Egoism and Utilitarianism

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By KRicksWill
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To Treat or Not To Treat

To treat or not to treat, that is the question? What would you do? How does the subject of cancer treatment apply to the moral theories of Egoism and Utilitarianism? Which theory best addresses this problem? I would assert Egoism best handles the dilemmas undressed by this ethical scenario.
Egoism is a normative ethical theory that contends we act morally when in any given situation the right thing to do will be whatever maximally promotes long term self-interest. It does not describe how people behave; rather, it describes how people "ought" to behave. (Class notes February 23) This is a key element of all normative theories. Another key element of egoism lies in “long term”. Simply stated, an ethical egoist would typically not endorse running up credit card debt. While it might fulfill one's interests in the moment, it would undermine one's long term self-interest. James Rachels says it best; "Ethical egoism endorses selfishness, but it doesn't endorse foolishness.” Rachels also suggests each of us possess the ability to know what is in our own best interest, therefore to attempt to provide charity to another would directly disregard that ability. In essences, to give a man a fish would suggest they do not have the same ability you possess to acquire their own fish. Based on principles outlined by James Rachels and others, Thomas Hobbes may be viewed to be an ethical egoist, although he argued that if everyone follows their own long term self-interest completely, a logical inconsistency would result. Thus part of following one's own long term self-interest in a larger society involves allowing others to follow their own self-interest, thus perhaps giving up some of one's own long term interests. (Class notes February 28)
Utilitarianism is another normative ethical theory that proposes we act morally when in any given…...

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