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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I probably didn't make myself very clear Simon, there's an old adage, that I learned while studying American History in college and all of the compromises that went into authoring the Constitution, that if everyone walks away dissatisfied, it was probably a good compromise, but I labored under the false impression that everyone was familiar with the adage, which obviously wasn't the case.

Let's say that four people each want two of something, but there are only four somethings - if each gets one, it may be a fair compromise, but no one will have gotten what they wanted.

If, on the other hand, someone walks away happy, it could only mean that he got two, and at least one other, got none, so though one was happy, the compromise wasn't a fair one.

The adage depends on no one wanting less than two, and simply getting one, though fair, is insufficient - simply knowing the compromise was fair, is not necessarily enough.

But not every situation is like that.  Very often, one of something will be enough for each person, although it's not everything they hoped for. 

If nobody can do with less than two, then a different kind of outcome is required. . 

I get your point - sometimes it's enough, sometimes it's not. 

But then, in many group disputes, people only care about their own interests.  It varies according to the group and the parties which make it up.  What makes the members of the group care more about achieving fairness for each other?  Two things:  the ethics or morals of the individual members;  and how closely bonded or loyal the members are to each other. 

In fact, it's not just a group dispute, it's any situation where morality is under consideration, and that means any social situation. 

Because no one wants to be labeled a selfish, egocentric, bastard. 

Because if you get a bad reputation, people don't want to help you any more than they have to, people tend to reject you, it causes conflict and trouble and generally makes life more difficult and can lead to ruin. 

No one? Two words: Ayn Rand.

Oh, Unseen doesn't mind --

At the utmost extremes, I would set the world on fire to protect the people closest to me, but that sentiment is not pragmatic.  Is it really protecting my loved ones if the end result is living in a world on fire?

I don't believe in always taking the 'best for everyone' approach all the time.  Frankly, I don't know what is best for everyone, popular opinion doesn't seem to know what is best for everyone, and there are many cases where there seems to be no 'best for everyone' scenario.  Often I just go by my convictions and hope it works out.  That said, I live in a culture of fierce interdependence, so similar to Heather's reply, an inability to work cooperatively to the benefit of that culture seems like pissing upstream from camp.

Also, group harmony often makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Oddly enough, however, the feeling of belongingness in a group dynamic often makes me feel unpleasant and uneasy.  

Conflicted.

Somewhere, this week, I read a banner that said, "What would politicians do if we all got along?"

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