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Month: July 2017

Utilitarian Ethics Part 2

Utilitarian Ethics Part 2

The Alberta Carbon Tax.

A current issue of public morality in Alberta, Canada is the carbon tax that was implemented in January 2017. This tax requires payment by industry and individuals for the carbon dioxide we place in the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. The rate has been set at $20 per tonne, meaning that gasoline prices rose by 4.5 cents a litre (about 20 cents a gallon in the US).   The government objective is to raise $9.5 billion over five years for renewable energy, public transportation, green infrastructure, energy efficiency, and rebates for families earning less that $95 thousand annually. The carbon tax is part of the government’s strategy to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and take responsible action on climate change. The inevitable pain is that a family with two children will pay about $500 in additional taxes in a year. In addition, industry complains that the carbon tax will negatively impact economic growth in Alberta given Donald Trump’s opposition to the Paris Accord on Climate Change.

A utilitarian ethical analysis would need to take into account the “pain” or negative consequences of the carbon tax including the loss of discretionary income. The other side of the equation would need to quantify the manner in which the environment is related to the long-term happiness of Albertans. The unprecedented floods of 2013, the forest fires around Fort McMurray in 2016, and the record heat wave of 2017 suggest that we face a mounting crisis. I wish to draw attention to the subtle danger of allowing ideology and self-interest to intrude into the difficult task of analysis. Furthermore, in the carbon tax debate, the Biblical virtue of creation care never enters into public discourse. Christians might choose to have a voice based on virtue rather than attempted quantifications of happiness.

 

Reflections on Utilitarian Ethics

The utilitarian approach to ethics is important for its commitment to equality. There are no special interest people or groups. The happiness of each person is measured in an equivalent manner. This characteristic appears commendable in giving voice to the voiceless and addressing the disproportional influence of wealthy individuals and corporations. The example I cited above illustrates that the integrity of the analysis requires social actors to recognize potential biases of ideology and personal interest.

The commendable principle of equal value may require some qualifications in its implementation. For example, in a time of crisis, there are moral expectations that parents will give priority to the safety and well-being of their children (while bearing in mind the needs of others). The same ethical responsibility has daily implications for families.

Furthermore, there is a moral question about the happiness of minority groups that have been marginalized because of past events and social forces. Such groups may need special assistance that recognizes a history of injustice and offers prospects of gaining dignity and hope. The “happiness count” of people in the borderlands may not register as particularly significant in the larger context of a city or region. However, a biblical ethic always moves us to meet the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the margins of our social locations.

Many Christians will be troubled by the absence of considerations of virtue and character in utilitarian ethics. Using the “end” to “justify the means” can feel dangerous. Slavery was used to justify an economic system based on oppression. The Indian Residential Schools in Canada were justified as a means to “take the Indian out of the child” and facilitate social integration. Every regime that practices torture has articulated a moral justification. The utilitarian approach to ethics, when used exclusively, can be perverted by personal ambition and abuses of power.

Finally, the quality of the heart seems to be an essential aspect of morality. Many of us are reluctant to separate motivations from actions. We would praise someone that risked his life to save five children that were held hostage. Our admiration might be tempered if we discovered that the rescuer had been offered $1 million payment per child. The action might seem more mercenary than moral in nature.

In the parable of the sower and the seed, the people that bear abundant fruit hold fast to the word with honest and good hearts (Luke 8.15). After a grievous moral failure, a psalmist of Israel seeks from God a clean heart and a new spirit (Psalm 51.10). These texts, along with the weight of personal experience, lead us to conclude that faithful living requires the difficult inner journey of the heart.

In conclusion, the utilitarian approach to ethics should be part of our tool kit for the task of analyzing moral dilemmas. This perspective will help us to rise above personal and in-group interests in order to consider the general well-being (happiness) of our communities. However, we should balance utilitarian ethics with other approaches to morality so that we avoid inflicting injustice and pain based on dubious arguments that the end justifies the means.

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Utilitarian Approach to Ethics Part 1

Utilitarian Approach to Ethics Part 1

Utilitarian ethics approaches a moral dilemma by asking a critical question: What action will result in the greatest happiness for the largest number of people?

