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The issue of human nature and what motivates it is an oft debated one. On one hand, there are no doubt proponents of the idea of selflessness in certain individuals' actions. On the other hand, just as the statement, there are proponents of the idea that all human actions are governed by selfish reasons. After much consideration, though I would like to believe in the former, I believe that all our actions, whether they are deontological or utilitarian in nature, are inspired by selfish reasons.
To justify my reasoning, I would first like to discuss the definition of selfishness. To be selfish is to only care about one's self, in other words, to put one's wellbeing or life ahead of others. Take for example, a typical situation whereby someone is drowning. As is taught in rescue classes, would be rescuers take a very definitive risk each time they decide to jump into a deep body of water after an imperilled person. The risk would be that the drowning person loses all coherence and is so overtaken by a self preservation instinct that he grabs on to anything nearby with a dead man's grip, so much so that rescuers and victim have both drowned together on numerous occasions. This serves to show us that at a very base and fundamental level, in moments of uncertainty and fear, our mindset inevitably reverts to one of survival no matter what the cost.
Another example would be that of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, when order in the devastated city was non-existent, looting and crime shot through the roof. As comfort levels dropped and reality set in, people looted and robbed to survive in order to feed themselves. This again reinforces that, in the absence of the luxuries of time and certainty, people will take steps without regard for others to ensure their survival.
On a deeper level, I would liken the economic theory of indifference curves to the actions of people. The concept of utility curves basically demonstrates that individuals have differing criterion for the same amount of satisfaction. This forms the basis for my belief that it is due to this that people are motivated to engage in certain actions. For example, it could be argued that a gift to one's newly moved in neighbour could be due to one wanting a favour from them in the future; however if we approach this from an altruistic point of view, it could also be argued that one is a person that gains satisfaction from helping others, there is an emotional payoff. Suicide bombers in Iraq give up their lives selflessly for the purpose of Jihad so they can reap rewards in heaven in the form of many virgins. A monk living in a temple gives up his life because he desires enlightenment and favour from deities. The suicide bomber and the monk are not too different from us in that they are driven by the need to gain satisfaction for themselves; the difference is that their prerequisites for satisfaction are wildly different than ours. A hero fights for fame and glory.
For all these reasons, I therefore believe that no matter what the intents and purposes are, human actions are driven by selfish reasons.
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Most of us assume that selfishness is both wrong and unhealthy. But is this true?
Selfishness means acting in one's rational self-interest. Contrary to popular opinion, all healthy individuals are selfish. Choosing to pursue the career of your choice is selfish. Choosing to have children—or not to have children—is selfish. Insisting on freedom and individual rights, rather than living under a dictatorship, is selfish. Indeed, even ordinary behaviors such as breathing, eating and avoiding an oncoming car when crossing the street are selfish acts. Without selfishness, none o f us would survive the day—much less a lifetime.
Selfishness does not mean self-destructive behavior. In other words, a car…show more content…
Or, consider the envious individual who tries to get you to feel guilty for your hard-earned success. "You are lucky to have done so well," the envious person says. "Now you have a duty to share some of your success with others." Ce rtainly, a selfish person wants to share his success with those he genuinely cares about—his family, friends, or children (greater values). But why should he make sacrifices to individuals he does not know or care about (lesser values)?
Selfish individuals give to charity—if and when they choose. A selfish person is not "stingy." He simply values the use of his own judgment in making decisions about how to spend his money, and when to give it away.
Most of us assume that some selfishness is healthy, but "too much" selfishness will lead to loneliness and despair. This idea rests on an incorrect definition of selfishness. Selfishness means acting in one's rational self-interest. By " rational" I mean that one can logically prove that an action is in one's self-interest—in the long run as well as the short run.
For instance, Mr. Jones might think that it is in his self-interest to cheat on his wife, in the short run. But if he considers the long-term, he will understand that he loses her either way by lying to her. If he really loves his wife, he will feel te rrible if he lies to her. If he no longer loves his wife, it is