Egoism and Altruism
To many people, egoism is the most natural of human feelings. Â Each living thing seeks its own self-preservation. Â Ayn Rand is one moral philosopher who argued that egoism or selfishness is the only true morality. She argues that egoism is a moral virtue while the opposite called altruism is not a virtue but a vice.
On the other hand, John Lockeâ€™s social contact theory about the origin of social and political cooperation is all about the benefits of cooperation for the common good and we canâ€™t just live for ourselves alone.Â
For our discussion, we will take the two examples given in the eText where the conflict between egoism and altruism are clear.Here is the quote:
â€œPopular culture is full of examples of the conflict between egoism and altruism. Television programs like Survivor create circumstances in which people are forced to forge short-term alliances to maximize their own self-interest. The film and book The Hunger Games shows us a life-and-death competition in which children struggle for survival in a war of all against all. In these contexts, egoism is to be expected and altruism is an exceptional and heroic virtueâ€ (Ethics, MacKinnon, 2015, p.41).
For our discussion, please answer the following two questions related to the above quote and also the video materials on the philosopher Ayn Rand:
Letâ€™s discuss these ideas:
 What can we learn about the positives and negatives of egoistic living versus altruistic living from the show Survivor? (TV trailer):
Or the book/film The Hunger Games? (trailer):
If you are not familiar with either of these, discuss the topic with someone who is familiar with one or the other of these shows/films.Do you agree with the idea that egoism and altruism are at odds or in conflict?Why or why not? Â In your view, which (egoism or altruism) work best for people’s survival in normal life?
 After hearing about the moral values of Ayn Rand (video interview with Mike Wallace: do you think her call for living selfishly and not altruistically threaten the moral values of America, as the interviewer Mike Wallace suggests? Â And what would you say are the real moral values of America today that keep our society running as it does?