Good Guys Shouldn’t Finish Last

Today I’d like to raise an objection to a broad spectrum of moral theories of whom we ought to deem morally significant. I call this objection “good guys shouldn’t finish last”. There is a tendency in our moral theory to argue that doing the right thing often entails indiscriminate niceness. Moral theories frequently demand that we be universally benevolent to all beings with certain biological characteristics such as being human, feeling pain, having complex thought, or some such thing. The trouble with all moral theories of this kind is that they result in the moral practitioner, the being trying to do good, being harmed. I argue not only that this harm occurs, but that it is a knockdown objection to any moral theory if the beings it deems morally good have worse lives than the beings it deems morally bad–i.e., if the good guys finish last. I will illustrate each point in sequence.

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