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Category Archives: Ethical Egoism
Posted: at 3:07 pm
Out of the shadows Helena Born and Helen Tufts on Squibnocket Beach in Marthas Vineyard, 1896. Photograph: Courtesy of Verso Books
Last year, believe it or not, was the year of Utopia. A perfect society: happy, prosperous, tolerant, peaceful this idyll was widely commemorated, although its location, appropriately, was nowhere (from the Greek ou-topos: U-topia). The occasion was the 500th anniversary of Thomas Mores Utopia, a splendid little book (in Mores words) that, over the centuries, has found echoes in innumerable dreams and schemes, especially on the left.
Socialism has always harboured utopian visionaries, although they have not always been welcome there. From the communities of universal harmony sponsored by Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Henri de Saint-Simon and their early 19th-century followers (dismissed by Marx and Engels as purely utopian); to the libertarian-communist Edens of William Morris, Edward Carpenter and other fin de sicle New Lifers; to the free-loving, free-living arcadias of 1960s radicals, utopianism has been alternately embraced and repudiated by the left. The scope of socialist aspirations has widened and narrowed with changing times. Today, in a climate of ascendant neoliberalism and far-right populism, the aspirations have dwindled to the point where even the modest social-democratic ambitions of Jeremy Corbyn and his followers are slated as cranky utopian fantasies by their Labour party detractors.
All socialist utopias involve some refashioning of gender relationships. This has been true from the start. Between 1825 and 1845, Britains first socialists the Owenites, after the capitalist-turned-communist Owen produced a root-and-branch critique ofwomens oppression along with strategies to eradicate it, ranging from practical measures such as reform of the marriage laws and the introduction of birth control, to the creation of communities where private property would be abolished, childcare collectivised and nuclear households replaced by cooperative family arrangements. With these changes, the Owenites promised, women, married or single, would become mens social equals; no woman, with or without children, would need aman in order to survive. Or, as one woman told a socialist meeting in 1840: When all should labour for each, and each be expected to labour for the whole, then would woman be placed in a position in which she would not sell her liberties and her finest feelings.
In the 1830s, Owenite feminism travelled from Britain to the US via Owens son Robert Dale Owen, a strong believer in womens reproductive rights, and the celebrity freethinker Frances Wright. A handful of communities were established where marriage was by joint declaration, with no swearing of eternal fidelity or wifely obedience. These communities were short-lived, as were the half-dozen Owenite communities in Britain, and by the late 1840s the movement had died out. But the links between utopianism, socialism and feminism survived to reemerge inthe 1880s, strengthened by the rise of the womens suffrage movement in the intervening decades.
A host of thinkers and organisations appeared in Britain and America dedicated to building a new Jerusalem free from sex slavery. The US east coast was especially rich in visionaries. Most were obscure, with few adherents and few traces left behind them. But in the mid-1970s, Sheila Rowbotham found a little book in the British Library written by one of them, Helena Born, who originally came from Bristol, and edited by an American named Helen Tufts. Later she discovered that Tufts had kept a personal journal. These findings set her on a four-decade search that has resulted in Rebel Crossings, a collective biography of a half-dozen transatlantic radicals ofthe late 19th century.
Rowbotham is a leading feminist historian, and an unapologetic utopian. Rebel Crossings opens on a personal note: I first discovered the little group of rebels in this book when I, myself, was young and convinced the world wasabout to change for the better. Now in her 70s, Rowbotham came of age politically in the salad days of the New Left, when young lefties like her were seeking an alternative to communism under Stalin. She looked for her alternatives in the campaign for nuclear disarmament, in the History Workshop movement and, above all, in womens liberation, which became for her, as for many leftwing women at the time, her political home.
New Left men could be pretty old-school when it came to women. In 1969, Rowbotham published an influential pamphlet attacking the marginalisation of women by the male-dominated revolutionary left and arguing for feminism as a whole people question: Our liberation is inextricably bound up with the revolt of all those who are oppressed [and] their liberation is not realisable fully unless our subordination is ended. The following year she faced down an audience of (mostly male) students who laughed at her call for research into womens history. In the decades since, she has published dozens of books and articles chronicling the histories of women, especially female freethinkers such as those in Rebel Crossings.
I met Rowbotham in those early days in the womens movement. She had just published her first book Women, Resistance and Revolution (1972) which changed my life. I was a PhD student writing a boring dissertation on the USliberal philosopher John Dewey. Iread her chapter on Utopian Proposals, ditched Dewey, and embarked ona study of utopian socialism and feminism in Britain (published as Eve and the New Jerusalem in 1983 and reissued last year).
For Rowbotham, history writing was not an academic exercise but a political act: her declared purpose in writing Women, Resistance and Revolution was to produce a work that would aid the continuing effort to connect feminism to socialist revolution. Today her hopes for a socialist revolution have faded, but the ambition to link the pastand present in radical ways is still present. My aim, she writes in Rebel Crossings, is subversion sustained by humour and enjoyment.
Born and Miriam Daniell were friendsin 1880s Bristol who campaigned for womens suffrage, aided local strikers and played leading roles in the Bristol Socialist Society. Robert Nicol was a Scottish union militant and Miriams lover. In 1890, the three young people migrated to Boston, Massachusetts, where they experimented with a host ofisms, including Marxism, anarchism, transcendentalism and something called ownerism (self-ownership). They read Emerson, Thoreau, Carpenter, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Walt Whitman (a special hero), andwrote for journals with titles suchas Liberty, the New Age and the ComingLight.
Miriam gorgeous, charismatic and the boldest of the trio embraced Russian nihilism and a mystical feminism centring on woman as the universal redeemer. Helena, a more tough-minded individual (fearless and repellent was her self-description), became the directing liberator of the Boston Comradeship of Free Socialists and wrote articles denouncing capitalist alienation and feminine fripperies. Both women were bravely defiant of social convention: Miriam had left behind a husband in Bristol, while Helena became the lover of a married man, an Irish-born anarchist named William Bailie.
Both also died young: Helena in her early 40s, Miriam in her mid-30s, after giving birth to a daughter named Sunrise, a small, helpless bundle of utopia who became the stepdaughter of the socialist novelist Gertrude Dix, who succeeded Miriam as Robert Nicols lover. After Helenas death, William Bailie married Helenas friend Helen Tufts, a Boston-born feminist who in the 1920s was expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution for exposing a DAR blacklist of social reformers and other anti-patriots. Ifthats patriotism, she bit back, Ill have none of it.
Rebel Crossings vividly evokes thesebusy, entangled lives, with their campaigning and propagandising and romancing, criss-crossed by doctrinal disagreements and ethical dilemmas made more acute by relentless soul-searching and grasping at moral absolutes. All six of Rowbothams protagonists were religious freethinkers, but their radicalism was shot through with the missionary zeal of a spiritual elect. Dear Comrade, Miriam wrote to a friend, let us if we think we see higher heights and purer lights than another not shun that climbing Soul but bend to point the way we take. Pragmatism had little part to play here, including in their free-love commitments, which were passionately ideological. Love waits not upon social or political changes, Helena wrote to William at the height of their romance. It creates them. Love is the great equaliser.
She vividly evokes these busy, entangled lives, with their campaigning and propagandising and romancing
But if love equalised hearts, it left many social inequities intact. Beyond all teaching and preaching is actual living, Tufts reminded her comrades. But actual life often disappointed, as new world modes of relating bumped up against old world habits and attitudes. Jealousy, rivalry, prejudice raised their heads; low bodily needs got in the way of the higher life, especially for the women. A woman who behaved as though her rights were equal to mans would be treated equally, Helen maintained; but daily life with her William was not always an egalitarian dream. Wm hardly ever wipes the dishes, but he says I cant understand where all these dishes come from! she confided to her journal. My dearest would like to forget dishes after he has used them.
Its easy to smile at some of this, and Rowbotham does smile now and then. But she never condescends. These were brave spirits whose courage she admires, and whose struggles to balance altruistic service and egoism, union and personal desire earn her sympathy. And her empathy: she has known such struggles. She has lived them, or rather experiences very like them as have I, and many other women who share our political past.
For any veteran of 1970s socialist feminism, reading Rebel Crossings is likely to be a mixed pleasure, summoning up a radical past that feels sadly distant yet uncomfortably close, as itreawakens memories of our own utopian moment, with its courage and confusions, its open-hearted visions and myopias. Like the books protagonists, we knew what we wanted aworld where all would live freely andunselfishly, with equal status, resources and opportunities and we sought to live our lives in the shape of our ideals, forming anti-patriarchal sexual relationships and communal households intended to prefigure the egalitarian society to come.
We were whole life revolutionaries, and the future belonged to us. But we underestimated the inequalities among us (of class, race, cultural advantage, financial resources) and the obstacles we faced, both internal and external: our conflicting desires (for unity, independence, work, children); our muddles over men; the personal hostilities, disguised as political disagreements, that cut across sisterly solidarities; but above all, the relentless momentum of our times, as the postwar settlement that had kindled our optimistic dreams gave way to tooth-and-claw neoliberalism and the dystopian nightmare we now see before us.
Rebel Crossings is crammed with hopeful visions from the past, but on the present it strikes a melancholy note. Watching globalised capitalism in action appropriating free expression, raiding collective spaces, shredding non-marketable aspirations, social solidarity and fellow feeling Rowbotham is forced to recognise that a good society, along with a new radical and emancipatory social consciousness, will take longer to realise that I imagined. Like many in my generation, I accept this reality rationally, but emotionally find itineffably baffling.
