I believe present-day ethical egoism is good for the individual. Ethical egoism is the theory that claims that self-interest is the basis for morality. It is the manner in which one wants to live life, so long as his desire does not negatively damage his fellow men and their own respective desires. Present-day ethical egoism promotes the morality that advances the individual’s right to life and happiness. It stresses the importance of man’s pursuit of what he sees as best for him according to his own judgment.
There is emphasis on present-day because morality and ethics are both ever-changing. Morality in its present-day context is not absolute. It is continually reasoned, argued, and discussed. An act considered moral now may have been immoral centuries ago. If random ethical egoism is wrong as many express, then upstanding individuals should just be compelled to tend to the needs of those who are not as well. However, it defeats the premise of ethical egoism because an ethical egoist, defined in the simplest manner, is an individual that is determined in enriching himself and his life in accordance with his free will, and without compromising the state of his fellow men. It is not his responsibility and fault that there are people less fortunate and that he lives a better quality of life. It is his right to seek happiness especially if it does not come at the expense of his fellow men. If his ethical egoism benefits society, the argument for ethical egoism becomes even more solid.
The “what if ethical egoism negatively affects society?” argument is a logical fallacy and thus invalid. The presence of the word “ethical” is crucial. When present-day ethics is considered in egoism, it automatically denotes an act within the bounds of generally accepted morality. Therefore, when one’s ethical egoism negatively affects society, it is not ethical egoism but rather, just egoism, or for lack of a more precise term, unethical egoism. However, it must be clear that there are acts of egoism that are neither ethical nor unethical. As expressed earlier, the question of whether ethical egoism is good or bad depends on the circumstances.
Indifference, for instance, depending on its extent, is another act of egoism that is neither ethical nor ethical. For example, picture a non-Muslim man who publicly eats pork in a Muslim-majority country currently observing Ramadan (fasting). A practicing Muslim may view this act as unethical to his culture but not necessarily immoral or bad. On the other hand, to a non-Muslim or a non-religious individual living abroad, it may be an act that’s neither bad nor good but not necessarily unethical. This is an example of many cases that need to be reasoned, discussed, and argued. In ethical egoism, free will and all pursuits are good with the exception of acts that compromise or endanger the right to happiness of others. However, it must be remembered that like morality and ethics, ethical egoism in its current state is not absolute. That is because it depends on the evolution of society. It is ever-evolving, and should always be subject to examination and reasoning.
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