Ethical Altruism Examples

What is Ethical Altruism?

The French philosopher, Auguste Comte coined the term altruism. Comte described the term altruism as “living for others.” In general, ethical altruism refers to the selfless concerns for the safety and the wellness of other individuals. Ethical Altruism is the exact opposite of ethical egoism. Ethical egoists people look for their own benefits in every situation, while ethical altruistic people even tend to sacrifice for the benefit of others.

If we view it from the perspective of morality, a person is morally obliged to help the one in need, even at a certain cost in some situations. According to James Fieser, a professor of philosophy at the University of Tennessee, Martin, the altruistic morality is defined as

An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favourable than unfavourable to everyone except the agent”

Thus, altruism is defended on the basis of consequentialist belief, i.e., the morality of a person relies on the impact that the person’s action has on others instead of the belief of the person.

Following are some other definitions of ethical altruism as stated by different researchers,

the doctrine that each of us has a special obligation to benefit others” – C.D. Broad

a duty to relieve the distress and promote the happiness of our fellows…Altruism is to…maintain quite simply that a man may and should discount altogether his own pleasure or happiness as such when he is deciding what course of action to pursue” – W.G. Maclagan

From all these definitions, it can be concluded that a person is morally obliged to help or serve others in need.

As there exist various different definitions of altruism, so do the types of altruism. Pure altruism refers to the acts where one helps the others even if costs are high to the helper. The main idea behind the act of altruism is that an individual’s motivation of helping others is based on his/her generosity rather than self-interest.

An example mentioned in Stanford’s encyclopedia is one of the best examples to understand the concept of altruism. In this example, one is supposed to consider

It says that one should consider the situation of a driver who starts driving cautiously once his car approaches an area where children are playing, as he wants to ensure that he injures no child. Now, firstly, this example is an act of altruism, since altruism is not only for the good of others but to also prevent harm to them.


Ethical Altruism Examples


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