In the wake of 2016, Rowbothams bafflement is widely shared and not just by one-time utopians. And yet last month some five million women took to the streets in 673 marches worldwide. On seven continents we marched, against Trump and all that he represents: demagoguery, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia. Our banners echoed the call ofRowbothams long-ago rebels, for a future of liberty, love and solidarity. For most of us, this was thefirst glimmer of light in a dark time. Hardly utopia, but a moment of genuine hope, born not in some nowhere land of political fantasy but here and now, in this very world, which is the world of all of us (Wordsworth) the only placefrom which real hope, and determination, can spring.
Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in Britain and the United States is published by Verso. To order a copy for 21.25 (RRP 25) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99.
Posted: at 3:07 pm
If youve been reading along in this series of posts about the basics of a Jewish theology, thank you. Im thinking there will likely be 3 or so more posts in this series after this one.
Lets turn our attention to Jewish ways of thinking about human nature, morality, and salvation. Again, my thoughts are colored by Reform and Liberal Jewish approaches to these topics, and Im aware of the diversity of opinion within Jewish thought.
The opening chapters of Genesis, and then the remainder of Torah, seems to indicate that to be human is to be a unique, personal expression of the divine/evolutionary impulse in the world. Metaphorically, we speak of our sharing in this impulse as our sharing in the divine image as persons we possess an inherent dignity, an ontological value, and a sense of worth that is grounded in our very being and is not merited or earned.
As persons we are unified, self-aware flesh. Our existence melds material and immaterial realities, and that the exact relationship of the mind-soul to the body is a mystery. As persons, we are inherently social, relational, and capable of love our flourishing is interdependent on others flourishing as well we are only as whole as the least of our brothers and sisters.
Our wholeness is illusive. Instead of affirming our connection to nature and to others, we too often experience fragmentation, alienation, and separation the results of egoism and selfish living treating nature and others as a means to an end and not ends in themselves. We find ourselves living in disequilibrium, harming others, the environment, and ourselves.
Denying our connectedness with nature puts us at risk of peril. If our culture and spirituality is out of balance with nature, everything about our lives is affected; family, workplace, school, and community all eventually become unbalanced because neglect or abuse of nature is essentially neglect and abuse of self.
Denying our connectedness to others also risks peril. Humans are inherently social animals that cannot exist without community; we engender culture with our very being. Interconnected/Interdependent on one another, kindness and social cooperation make sense from a practical, evolutionary point of view we can only truly thrive when others thrive this insight is foundational for an integrated spirituality of wholeness.
The way to healing is through restoring healthy relationships, cultivating awareness of our interconnectedness with the ecosystem and the rest of the human family. Humans are capable of transcending ego and living lives of kenotic love in service and harmony with nature and others. We are fully ourselves when we give ourselves away to things that deserve us and reflect/enhance our inherent dignity.Our survival and thriving depends on such right relationships.
Jews have crafted their moral views through an ongoing conversation with Torah and experience, reason and tradition much the way some Christian traditions do (in particular, Im thinking of Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anglicanism.)
Jews make their moral decisions and form their views in conversation with the past while living in the present. Neither aspect of the conversation trumps the other.
In a general sense, this manner of moral reasoning has been called the Natural Law tradition. Most Jews wouldnt be overly familiar with the term, but in essence, its the manner of their moral reasoning.
Morality is an integral part of our natural identity. Right human behavior is predicated on human flourishing and empathetic reciprocity, conveyed in the core truth of love your neighbor as yourself treating others, as we would like to be treated. It is an ancient, universal ethical imperative known through human reason. Judaism, and all religion, is at its best when it reinforces this truth.
The insights for living a good life arise from a reasoned, teleological reflection on our own nature and our relationships to others. This vision offers a formal framework within which to conduct our moral reasoning. Our motivation for virtue is a matter of our own integrity, following the logic of our very being.
Human moral understanding has evolved throughout our history. Ethical convictions concerning slavery, patriarchy, marriage, warfare, and many other subjects have changed. Certainly, contemporary Jews do not hold the same moral opinions as did our ancient ancestors and thats often a good thing.
To note the evolving nature of human moral understanding is not to assert subjectivism or relativism. Our understanding of moral truth changes, not necessarily the truth itself. Most accept an ethical understanding that slavery was always morally wrong we humans merely came to see that truth over time.
Jewish ethics has always stressed the social dimensions of morality. We are only as well off as the least of our brothers and sisters.The essential human challenge is to affirm our dignity and interconnectedness with others and nature and overcome the isolating, selfish egocentric tendencies. The path of life is this we can tame our ego and find our right place in the world by living lives of kenotic love, caring for each other and the ecosystem and attuning to the cycles, patterns, and rhythms of nature.
Tying the above themes together, we come to understand that the central Jewish metaphor for the human challenge is the the Exodus event which is symbolic of each persons liberation from the narrowness of egoism, set free to live a life of goodness in harmony with others in the wilderness.
Salvation is the totality of individual and collective actualization and fulfillment the alignment with Power of Salvation it is an ongoing process of love.
The majority Jewish interpretation of Genesis does not lead to conclusions of original sin. There is no Fall in Jewish theology that must be overcome or reversed. Humans, created in the divine image, are not separated from the divine there is no chasm between God and humankind, no rift, no cosmic debt no eternal gap. (The Genesis accounts are about many things human maturation, moral awareness, even the change from hunter gather social structures to agricultural forms but a divine curse or some form of eternal separation are not Jewish interpretations.) Human nature is certainly imperfect and limited. Sin is a reality. But the capacity for goodness and evil is inherent in human nature.
Much of Torah is about sacrificial love. Kenotic love is vital to our wholeness. When we give ourselves to realities that deserve us we are returned to ourselves healed, whole, and transformed through divine energy reconnected to nature and others. Flowing from the insight of empathetic reciprocity we further grasp other foundational moral imperatives care for the needy and lowly, seeking a just society, welcoming the stranger, and drawing in the unjustly marginalized.
Kenotic love opens us toward wholeness now we need not wait for some sense of cosmic wholeness or salvation that occurs at our death. Love provides meaning to our lives nihilism is simply not a realistic option; to choose such a path is absurd. We cannot live with integrity as a nihilist; for every action we take implies that we find our life imbued with meaning.
Meaning is found on the journey the meaning of life is not some grand mystery revealed on our deathbed with cloudbursts and trumpets its found now in the present moment to live for the past or future is to live in futility. We can only live in the present moment it is all we have the past is gone and the future does not yet exist.
Our journey will seemingly end no one knows what happens when we die. Judaism doesnt engage in much speculation, either. Yet we do know that wisdom lies in embracing the core spiritual truth of our interconnectedness with others and with nature, and therefore our need for kenotic love, and our need to live according to the cycles of nature.
Jewish hope is rooted in this love endures beyond death how we live our lives now matters both in the present moment and in the world to come. Something of us transcends death may that something be a blessing toward a better world.
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Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:07 pm
The global sports industry is estimated to carry a $1.5 trillion value. With that big of a presence in the business, it makes sense that Mendoza College of Business chose its Ethics Week theme for this year to be Sports and the Common Good.
Sports and the Common Good just seemed like a natural [pick for a theme], especially at a university like Notre Dame [with] a college of business like Mendoza, Brian Levey, one of the organizers for the event, said in an email. Educating the mind, body and spirit is at the heart of the Holy Cross mission.
Levey said Notre Dames emphasis on this complete education is evidenced not only in varsity sports, but also in activities such as Bengal Bouts, which starts this week, and Bookstore Basketball.
Now in its 20thyear, Mendoza College of Business Ethics Week was first started by accounting professor Ken Milani. Inspired by the work of John Houck, a Notre Dame management professor who died in 1996, Ethics Week has included themes such as sustainability, financial institutions, governing for the greater good (politics and public service) and ethics through a global lens.
Over the history of the event, the organizers have tried various approaches and activities with Ethics Week, including a brown bag lunch speaker series and an ethics case competition.
Recently, changes in the timing and formatting of the events, as well as an increased online presence through a Facebook page and Twitter account, have helped attendance spike to about 500 participants in 2014 and 2015.
Speakers from past Ethics Weeks have ranged from Fr. Jenkins to the chief ethics officer of the United Nations. This years agenda feature an equally diverse group, with backgrounds spanning sports psychology to wealth management.
Levey hopes incorporating sportswith this years Ethics Week will help students consider ethics on a different level.
By examining sports from a deeper perspective, we can explore business ethics issues in a relatable manner. Winning, losing, fair play, cheating, equality, discrimination, altruism, egoism sports has it all, he said. Just check the headlines; youll see a sports ethics issue, and, in turn, a business ethics issue almost every day.
Thursday offers a movie night that features the baseball movie The Natural, starring Robert Redford. The first 75 movie attendees who also stay for the panel after the movie will be treated to free pizza.
Its critically acclaimed its a sports movie, its a love story, its a tale of redemption and it presents the audience with an ethical dilemma, Levey said.
Posted: February 6, 2017 at 3:06 pm
The 2017 edition of Notre Dame Ethics Week will put a new spin on a popular topic sports.
The annual conference, held Feb. 14-17 at the University of Notre Dames Mendoza College of Business, will explore Sports and the Common Good through a series of panel discussions, speakers and even the showing of a classic baseball movie.