This first part of my article will describe utilitarian ethics and provide a biblical example related to Torah regulations of land ownership. Part 2 will offer a brief perspective on the public issue of a carbon tax in Alberta, Canada and some reflections on the use of utilitarian ethics by followers of Jesus.

My presentation began with the defining question posed by the utilitarian approach to ethics. We can make several initial observations:

  1. Attention is focussed on the result or impact of an action.
  2. Considerations of personal benefit (ethics of egoism) are replaced by a concern for the majority of people.
  3. There is no deliberation about moral values (virtue ethics).
  4. The motives of key actors or decision makers do not enter into the analysis.

 

We are familiar with government use of utilitarian ethics. The legal right to private property can be trumped through the legal expropriation of private land with the purpose of building a highway. In such cases, the perceived happiness of the majority is given greater weight than the pain or discomfort of a limited number of landholders. The approach of utilitarian ethics also has been used to justify the torture of a suspected terrorists with the purpose of eliciting information. The reasoning is that the happiness of the general public outweighs the pain and indignity inflicted on the individual. The contravention of international laws against torture is considered secondary to the need to protect innocent people. The basic principle of utilitarian ethics is easily grasped by most people although the implementation is challenging.

 

Biblical Example of Utilitarian Ethics.

The Torah’s instructions on property ownership and sale can be considered using the approach of utilitarian ethics. We recall that the Mosaic Law was given in the setting of the wilderness for the time when the former slaves would establish communities in the promised land. Modern readers must remember that the ownership of productive farmland was the main form of security in a pre-industrial agrarian society. Therefore, a landless person likely would be destitute and hungry.

The Torah principle, expressed in Leviticus 25, was that all the land belonged ultimately to God. Families simply held property as a trust. The Mosaic Law envisioned that calamity, crop failures, and other adverse circumstances could strike an family. As a consequence, affected people might be forced to sell their traditional property to survive. However, such a transaction was not to be permanent. The property was to be returned to the original family owners (or their descendants) in the year of Jubilee (celebrated every fifty years). The intent was to avoid creating a permanent class of landless peasants and to limit the economic disparity among community members.

The utilitarian approach to ethics, as mentioned earlier, seeks to ensure the greatest happiness for the largest number of people. In the case of ancient Israel, the freedom of a potential wealthy minority to expand landholdings was considered secondary to the common good (happiness) of the majority of people that would live in egalitarian communities. (My book Seed Falling on Good Soil shows how the economic elite in the time of Jesus used peasant debt with the purpose of enlarging their rural estates.)

Description of Utilitarian Ethics

The discipline of utilitarian ethics is usually associated with Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806 -1873). In our time, Peter Singer has become one of the most influential proponents of this approach to moral issues. Many readers will not be familiar with their written works but will feel somewhat at home in their process of reasoning. The basic principles of utilitarian ethics can be expressed as follows:

  1. Utilitarian ethics considers the common good rather than personal advantage. The perspective of self interest is not totally lost; the self simply finds its place among other people affected by a moral decision.
  2. In utilitarian ethics, each person is of equal importance regardless of social class, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, and religion.
  3. Utilitarian ethics attempts to quantify happiness and pain. The first is the desired consequence of a moral decision; the second is to be avoided.
  4. Utilitarian ethics distinguishes between happiness as an intrinsic good and those factors that are instrumental means in achieving happiness. Education, employment, adequate housing, and healthcare are instrumental goods that are generally related to the end goal of happiness.
  5. The analysis of options related to a moral dilemma will consider several factors: What people or groups will be directly and indirectly impacted? How many people will be happy as a result of an action? How many people will experience pain? What will be the intensity and duration of the happiness and pain? What is the probability of the anticipated impacts? How are short-term and long-term results to be calculated?

Based on these five principles, one concludes that the analytical work can be complex and somewhat speculative. For example, one might think of the challenges of a utilitarian ethics approach to the moral issue of ensuring basic healthcare for all Americans.

 

The second part of my presentation will provide an overview of an issue that is debated publicly in Alberta, Canada. I will conclude with a few reflections on how followers of Jesus might consider the utilitarian approach to ethical issues.

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Virtue Ethics Part 3

Virtue Ethics Part 3

What is distinct about a Christian virtue ethic?

