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Chapter 12. Developing as an Ethical Rea... > Understanding Our Native Selfishness

Understanding Our Native Selfishness

In addition to the above, ethical reasoning requires command over our native tendency to see the world from a self-serving perspective. Chapter 10, on human irrational tendencies, focuses on the problem of human self-centeredness at length. Here we apply some of the major points of that chapter to problems in ethical reasoning.

Humans naturally develop a narrow-minded, self-centered point of view. We feel our own pain; we don't feel the pain of others. We think our own thoughts; we do not think the thoughts of others. And as we age, we do not naturally develop the ability to empathize with others, to consider points of view that conflict with our own. For this reason, we are often unable to reason from a genuinely ethical perspective. Empathy with the thinking of others, then, is not natural to humans. Nevertheless, it is possible to learn to critically think through ethical issues. With the right practice, we can acquire the skill of considering situations from opposing ethical perspectives.


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