Psychological Egoism Essay

617 words - 3 pages

Psychological egoism is the view that people are always selfish. When was the last time you did a good deed? Did you do it for its own sake, or for your own? The egoist says that all of us are necessarily self-regarding. I shall argue that this view is incorrect.

First we should ask, what kind of claim is this? Is it an a priori claim, or a generalization from experience? If it were the latter, we could never conclusively prove it: we could never show that necessarily all actions are selfish. So it must be a priori. But no a priori claim could be substantive: a priori truths are all analytic (that is, the predicate is contained in the subject). So if this claim were analytic, it would become trivial. (It is worth noting that Kripke’s claim that there are a posteriori necessary truths does not show that a priori truths are ...view middle of the document...

Suppose we grant that in doing a good deed, we usually get a pleasant feeling (though I suspect this is false). Even so, this would not show that that feeling was indeed the motivating factor in our behavior; it could simply be a side effect of doing the good deed. Compare the case in which someone types for hours on a philosophy paper and gets a cramp in his hand. Did I type in order to get the cramp? Of course not. To be sure, it was a foreseeable result of my typing, but it was not the motive for my heroic efforts.

Perhaps we can go further in refuting the egoist’s claims. Phil Washburn presents the opposing view in his book Philosophical Dilemmas. This is called psychological altruism. The altruist points to phenomena such as love that seem to show that people can be genuinely other-regarding.

What will the egoist say? The egoist has to admit that there seem to be acts of selflessness, such as the soldier who jumps on a grenade to save his comrades. Here Washburn’s egoist appeals to re-interpretation: there is always a competing story the egoist can give that makes the act turn out to be selfish. Perhaps the soldier wanted to avoid the pain of living on as a coward, or wanted to become a hero and bring glory to himself and his family.

Yes, perhaps. But it’s not enough simply to present such a story: one must also give some reason to suppose that it is true in the case at hand. Since egoism is an a priori claim, as we have seen, it supposes that in every case such a story will be not just available but justified by the evidence. But this is totally implausible. The egoist’s ‘just-so’ stories are just so much hot air.

We need not leave matters like this, however. For we can grant the egoist his ability to reinterpret all acts as selfish. What, then, becomes of the claim that we are always selfish? It has thereby become immune to empirical refutation or empirical tests of any kind. But as Popper has shown, this only drains egoism of content.

Other Papers Like Psychological Egoism

Enron Case Study

4778 words - 20 pages moderate or tone down disapprovals. This is important because when high pressure is asserted on the nonconformists, it will lead to a sense of fear and will transform people into the extreme conformist otherwise known as the “yes man.” 3.2.6 Self-censorship Self-censorship shows members’ psychological desires for excessive concurrence seeking (O’Connor, 2003). Lunenburg (2010) claimed that members who suffer from groupthink tend to limit

Business Ethics Essay

9406 words - 38 pages morality of care, and (2) a sensitivity to issues of fair treatment that constitutes a morality of justice.1 These developmental paths are independent of one another in the sense that they at times direct moral sentiments in distinct directions. The morality of care raises concerns about how our actions affect the general physical and psychological well-being of others. The morality of justice disregards to a large extent such considerations in

Lafarge S.A

2924 words - 12 pages NAME: IHEKANANDU KINGSLEY N. COURSE: MGMT 292 / F12 N01 TITLE: INDIVIDUAL CASE STUDY (LAFARGE S.A.) SUBMITTED: October 5, 2012 TABLE OF CONTENTS 2. INTRODUCTION 3 3. DESCRIPTION OF CASE 4 4. VALUES 4 4.1. Types of values 4 5. TEAMWORK 7 6. MOTIVATION 8 7. CREATIVITY 9 7.1. Components of creativity 9 8. CONCLUSION 12 9. BIBLIOGRAPHY 13 INTRODUCTION This report aims to provide an in-depth analysis of initiatives pursued by Lafarge as


665 words - 3 pages Financial statements are the most common tool used for making business decisions. They consist of the balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows. The analysis tools used affect all aspects of a company not just a few. A systematic review of the resources a company used to achieve its mission is cost control. Cash flow should be kept at necessary levels for operations is one of the major benefits of cost control. It is a very

