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Psychological egoism is the doctrine that the only thing anyone is capable of desiring or pursuing ultimately is. a. entirely selfish goals. b. his or her own. Psychological egoism is the thesis that we are always deep down motivated by . does not concern oneself, but it is hardly altruistic (Feinberg /, ยง9, p. Psychological egoism is a universal claim: it is a claim about all human actions; the .. Feinberg doesn’t just critique this argument for hedonistic psychological.

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Psychological egoism

And we typically motivate people by appealing to their self-interest through, for example, punishments and rewards. Opponents have argued that psychological feunberg is not more parsimonious than other theories. Sometimes such benefit presupposes a desire for what generated it e. However, evidence for this dependence claim has not been forthcoming. Just because all successful endeavour engenders pleasure does not necessarily entail that pleasure is the sole objective of all endeavour.

Joel Feinberg – Wikipedia

Even in the case of Awhat grounds my care are these connections, not identity: Consider the following point by J. Oxford University Press, Joel Feinbergin his paper “Psychological Egoism”, embraces a similar critique by psychologifal attention to the infinite regress of psychological egoism.

But this would only defend rational egoism against one attack. I may have a duty to help others, and the world might be better if I helped fgoism, but it does not follow that I am better off by helping others. One could deny that morality must be practical in the required sense. Likewise, when directed at egoism generally, the idea is that we will tend not to benefit ourselves by focusing on our own benefit. But on the whole, Batson’s experiments are very bad news for psychological egoism.


Doris and the Moral Psychology Research Group eds. Mirror neurons are activated both when a human or egosim performs an action and when they observe another human or animal performs the same action.

Lastly, parental care might be explained by a combination of these mechanisms. Different hypotheses then provide either egoistic or altruistic explanations of why the subjects ultimately chose to help or offer to help. After all, few if any ethical egoists think of egoism as giving the correct content of morality, while also thinking that the rational thing to do is determined by some non-egoist consideration.

Joel Feinberg

A worry is that some do care specially about merely continuous future selves. So it is important to get a clear idea of the competing egoistic versus altruistic theories and of the terms of the debate between them. The Bare Theses Egoism is often contrasted with altruism.

Ethical Egoism Ethical egoism claims that it is necessary and sufficient for an action to be morally right that it maximize one’s self-interest. Moore also suggests that the reason for me to pursue my good is the goodness of the thing I obtain. Francis Hutcheson anticipates the objection when he imagines a psychological egoist proclaiming: He develops what takes to be the most plausible version of psychological egoism, but concludes that it is rather implausible.

Toward a Social-Psychological Answer. Even if egoistic ultimate desires lead to unhappiness, that would only show that egoistically motivated people will find this unfortunate. Of course the divergence between ethical egoism and standard moral theories need not bother an ethical egoist. Such arguments have not gone undisputed see, for example, Stich et al. Unless I can explain why I should be preferred, my claim looks equally arbitrary.

But fit with motivation is hardly decisive; any normative theory, including ethical egoism, is intended to guide and criticize our choices, rather than simply endorse whatever we do.


A will have my memories, traits, and goals. Oxford University Press,p. Another analogy is that of friendship. Feinberg poses a thought experiment in which a character psychologicall Jones is apathetic about all but the pursuit of his own happiness. A specific form of psychological egoism is psychological hedonismthe view that the psycnological motive for all voluntary human action is the desire to experience pleasure or to avoid pain.

Reprinted in part in RaphaelVol. Eoism Feinberg presents a multitude of arguments against psychological egoistic hedonism. The rational egoist might reply that the instrumental theory is equally a problem for any standard moral theory that claims to give an account of what one ought rationally, or all things considered, to do.

If what I obtain is good, then there is reason for everyone to pursue it, not pschological in me, but anywhere. First, psychological egoism makes a stronger, universal claim that all of our ultimate desires are egoistic, while psychological altruism merely makes the weaker claim that some of our ultimate desires are altruistic.

Sidgwick and Contemporary EthicsOxford: To set up their argument, they propose two potential psychological mechanisms for this. Moralists aim primarily not at evoism but at the ability to draw, on their own, true moral conclusions from the evidence. An interest facet of enlightenment is that to achieve it one cannot desire it, this is a very interesting parallel to the discussion of psychological egoistic hedonism which deserves more consideration.

For further discussion of Batson, see May a and Slote