Sports is big business, said Brian Levey, Mendoza teaching professor and one of the Ethics Week organizers. Estimates peg the global sports market at $1.5 trillion. And by examining sports from a deeper perspective, we can explore business ethics issues in a relatable manner. Winning, losing, fair play, cheating, equality, discrimination, altruism, egoism — sports has it all.
Ethics Week events, which are free and open to the public, take place in the Giovanini Commons located in the lower level of Mendoza College of Business unless otherwise noted in the following schedule:
Tuesday, Feb. 14, 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Panel discussion: Life Lessons from Sports: Performance & Purpose, featuring Christopher Adkins, executive director of the Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership; and Amber Lattner, founder, Lattner Performance Group
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 12:20-1:30 p.m.: Panel discussion: Building Global Bridges through Sports, featuring Guiorgie Gia Kvaratskhelia, head fencing coach, University of Notre Dame; Notre Dame student-athletes Jonah Shainberg (fencing) and Sandra Yu (soccer); and Mario Berkeley, Mendoza teaching assistant (moderator)
Thursday, Feb. 16, 5:30-7:45 p.m.: Movie night: The Natural, showing in Mendozas Jordan Auditorium, immediately followed by Panel & Pizza
Thursday, Feb. 16, 7:45-8:30 p.m.: Panel & Pizza: Discussion of the novel, The Natural: Messiah in Uniform, by Bernard Malamud, featuring Michael Cozzillio, Widener University Commonwealth Law School; and Ed Edmonds, Notre Dame Law School. Note: Free pizza will be provided to the first 75 movie attendees who also attend the panel discussion
Friday, Feb. 17, 12-1 p.m.: “Prolanthrophy: The Business of Helping Athletes Give Back, featuring J. Jonathan Hayes, principal director, Pro Sports, Pegasus Partners Ltd.
Notre Dame Ethics Week takes place annually in February, and brings in experts from a diverse array of industries to explore current ethics issues. The event is sponsored by the Mendoza College of Business and the Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership.
Now in its 20th year, Notre Dame Ethics Week was established to encourage the discussion of ethical matters in undergraduate and graduate business classes atNotreDame and to secure a foundation for future discussions inside and outside the classroom. The event continues the legacy of JohnHouck, aNotreDame management professor who authored numerous works on business ethics, including Is the Good Corporation Dead?Houckdied in 1996.
For more information aboutNotreDame Ethics Week, contact Brian Levey at(574) firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Posted: at 3:06 pm
Driving the Day
JUST A THOUGHT: Earlier this week, President Donald Trump mocked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for crying about the plight of immigrants, saying he was faking, and wondering aloud from the White House who his acting coach was. Yesterday, he followed that up by calling him Fake Tears Chuck Schumer to his 23 million Twitter followers. Now hes asking Schumer to expedite the consideration and support Neil Gorsuch, his nominee for the Supreme Court. Do you think thats how this works, Mr. President?
Story Continued Below
Good Wednesday morning and welcome to February. Yes, we expect Gorsuch to get confirmed. But Democrats are saying they want him to get 60 votes, daring Republicans to push him through on a majority vote. Gorsuch passed the Senate unanimously 2006 when President George W. Bush nominated him, but that matters little when talking about todays political dynamics. Eight Democrats would need to join with Republicans to break the expected Democratic filibuster.
AT LEAST SEVEN Democratic senators have signaled an openness to having a committee vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris Coons (Del.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jon Tester (Mont.).
**SUBSCRIBE to Playbook: http://politi.co/1M75UbX
THE REVIEWS TRUMP CARES ABOUT — NYT — 5 of 6 stories about Trump and ANOTHER six-column banner headline — TRUMPS COURT PICK SETS UP POLITICAL CLASH. He probably likes this one, referring to Gorsuch, A Nominee Who Echoes Scalias Style, but probably doesnt care for this one, referring to Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge-fund manager turned adviser, A Trump Aide, a Chinese Firm And A Fear of Tangled Interests. http://nyti.ms/2jVIVII WaPo — the entire front page is about Trump, and another banner headline — Supreme Court nominee is Gorsuch Its still Justice Kennedys court Originalist pick seen as willing to compromise http://bit.ly/2kpN1tU N.Y. Post: BURN IT DOWN!: Dems go full blast to undermine Trump http://nyp.st/2jusKUo
THE BACKSTORY — GREAT DETAILS — How Trump got to yes on Gorsuch, by Shane Goldmacher, Eliana Johnson and Josh Gerstein: Behind the scenes, [Donald] Trump settled on [Neil] Gorsuch after only a single in-person interview in Trump Tower. Gorsuch was ushered into the building through a back door on Jan. 14 so he wouldnt be seen by the press gathered in the lobby. Trump personally interviewed four Supreme Court finalists, three at his home in New York before he moved to the White House, according to two people involved in the search. … Only one other person was in the room during Trumps full interviews with the finalists: White House Counsel Don McGahn, the two officials said. And Trump only met with each of the finalists once before deciding, although he did later speak with some by phone. Trumps top lieutenants — Vice President Mike Pence, McGahn, chief of staff Reince Priebus, and chief strategist Stephen Bannon — also had their own interviews with the four finalists, along with several other candidates in New York. http://politi.co/2jul6t1 Video of Trump announcing Gorsuch http://bit.ly/2kqcgfx
THE ANALYSIS — NYTs ADAM LIPTAK: In Judge Neil Gorsuch, an Echo of Scalia in Philosophy and Style: Judge Gorsuch … is an originalist, meaning he tries to interpret the Constitution consistently with the understanding of those who drafted and adopted it. This approach leads him to generally but not uniformly conservative results. While he has not written extensively on several issues of importance to many conservatives, including gun control and gay rights, Judge Gorsuch has taken strong stands in favor of religious freedom, earning him admiration from the right. Judge Gorsuch has not hesitated to take stands that critics say have a partisan edge. He has criticized liberals for turning to the courts rather than legislatures to achieve their policy goals, and has called for limiting the power of federal regulators. http://nyti.ms/2kfP9lg
— WAPOS ROBERT BARNES: Trump makes his pick, but its still Anthony Kennedys Supreme Court: Kennedy, 80 and celebrating his 29th year on the court this month, will remain the pivotal member of the court no matter how the warfare between Republicans and Democrats plays out. On almost every big social issue, neither the courts liberal, Democratic-appointed justices nor Kennedys fellow Republican-appointed conservative colleagues can prevail without him. That is why an undercurrent of Trumps first choice for the court was whether it would soothe Kennedy, making him feel secure enough to retire and let this president choose the person who would succeed him.
Who better, then, to put Kennedy at ease than one of his former clerks? Kennedy trekked to Denver to swear in his protege Neil Gorsuch on the appeals court 10 years ago. If Gorsuch is confirmed to the Supreme Court, it would be the first time that a justice has served with a former clerk. http://wapo.st/2jC6nYb
— NEAL K. KATYAL in the NYT, Why Liberals Should Back Neil Gorsuch: I was an acting solicitor general for President Barack Obama; Judge Gorsuch has strong conservative bona fides and was appointed to the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush. But I have seen him up close and in action, both in court and on the Federal Appellate Rules Committee (where both of us serve); he brings a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nations highest court. http://nyti.ms/2jTXieo
— A 2002 op-ed in UPI by Gorsuch excoriated the Senate for delaying hearings to appoint John Roberts and Merrick Garland to the U.S. Court of Appeals http://bit.ly/2kqVRXO
— @ShaneGoldmacher: Gorsuchs classmate at Harvard Law: A certain gentleman named Barack Obama
WHO WILL HELP GORSUCH — Ayotte to lead White House team shepherding Supreme Court nominee, by WaPos Phil Rucker and Ashley Parker: [Kelly] Ayotte will serve as the nominees so-called sherpa, personally introducing the pick to senators and escorting him or her to meetings and the confirmation hearing. The lead staffer on the nominees team will be Makan Delrahim, currently the director of nominations for the White House legislative affairs office. Delrahim will serve as the quarterback, in the words of the White House official, overseeing strategy and outreach with the Senate.
Delrahim will work closely with Mary Elizabeth Taylor, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), where she ran the Senate cloakroom and developed personal relationships with Republican senators. Also involved will be Rick Dearborn, a deputy White House chief of staff and a former chief of staff to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Marc Short, the White Houses director of legislative affairs. The communications strategy will be overseen by Ron Bonjean, a longtime Republican strategist who has served as chief of staff to the Senate Republican Conference and as the chief spokesman for former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.). http://wapo.st/2jUiEbb
— BUZZ: The White House considered several other potential sherpas before settling on Ayotte. Kyle Simmons, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was among those who had been discussed. Typically, SCOTUS sherpas are veteran staffers like former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein, who managed multiple Supreme Court and cabinet nominee picks.