As mentioned previously, Christians do not have a monopoly on virtue ethics. However, we should be confident that we have an important contribution to make to the broader discussion. We can be grateful for the work of scholars like Alasdair McIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, and Jonathan Wilson in emphasizing the importance of the development of virtues for the life and witness of the church.

Here I will offer a few suggestions: drawing on the authors cited above:

  1. Christian virtues are not isolated moral principles or laws extracted from the Bible. Scriptural virtues are embedded in narratives of God with his people. For a follower of Jesus, virtues cannot be understood apart from the gospel narrative that leads us through Galilee and Judea to the crucifixion and resurrection. Stanley Hauerwas wrote: “… Christian ethics is not first of all an ethics of principles, laws, or values, but an ethic that demands we attend to the life of a particular individual, Jesus of Nazareth.”[1]
  2. People, including Christians, are susceptible to delusions and distortions about their lives and morality. We want to believe that we are more virtuous than our actions and inaction might suggest. The story of Jesus forces us to examine our own lives. We enter into a space where we can face ourselves with honesty, confess our sins, celebrate grace, and be inspired by the story of the gospel.
  3. Christian virtues are related to the mission (telos) of God in the world. The purpose or meaning of each human life is discovered in relationship to the mission of God. The virtues are an expression of how people understand God, his calling, and their purpose in the world. At a minimum, faithfulness to the mission of God requires virtues like humility, service, and compassion.
  4. The process of the development of character or virtues can be likened to the metaphor of a journey. People are transformed by the pilgrimage with God as they face new challenges that test their faithfulness, integrity, and dedication.
  5. Individuals need a community (church) to encourage and nurture Christian virtues. A supportive community, living by the principle of grace, provides a fellowship of discernment and encouragement for the long journey.

 

Evaluation of Virtue Ethics as an Approach to Morality.

I think most people would agree that people with strong sets of virtues will generally sort through moral issues and make good decisions. The emphasis on the long process of character formation matches our understanding of Christian discipleship and transformation. Pastors and teachers should be encouraged to emphasize gospel virtues in their preaching and classroom discussions. Those of us that serve in the broader marketplace are challenged to find ways of representing the virtues of our faith in social contexts of competition and affluence. We will have to be discerning in distinguishing between “cultural” virtues that will vary in different settings and “gospel” virtues that are essential for discipleship and mission.

I have one major concern about the virtue ethics approach that I can represent in a story. A former colleague was the child of a Jewish couple that had been saved from death in a concentration camp by Oskar Schindler (you may have seen the movie Schindler’s List). Few people would have described Schindler as a virtuous man. He was a member of the Nazi party. He was unfaithful in marriage. He used bribery to get ahead in business. He drank to excess and was addicted to a lifestyle of affluence. One assumes that many German Christians who served the 3rd Reich that would have been scandalized by Schindler. But when a Jewish concentration camp opened near his factory, Oskar Schindler used his money and influence to save over one thousand Jewish women and men. Let me pose the question: “If you were a Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp, would you have preferred to place your fate in the hands of Schindler or in the hands of a 3rd Reich soldier that maintained his marriage vows and personal piety?”

The story of Oskar Schindler raises uncomfortable questions about how we prioritize certain virtues and our vices in our historical situation.  We might ask: Is it enough to be a faithful husband and loving father in a world where 925 million people are hungry? I am struck by a recent poll that showed that 85% of Americans (and presumably Canadians) were unaware of extreme hunger in Africa and the Middle East. Is it enough to be virtuous in business dealings in North America while ignoring that the mass displacement of 65 million people is a new global reality. This means that 1 of every 113 people on the earth is on the move as a refugee from violence or environmental catastrophe, as a migrant looking for work, or as someone that simply hopes for a better life. What does virtue mean in the context of desperate people crowding into boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea?

I propose that the Christian church faces a challenge in rethinking the virtues that God requires for our mission and witness in today’s broken and wounded world. We need to bear in mind that the God of our scriptures always was concerned for the well-being of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. Virtues should move us toward the margins and borderlands. The discussions and conclusions about virtue ethics will be important for the future of our churches and our nations.

[1] The Hauerwas Reader. Page 121.

