When you study so hard you start to consider everything
One of the preliminary philosophical theories discussed in ethics is that of psychological egoism, which states that we are all beings motivated only by our self-interest; if considered valid or true, this argument denies the existence of our moral conscience, or altruism.
So basically, the run down of the argument is ‘The Ring of Gyges’ story, where people who don’t know it was in Plato’s One Republic think philosophers ripped off Lord of the Rings. Gyges is a selfish guy who has this ring that can make him turn invisible; sound like a certain deranged hobbit who forgot his own name and the taste of strawberries? Our little Gollum- I mean, Gyges, begins to go about and steal whatever the hell he wantses because no one can stop him, hell, no one even knows he’s there. He’s invisible, remember?
But the philosophical debate is would we actually do this?
Well, whilst I was studying hard on one of the top floors of my university’s most prison-like library, I had the unfortunate experience of running out of coffee. Yes, every student’s worst nightmare is the last drip of coffee in their cup because it means you need to go get another, and thus, give up your spot in the library because some other parana-studying-crazed-student will claim it in your absence. University students are like cats in that sense… Anyway, while I was in my moment of despair, debating on whether or not to go find another coffee, or go to the bathroom since my bladder was killing me, another pour student came and took the seat right next to me and sure enough…. they had a coffee.
Now of course I couldn’t just take the coffee then and there, no. They’d see me because magical rings aren’t a thing, or at least, not to my knowledge. Curses the hobbitses! But I didn’t need a ring because the silly student got up, supposedly to go find a book since we were kind of in a library, and by doing so, left her coffee unguarded.
There are signs everywhere that say do not leave valuables unattended since theft is unfortunately a real thing in life – maybe psychological egoism is true in that sense…. Nevertheless! They upped and left, leaving their coffee alone with a craving university student. Their mistake, right? I suppose… but what about that thing psychological egoism said didn’t exist? Oh right, a moral conscience. There was no way I was going to take her coffee, even if no one knew (everyone who was there was more focused on their notes than some random chick who looked like she’d been there overnight without any sleep, which at that point, may have been true for me).
Would I steal someone’s coffee? No. Why? Because we’re all struggling university students who can probably only afford one coffee and they had a Starbucks since it’s on the second floor and the Tims is about a five minute walk away once you go outside. I could tell she’d made the sacrifice of money for the reward of a hot drink (this was during the winter, mind you. Coffee is wonderful, but after a long ten-minute walk with your coffee in the winter, yeah… not so hot anymore). Again, there was no way I would take advantage and cause them misfortune.
This might not prove psychological egoism is false, nor do I care to get into the details of the argument since this was supposed to be a fun story, but yes. I value the misfortunes of other university students just as much as I value my own.