Do we act morally to benefit others or do we act morally to help ourselves? Does an individual act only according to their own interests? Can an individual ever truly act for others in complete disregard for their own interests? Is it true individuals seeking their self-interests would gladly forgo their efforts to help another if they could be satisfied in some alternate way? I believe that our actions are often promoted by our self-interests. In this essay I will argue that people are really acting in regards to their self-interest, even when they appear to not be acting selfishly.
If we reflect on our own lives and the lives of our friends, we can conclude the many acts of self-interests. My first example is based upon a true incident that I observed. A friend of mine was planning to visit during the holidays and stay at a hotel near my hometown. She spoke to a male companion who promised her housing while she was in town. When he spoke to her he always claimed that he was a really nice guy and that he was only interested in her comfort and happiness while she visited. She took into consideration the idea that he was just a good friend who wanted to ensure her a delightful stay while she was in town.
She decided to take his offer and reside with him while on her vacation. Consequently she unmasked his hidden motives. During her stay she recognized that this male companion was only interested in his desire to gain physical pleasure from her not to merely act as a friend and respect her in his household. She quickly recognized that him taking her to lavish dinners, and offering companionship to local places was all in his concealed purpose to seduce her. The male companion was acting as though he was only concerned with her happiness during her vacation.
He behaved as though he was doing her a favor and it not out of any desire of his own. In reflection to our own lives, it is true that everyone recognizes they are frequently motivated to promote self-interests. For instance, I attend college not to satisfy someone else or go just because it is the right thing to do after highschool, yet to obtain a degree. By obtaining a degree, I will be able to fulfill the requirements necessary to pursue a career of my interest. In the duration of my college attendance I find myself to make friends to study with and talk to.
Reflecting on this behavior of mine, I recognize that I have an interest to form study groups and base much of my friendships in regards to school. I make friends that I can study with and console to if I need help or assistance for a class. By passing the classes required for my degree in am one step closer to the career I chose. By pursuing a career, I am able to earn money. Thus, Money is essential to my every day living and interest to buy what I please/need. I am acitng in what I believe is for my self-interest. Doing what we want will usually make us happy, whether we want to be benevolent or egoistic.
We all do the things that we do in order to ensure self-satisfaction of some type. A classic example of being benevolent is how Mother Theresa helped many people in India. She has displayed clearly that her acts to help others are out of concern for these people in need, however, her acts were obviously motivated by self-interest. It was her self-interest to be of great moral character that gave her the satisfaction when she aided people. She demonstrates that even if in individual is helping others, it is something that was motived by the satisfaction she gained by being a person of great moral character.
Of course, societies benefit from moral behavior like that of Mother Theresa, and societies seek to eliminate or reform those who do not behave morally. However, individuals can also benefit from behaving morally. One who acts morally is satisfied by the realization that he/she is moral. If every member of a society behaved morally and every member received an individual benefit, our society would then benefit as a whole. We all would benefit from the fullfillment of the actions that serve our self- interest. All in all, individuals act morally to benefit society and also act morally to benefit themselves.