philosophy week 5 module 3

The lecture and the notes together are designed to help guide and focus you in this week’s reading. Listen to the lecture with the notes before you. Add to your notes as you listen.

This week we’ll finish the preliminary moral theories. Next week we’ll have our first exam, which you have already been preparing for if you’ve been keeping up. I’ll have more to say about how to study for next week’s exam by the end of the week. I plan to open the exam next Sunday afternoon, for those who like to think that far ahead.

This week’s topics are ethical subjectivism and ethical egoism.

The Question of the Week concerns self-interest, especially as construed by ethical egoism. I don’t know about you, but I find the issues surrounding self-interest to be fascinating. In life and in philosophy I find I am often wondering about the relation between self-interest and benevolence.

Of course, Rachels concludes, as most philosophers have, that Ethical Egoism is an unacceptable moral theory. And indeed it is.

Still, it is remarkable how often the morally right action is also the most self-interested action as well. This week’s posts should address this question:

To what extent can a thoroughly self-interested person, a person who faithfully follows Ethical Egoism, be a good person?

By “good person” I mean what commonsense morality would typically call a morally good or virtuous person.

You may get some additional inspiration by checking out an appearance Ayn Rand made on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1967. It’s hard to believe that Johnny gave nearly the whole show to an intellectual such as Rand. My traditional students found it very interesting. Feel free to use interview material in your posts if you think it relevant/interesting.

The two-part interview can be found on YouTube. I don’t know if this link will work. You may have to paste it into your browser.

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