A discussion with Prof. Bernard Molyneux about selfishness and egoism – Episode 20

Part 1: An example of a selfish action and the meaning of “selfish.” Utilitarianism, Kantianism, egoism. Building a shed for grandma. The nature of ethics: Is ethics only other-regarding? Where do our ideas of “the good” and “the bad” come from? Becoming more long-range. Blaring one’s music. What kind of society do we want to live in? Guilt. Swiping money. Relativizing ethics/morality to something’s nature. Emergency (e.g., lifeboat) situations.

Part 2: Why prefer one’s own good/pleasure to that of others? Is any explanation needed or is the answer just obvious? Seeing oneself as special and as the center of the universe, and growing up ethically. Grounding ethics in phenomenology (i.e., experience or conscious states), e.g., pleasure/pain. A button-pressing thought experiment—autonomy and consent. Robert Nozick’s experience machine. Combining egoism and phenomenalism. Silly questions? A drug dropout. Grandfather in the mines. Metaphysical pleasure. What matters ethically: consequences or intentions? Grounding ethics in others’ phenomenology—or one’s own. Meaning. Ethics and human nature—the moral and the practical. ( 128 min. )

Is creating art selfish? Would you do something that you didn’t expect to benefit you? – Episode 19

Is creating art selfish? How to define “selfishness.” What’s the motive behind your action: To benefit yourself? Others? Both? Would you do something that you didn’t expect to benefit you? If so, why, and how much time would you spend on it? What makes something the right/moral/ethical thing to do? Are good and bad relative? How much emotional flatness will you tolerate? Is there even such a thing as emotional flatness? The purpose of our being here. Robert Nozick’s experience machine thought experiment. If you could take a drug that made you happy all the time would you take it? ( 73 min. )

How to understand the word “selfish,” yoga, and senses of “self” – Episode 17

One philosopher’s perspective on selfishness. The dictionary definition of “selfishness.” How to determine the right definition. Generic terms and subdivisions thereof (via adjectives). Selflessness. Judging selfishness/selflessness in the full context. Yoga, meditation, and selfishness. Senses of “self.” Using etymology (or word parts: “self” + “-ish”) to understand “selfish.” Stipulative/arbitrary meaning. ( 39 min. )

Staying in America vs. going back to China – Episode 13

Topics covered: The Chinese word for “selfish.” The Chinese attitude toward selfishness and the one-child policy. Staying in the U.S. vs. going back to China: Is one of those options selfish? Which would make you happiest—and would you choose that option? Are we missing a word? Can selfishness be a good thing? How should it be defined? ( 24 min. )