09-30-08[1] - Egoism Two Egoisms o It is important to...

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Egoism Two Egoisms o It is important to distinguish psychological egoism from ethical egoism 1. Psychological egoism = every human action is motivated by self-interest 2. Ethical egoism = every human action ought to be self-interested o Psychological egoism is a thesis about human nature, while ethical egoism provides us with an ethical principle that we could use to guide our behavior Psychological Egoism o Thesis : as a matter of fact , human beings always aim to pursue their own self- interest, rather than what is instead in the best interest of other people o This shouldn’t be confused with the thesis that people are often motivated by self- interest, or that people find it difficult to be altruistic – on such views it is still possible to behave altruistically, and the psychological egoist denies this The Argument from Desire 1. Whenever I act, I am following my strongest desire Consider cases where I do something even though I don’t want to do it (e.g. under duress, or because I judge I ought to despite my desire); I act voluntarily, but not on my strongest desire – such cases are clear counterexamples 2. If I am following my strongest desire when I act then I am pursuing my self- interest Consider a case where someone is willing to sacrifice their own life for the sake of another person; how could this be in their own self-interest? The fact that a desire is mine doesn’t mean I am motivated by self-interest; I may be motivated by altruistic concern for another person 3. Conclusion: Whenever I act, I am pursuing my self-interest o This is a valid argument, which means that the only way to attack it is by claiming that one or more of the premises is false The Unmasking Argument 1. There are cases where people seem to act contrary to their own self-interest 2. In all cases where people seem to act contrary to their own self-interest, then are actually motivated by self-interest; their true motive is
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09-30-08[1] - Egoism Two Egoisms o It is important to...

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