I would argue that whenever you do a good deed, you are in fact exploiting who ever it is you are helping. This post will presuppose much about determinism and the idea of all actions being selfish (two popular topics on this blog).
When you do nice things for a person what are some reasons for your altruism? To cause someone to owe you a favor in return is one, to fulfill a desire you feel towards another person is another (keep in mind that BOTH can be a result of your action).
There is apparently a moral distinction between the two. Those who wish to maintain this distinction would have us believe that if you realize you are affecting yourself it is not a selfless deed. They say for it to be a true selfless deed you must be ignorant of the ulterior motive to benefit yourself. I argue that in both instances your act of kindness will result in you and the recipient being affected in a way that you’ve been conditioned to desire, hence they are both a “selfish” deed.
There is no moral distinction between giving thousands of dollars to charity because you want to feel good about yourself or to help people. The (selfish) action has been acted out and its effects seen. If we accept that all actions are selfish does it remove the absolute sense of nobility we get from good deeds? I say absolutely so.
What matters more? That good actions are being carried out, or that people feel some sense of higher purpose from said actions? It is time to move past fictional notions of nobility in our reality. They are deeds lacking objective purpose, but we like them. There is no ultimate justification for it.
When you do a good deed you are exploiting this world’s problems in order to ease your state of consciousness while simultaneously making the world a better place. Realizing this in no way diminishes the effectiveness of the good deed. There is an entire world in need of help. Exploit that need by helping others in order to elevate yourself. You’ll bring the world up with you.