“Oh, tell me, who first declared, who first proclaimed that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own real interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble because, being enlightened and understanding his real advantage, he would see his own advantage in the good and nothing else… . Oh, the babe! Oh, the pure, innocent child!” ― Fyodor Dostoyesvsky, Notes from Underground
Are humans inherently self-interested? Can they ever act outside of their own self-interest? Is self-interest unequivocally good for society, politics, the economy, or does self-interest pose fundamental problems that must be addressed through ethics and governance? Do altruistic actions necessarily require sacrifice? Are most altruistic actions just a prolonged path to a self-interested end?
From Machiavelli to Hobbes to Smith and Dawkins, we will consider the nature of self-interest and altruism as they relate to the human condition. We will question our operating assumptions on the topic, the implications these assumptions may have to the way we live our lives, and will question if these assumptions are ultimately good for ourselves and for society.
Speaker to be announced at a later date.
Location upon RSVP
RSVP required to firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Attribution:Jan Wijnants [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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