Customer Review

55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On the objective moral requirement of rational altruism., May 4, 2000
This review is from: The Possibility of Altruism (Paperback)
Published in 1978, this sturdy little volume by Thomas Nagel is a defense of the claim that there is an objective moral requirement on all rational agents to behave altruistically.
Nagel makes clear that "[b]y altruism I mean not abject self-sacrifice but merely a willingness to act in consideration of the interests of other persons, without the need of ulterior motives." The primary problem to which he devotes his attention is not what sorts of behavior we are thus committed to, but the more fundamental one of how it is possible for such considerations to motivate us _at all_.
I shall not try to summarize his arguments here; this work was published long enough ago that critical evaluations of them are available elsewhere (e.g. in Christine Korsgaard's _The Kingdom of Ends_). Suffice it to say that they involve Nagel's usual tension between the personal and impersonal points of view -- that is, between subjectivity and objectivity -- and the attempt to find some resolution or balance between them (a theme which runs through much of his work and indeed which he seems to have staked out as his own philosophical territory).
At any rate his conclusion is that it is entirely rational for us to be thus motivated and that "rational altruism" is a genuine possibility.
And perhaps most importantly of all, Nagel has stated the _problem_ correctly. I realize this may not be a big deal to some of Nagel's readers. But personally I find it a blessed relief, as I spend a good deal of time reading and criticizing the works of Ayn Rand and her followers; it is a pleasure to read an argument about altruism that gets the issue straight and recognizes that other-regard is simply not reducible to prudence.
Which it isn't, and Nagel's mostly lucid work on this topic has the merit of making this point utterly clear. Readers of David Kelley's _Unrugged Individualism_ and Tibor Machan's _Generosity_ should probably attempt, at some point, to come to terms with the arguments in this volume.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.3 out of 5 stars (6 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
$31.95 $22.84
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Cuyahoga Falls, OH

Top Reviewer Ranking: 9,205