عنوان مقاله [English]
Rationality is a distinguished feature of human being and a desirable characteristic. Apparently other-regarding and altruistic behaviors, also, seem to form salient aspects of human life. The immediate question, then, would be: is altruism rational? Assuming that altruism constitutes an essential part of a morally good life, further questions emerge: Is living a morally good life consistent with being rational? Is it possible to find a rational ground for ethics? Can one be genuinely altruistic? Is it possible to act morally and rationally, not considering one’s self-interests? If altruism can be rationally justified, do we need a specific model of rationality? This survey has been constructed around Thomas Nagel’s views on the above issues, their pros and cons, possible interpretations, various problems and ways out of them. However, before doing this I will address and clarify some general principles and presuppositions hidden under these issues. This will be done in the first chapter. The opponents of the possibility of (genuine) altruism and its rationality, sometimes called ‘egoists’, have formulated their views in different forms and defended them by various arguments. Knowing that I cannot fully investigate egoism, I will try to briefly explain these claims and arguments and subsequently evaluate them in the second chapter. This will set the scene for the study of Nagel who finds (genuine) altruism possible and rational. Based on his understanding of practical reason and the kind of perspective each person should have of oneself, Nagel defends the possibility and rationality of altruism. In his analysis of (human) act, in general, and moral act, in particular, Nagel gives way to reason, rather than desire. He parallels the form of reason and objective considerations regarding altruism with the form of timeless reason in prudence and considerations concerning long-term interests. Such reasons are 'objective' or 'agent-neutral' since they contain a kind of objective reference which does not rely on any specific person, reasons like "that acting would relieve someone's pain". If it is possible for an agent to be rationally motivated in prudence by considering long-term interests, it would also be possible for the agent to be rationally motivated in the case of altruistic considerations by taking an impersonal, external, perspective-less, or agent-neutral point of view amongst others who are as real as the person – otherwise, as Nagel claims, a kind of solipsism is unavoidable. From this position, he would not find any specific characterization placing him in a privileged point.