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TEAM OF RIVALS — White House tries to course correct after messy travel restriction rollout, by CNNs Dana Bash: According to sources familiar with internal White House conversations, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus will now take more control of the systems dealing with basic functions, like executive orders. The way one source described it: Priebus already technically had the authority, but clearly the staff needed a reminder not to color outside their lines. Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, two other senior advisers, still have considerable power and influence with Trump. Administration officials say no role has been diminished or expanded but rather existing roles clarified. It is unclear how that will fit in with Priebus exerting more control over White House operations. Additionally, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway is expected to take more control of the communications strategy. http://cnn.it/2kQb6XX
SCARAMUCCI UNDER FIRE — NYT A1, Trump Aides Deal With Chinese Firm Raises Fear of Tangled Interests, by Sharon LaFraniere, Michael Forsythe and Alexandra Stevenson: A secretive Chinese company with deep ties to the countrys Communist Party has become one of the biggest foreign investors in the United States over the past year, snapping up American firms in a string of multibillion-dollar deals. But it is one of its smaller deals that is apparently stalling the White House career of a top adviser to President Trump. Anthony Scaramucci, a flamboyant former campaign fund-raiser for Mr. Trump whom the president has appointed as the White House liaison to the business community, has been in limbo for more than a week since he agreed to sell his investment firm to a subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate, HNA Group.
Mr. Scaramucci is on the job but has yet to be sworn in, partly because of concerns about the Jan. 17 deal, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to publicly discuss personnel matters. It is the second known transaction between a politically connected Chinese company and an incoming White House official. And it is evidence of the unusual confluence of interests between superrich members of the new Trump administration who need to unwind complex financial portfolios to comply with government rules and international firms eager to buy American assets. http://nyti.ms/2kfNfBd
— Scaramucci fights to stay in the White House, by Tara Palmeri: Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci were sucked into a bizarre episode of infighting Tuesday as the White House chief of staff tried to push Scaramucci out of a promised role as an adviser to President Donald Trump, only to later backtrack. http://politi.co/2kpXm93
PETRAEUS WARNING — ONLY IN PLAYBOOK — Former CIA Director, retired Gen. David Petraeus plans to warn the House Armed Services Committee this morning that U.S. global alliances are at risk, according to an advance copy of his testimony from someone close to Petraeus. In assessing the threats, Petraeus plans to tell the committee: Americans should not take the current international order for granted. It did not will itself into existence. We created it. Likewise, it is not naturally self-sustaining. We have sustained it. If we stop doing so, it will fray and, eventually, collapse. This is precisely what some of our adversaries seek to encourage. President Putin, for instance, understands that, while conventional aggression may occasionally enable Russia to grab a bit of land on its periphery, the real center of gravity is the political will of major democratic powers to defend Euro-Atlantic institutions like NATO and the EU.
NEW POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL — Poll: 1-in-4 voters believe Trump’s vote-fraud claims, by Jake Sherman: One in four voters believe President Donald Trump’s unsupported claim that millions of votes were illegally cast in the 2016 election, but more people believe that Trump benefited from any electoral malfeasance instead of Hillary Clinton. A new POLITICO/Morning Consult survey showed that 25 percent of registered voters say they agree with Trump that millions of people improperly cast ballots last November. But if the election was subject to voter fraud, 35 percent say its more likely any improper votes benefited Trump, and 30 percent say they benefited Clinton.
Trumps approval rating is ticking upward toward 50 percent: 49 percent of voters approve of how Trump is handling his job, and 41 percent disapprove. That is more positive than other polls; a 51-percent majority disapproves of Trump in the latest Gallup tracking poll. Even Trump’s favorable rating — 49 percent favorable to 44 percent unfavorable is a significant departure from other polls, which show Trump viewed more unfavorably. http://politi.co/2juUSGA
OTHER POLL HIGHLIGHTS
— SEAN SPICER IS WELL KNOWN. 60% say they have seen, read or heard a lot or some of Spicer. He has a 24% favorable rating, 32% unfavorable, 16% have no opinion and 28% dont know him.
— AS NETANYAHU READIES FOR TRIP TO THE U.S., AMERICANS SAY DONT MOVE THE EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM. Across the board, our new poll shows that Americans dont want the U.S. to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. When told of the history of the issue, 41% say to leave the embassy in Tel Aviv and 33% say move the embassy to Jerusalem.
THE JUICE —
— EU ANXIETY — POSTCARD FROM BRUSSELS: From our POLITICO Europe Playbook colleague Ryan Heath in Brussels: “European Commission Vice President Maro efovi just stood up in the EU press room and said that the College of European Commissioners discussed at their weekly Cabinet meeting that it and the EU have to choose between the ‘inequality, national egoism’ displayed by the Trump administration or ‘openness, social equality and solidarity’ that the defines the EU. Sefcovic said there was ‘growing anxiety’ about the transatlantic relationship and urged the Trump team to cool it because: ‘The U.S. never had a better ally than Europe.'”
— BIDEN LAUNCHES FOUNDATION: The Biden Foundation is launching to build on Vice President and Dr. Bidens lifelong commitment to protecting and advancing rights and opportunities of all people, according to a release off embargo at 5 a.m. The board of the foundation: Former Sen. Ted Kaufman, a longtime Biden adviser; Valerie Biden Owens, the VPs sister; Mark Gitenstein, a former Biden aide who later was ambassador to Romania; Mark Angelson, a long time Biden adviser; and Jeff Peck of Peck Madigan and Jones. Peck also worked for Biden on the Hill. Louisa Terrell, Sen. Cory Bookers former chief of staff, a former Facebook lobbyist and FCC aide, will be executive director of the foundation.
— KEY MCCARTHY AIDE TO THE WHITE HOUSE: Ben Howard, who ran the House floor for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), has gone to work for President Donald Trumps legislative affairs office. This is not only big for Howard, but also for McCarthy, whose stature continues to grow in Trump World. I cant begin to express my gratitude for all Ben has done not only for me and my team, but the entire Republican Conference, McCarthy emails. Over the years Ive relied on Ben for both his wisdom and his wit. Hes been an integral part of my senior staff, but President Trump and his team will be well served by Ben as we work to enact the American peoples legislative priorities.
— SPOTTED: Eric Trump in first class and Don Trump Jr. in coach flying from DCA to LaGuardia on the 10 p.m. American shuttle after the Supreme Court announcement House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who is under heat for several of his aides agreeing to sign non-disclosures with the Trump team, chatting with Steve Bannon at the White House Supreme Court announcement Tuesday night NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan at the White House for the SCOTUS announcement.
HAPPENING TODAY — PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff will interview Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday morning in his first sitdown since inauguration. It will air Wednesday night. Trump is attending an African American History Month listening session. In the afternoon, he is participating in a legislative affairs strategy session.
PHOTO DU JOUR: President Donald Trump walks through the Cross Hall to the East Room of the White House to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Jan. 31. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
THE RESISTANCE — GET WITH THE PROGRAM, OR NOT — State Dept. Dissent Cable on Trumps Ban Draws 1,000 Signatures, by NYTs Jeffrey Gettleman on A1: It started out in Washington. Then it went to Jakarta. Then across Africa. One version even showed up on Facebook. Within hours, a State Department dissent cable, asserting that President Trumps executive order to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries would not make the nation safer, traveled like a chain letter — or a viral video. The cable wended its way through dozens of American embassies around the world, quickly emerging as one of the broadest protests by American officials against their presidents policies. And it is not over yet. By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the letter had attracted around 1,000 signatures, State Department officials said, far more than any dissent cable in recent years. It was being delivered to management, and department officials said more diplomats wanted to add their names to it. The State Department has 7,600 Foreign Service officers and 11,000 civil servants. http://nyti.ms/2jutOr1
— Resistance from within: Federal workers push back against Trump, by WaPos Juliet Eilperin, Lisa Rein, and Marc Fisher: Less than two weeks into Trumps administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new presidents initiatives. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make. … At a church in Columbia Heights last weekend, dozens of federal workers attended a support group for civil servants seeking a forum to discuss their opposition to the Trump administration. And 180 federal employees have signed up for a workshop next weekend, where experts will offer advice on workers rights and how they can express civil disobedience. http://wapo.st/2jVGN3H
COMING ATTRACTIONS — Trump administration circulates more draft immigration restrictions, focusing on protecting U.S. jobs, by WaPos Abigail Hauslohner and Janell Ross: The Trump administration is considering a plan to weed out would-be immigrants who are likely to require public assistance, as well as to deport — when possible — immigrants already living in the United States who depend on taxpayer help, according to a draft executive order obtained by The Washington Post. A second draft order under consideration calls for a substantial shake-up in the system through which the United States administers immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, with the aim of tightly controlling who enters the country and who can enter the workforce, and reducing the social services burden on U.S. taxpayers. http://wapo.st/2jup5FU
BRIAN FALLON in POLITICO, Why Trumps Firing of Sally Yates Should Worry You: [F]or Yates, if this weeks events did mark the conclusion of her career at Justice, she can at least depart knowing she was true to herself and to the finest traditions of the institution until the very end. But theres always the chance her leave from Justice is only temporary. It seems quite likely she will be at the top of any list for attorney general in a future administrationonly next time, on a full-time basis. http://politi.co/2kqJOK5
WHAT THE HILL IS READING — Staffers secret work on immigration order rattles the Capitol, by Rachael Bade: News that House Judiciary Committee staffers secretly collaborated on Donald Trumps controversial immigration order reverberated through the Capitol on Tuesday: Democrats denounced the arrangement, the GOP panel stonewalled, and an outside ethics group requested an investigation. And the man most on the hot seat over the unusual arrangement, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, was in full-on cleanup mode. At a private GOP conference meeting, Goodlatte (R-Va.) tried to calm fellow Republicans who were incensed to learn that some of his aides helped craft Trump’s immigration directive without telling him or GOP leaders or about it. Democrats, meanwhile, almost immediately began raising ethical concerns about nondisclosure agreements signed by the Judiciary aides and questioned whether such work infringes on separation of powers. http://politi.co/2jUjRiQ
— WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Several government employees signed a non-disclosure agreement to secretly work on an executive order on immigration for the Trump team. And Goodlattes staff — whose salaries are funded by taxpayer money — refuses to answer if the chairman approved of this, and why it was allowed.
