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What exactly is ethical egoism? One quote from one of our books sums it up nicely: â€some people believe that we have no obligations to others. According to their viewpoint, known as Ethical Egoism, each person should only pursue his or her own self-interest. This is the selfish morality. It holds that our sole responsibility is to do what is best for ourselves. Other people are only important insofar as they can help us.†(Raches, Rachels, pg. 65, 2015).

It is extremely difficult for me to comprehend the concept of Ethical Egoism because it is completely contradictory to the foundation of nursing. I was raised to be honest, to do the “right thing,” to help others without seeking recompense, and to do these things because my purpose in life is greater than my selfish wants or even needs. I believe it is possible for me to love and value myself without succumbing to a puffed-up ego.

The concept of â€us and them†is based on the ugly habit of division that exists in human nature. Ethical Egoism is based on the separation of superior and inferior human beings. When we place our individual or common interest needs on a platform, we are denying that other people have the same need(s) to be met. To put it simply, “my only requirement in life is to make ME happy,” and “I don’t place any importance on your existence in my life, unless I need you, or you can do something that will make ME happy.” The problems that arise in society as a result of this type of thinking and functioning are a real detachment from community, teamwork, healthy relationships with give and take, and increased room for conflict. When the boundaries are removed, it becomes a free-for-all. Suddenly, the popular phrase, “it’s either us or them,” fueling fear and defense, describes the new precedent for society; fully divided and on the defensive.

S. Rachels and J. Rachels (2015). Moral philosophy’s components (Eighth ed.). McGraw-Hill Education, New York, NY.


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