Self Interest Vs Collective Interests essay

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:Philosophy

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This is in all areas of the society such as business and politics. In today's society, self interests is admonished and is referred to as selfishness. However, there is a lot to say about being overly concerned with one's self interest. This is because, at the very core of the concept, self interest is an essential aspect of surviving and succeeding in one's life. Without an individual taking care of themselves, it would be impossible for them to survive. J. Rousseau, Adam Smith and Karl Marx are just a few that will be considered in this paper. Rousseau's General Will The idea that man is good emanated from the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. He came about with the state of nature and believed that in this nature, people were in their best form.

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He argued that it was civilization that corrupted human beings. This is a perfect example of preference of self interest over the collective interest. Rousseau suggests that a corrective measure that society can take is the adoption of a new social contract where individuals surrender their individual rights for a new collective body with one will. Rousseau conceptualizes the idea of the general will. The general will is not to be confuse with the will of the collective. Rather, the general will is that of a political organism that governs the society and that has a will of its own (Chambliss, 1974). For example, a butcher, in the pursuit of his own interests, he has to perform in a manner that is beneficial to the rest of the society, selling his products.

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Considering the connotations that Smith places on self-interest in his texts, self-interest , regardless of the negative connotations associated with it today, is not always bad. Pursing self interests does not always translate to greed and or immoral behavior, it can simply be a way to survive. Adam Smith posited that while self-interest can lead to negative economic activity in the society, it is countered by competition. Self interest can indeed lead to ills such as price gouging, corruption and cheating but this is not always the case because of competition. Examples of the latter include freedom of religion and those to own private property (Marx & Padover, 1979). Marx is opposed to the second type of rights, because he considers them to be oppressive and only in existence because the state allows them to exist.

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Marx argues that rights and redundant and egoistic in nature because they allow the owners of the rights to exclude themselves from the rest of the society, be selfish and greedy. He argues for the good of the collective with his advocacy of the communist political party by pointing out that under such a regime, the rights of the individual and the society would be harmonized and equalized. In his Manifesto to the Communist Party, Marx argues that the right to property is for the proletariat since as much as those enjoying the right at the time were already exploiting it and the few wealthy in the society could take advantage of the poor because of their self interest. However, the ills of capitalism that Karl argued against are seen every day and is evidenced by billions of people living with under a dollar a day.

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Preference There is a lot to be said for both individual interests and collective interests when it comes to discerning the ideal society. Thinking about Adam Smith's ideas on self interests in the society, one would be forced to agree that there is a benefit to self-interested parties in the society. While self-interest in the society leads to ills such as greed, price gouging and separation based on social classes, there are automatic corrective measures such as competition that make acts based on self interest beneficial to the rest of the society. The collective interests has a lot of weight behind it as well. The letters of Karl Marx. Englewood Cliffs, N. J. Prentice-Hall. Smith, A.

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