SHOW ME THE MONEY — Trump raised $15 million in December, by Ken Vogel: President Donald Trumps reelection efforts are off to a strong start financially, according to Tuesday evening campaign finance reports showing that Trumps three committees brought in a combined $15 million last month and finished the year with $16 million in the bank. The committees Trumps campaign and two joint fundraising vehicles created by the campaign and various Republican Party committees – disbursed nearly $32 million from Nov. 29 through Dec. 31. http://politi.co/2kPZTH2
–TEXT FROM TRUMP President Trump took office only 10 days ago and the media has waged a nasty fight every day. Fight back. Donate by the 11:59p deadline: http://www.bit.ly/2jSqMsN
** A message from the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs: Federal programs, state governments, employers, unions and others partner with PBMs to address rising prescription drug costs, keep patients healthy, and deliver value for the health system. Visit http://www.affordableprescriptiondrugs.org for more. **
THE CABINET — Treasury secretary nominees foreign money links bring new scrutiny, by CNNs Phil Mattingly: In a private interview with committee staff, aides said, Mnuchin acknowledged that his responses to the committee had not, as he had stated, been true, accurate and complete. He twice was forced to revise his initial disclosure questionnaire. He stated his role in the entities was inadvertently missed during the disclosure process. http://cnn.it/2kQrcEh
WHAT PELOSI TOLD TAPPER — CNNs town hall with the House minority leader — TAPPER: You still think you can work with [Trump]? PELOSI: Well, I certainly hope so. Hes the president of the United States. And by the way, I told him at the meeting, so Ill tell you, I said, Mr. President, we have — I worked, when I had the majority, I was the speaker, I had the gavel, and President George W. Bush was president, we worked with him even though we disagreed on the war in Iraq. What could be worse than that? And privatizing Social Security, we disagreed on those. But we passed some of the most progressive legislation to help poor children, the biggest energy bill in the history of our country. He wanted nuclear; we wanted renewables. We had a big bill. The list goes on. Drugs for HIV-AIDS, all of those kinds of things. So we disagree on certain issues. We respect that hes the president of the United States. We want to work together. But where we will draw the line is if he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
— FOR YOUR RADAR: Pelosi and Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst will speak at the 132nd Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner on March 4.
MOVING ON — Strobe Talbott stepping down from Brookings, by Michael Crowley: Talbott, a former TIME magazine journalist who became deputy secretary of state under Bill Clinton, has led Brookings for 15 years. He will resign in October. … He served at the State Department from 1993 to 2001, including seven years as Deputy Secretary of State. http://politi.co/2kfHLGD Release http://politi.co/2kUx0IN
SCHOCK UPDATE — @kenvogel: Ex-Rep. @AaronSchocks campaign cmte paid a $10k compliance penalty to the @USTreasury, & $16k+ in legal fees. http://bit.ly/2kQ9c9X
VALLEY TALK — Googles Eric Schmidt: Trump Administration Will Do Evil Things, by BuzzFeeds William Alden and Nitasha Tiku: Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Googles parent company, told an audience of Google employees on Thursday that the Trump administration is going to do these evil things as theyve done in the immigration area and perhaps some others. Schmidts remarks were made during the companys weekly meeting at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, on January 26. http://bzfd.it/2kfQLeU
MEMO FROM CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN AND JOHN HARRIS — Please join me in offering thanks and congratulations to our colleague, Roger Simon, who is retiring from the business after 42 years of writing columns 10 of which were for POLITICO. Roger was the first person in this newsroom hired after John Harris joined Matt Wuerker and Ken Vogel from the Capitol Leader gang in late 2006. In this peevish age, in which combatants seem never to relinquish the self-righteous pose, and the language of politics often is infused with contempt, Roger uses his gift for language for a different cause. He respects politics and its practitioners, even when he is being searingly critical. He is shrewd in assessing character and motive and views politics and the work of government less through an ideological prism than human one. These are real people, often quite powerful, making decisions that affect other real people, often quite powerless.
— ROGERS LAST COLUMN: A majority of one walks away from his keyboard: This is the end, my friends. It is time to say goodbye. I realize this is the worst possible time for a political columnist to retire, but what I didnt realize is that any of you cared. Robert Feder, a famous media writer from Chicago, found out about my retirement a few days ago and I have been flooded with farewells ever since. I have also been flooded — really, you can read them — with messages on Facebook and Twitter asking me not to retire. Not now. Not, Im told, when America needs you. I know, I know: It is preposterous. It is laughable. But not to some.
For some, I have been the friend they have never met for more than 40 years. For all those years, my job took me all over the world. My wife and I had precious little time for extended vacations. She stayed behind working at newspapers for 35 years and then running her own editing business. Now she wants to see the world. And Id like to go with her while I still can. http://politi.co/2jCde3I
MEDIAWATCH — White House ices out CNN, by Hadas Gold: The White House has refused to send its spokespeople or surrogates onto CNN shows, effectively icing out the network from on-air administration voices. Were sending surrogates to places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda, said a White House official, acknowledging that CNN is not such a place, but adding that the ban is not permanent. A CNN reporter, speaking on background, was more blunt: The White House is trying to punish the network and force down its ratings. Theyre trying cull CNN from the herd, the reporter said. Administration officials are still answering questions from CNN reporters. But administration officials including White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway haven’t appeared on the network’s programming in recent weeks. http://politi.co/2jVAPje
–Upset in WSJ newsroom over editors directive to avoid majority Muslim in immigration ban coverage, by Joe Pompeo: [Gerry] Baker conveyed the message in an internal email Monday night, responding to a breaking news story about Trumps firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates for refusing to defend the executive order temporarily barring citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia from entering the country. Can we stop saying seven majority Muslim countries? Its very loaded, Baker wrote in an email to editors obtained by POLITICO. … Would be less loaded to say seven countries the US has designated as being states that pose significant or elevated risks of terrorism. http://politi.co/2jC3gzg
–Fox News Tops Cable News Ratings for 15 Straight Years With January Win, by The Wraps Brian Flood: http://bit.ly/2jC70kA
KATY TUR PROFILE — Taunted by Trump, Little Katy stood her ground. And became a star because of it, by WaPos Paul Farhi: Trumps attacks on [Megyn] Kelly may have had a higher profile, but few reporters took as much flak from the future president as Tur. Turs reaction to the tumult was like that during her first confrontations in New Hampshire and in Trump Tower. She stood her ground. She didnt fire back. She continued reporting. Now she smiles at the memory, as composed as a sonnet. Generally, I find the hotter the temperature, the cooler I am, she says. Its times of relative calm and ease that I start to wind myself up. http://wapo.st/2kOGlWA
SPOTTED — Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump eating at RPM Italian Monday night. They also took a jog Saturday with their security detail on the trails on Rock Creek Parkway.
