Could anyone provide any quotes which demonstrate philosophers believe that when it comes down to survival, survival takes precedence over morality?When man is put in a situation where his survival...

Could anyone provide any quotes which demonstrate philosophers believe that when it comes down to survival, survival takes precedence over morality?

When man is put in a situation where his survival is on the line, all morality is erased and man does whatever he can to survive. I just need works that demonstrate such an idea as i am generally interested in this aspect of philosophy

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ms-charleston-yawp's profile pic

Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Sure!  How about this one by Ayn Rand (although I don't consider her primarily a philosopher but a philosopher/author, perhaps):

If the rest of them can survive only by destroying us, then why should we wish them to survive? . . . Nothing can make it moral to destroy the best. One can't be punished for being good. One can't be penalized for ability.

This can be found in Rand's Atlas Shrugged and gets to the core of survival vs. morality.  There is no morality in destroying "the best" or destroying what is good about a society.  However, I do see that this does come in contrast to your idea of "survival takes precedence over morality."  Hence the conundrum in all of philosophy.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

You might consider Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes argued that in a state of nature, where no laws exist, (and for that matter no morality) every person has a right to everything in the world. In such a condition, there is something of a "war of all against all" in which life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Hobbes argued that laws were necessary, not to protect our basic rights (as Locke argued) but to keep us from killing each other.

I think you can use Hobbes' position to argue that morality is a social construct to keep us from harming--in effect killing--each other. That if/when we remove this social construct, we will all revert to our animal nature and take care of ourselves first. Hope this helps.

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