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ava's avatar

Need Advice: 3 page paper on Ethics/Philosophy?

Asked by ava (977points) July 25th, 2008

So , I have this assignment (due Monday) for my Ethics class. I’m supposed to write an essay explicating my personal standards for ethical behavior, and I need to e that people should also an ethical system and philospher that is aligned with my own personal ethical standards. Here is the problem…I love the idea of ethical altruism, however I also believe that people must also do what is right for themselves sometimes (ethical egoism). I realize that these two philosophies are opposite, but I really do believe in both to some extent. What are some good resources I can use for my paper since these are my views? Which philospher lies in the middle of those beliefs? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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12 Answers

peggylou's avatar

Ava, I know nothing about this but Wikipedia talks about different philosophers (including Ayn Rand) at this address: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_egoism. Hope it gets you started!

ava's avatar

Oh Peggy-Lou, I do love you!

wildflower's avatar

I think finding a way to do this should be part of the research for your assignment (and a job for yourself), but one idea would be to ‘compare and contrast’ the two? Who knows, you may find you actually agree with one more than the other…

tinyfaery's avatar

I’d hope that you already have the resources for this paper, since you are taking a class on it. Philosophy professors are often looking for something beyond simple regurgitation. If you see benefits and drawbacks to both, then explain why. Maybe invent your own ethical paradigm that includes ideas from both, but that is dialectically unique. Good luck! Sounds like fun.

peggylou's avatar

And Ava Lou, I love you too!

ava's avatar

wildflower & tinyfaery, thanks for the advice, believe me I have spent days doing research I just wanted to know if perhaps I was missing something. I am certainly not lazy or trying to find an easy way out. I just thought that perhaps some flutherites might know of other websites or things that may help me.

tinyfaery's avatar

@ava I wasn’t dissin’ you, I just didn’t have time to look up the resources; its been awhile since my college days. Philosophy is so simple, but philosophy classes, and some philosophers, make it so complicated. Take what you have learned and make it your own. This is the best means by which to get the most out of your studies.

drhat77's avatar

Jeremy Bentham espoused “most good for the most number” – Utilitarianism. you could probably spin that – You are part of that number

nina's avatar

I truly like it that your own views are in the middle. Speaks of basic common sense. A paper like that is now just about resources, it is a good time to look at your own life choices and see which ones were motivated by what and what were the outcomes. Ethical altruism is fraught with many dangers (e.g. communism).

Knotmyday's avatar

Try Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes as an alternative to Rand. Also The Priciples of Ethics, Herbert Spencer.
Beyond Optimizing and Commonsense Morality by Michael Slote present interesting points of view.
There are many others, but I’ll have to dig a little.

nina's avatar

How about the simple Pirkei Avot –
If I am not for myself – who is,
If I am only for myself – who am I,
And if not now – when?

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