OUT AND ABOUT — Democratic campaign hands gathered last night to celebrate former Howard Dean campaign manager and longtime political strategist, Rick Ridder, and his new book at the Hawk n Dove. Ridders book Looking for Votes in All the Wrong Places: Tales and Rules from the Campaign Trail draws from his decades leading campaigns and the party featured friends old and new. $16.99 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2jCacg1 SPOTTED mingling in the crowd: Stephanie Schriock and Jess OConnell from EMILYs List, Colorado Reps. Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter, Mark Putnam, the DSCCs Lauren Passalacqua, Andrew Piatt, Danny Kazin, Jay Marlin, Rich Pelletier, Mark Blumenthal, Glen Totten, and Amy Pritchard. Also spotted: Ricks proud daughter and DCCC alum Jenn Ridder.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Doug Calidas, legislative counsel for Sen. Joe Manchin III and Wharton and Duke Law alum, and Katie Calidas, a designer for an advertising agency and Parsons alum, on Sunday at 12:05 a.m. welcomed William Kristopher Calidas, 7 pounds, 11 ounces, 21 inches. Mother and baby are doing great and came home from the hospital Monday. Pic http://bit.ly/2jBYYYW
TRANSITIONS — Victoria Glynn, former deputy press secretary at the Veterans Affairs Department, has joined Rep. Henry Cuellars (D-Texas) office as communications director. My Brothers Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance) has elected former Obama administration official Broderick D. Johnson as chairman of the board of directors effective yesterday. http://politi.co/2jUDozP
NSC DEPARTURE LOUNGE — Adam Strickler departs the NSC today after nine years of service to four National Security Advisers, most recently Ambassador Susan Rice. He plans to take some time off with Lauren and Toby. (h/t Suitestaff44)
BIRTHDAYS OF THE DAY: Jake Siewert, head of corporate comms at Goldman Sachs, father of four, and Bill Clinton alumnus, celebrating with a pancake breakfast at my kids school, a full days work, and dinner with my wife near our apartment — read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2kQnzuV ABC News Ali Dukakis, celebrating with friends and co-workers likely at Edgar — Q&A: http://politi.co/2kUk1qP … BuzzFeed White House correspondent Adrian Carrasquillo, celebrating with operatives, reporters, BuzzFeed colleagues and friends on Friday at Hawthorne — Q&A: http://politi.co/2kpVEoi
BIRTHDAYS: CAAs Michael Kives … Liz Breckenridge of Sen. Caseys office and is the pride of Chesterfield, Mo. Hudson Lee (Carol Lees son) is 4 … Fred Barnes is 74 … Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is 73 … Jamie Radice, head of comms and public policy at Shift Technologies, and a McAuliffe and HRC 2008 campaign alum … Christine Halloran … Marc Elias of Perkins Coie (h/ts Jon Haber) Mara Sloan Mat Lapinski, Jeff Kimbell protg and EVP of Crossroads Strategies (h/t Krueger) … Matt Moon, EVP at Delve DC and a Rick Scott and RNC alum … Politicos Andrew Friedman (h/t wife Taylor) … Ashley Hicks, manager of corporate alliances at USO and a Politico alum … Joseph Jones, pride of Des Moines and beloved friend of ACYPL … Miguel Ayala, SBA and Hillary campaign alum, is 38 … L.A. Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten, the pride of Lakewood, N.J., is 65 … David Thomas of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Alexa Kissinger, Obama White House and 12 alum, now 2L at Harvard Law School (h/t Gareth Rhodes) … Dan Arbell, 25-year veteran of the Israeli foreign service, now a scholar-in-residence at AU … Tara Brown, Mid-Atlantic regional director for AIPAC (h/ts Jewish Insider) … Jordyn Phelps, ABC News superstar White House producer (h/ts Jonathan Karl and Arlette Saenz) … ABC News Erin Dooley (h/t Arlette) …
… Tara McGowan, digital director at Priorities USA Willa Prescott, the pride of Omaha and Rep. Tom OHallerans scheduler and director of operations (h/t Zac Andrews) … Bloomberg News U.S. economy reporter Michelle Jamrisko — her Twitter bio: I like to tell my stories with pictures and numbers (h/t Ben Chang) … Meet the Press producer Natalie Cucchiara, celebrating half of the day at 30 Rock and half of the day in D.C. (h/t Olivia Petersen) … Locust Street Group founding partner David Barnhart (h/t Ben Jenkins) … Andrew Oberlander … Emmett McGroarty, education director at American Principles Project … CBS News Alana Anyse … Ubers Alex Luzi … David Redl, counsel for the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee … Susan Coll, director of events and programs at Politics & Prose … Catherine Kim, executive editor at NBC News digital … Maria Reppas … Dan Chmielewski … Josh Nelson, deputy political director of CREDO Mobile … Alex Otwell of Cvent … Karl Bach … Bill Sweeney, former deputy DNC chair and now president and CEO at International Foundation for Electoral Systems … Carrie Goux Luke Peterson … Kelly Collins … Zachary Tumin, deputy commissioner of strategic initiatives at NYPD … Emily Laird … Jordan Lillie Michael Frias Karl Bach, Human Rights Campaign alum Princess Stephanie of Monaco is 52 … Lisa Marie Presley is 49 … Pauly Shore is 49 … Harry Styles (One Direction) is 23 (h/ts AP)
** A message from the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs: PBMs use their purchasing power, sophisticated analytics and clinical expertise to help government programs, employers and unions get the most effective drug at the lowest cost possible. In fact, a 2016 study found that for every $100 in prescription drug expenditures, costs would be $45 higher without PBMs negotiating directly with drug manufacturers. With drug costs on the rise, it’s good to know there are private-market solutions to lower them. Check out http://www.affordableprescriptiondrugs.org for more. **
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CLARIFICATION: This version of Playbook has been updated to better clarify the stance of seven Democratic senators toward Neil Gorsuch.
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Posted: December 25, 2016 at 10:52 pm
Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence. In an extreme form, the idea of consequentialism is commonly encapsulated in the saying, “the end justifies the means”, meaning that if a goal is morally important enough, any method of achieving it is acceptable.
Consequentialism is usually contrasted with deontological ethics (or deontology), in that deontology, in which rules and moral duty are central, derives the rightness or wrongness of one’s conduct from the character of the behaviour itself rather than the outcomes of the conduct. It is also contrasted with virtue ethics, which focuses on the character of the agent rather than on the nature or consequences of the act (or omission) itself, and pragmatic ethics which treats morality like science: advancing socially over the course of many lifetimes, such that any moral criterion is subject to revision. Consequentialist theories differ in how they define moral goods.
Some argue that consequentialist and deontological theories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, T. M. Scanlon advances the idea that human rights, which are commonly considered a “deontological” concept, can only be justified with reference to the consequences of having those rights. Similarly, Robert Nozick argues for a theory that is mostly consequentialist, but incorporates inviolable “side-constraints” which restrict the sort of actions agents are permitted to do.
It is the business of the benevolent man to seek to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for the world. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit men he will leave alone.
Mozi, Mozi (5th century BC) Part I
Mohist consequentialism, also known as state consequentialism, is an ethical theory which evaluates the moral worth of an action based on how much it contributes to the welfare of a state. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mohist consequentialism, dating back to the 5th century BCE, is the “world’s earliest form of consequentialism, a remarkably sophisticated version based on a plurality of intrinsic goods taken as constitutive of human welfare.” Unlike utilitarianism, which views utility as the sole moral good, “the basic goods in Mohist consequentialist thinking are… order, material wealth, and increase in population”. During Mozi’s era, war and famines were common, and population growth was seen as a moral necessity for a harmonious society. The “material wealth” of Mohist consequentialism refers to basic needs like shelter and clothing, and the “order” of Mohist consequentialism refers to Mozi’s stance against warfare and violence, which he viewed as pointless and a threat to social stability.Stanford sinologist David Shepherd Nivison, in the The Cambridge History of Ancient China, writes that the moral goods of Mohism “are interrelated: more basic wealth, then more reproduction; more people, then more production and wealth… if people have plenty, they would be good, filial, kind, and so on unproblematically.” The Mohists believed that morality is based on “promoting the benefit of all under heaven and eliminating harm to all under heaven.” In contrast to Jeremy Bentham’s views, state consequentialism is not utilitarian because it is not hedonistic or individualistic. The importance of outcomes that are good for the community outweigh the importance of individual pleasure and pain. The term state consequentialism has also been applied to the political philosophy of the Confucian philosopher Xunzi.
Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think…
Jeremy Bentham, The Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789) Ch I, p 1
In summary, Jeremy Bentham states that people are driven by their interests and their fears, but their interests take precedence over their fears, and their interests are carried out in accordance with how people view the consequences that might be involved with their interests. “Happiness” on this account is defined as the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. Historically, hedonistic utilitarianism is the paradigmatic example of a consequentialist moral theory. This form of utilitarianism holds that what matters is the aggregate happiness; the happiness of everyone and not the happiness of any particular person. John Stuart Mill, in his exposition of hedonistic utilitarianism, proposed a hierarchy of pleasures, meaning that the pursuit of certain kinds of pleasure is more highly valued than the pursuit of other pleasures. However, some contemporary utilitarians, such as Peter Singer, are concerned with maximizing the satisfaction of preferences, hence “preference utilitarianism”. Other contemporary forms of utilitarianism mirror the forms of consequentialism outlined below.
Ethical egoism can be understood as a consequentialist theory according to which the consequences for the individual agent are taken to matter more than any other result. Thus, egoism will prescribe actions that may be beneficial, detrimental, or neutral to the welfare of others. Some, like Henry Sidgwick, argue that a certain degree of egoism promotes the general welfare of society for two reasons: because individuals know how to please themselves best, and because if everyone were an austere altruist then general welfare would inevitably decrease.
Ethical altruism can be seen as a consequentialist ethic which prescribes that an individual take actions that have the best consequences for everyone except for himself. This was advocated by Auguste Comte, who coined the term “altruism,” and whose ethics can be summed up in the phrase “Live for others”.
In general, consequentialist theories focus on actions. However, this need not be the case. Rule consequentialism is a theory that is sometimes seen as an attempt to reconcile deontology and consequentialismand in some cases, this is stated as a criticism of rule consequentialism. Like deontology, rule consequentialism holds that moral behavior involves following certain rules. However, rule consequentialism chooses rules based on the consequences that the selection of those rules have. Rule consequentialism exists in the forms of rule utilitarianism and rule egoism.
Various theorists are split as to whether the rules are the only determinant of moral behavior or not. For example, Robert Nozick holds that a certain set of minimal rules, which he calls “side-constraints”, are necessary to ensure appropriate actions. There are also differences as to how absolute these moral rules are. Thus, while Nozick’s side-constraints are absolute restrictions on behavior, Amartya Sen proposes a theory that recognizes the importance of certain rules, but these rules are not absolute. That is, they may be violated if strict adherence to the rule would lead to much more undesirable consequences.
One of the most common objections to rule-consequentialism is that it is incoherent, because it is based on the consequentialist principle that what we should be concerned with is maximizing the good, but then it tells us not to act to maximize the good, but to follow rules (even in cases where we know that breaking the rule could produce better results).
Brad Hooker avoided this objection by not basing his form of rule-consequentialism on the ideal of maximizing the good. He writes:
the best argument for rule-consequentialism is not that it derives from an overarching commitment to maximise the good. The best argument for rule-consequentialism is that it does a better job than its rivals of matching and tying together our moral convictions, as well as offering us help with our moral disagreements and uncertainties
Derek Parfit described Brad Hooker’s book on rule-consequentialism Ideal Code, Real World as the “best statement and defence, so far, of one of the most important moral theories.”
