Leontiskos wrote: ↑May 8th, 2023, 12:44 am
Sushan wrote: ↑January 7th, 2023, 11:25 amWhat are your thoughts on this dilemma?
It is a false dilemma.
- "Adam Smith's contrast between self-interested market behavior on the one hand and altruistic, benevolent behavior on the other, obscures from view just those types of activity in which the goods to be achieved are neither mine-rather-than-others' nor others'-rather-than-mine, but instead are goods that can only be mine insofar as they are also those of others, that are genuinely common goods, as the goods of networks of giving and receiving are. But if we need to act for the sake of such common goods, in order to achieve our flourishing as rational animals, then we also need to have transformed our initial desires in a way that enables us to recognize the inadequacy of any simple classification of desires as either egoistic or altruistic. The limitations and blindnesses of merely self-interested desire have been catalogued often enough. Those of a blandly generalized benevolence have received too little attention. What such benevolence presents us with is a generalized Other-one whose only relationship to us is to provide an occasion for the exercise of our benevolence, so that we can reassure ourselves about our own good will-in place of those particular others with whom we must learn to share common goods, and participate in ongoing relationships. What are the qualities needed for such participation? To ask this question returns us to the discussion of the virtues and why they are needed."
- -Alasdair MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals, p. 119
The quote you've provided from Alasdair MacIntyre's "Dependent Rational Animals" challenges the traditional dichotomy between self-interest and altruism, suggesting that human behavior is often driven by the pursuit of common goods — outcomes that are beneficial for both the individual and others. This perspective is a compelling way to look at the dilemma presented in the narrative.
In the case of the prostitute, her concern for the man's wellbeing and her reluctance to infect him with her illness could be viewed not as an act of self-interest or altruism, but rather as a pursuit of a common good. This common good could be the maintenance of their relationship, the man's health, or the preservation of his perception of her.
By refraining from revealing her illness and potentially transmitting it to him, she secures a good that benefits both of them: he remains uninfected, and she maintains the bond they've formed. This is consistent with MacIntyre's view that there are goods that "can only be mine insofar as they are also those of others."
However, this perspective also raises further questions. For instance, does pursuing a common good in this situation justify her withholding the truth about her condition? Would a more complete realization of the common good involve open communication, even if it potentially threatens their relationship?
Additionally, MacIntyre’s insight about the “blandly generalized benevolence” versus the need to share common goods with “particular others” might prompt us to consider whether the prostitute's actions are influenced by her unique relationship with this man, rather than a generalized sense of benevolence towards all her clients.
By looking at the situation through the lens of common goods, we avoid reducing the prostitute's actions to mere self-interest or altruism, and open up a space for a more nuanced understanding of her motivations and moral dilemmas.
Your thoughts on this would be most enlightening. How do you see the concept of common goods applying to this situation? How does it challenge or enhance your initial understanding of the narrative?