Someone who is practicing ethical egoism is someone who believes that morality should be based solely on self interest alone. Every action that a person takes should be directed towards improving their standing in life in some way. If there is a focus on providing assistance to someone else and there is no benefit to the self interest, then the philosophy of ethical egoism would consider this an unmoral act. There are some definite pros and cons to the practice of ethical egoism, so let’s look at the subject in a little more detail.
The Pros of Ethical Egoism
A person’s basic needs would always be met. Using this construct of morality, someone practicing ethical egoism would always meet their basic needs before meeting any other needs. Although this would be no guarantee of a comfortable lifestyle, it would mean that the primary focus of everyone would become food, water, shelter, and clothing.
It would create a sustainable household. Ethical egoism would also apply to the household where it is being practiced. This is because the household is a reflection of the person self identity. This would mean that the household needs would also be effectively met before any other needs that existed in the world around.
There would be a greater sense of personal identity in every community. What makes people different is what makes them strong. By emphasizing ethical egoism as a moral practice, people would understand their identity in a more profound manner and be able to focus on the differences in others as a means of furthering their own self interests.
The Cons of Ethical Egoism
Everyone would need to practice this philosophy. Most people are actually uncomfortable with the idea of always putting themselves first. If there was a person burning in a house, the moral choice using ethical egoism would be to preserve yourself first. That’s not something everyone wants to do.
Objectivity would be completely eliminated. If everyone were to practice ethical egoism, then no one would really care what anyone else thought of them. Personal interests would drive every action and decision. Although there would likely be some moments where the care of others would be emphasized in such a society, it would always be a last resort decision instead of a first resort decision.
It would destroy most relationships. Imagine having a friend who would only spend time with you or help you after they had met all of their needs first. When you and your friend would go out to do something, both of you would want to do what you wanted to do and not take the other person’s interests into account. How long would a relationship like that last? The chances are that it would last very long.
Ethical egoism has its moments. There are times when self-interests must rule the day. Making it part of the very fabric of morality, however, has some pros and cons that must be weighed. In doing so, everyone can decide if this philosophy is the right moral code to practice.