Ethical Egoism vs Social Responsibility

Topics: Ethical egoism, Individualism, Philosophy of life Pages: 4 (1190 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Merriam-Webster collegiate dictionary defines egoism as "a doctrine that individual self-interest is the actual motive of all conscious action." Social responsibility entails one's actions benefiting one's society more than oneself. A cost benefit analysis sided towards the many rather than towards the individual. In the two books The Elements of Moral Society and Ethical Issues in Engineering by James Rachels and Deborah Johnson respectively, the subject of egoism and social responsibility come up. Hannaford in Johnson's book and James Rachels support social responsibility. Friedman and I are supporting the egoism side.

Our modern society is based on individualism. Without individualism we'd end up just like serfs on a medieval manor. That is looking out for the "society" as opposed to oneself. The Renaissance in the western world is where we broke those chains of social obligations. Looking out for number 1, one's family, one's company first and foremost is my definition of egoism. One can make egoism work in a society as long as he does not induce harm to others and follow "the basic rules (laws) of society." (Friedman 79)

Robert Hannaford uses the DC-10 example where a McDonnell-Douglas executive's decision to rush the DC-10 into production to get ahead of its competitors, even though their own engineers had warned the management about the danger of the cargo door latch. It was the main contributing factor to the disastrous crash of the DC-10 crash in Paris airport in 1975. This was not an isolated incident. He goes into how "their chief executive officers are ‘single-mindedly almost slavishly committed to achieving' a showing of maximum short-term profits." (Hannaford 85) Hannaford has inadvertently pointed out that his decision on short-term profits should have been outweighed by the long-term profits. I see it as he merely made the wrong decision to help his own company. He should have had the foresight that making an inferior...

Bibliography: Milton Friedman "The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits"
in Deborah G. Johnson (Ed.) Ethical Issues in Engineering (NJ, Prentice Hall, 1991), 84-92.
Robert V. Hannaford "The Theoretical Twist to Irresponsibility in Business"
in Deborah G. Johnson (Ed.) Ethical Issues in Engineering (NJ, Prentice Hall, 1991), 84-92.
James Rachels The Elements of Moral Philosophy (3rd Ed.) (Boston, McGraw Hill Companies 1999), 70-95.
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