Goals vs. “The Good”

This semester I am enrolled in an ethics class and one of our discussion prompts was an appropriate one for the conversation we’ve been having so far this month. The prompt is “Give an example of how the pursuit of private interests and the public well-being could possibly be in tension.”

With that, Professor Eichten, if you do a plagiarism search I can guarantee this is not plagiarism. This is my own work, through and through. Although it is for a class, I retain the rights to my work.

During this season of New Years Resolutions, I have to admit that the only example springing to my mind is fitness related. It’s hardly surprising that fitness is on my mind, nearly 69 percent of Americans have set a similar New Year goal. However, many of us don’t keep up with our fitness goals. Lack of time, a love of chips (that’s my downfall) and a general sedentary culture means that taking time to exercise is not always in our best interest. Of course, it is in the long term, but we love instant gratification and you don’t just do one sit-up and suddenly have six-pack abs.

However, our struggles with fitness come at a cost to the public good. There is the literal cost of health care for obesity-related illnesses, estimated by the Center for Disease Control to be $147 billion in 2008, but there are other costs to the public good as well. In the report, I just linked to the CDC also indicated that from 2007-2008 22.2 million men and women were unable to enlist in the Armed Forces, despite a desire, because they exceeded the standards for weight and body fat. There is also a cost in the example we set for younger children – “you can’t be what you can’t see” the mantra goes.

What are some of your personal goals, and do you ever find them to be at odds with that nebulous concept of “the good”?



Photo by Branden Harvey on Unsplash


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