Altruism & Greed

What about Me?

Lesson Objectives

Appreciate the moral complexity involved in helping society

Understand how and how much we can or should help society

Appreciate the complex nature of altruism — is it even possible to give freely?

Appreciate why some subscribe to notion we are always psychologically selfish

Understand the arguments for why someone would argument for greed

Appreciate some of the arguments against Ethical Egoism

Key Terms


Care Ethics

Crisis Giving


Psychological Egoism

Ethical Egoism

Should We Help?

We have so much luxury!

• Millions die each year due to malnutrition

• Yet we Americans live in relative luxury

• A luxury is something you don't to possess to survive

• We don't give much — should we?

Care Ethics: Why care for those at a distance?

• Physical distance leads to mental distance

     • We simply don't think about starving foreigners that much

     • We're insulated from the facticity of their pain

     • If you had to see them every day, it'd be different

• Statistics have little emotional effect

     • Numbers don't really hit us — faces do

• Lack of a “crisis” situation

     • Americans are good in crisis (eg. tsunamis, 9/11, etc)

     • But most of us don't give to charity regularly

     • Would it really help things if we did?

"Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something. "

- Dale Carnegie (1936) How to Win Friends and Influence People