1.8 Egoism's plausibility

We began by reading about individuals who have spectacularly contributed to--or detracted from--their groups and labs. Obviously, these heros and heels live in communities. They don't pursue research in solitude and neither do we. We are supported by many, the sung and unsung heros of our professional lives. And others in turn depend on us. The work of inspirational figures matters to us because it raises us up, opens our horizons and helps us over hurdles on a path that can seem difficult and long. Heros take us beyond our narrow self-interests, reminding us that our own well-being depends on the well-being of others.

Despite the fact that you may be a newcomer to the scholarly community, you cannot choose to play a passive role. Those in your research group depend on you. They need your encouragement and enthusiasm, your watchful eye and constructive criticism.

The irreducibly communal nature of research points to a fundamental weakness in egoism. Egoism begins with my interests but also ends there. However, few of us think self-interest is the sum of ethics. Is egoism a plausible moral theory?

Author: Gary Comstock
Maintained By: Gary Comstock
Last Updated: 2009-08-11