The two-level approach involves engaging in critical reasoning and considering all the possible ramifications of one’s actions before making an ethical decision, but reverting to generally reliable moral rules when one is not in a position to stand back and examine the dilemma as a whole. In practice, this equates to adhering to rule consequentialism when one can only reason on an intuitive level, and to act consequentialism when in a position to stand back and reason on a more critical level.
This position can be described as a reconciliation between act consequentialism in which the morality of an action is determined by that action’s effects and rule consequentialism in which moral behavior is derived from following rules that lead to positive outcomes.
The two-level approach to consequentialism is most often associated with R. M. Hare and Peter Singer.
Another consequentialist version is motive consequentialism which looks at whether the state of affairs that results from the motive to choose an action is better or at least as good as each of the alternative state of affairs that would have resulted from alternative actions. This version gives relevance to the motive of an act and links it to its consequences. An act can therefore not be wrong if the decision to act was based on a right motive. A possible inference is, that one can not be blamed for mistaken judgements if the motivation was to do good.
Most consequentialist theories focus on promoting some sort of good consequences. However, Negative utilitarianism lays out a consequentialist theory that focuses solely on minimizing bad consequences.
One major difference between these two approaches is the agent’s responsibility. Positive consequentialism demands that we bring about good states of affairs, whereas negative consequentialism requires that we avoid bad ones. Stronger versions of negative consequentialism will require active intervention to prevent bad and ameliorate existing harm. In weaker versions, simple forbearance from acts tending to harm others is sufficient.
Often “negative” consequentialist theories assert that reducing suffering is more important than increasing pleasure. Karl Popper, for example, claimed “from the moral point of view, pain cannot be outweighed by pleasure…”. (While Popper is not a consequentialist per se, this is taken as a classic statement of negative utilitarianism.) When considering a theory of justice, negative consequentialists may use a statewide or global-reaching principle: the reduction of suffering (for the disadvantaged) is more valuable than increased pleasure (for the affluent or luxurious).
Teleological ethics (Greek telos, “end”; logos, “science”) is an ethical theory that holds that the ends or consequences of an act determine whether an act is good or evil. Teleological theories are often discussed in opposition to deontological ethical theories, which hold that acts themselves are inherently good or evil, regardless of the consequences of acts.
Teleological theories differ on the nature of the end that actions ought to promote. Eudaemonist theories (Greek eudaimonia, “happiness”) hold that the goal of ethics consists in some function or activity appropriate to man as a human being, and thus tend to emphasize the cultivation of virtue or excellence in the agent as the end of all action. These could be the classical virtuescourage, temperance, justice, and wisdomthat promoted the Greek ideal of man as the “rational animal”, or the theological virtuesfaith, hope, and lovethat distinguished the Christian ideal of man as a being created in the image of God.
Utilitarian-type theories hold that the end consists in an experience or feeling produced by the action. Hedonism, for example, teaches that this feeling is pleasureeither one’s own, as in egoism (the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes), or everyone’s, as in universalistic hedonism, or utilitarianism (the 19th-century English philosophers Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Sidgwick), with its formula of the “greatest pleasure of the greatest number.”
Other utilitarian-type views include the claims that the end of action is survival and growth, as in evolutionary ethics (the 19th-century English philosopher Herbert Spencer); the experience of power, as in despotism; satisfaction and adjustment, as in pragmatism (20th-century American philosophers Ralph Barton Perry and John Dewey); and freedom, as in existentialism (the 20th-century French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre).
The chief problem for eudaemonist theories is to show that leading a life of virtue will also be attended by happinessby the winning of the goods regarded as the chief end of action. That Job should suffer and Socrates and Jesus die while the wicked prosper, then seems unjust. Eudaemonists generally reply that the universe is moral and that, in Socrates’ words, “No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death,” or, in Jesus’ words, “But he who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt 10:22).
Utilitarian theories, on the other hand, must answer the charge that ends do not justify the means. The problem arises in these theories because they tend to separate the achieved ends from the action by which these ends were produced. One implication of utilitarianism is that one’s intention in performing an act may include all of its foreseen consequences. The goodness of the intention then reflects the balance of the good and evil of these consequences, with no limits imposed upon it by the nature of the act itselfeven if it be, say, the breaking of a promise or the execution of an innocent man. Utilitarianism, in answering this charge, must show either that what is apparently immoral is not really so or that, if it really is so, then closer examination of the consequences will bring this fact to light. Ideal utilitarianism (G.E. Moore and Hastings Rashdall) tries to meet the difficulty by advocating a plurality of ends and including among them the attainment of virtue itself, which, as John Stuart Mill affirmed, “may be felt a good in itself, and desired as such with as great intensity as any other good.”
Since pure consequentialism holds that an action is to be judged solely by its result, most consequentialist theories hold that a deliberate action is no different from a deliberate decision not to act. This contrasts with the “acts and omissions doctrine”, which is upheld by some medical ethicists and some religions: it asserts there is a significant moral distinction between acts and deliberate non-actions which lead to the same outcome. This contrast is brought out in issues such as voluntary euthanasia.
One important characteristic of many normative moral theories such as consequentialism is the ability to produce practical moral judgements. At the very least, any moral theory needs to define the standpoint from which the goodness of the consequences are to be determined. What is primarily at stake here is the responsibility of the agent.
One common tactic among consequentialists, particularly those committed to an altruistic (selfless) account of consequentialism, is to employ an ideal, neutral observer from which moral judgements can be made. John Rawls, a critic of utilitarianism, argues that utilitarianism, in common with other forms of consequentialism, relies on the perspective of such an ideal observer. The particular characteristics of this ideal observer can vary from an omniscient observer, who would grasp all the consequences of any action, to an ideally informed observer, who knows as much as could reasonably be expected, but not necessarily all the circumstances or all the possible consequences. Consequentialist theories that adopt this paradigm hold that right action is the action that will bring about the best consequences from this ideal observer’s perspective.
In practice, it is very difficult, and at times arguably impossible, to adopt the point of view of an ideal observer. Individual moral agents do not know everything about their particular situations, and thus do not know all the possible consequences of their potential actions. For this reason, some theorists have argued that consequentialist theories can only require agents to choose the best action in line with what they know about the situation. However, if this approach is navely adopted, then moral agents who, for example, recklessly fail to reflect on their situation, and act in a way that brings about terrible results, could be said to be acting in a morally justifiable way. Acting in a situation without first informing oneself of the circumstances of the situation can lead to even the most well-intended actions yielding miserable consequences. As a result, it could be argued that there is a moral imperative for an agent to inform himself as much as possible about a situation before judging the appropriate course of action. This imperative, of course, is derived from consequential thinking: a better-informed agent is able to bring about better consequences.
Moral action always has consequences for certain people or things. Varieties of consequentialism can be differentiated by the beneficiary of the good consequences. That is, one might ask “Consequences for whom?”
A fundamental distinction can be drawn between theories which require that agents act for ends perhaps disconnected from their own interests and drives, and theories which permit that agents act for ends in which they have some personal interest or motivation. These are called “agent-neutral” and “agent-focused” theories respectively.
Agent-neutral consequentialism ignores the specific value a state of affairs has for any particular agent. Thus, in an agent-neutral theory, an actor’s personal goals do not count any more than anyone else’s goals in evaluating what action the actor should take. Agent-focused consequentialism, on the other hand, focuses on the particular needs of the moral agent. Thus, in an agent-focused account, such as one that Peter Railton outlines, the agent might be concerned with the general welfare, but the agent is more concerned with the immediate welfare of herself and her friends and family.
These two approaches could be reconciled by acknowledging the tension between an agent’s interests as an individual and as a member of various groups, and seeking to somehow optimize among all of these interests. For example, it may be meaningful to speak of an action as being good for someone as an individual, but bad for them as a citizen of their town.
Many consequentialist theories may seem primarily concerned with human beings and their relationships with other human beings. However, some philosophers argue that we should not limit our ethical consideration to the interests of human beings alone. Jeremy Bentham, who is regarded as the founder of utilitarianism, argues that animals can experience pleasure and pain, thus demanding that ‘non-human animals’ should be a serious object of moral concern. More recently, Peter Singer has argued that it is unreasonable that we do not give equal consideration to the interests of animals as to those of human beings when we choose the way we are to treat them. Such equal consideration does not necessarily imply identical treatment of humans and non-humans, any more than it necessarily implies identical treatment of all humans.
One way to divide various consequentialisms is by the types of consequences that are taken to matter most, that is, which consequences count as good states of affairs. According to utilitarianism, a good action is one that results in an increase in pleasure, and the best action is one that results in the most pleasure for the greatest number. Closely related is eudaimonic consequentialism, according to which a full, flourishing life, which may or may not be the same as enjoying a great deal of pleasure, is the ultimate aim. Similarly, one might adopt an aesthetic consequentialism, in which the ultimate aim is to produce beauty. However, one might fix on non-psychological goods as the relevant effect. Thus, one might pursue an increase in material equality or political liberty instead of something like the more ephemeral “pleasure”. Other theories adopt a package of several goods, all to be promoted equally.
