Balancing self interests with the interests of others

  • Thread starter niko-time
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Self
In summary, the question of whether it is always possible to balance the interests of self with the interests of others is a complex one. While there may be instances where the interests of self and others are in balance, it is not always the case. It also depends on how one defines "balance" and whether it is viewed as a balance between two opposing actions or a balance within a larger system. Ultimately, the optimal setpoint for this balance may vary depending on the situation and individuals involved.
  • #1
niko-time
2
0
I was reading through a chapter on Justice and Morality according to Rawls and Nozick and have come stumped at one of the questions which states: "Is it always possible to balance the interests of self with the interests of others?"

What are your thoughts? I have surcome to a total mind blank.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Are there any significant difference between the two?
 
  • #3
I would say no, it does not seem possible hardly ever. That's why you should choose one and I think the smart choice is to choose your interests. However I think there should be a distinction made between your self-interests and your interests in general.
 
  • #4
niko-time said:
"Is it always possible to balance the interests of self with the interests of others?"

The idea of a balance only really makes sense if its a balance between two kinds of things. How can you ever have a balance between a little of something over here and a lot of it over there? One outweighs the other by definition.

A better way to look at this is as a balance beween two kinds of natural and complementary action - competition vs cooperation. Both are clearly good in themselves, and even better when mixed appropriately in balanced fashion within a sociological (or even biological) system.

Competition could be defined as local self-interest. It is in the interest of any part of a system to compete, to strive creatively. And it is also healthy for a system as a whole to be a collective of active players (rather than a collection of dopes waiting around for instructions).

But equally, at the group or global level, it is naturally good that there is cohesion, co-operation, shared goals - a set of constraints in common. Constraints act top down, from the larger to the smaller scale. And even for individuals, "enforced" cooperation is something for the good. At least, in general, in the long run.

So it is easy to see that self-interest and group-interest can be in balance if they are viewed as two opposed, but also complementary, kinds of action. You don't want too much of either - either competition, or cooperation - but some balance that is "just right".

Now what counts as just right? Most people would probably think a system that is stable and adaptive - a society organised so that it lasts even despite perturbations (like weather events, outbreaks of aggression, and other disruptions).

And there are even models of these kinds of systems - like "edge of chaos" models that maintain an optimal balance of stability and plasticity (cooperative cohesion and competitive changeability).

These models in turn would allow you to measure actual societies I would suggest. You could take something like a measure of social inequality such as the Gini coefficient and say something about where the actual balance lies.

Are the statistics gaussian (indicating perhaps a society that is too static, too homogenous - wealth in a hunter/gather society, for instance, would probably be rather bunched around the mean)? Or are the statistics powerlaw (indicating a society that is open, with wealth and poverty over all scales - and perhaps less than ideal for the opposite reason)?

So in summary, it seems easy enough to model a system which can find a balance. But then the next question becomes, what optimal setpoint should that balance be striking?
 
  • #5
Always no:
Example, a man wanted for murdering 20 people is on the run. His self interest and the victim’s family have no possible way to reconcile.

Sometimes sure:
A plague kills everyone on Earth but 10 people. These 10 people are geographically distant to a degree they can potentially have no effect on each other’s lives. Their interest have no coincidence to they are trivially balanced.

The question asks always, so the answer is no.
 
  • #6
JonF said:
Always no:
Example, a man wanted for murdering 20 people is on the run. His self interest and the victim’s family have no possible way to reconcile.

As I said, if it is the same thing that you are trying to balance on both sides of the equation, then an actual balance is going to be rare. So your murderer's self interests vs your families self interests.

On the other hand, if you look at balances as the products of systems - hierarchical organisation where local and global interests are in dynamic balance - then you can balance these things.

That is what a justice system would attempt to do here. And where a man has gone too far in expressing some local freedom of action, then you would expect a balancing reaction from the wider society to preserve its own interest in cohesion and order.
 
  • #7
niko-time said:
"Is it always possible to balance the interests of self with the interests of others?"
My thought:
Even if it is not possible, we see around us examples of people who are mainly interested in service to selves, and other people who are mainly preoccupied with serving others. It is up to us to chose which one of the two ways we want to follow. Serving others we can well serve ourselves. The tricky point is that serving others should not abridge the free will of other people.
 
  • #8
Different people have different interests depending on their position/situation in the world. Free men arent equal and equal men arent free. The only way for a truly universal interest to exist would be if truly universal conditions exist.
 

1. What does it mean to balance self interests with the interests of others?

Balancing self interests with the interests of others refers to finding a middle ground between prioritizing one's own needs and desires while also considering the needs and desires of others. It involves making decisions and taking actions that benefit both oneself and those around them.

2. Why is it important to balance self interests with the interests of others?

Balancing self interests with the interests of others is important because it promotes harmony and cooperation within relationships and communities. It allows individuals to work together towards common goals while also respecting each other's individual needs and boundaries.

3. How can one effectively balance self interests with the interests of others?

One can effectively balance self interests with the interests of others by practicing empathy and communication. This involves actively listening to others, understanding their perspectives, and finding compromises that satisfy both parties. It also requires being aware of one's own needs and making an effort to compromise and cooperate with others.

4. What are the consequences of not balancing self interests with the interests of others?

Not balancing self interests with the interests of others can lead to conflicts, animosity, and damaged relationships. It can also create a selfish and individualistic mindset, hindering the ability to work well with others and potentially causing harm to oneself and those around them.

5. How does balancing self interests with the interests of others contribute to a better society?

Balancing self interests with the interests of others contributes to a better society by promoting cooperation, understanding, and empathy among individuals. It allows for the creation of a more harmonious and supportive community where individuals can thrive while also considering the well-being of others. This, in turn, leads to a more peaceful and prosperous society as a whole.

Similar threads

Replies
1
Views
977
  • General Discussion
Replies
4
Views
661
Replies
12
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
7
Views
1K
Replies
4
Views
52
  • New Member Introductions
Replies
1
Views
64
  • New Member Introductions
Replies
2
Views
79
Replies
1
Views
907
Replies
2
Views
787
Back
Top