Analysis Of Operation Blue Star And Its Effects On The Gandhi Dynasty

934 words - 4 pages The period of time including and following Operation Blue star is considered a dark time in India and black spot in Indian history. It is a time Indian would rather forget, yet still to this day debate about. Was Indihar Gandhi correct in instating operation Blue Star, inflicting damage to the Golden temple, and being responsible for the killing of anywhere from 492 (official reports) to 1500 (estimates run as high as) civilians, which lead to an

Regretful Decisions

930 words - 4 pages Regretful Decisions There are many individuals in a child’s life that helps mold them into a well-rounded adult. In most cases, this guidance comes from the child’s parents or other older, but in Sonny’s case, this guidance was expected from his older brother. In the short narrative, Sonny’s Blues, Sonny’s life was adversely affected by the decisions that his older brother made. The decisions that his brother made include leaving Sonny to stay

Jail Responsibilities

589 words - 3 pages Jail Responsibilities Monique Priorello September 23, 2012 One of the main responsibilities of a jail is to give the officers the correct “Police Correspondence” courses. This is because these courses give the officers the effective basic training that they need to do things such as; Writing of Memoranda, Police Reports, and Civilian Letters. What needs to be done first is make sure that there are NO errors. This means in


638 words - 3 pages Starbucks Nefertiti Wright Sangita Patel October 15, 2012 STARBUCKS 2 STARBUCKS - 1 - [no notes on this page]I. Job description a. Baristas II. Job specifications a. Duties III. Form of departmentalization STARBUCKS 3 Starbucks Starbucks have been named in the 100 best companies to work for. Starbucks has many job opportunities for people, which require the right job specifications. The employees create uplifting experience

Fight Club

917 words - 4 pages Fight Club is a story of the narrator’s struggle to gain control over his life. He is in search for an identity in the form of manhood. His masculinity is so repressed because of the absence of a father figure in his life. Because of this he creates Tyler, his alternate personality. Tyler is nothing like anyone the narrator has met, he is self assured and completely free. The narrators alternate personality Tyler Durden is the ultimate alpha-male

The Powers Of The Health And Safety Representative

254 words - 2 pages The Powers of the Health and Safety Representative A health and safety representative has the power to: Identify Workplace Hazards The health and safety representative has the power to identify workplace hazards. This power is usually exercised by conducting workplace inspections. Obtain Information from the Employer The health and safety representative is entitled to the same information available to a joint committee member. Under the Act

Lesson Plan

6476 words - 26 pages people. • Man vs. Himself/Herself (psychological) -  The leading character struggles with himself/herself; with his/her own soul, ideas of right or wrong, physical limitations, choices, etc. [pic] Character -- There are two meanings for the word character: • The person in a work of fiction. • The characteristics of a person. Persons in a work of fiction - Antagonist and

Related Essays

Business Ethics Cpa Essay

1317 words - 6 pages QUESTIONS FOR THE ‘ETHICALLY-PROFESSIONAL’ C.P.A.-TO-BE 1. Do YOU care about how your actions as a C.P.A. could benefit or harm other persons / society? (from our discussion of Psychological Egoism) I care about how my actions as a C.P.A could benefit or harm other persons/society. I realize that as a professional working for the public I need to use due care in working as a C.P.A. As a member of the AICPA I’m obligated to follow

Hobbes Essay

1798 words - 8 pages only protect our own self-interest. As he states in the Prince “For men one can , in general say this .They are ungrateful, fickle, deceptive and deceiving , avoiders of danger eager to gain” (Machiavelli 537 Chapter 17). So we can Generally say both Hobbes and Machiavelli believes that man only going to remain loyal if you protect his or own interest applying the philosophy of Psychological egoism the idea in which humans are always motivated by

Kwai Essay

1102 words - 5 pages okay to portray the Japanese as bumbling, incompetent fools. But the reality was, this was an ancient culture that had combined with modern technology to become extremely powerful. And the psychological warfare used would have never let Nicholson or others have their clever lines. * The ending. One of the best endings in film. Utter chaos, and you'll be forever wondering - did he mean to fall on the plunger, or was it just accidental? What

Khanh Essay

9380 words - 38 pages look back over the last 100 years, we might see improvements in the welfare and position of employees, but this has not been based on steady progress. The peak of the late 1960s and '70s was followed by a deterioration in the '80s and early '90s. It could also be suggested that, although many employees are better off in material terms than 100 years ago, a new series of pressures have led to greater psychological ill-health with more stress