Consequentialism can also be contrasted with aretaic moral theories such as virtue ethics. Whereas consequentialist theories posit that consequences of action should be the primary focus of our thinking about ethics, virtue ethics insists that it is the character rather than the consequences of actions that should be the focal point. Some virtue ethicists hold that consequentialist theories totally disregard the development and importance of moral character. For example, Philippa Foot argues that consequences in themselves have no ethical content, unless it has been provided by a virtue such as benevolence.
However, consequentialism and virtue ethics need not be entirely antagonistic. Philosopher Iain King has developed an approach which reconciles the two schools. Other consequentialists consider effects on the character of people involved in an action when assessing consequence. Similarly, a consequentialist theory may aim at the maximization of a particular virtue or set of virtues. Finally, following Foot’s lead, one might adopt a sort of consequentialism that argues that virtuous activity ultimately produces the best consequences.[clarification needed]
The ultimate end is a concept in the moral philosophy of Max Weber, in which individuals act in a faithful, rather than rational, manner.
We must be clear about the fact that all ethically oriented conduct may be guided by one of two fundamentally differing and irreconcilably opposed maxims: conduct can be oriented to an “ethic of ultimate ends” or to an “ethic of responsibility.” This is not to say that an ethic of ultimate ends is identical with irresponsibility, or that an ethic of responsibility is identical with unprincipled opportunism. Naturally, nobody says that. However, there is an abysmal contrast between conduct that follows the maxim of an ethic of ultimate endsthat, is in religious terms, “the Christian does rightly and leaves the results with the Lord”and conduct that follows the maxim of an ethic of responsibility, in which case one has to give an account of the foreseeable results of one’s action.
Max Weber, Politics as a Vocation, 1918
The term “consequentialism” was coined byG. E. M. Anscombe in her essay “Modern Moral Philosophy” in 1958, to describe what she saw as the central error of certain moral theories, such as those propounded by Mill and Sidgwick.
The phrase and concept of “The end justifies the means” are at least as old as the first century BC. Ovid wrote in his Heroides that Exitus acta probat “The result justifies the deed”.
G. E. M. Anscombe objects to consequentialism on the grounds that it does not provide ethical guidance in what one ought to do because there is no distinction between consequences that are foreseen and those that are intended.[full citation needed]
Bernard Williams has argued that consequentialism is alienating because it requires moral agents to put too much distance between themselves and their own projects and commitments. Williams argues that consequentialism requires moral agents to take a strictly impersonal view of all actions, since it is only the consequences, and not who produces them, that are said to matter. Williams argues that this demands too much of moral agentssince (he claims) consequentialism demands that they be willing to sacrifice any and all personal projects and commitments in any given circumstance in order to pursue the most beneficent course of action possible. He argues further that consequentialism fails to make sense of intuitions that it can matter whether or not someone is personally the author of a particular consequence. For example, that participating in a crime can matter, even if the crime would have been committed anyway, or would even have been worse, without the agent’s participation.
Some consequentialistsmost notably Peter Railtonhave attempted to develop a form of consequentialism that acknowledges and avoids the objections raised by Williams. Railton argues that Williams’s criticisms can be avoided by adopting a form of consequentialism in which moral decisions are to be determined by the sort of life that they express. On his account, the agent should choose the sort of life that will, on the whole, produce the best overall effects.
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Posted: at 10:52 pm
In this lesson, you will explore two different ways of explaining the motivations of your actions. Discover what they have in common and how they are different, and test your understanding with a brief quiz.
My, what an ego you’ve got. No, don’t worry, that’s not an insult. I don’t mean you’re prideful or arrogant; I just mean that you’re very self-interested. No, still not an insult. You see, many psychologists believe that self-interest is the basis for all human interactions. And many philosophers believe that even if self-interest isn’t necessarily the basis for every action, well, then it should be.
But there’s a big difference between what is and what should be. Here, let’s take a look at that ego. I promise it’s not an insult.
On one side of this is the simple belief about why we act the way we do. Psychological egoism states that human actions are based in self-interest. In this doctrine, we are making a factual claim about human behavior, with absolutely no moral judgments attached. See, I told you not to worry – no one’s judging you here.
Psychological egoism is a descriptive theory, meaning that it describes something based on observation and leaves it at that. Descriptive doctrines don’t try and describe actions as moral or immoral, good or bad; they simply observe and describe those actions. That also means that we are basing this doctrine in empirical, observable science. Those who believe in psychological egoism do so because their scientific research about human behavior, attitudes, and motivations supports it. And, for it to be a scientific fact, it has to apply to every person, all the time. So, according to this theory, this is just the way things are. People are motivated by self-interest.
Now, one important clarification we should make is that self-interest and selfishness are very different things. Your actions can be purely motivated by doing what’s best for you, but sometimes it’s in your best interest not to be selfish. In fact, psychologists have observed that selfishness is very commonly not in your best interest. For example, it’s selfish to want to take something from a store without paying. But that would be theft, and stealing is against your best interest because you would be arrested. Also, people would treat you differently for being a thief; you could lose your job, and you’ll end up in a state prison with face tattoos and fermenting wine in a toilet. It’s in your best interest to avoid that.
All right, get the shrinks out of here. We’re done talking about scientific facts; it’s time to talk some philosophy. Philosophers don’t necessarily believe that all human actions are motivated by self-interest, but many believe that they ought to be. Ethical egoism is the theory that a moral action is one that is based in self-interest. According to this doctrine, at the end of the day, the only real value to a person is their own welfare, so acting in your own best interest is always a moral choice.
See the difference between ethical and psychological egoism? While the psychologists state as a fact with no moral judgment that self-interest is the basis of all action, ethicists state that an action should be morally judged for being self-interested.
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Since ethical egoism does not describe what is, but instead what should be, it is a normative theory. Normative doctrines state what is right and wrong and indicate how people should act, so they’re not scientific theories, and therefore require philosophical, not scientific, evidence. But, just as with psychological egoism, ethical egoism also advises against being selfish. From a philosophical standpoint, being selfish can be against your best interest, and therefore is immoral.
Say that you have all the apples in town. You could be selfish and keep all the apples; you know you’ll eat well, but if you don’t share them, everybody in town will hate you. They like apples too, and now they aren’t going to help you with other things that you need. So, you’ve got no friends and nothing but apples. Once again, we see that the moral action is the one that is least selfish, because sharing your apples is actually in your best interest. Turns out, taking an interest in yourself can really take you far.
What motivates our actions? What ought to motivate our actions? Even if the answer is the same, these are two different questions. Psychological egoism is the scientific theory that all human actions are motivated by self-interest. This does not judge any actions as right or wrong, but simply observes and describes them as fact, making this a descriptive doctrine.
On the other side is ethical egoism, the philosophical theory that judges the morality of actions based on their level of self-interest. According to this theory, a moral action is one that is in your best interest, so although people don’t always act in their self-interest, they should. That’s the difference – psychological egoism states what is; ethical egoism states what should be. But, they both agree that self-interest is in your best interest. See, I told you it wasn’t an insult.
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Posted: December 7, 2016 at 8:00 am
Definition. Individuals naturally act in their own interest; i.e., act to increase their own good or benefit.
Some of the Strongest Arguments in Favor
1. Many examples of such behavior, a known, sufficient, representative number of cases to allow induction.
2. Explanations of counter-examples as actually instances of egoism. A person desires some kind of good or benefit whether fame, being well-liked, or eternal life. Even someone who gives away most of their money to charity anonymously gets a sense of satisfaction—even if there is no other reward. Even a soldier who jumps on a grenade to save the lives of her buddies is actually doing action for own good or benefit.
Some of the Strongest Arguments Against Psychological Egoism:
1. Counter-examples of altruism, especially if these are “natural” impulses. (E.g., Mencius passerby who rescues a child from falling into a well.) Note: One does not have to demonstrate that persons always act altruistically–only that this has happened at least once.
2. Responses to psychological egoist claims that any counter-example is actually an example of egoism:
a) Is satisfaction or a good feeling the same as self-interest?
b) A person can have multiple motives, only one of which is self-interest. Often altruism and egoism co-exist and are compatible.
c) Whatever counter-examples opponents offer, psychological. egoists will always explain them as boiling down to self-interest. Therefore, psychological. egoism is an A priori premise, a closed argument, not an empirically demonstrable thesis.
3. Free will/determinism.
For more detailed arguments see article on “Egoism” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/egoism/ , the article in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/egoism.htm ,, and on e-reserve Tom L. Beauchamp, Philosophical Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy, 56-66.
Definition. Individuals ought to act in their own interest; i.e., act to increase their own good or benefit. They have a choice. They should choose to act in their own interest.
Some of the Strongest Arguments in Favor.
a. Each person most knowledgeable judge.
b. Adam Smiths “Invisible Hand” type of argument (called “conditional egoism” in the IEP web reading listed below.)
c. To criticisms of egoism as causing unacceptable harm to others: replies that caring for others and cooperation are actually in each individuals long run best interest.
Some of the Strongest Arguments Against.
a. Universalism: Should everyone be an ethical egoist? Related to b.
b. Conflict of Interests – no way to resolve
c. Actually, in many cases an argument for utilitarianism as with Smith.
d. Humans have a social character that ethical egoism may cause them to seek to buck. .
For more detailed arguments see the article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/egoism/the article in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/egoism.htm , and on e-reserve Tom L. Beauchamp, Philosophical Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy, 56-66.
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