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Virtue Ethics Part 2

Virtue Ethics Part 2

Christians have no sense of “ownership” on virtues and virtue ethics. When Paul penned his message to the Galatians, he was aware that four centuries earlier the Greek philosopher Aristotle had emphasized the importance of virtues. Aristotle distinguished between:

  1. Intellectual virtues: Traits that help us to think and reason well.
  2. Moral virtues: Qualities that help us to live and act well in community.

Aristotle taught that virtues required practice; they could not simply be learned in an academy. He introduced the relationship between virtues and the discovery of one’s purpose as a human. The virtues were important for the fulfillment of one’s personal mission or “telos.” Happiness was the product of the coherence of practice and purpose. The influence of Aristotle continues to shape current debates about the nature of a moral life.

Earlier than Aristotle, Confucius has lived and taught in China (561 to 479 BC). Confucius also rejected an approach to morality based on rules and regulations. He believed that people of good character would automatically exemplify good behaviour. He emphasized two main virtues that continue to shape Chinese culture. “Jen” represents compassion or humaneness. “Li” stands for good manners and decorum. Discussions of ethics and faith in modern China inevitably make reference to the ongoing influence of Confucius.

These two historical figures remind us of the importance of recognizing the importance of other perspectives on virtue and of the need to enter into dialogue with people that are sincere in their desire to be people of integrity.

This very brief overview and the content of Part 1 can lead us to make a few further observations:

  1. Virtues are contextual. It is in a particular context with its personalities and social tensions that a certain virtues become important for the individual and the broader community. To return to the example of St. Francis, the decision to make a virtue of poverty would have made no sense in a social setting of widespread deprivation and hunger.
  2. Virtues are role dependant. The virtues required of a teacher in Malawi will have important differences from the virtues of fire fighter in Toronto. The virtues demanded of aid workers in a time of famine will have some significant differences from those of a respected bank manager in New York. There is room to debate the possibility that there are gender differences in assigning priority to certain virtues.
  3. Virtues are influenced by culture. Precision with time is a virtue in Switzerland; It is not valued as highly in parts of Africa. Cross-cultural and international workers need to be attentive to different moral codes that emphasize distinct sets of virtues.
  4. Virtues are not learned in a classroom or by reading a book. As Aristotle taught, the development of a virtuous life requires years of practice. Virtues become personal traits only through a long road of dedication in which there will be inevitably moments of testing, personal failure, and success through stubborn endurance.

Part 3 of this series will deal with the distinct nature of virtue ethics for followers of Jesus.

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Virtue Ethics Part 1

Virtue Ethics Part 1

Virtue ethics offers a distinct approach to moral issues by concentrating on the character of social agents rather than an analysis of a particular dilemma. The foundational principle is that the actions of virtuous people will be morally sound and noble in nature. I will attempt to briefly outline and evaluate the virtue ethics position in three blog posts.

The Christian faith has emphasized virtue ethics through the centuries. A good example is found in the New Testament in Galatians 5.16-24. Paul is addressing a number of small Christian congregations in the Roman province of Galatia (now a region of Turkey). He is concerned to show that freedom in Christ should not lead to declining standards of moral conduct. The apostle offers a list of vices to be avoided: Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. He then turns to virtues to be cultivated by the followers of Jesus in Galatia. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

We would better understand Paul’s moral advice if we were able to enter into the story of the city and the church. However, we are at least able to grasp that the fifteen vices are personally destructive and damage the newly formed communities of faith. The nine virtues are “fruits of the Spirit” in the sense that God works in the lives of his people to nurture and cultivate these traits.

Faith requires a movement from vices to virtues. The scriptures and church history bear witness to the challenges of living by virtues in settings of greed and violence. One might think of St. Francis who made a virtue of poverty in order to offer an alternate path in contrast with the affluence of society and the church. Similarly, Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Jesuit Priest, exemplified the virtue of courage during World War II. He provided refuge for Jews in his monastery and, after being imprisoned in Auschwitz, offered to die in the place of a Jewish prisoner. We could think of many other stories of virtue that inspire us to be better people and more dedicated followers of Jesus.

Virtue Ethics is a distinct approach to morality.

At this point I want to make five general observations about the approach of virtue ethics.

