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Sample text

43 In this case, you are to weigh your self-interested reasons favoring the most cost-efficient disposal of the toxic wastes against the relevant altruistic reasons favoring the avoidance of significant harm to future generations. If we suppose that the projected loss of benefit 25 From Rationality to Morality to yourself was ever so slight and the projected harm to future generations ever so great, then a nonarbitrary compromise between the relevant self-interested and altruistic reasons would have to favor the altruistic reasons in this case.

So prudential rights are asymmetrically action-guiding in just the same way as these oughts of competitive games are asymmetrically actionguiding. Given that the universal right to freedom and well-being in the conclusion of Gewirth's argument can thus plausibly be interpreted to be a prudential right, Gewirth's justification of morality cannot succeed, because it depends on the impossibility of interpreting the universal right in the conclusion of his argument as anything other than a moral right.

So construed, morality and egoism do not conflict. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the defense of morality for which we were hoping. It succeeds only by redefining morality in a question-begging way so that it no longer demands any degree of altruism or self-sacrifice, for example, for those who are poor and misfortunate, and in that way is rendered compatible with egoism. What we need, however, is a defense of morality that neither begs the question against egoism, as did Baier's earlier defense of morality, nor begs the question against morality, as does this most recent defense.

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