Why is "what's best for everyone" better than "what's only best for me (and my friends / family)"?

Does it need explaining or justifying at all? 

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In the long run, breaking a few eggs is far better for social harmony than letting the whole kitchen burn.  Had the Finnish prime minister chose to avoid implementing his measures that 'pissed everyone off' he would have only been passing the buck down the line and creating even greater turmoil.  In his case, doing the right thing meant x-amount of social turmoil in the present to offset 2x-amount social turmoil in the future.

Long term social harmony doesn't require keeping everyone happy all the time, it just means finding a balance that optimizes social harmony over the long term.  Passing the buck should is rarely optimum, and I feel that this is where modern democracy fails.

Heather  -  I agree with that. 

I agree that it's right to take responsibility if it's yours to take.  Failure to do so "is rarely optimum", and is therefore a moral failing.  Even if things work out in the hands of someone else, it's wrong to be cowardly. 

Let me be Ayn Rand for a minute. You are essentially asking something like "Isn't it better for everyone to get something than for someone (oneself for example) to get it all" (most extreme case).

Our fellow atheist Ms. Rand would say that in a compromise (where everyone gets some and loses some), nobody really gets the satisfaction of being the winner. Thus, to her mind, compromises are anathema.

I think this proceeds from a misunderstanding of what Ayn Rand was talking about when she complained about compromise.

If it's a matter of deciding what movie to go see when going with a group of people, it's not a "bad" compromise to agree to watch what your friend or significant other wants to see.

Ayn Rand found compromise on her principles to be anathema, which is quite different from insisting on seeing the movie you most want to see.  It's also quite different from insisting on gobbling up all the goodies no matter how many dead bodies you have to tread on, which is a grotesque caricature of Randian egoism.  That is because (and this will also more directly address Heather's point), simply taking things from other people because you are stronger than they are and can get away with it, would be a violation of her principles; she was a strong believer in individual rights and in the necessity of respecting them.

We need to stand up for our rights too, not just wait for them to be respected. 

Actually Simon, it is often said that if you come up with a compromise that NObody likes, it's probably a fair and just compromise, with no particular faction gaining advantage.

"I can't get me no...SATISFACTION" — Mick Jagger

Maybe you're using the wrong do-it-yourself kit - have you tried the other hand?

But surely everyone prefers to end up with the best possible outcome for themselves, and if they have a sense of fairness, what's fairest for everyone.  

If nobody likes the compromise then surely it's not a good solution.  The idea is to find one that everyone's happy with. 

I don't mean to sound sarcastic Simon, but good luck with that --

archaeopteryx  -  I don't necessarily mean an outcome where everyone gets everything they were hoping for, but one where everyone feels that fairness has been achieved, at least for themselves.  Sometimes some or all members of the group will seek fairness not just for themselves but for everyone in the group. 

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