  1. Virtue ethics aims at personal development. We might say that this approach to ethics is concerned about the formation of character rather than the provision of rules.
  2. Virtue ethics does not begin with the kind of questions that we usually ask when facing a moral dilemma. What actions should we take? What outcomes would be ethically sound? What motives should guide our actions? These questions are secondary in the virtue ethics approach.
  3. Virtue ethics places primary emphasis on what kind of people we should be in the process of becoming? What character traits are noble and dignified in the context of a certain issue? A starting question might be: What values or virtues should I exemplify in relationship to others as we face this dilemma?
  4. Virtues usually go in sets. A particular virtue seldom standd on its own. A virtuous person displays multiple character positive traits in most situations.
  5. Virtue ethics distinguishes between satisfaction and pleasure. People that are content or at peace with their lives may well have made painful and unpleasant sacrifices in order to faithfully live by their code of virtues. In other words, virtues may lead us toward pain and conflict.

 

The second blog post on virtue ethics will offer further observations on this way of approaching moral issues.

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Two Approaches to Ethics – Egoism and Altruism

Two Approaches to Ethics – Egoism and Altruism

Each day we are required to make a variety of moral decisions. The way we analyse different options is often based on intuition shaped by experience, family backgrounds, culture, and faith traditions.  For Christians, ethics is part of our commitment to follow Jesus into a broken world. We live in an age in which the lives of most Christians are virtually indistinguishable from those of others in our broader culture. Accordingly, a focus on ethics is important if we wish to establish a vibrant witness in our communities.

An exposure to ethical theories can deepen our practice of Christian discipleship. In the following remarks I wish to concentrate on egoism and altruism as two opposing approaches to moral dilemmas. It is important to give attention to these two streams because the former is particularly prevalent in our social and political context. The church in North America has largely lost the active altruist ethic that made its witness compelling in the first two centuries (Rodney Stark). Additionally, I venture to propose that each of us struggles to live in the tension between egoism and altruism in our personal lives.

The Egoist Approach to Ethics:

The egoist approach is based on the criteria of self-interest, personal benefit, and happiness. Egoists evaluate each moral decision on the basis of advantage for self, family, and social group. Ethical egoists maintain that people are responsible for their own happiness and well-being. Consequently, individuals bear the moral obligation to look out for themselves. We are fully justified placing self-interest above the needs of others. People that require external assistance to maintain themselves are characterized as weak and dependent. Ethical egoists generally disdain welfare, food banks, and socialized medical programs. They are likely to endorse unrestricted capitalism believing that this economic system rewards those that work with diligence and creativity. They have faith in Adam Smith’s invisible hand of capitalism to guide individuals and nations.  They are more likely to speak about individual than collective rights. They recognize the need for enforcement agents to protect from others in society that break the law for reasons of personal advantage and profit.

 

It is important to note that the egoist approach to ethics does not invariably produce people that lack moral restraint and oppose all forms of cooperative action. The ethical egoist understands that long-term goals of family, home, career and financial security require sacrifice and effort. Furthermore, there can be personal benefits to community organization and taxes to support certain government services. For example, the payment of taxes for the supply of safe water is valuable for each tax payer. Speed limits in neighborhood school zones restrict personal freedom but protect their children. It is more difficult to make a compelling case for financial support to improve the quality of education in marginal zones of a city because the benefit is further removed. Accordingly, the egoist willingly enters into certain social contracts provided that there is personal benefit and all people give up similar freedoms. These social contracts are not rooted in motivations of concern for others. The criterion is always a sense of self-interest.

The important point to note is that ethical egoism proposes that people should act consistently with motives of self-interest and personal happiness. This approach to moral dilemmas is foundational for this ethical current. Ethical egoists argue that they are morally responsible because they take responsibility for themselves and their families, obey the law, and do not depend on the state.

The Altruist Approach to Ethics

The altruist stream of ethics, in contrast, works with the moral criterion of the common good or the well-being of others. This approach to ethics goes so far as to place a value on personal sacrifice for the sake of others. Personal advantage and happiness are less important than the well-being of diverse people in the community.

