend, I almost drowned out there."

Bob: "Don't mention it. I did it for myself. After all, my life would suck if you weren't in it, and there's that matter of the 1,000 dollars you owe me. It wouldn't be beneficial for me to lose out on that. So, you're welcome, friend."

Who out there, if you were in Jim's shoes, would think this act of Bob's was a good, moral, and altruistic act? Not many, I'd wager.

But, don't those adhering to ethical egoism say that they can account for "altruism?" That helping and saving others is actually good, for them? That their system doesn't do away with our moral responsibility to help others, for the sake of helping others?

But, isn't this a trick? Doesn't this, in fact, fail to distinguish between pseudo and genuine altruism? The latter has, as its goal, purpose, and intrinsic value, the benefit of another irrespective of benefit to one's self? (And, as an aside, that there may be personal payoffs and side effects does not logically entail that the moral action was done for egoistic reasons as its basis. Sure it is nice to have your friend around and to collect on the 1,000, but an altruistic act is done solely for the sake of the other; even though there might very well be side effects and outcomes that are good for you, personally.)

Many atheists, especially Randroids (followers of the Rand Cult (as dubbed by an atheist, mind you)), adhere to ethical egoism. And, they frequently try to justify "altruistic" acts within their system; try to make them fit; try to make sense of them. But above I've pointed out that the cost is to defend pseudo altruism over against genuine altruism. And, the argument from side effects does not imply ethical egoism. Indeed, most of us, including Jim, might rightly look down on Bob's actions. Altruistic acts, done on and for egoism's premises, are morally repugnant acts.

11 comments:

  1. Usually atheists will try to make egoism encompass altruism. Kind of like utilitarians with "pleasure" or "happiness".

    "Ah, you see, you're intent was 'altruistic' and truly for the sake of the other person, but it brings you great joy/happiness/pleasure to do such an act, and this is your end".

    Well of course this doesn't have to be our end ("happiness"). Besides, this stretches the word so much that it almost becomes contentless.

    Just an observation i've made over time. I think it ties into the topic.

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  2. Paul,

    Great comment, but Puh-leeze lay off "irregardless". It's not a word, never was a word, never gonna be a word.

    That is all.

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  3. Daryl,

    **********

    "The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however."

    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=irregardless

    **********

    Irregardless of that, I'll change it for you. :-)

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  4. It's like the old "ain't ain't a word cuz it ain't in a proper dictionary" debate (although compare that with the "allowed" phrase, "aren't I?" which is downright nonsensical yet grammatically permissible). :-P

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  5. I stand corrected...

    I ain't about to stop enjoying your blog irregardless of the English you use.

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  6. Irregardless:regardless as inflammable:flammable.

    Class dismissed.

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  7. ah so reckon language sh'd be used as vaguely as postible in o'der t'maintain th' appeareence thet reality is fully funckshunal instead of busted like Ichabod Vick's career. Take thet.

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  8. "Irregardless:regardless as inflammable:flammable.

    Class dismissed."

    ********

    Unravel

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  9. redebussy.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. Jim: "Thanks for saving my life, good friend, I almost drowned out there."

    Bob: "Don't mention it. I did it for myself. After all, my life would suck if you weren't in it, and there's that matter of the 1,000 dollars you owe me. It wouldn't be beneficial for me to lose out on that. So, you're welcome, friend."


    Sounds a whole lot like the Calvinist conception of God.

    Elect: "Hey Cavlin's god, thanks for dying on the cross for me."

    Calvin's god: "Oh don't mention it. I did it for myself, to get a whole load full of glory and all that bling. I don't really love you or have any concern for you at all. I'm just putting on a big comsic show of fake love to sucker glory out of ya."

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