Ethics is very often associated with religious principles and there are many who hold that the individual egoism of a person and ethical codes do not go hand in hand. Ethics is concerned with doing right or wrong and, as such, ethical egoism offers the best opportunity for an individual to exercise his/her own self-interest. There are many types of ethical egoism generally categorized as individual ethical egoism, universal ethical egoism and psychological ethical egoism, each of which holds that a person needs to act from his/her egoism. Man’s life becomes happy and contended only when his ego is satisfied, his dreams are fulfilled and his self-interest is accomplished in accordance with his natural inclinations. To be precise, the individual ethical egoism offers the best scope for man to be natural and free in his ethical life and, as such, it can be discerned as the most natural among the ethical theories.
Ethical egoists “primarily think about how they can benefit from each station” and therefore they “believe that life shouldn’t involve sacrifices” for others. (Shannon, 2008). Individual ethical egoism is very often regarded as the most selfish and self-centered of ethical theories; however, it is the most natural of ethical theories as a person needs to make no compromises with his own natural self as he expects everyone to act in his self-interest. Thus, the individual is completely free to move about in the pursuit of his self-interest. Individual ethical egoism varies from person to person and, as a result, it is never possible to have a common or universal ethical egoism when everyone is an individual ethical egoist. Similarly, there are no points of comparison between the individual ethical egoisms of two individuals as their interests, needs and wants are entirely different, and they are guided by different motivations. The argument also presupposes that individual ethical egoists may never interfere or encroach into the self-interest of others even though their natural inclination is for others to act in accordance with their own individual self-interest.
Many doubt the credibility and practicability of the free exercise of individual ethical egoism in the modern world where one’s moral codes are determined by external factors such as religion or society’s ethical codes of what is morally right and wrong. People who consider individual ethical egoism as a failure do so as they realize that one’s “morality must include some recognition of the needs of others.” (Ethical egoism). Arguably, individual ethical egoism theory sees a man in isolation and not in society.
The question of how far the individual ethical egoism theory of natural ethics supports the traditional notion of morality and ethical codes is debatable. The self-interest of a person need not be always true or moral and it is possible that a man’s self-interest can be altered with the passage of time or with new experiences or learning. Similarly what is moral or best for an individual may not be for the good of society. However, individual ethical egoism emphasizes the individuality of each human and it stresses the inner potentiality of each person to do well. The theory of individual ethical egoism assumes wider implications as there is an innate thirst in everyone to satisfy his or her ego and fulfill his/her self-interests. Man likes to be left free and the theory of individual ethical egoism makes possible this absolute freedom and belief in one’s inner potentialities. To conclude, the Individual Ethical Egoism theory does not demand any sort of sacrifices from the individual and, as such, it is the most natural ethical theory that requires the least alteration of one’s natural inclinations in order for one to live ethically.
Shannon. (2008). Analysis of ethical egoism and psychological egoism. Associated Content. Web.
Ethical egoism. Web.