I sometimes wonder if the altruist approach to ethics finds some nourishment in collectivist rather than individualist cultures. Let me give an example. A prolonged drought produced a famine in southeastern Kenya in 2006. Canadian Baptists ran a year-long project of food assistance with the help of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. 42,000 people benefited from monthly supplies of beans, rice, cooking oil, and other necessities. The beneficiaries had been identified as severely food insecure and, therefore, vulnerable to starvation. Each beneficiary was given a ration card in order to make sure that we targeted needy families. During the program, aid workers reported that most people immediately shared their food supplies with others in the community.  Evidently, there was some sort of a moral issue about receiving a benefit without giving to others. Their actions clearly ran counter to their personal interest in a time of famine. Altruism trumped egoism.

The ethical altruist approach should not be characterized as “a bleeding heart” orientation to morality. Few altruists eat beans and rice each day so that they can send financial donations to feed the hungry. However, their analysis of ethical problems consistently poses the fundamental question of the common good of the community and the world. Ethical altruists are suspicious about policies and actions that benefit some people at the cost of others. There will be particular concern when a minority profits while the majority are excluded. Altruists are prepared to make decisions for the benefit of others when it is not in their best interest. One might consider the case of Warren Buffett, an respected American investor and multi-millionaire. He has argued that it is morally unacceptable that rich people like himself pay less in federal taxes, as a proportion of total income, than people in the middle class. He has gone so far as to propose a new level of tax on the wealthy. This position clearly expresses an altruistic ethic that opposes tax policies that personally benefit him and his family.

 

Analysis

Both ethical streams, the egoist and the altruist, are found in the Christian scriptures. Allow me to give a further example regarding food. Paul responded to an ethical dilemma in 2 Thessalonians 3.3-13. A group in the Christian community had given up work and expected to live from the handouts of others in the congregation. Paul first points to his own example of manual labor to pay his own way. He then lays down the following principle: Anyone unwilling to work cannot depend on the generosity of the community. This could be considered an application of ethical egoism – individuals bear the responsibility for their own well-being. The apostle faced a different moral issue when a famine struck Palestine. The marginalized Christian community in Jerusalem was particularly vulnerable to hunger. Paul organized a collection of funds from the churches in Asia Minor and Greece to provide relief. Three ethical principles are particularly noteworthy in 2 Corinthians 8-9.

  1. Each person was to participate in this altruistic intervention according to their means. No one was exempt.
  2. The model for generosity was the altruism of the Lord Jesus Christ who, being rich, chose to become poor so that we might be rich.
  3. The goal of altruism is some sort of a fair balance between those that suffer from poverty and those that live in security.

 

I propose that these two examples help us to see that people of faith always live in the tension between ethical egoism and altruism. The problem is that egoism is more prevalent than altruism. The individualism and consumerism of western societies throws cold water on the ideals of self-sacrifice for the common good.

I would like to conclude with a few additional points of reflection:

  • We will always live with the tension of ethical egoism and altruism.
  • A social world in which morality is based on personal advantage would require you to protect yourself in every relationship and encounter with other people.
  • The law of the jungle inevitably creates losers as well as winners. A compounding problems is that both wealth and poverty often are passed on to other generations unless there is some form of equalization of opportunity.
  • Humans have a tendency toward self-deception. It is a challenge to assess our own motivations and even more difficult to discern the motives of others. Ethical egoists may present themselves as altruists in order to gain an advantage, build an image, or advance in their career. Each of us needs to engage in regular gut-checks to recognize and purify our motives. Public figures must be judged by their actions rather than their words.
  • The road of ethical egoism does not guarantee well-being and happiness. The current level of consumer debt in Canada and the USA illustrates that egoists will compromise the future because of weakness of will and lack of knowledge. Paradoxically, personal satisfaction is often the by-product of a life of service to others.
  • Our response to the environmental crisis is dampened by the current of ethical egoism that mitigates against personal sacrifice for the collective good. As a result, it is convenient to question the science of global climate change.
  • Politicians and preachers generally appeal to our inherent egoism by emphasizing personal advantages of their platforms or religion. There is an overwhelming silence about the virtue of sacrifice for the common good and, in the case of the discourse of pastors, for the rule of God.

I propose that the witness of Christians will be strengthened by a renewed emphasis on an altruistic approach to ethics based on our reading of the New Testament and Hebrew prophets.

 

The author wishes to acknowledge his debt to Barbara MacKinnon and Andrew Fiala, Ethics Theory and Contemporary Issues (2015)

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