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 /, §9, 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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When a dog is first taught to sit, it is given a biscuit. The desire for happiness alone will often, and perhaps necessarily, alienate desiring individual from achieving the desire. Others involve acts that are deeply disgusting or revolting e. This seems problematic for a theory that says all of our ultimate desires etoism for our own well-being.

Say half of my brain will be transplanted to another body A.

Joel Feinberg

If all actions are motivated by a desire for this, then psychological egoism is indeed established. In many situations, others will neither have the ability to see my true motivation feibnerg care about it.

Yet Butler’s opponent, the egoist, maintains that the desire for food is subsequent to and dependent on an ultimate desire for pleasure or some other form of self-interest: Suppose I claim that I ought to maximize the welfare of blue-eyed people, but not of other people.

All of our ultimate desires are egoistic. Developing a clear and precise account of the egoism-altruism debate is more difficult than it might seem at first.

Social Psychology Other empirical work that bears on the existence of altruistic motives can be found in the study of empathy-induced helping behavior. Discusses a wide range of philosophical topics related to motivation.

Psychological egoism

According to Butler, the experience of pleasure upon eating some food allows us to infer the existence of a desire for food. The only way to achieve happiness, he believes, is to forget about it, but psychological egoists hold that all human endeavour, even that which achieves happiness, is geared towards happiness.


Egoists might allow that pleasure or happiness [for oneself] may well not be the only motivating factors. I could still count as an egoist, in the sense that I have adopted the non-egoist theory on egoist grounds. Some philosophers stressed the connection beween moral action and self-interest because they were concerned with motivation. I might, for example, profit more from helping the local Opera society refurbish its hall than I would from giving to famine relief in Africa, but standard moral theories would rank famine relief as more important than Opera hall improvements.

Sober and Wilson argue that when evaluating the likelihood of a given trait to evolve, three factors must be considered: But psychological egoism is a descriptive thesis. Ethical egoism, then, recommends an impossible state of affairs. Rosas argues that they should treat both similarly given the folk psychological framework they both employ.

For other weakened positions, see LaFollette and Mercer Sidgwick might instead be claiming that attacks on rational egoism from certain views of personal identity as in Parfit, discussed below fail because they rest on a false view of personal identity.

Egoism fits many of these, such as the requirements of cooperation in ordinary cases. The pluralistic model, however, is comparatively less complicated since it can just deploy an ultimate desire to help: For a more optimistic verdict on this strategy, noting its roots in Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the British Idealists, see Brink and But Lincoln reportedly replied: Whether it is superior depends on the strength of the arguments for it.

One might reply with de Lazari-Radek and Singer that there are other ways of arriving at the conclusion that I have reason to care about the well-being of everyone. Williams considers and rejects various arguments for and against the existence of egoistic motives and the rationality of someone motivated by self-interest.


Each link in the chain is susceptible to error, which makes the mechanism less reliable at yielding the relevant outcome.

However, evidence for this dependence claim has not been forthcoming. This would not content defenders of psychological egoism, however. Views Read Edit View history. In the final argument, Feinberg sees a paradox. For example, sociobiologists, such as E. Hackett, seventh edition,II. It recommends to A that A go to the game, and to B that B go to the game, but is silent on the value of A and B both attending the game. Critics have stated that proponents of psychological egoism often confuse the satisfaction of their own desires with the satisfaction of their own self-regarding desires.

Just because all successful endeavour engenders pleasure does not necessarily entail that pleasure is the sole objective of all endeavour.

Joel Feinberg – Wikipedia

Psychological egoism is false. What brings the highest payoff to me is not necessarily what brings the highest payoff to those helped. This argument has drawbacks. So I’m missing something or I’m misunderstanding the force of the conclusion. References and Further Reading Batson, C. Even if evolutionary arguments can be met, psychologicall, psychological egoism faces the problems noted earlier.

Psychological Egoism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Unless I can explain why I should be preferred, my claim looks equally arbitrary. This would let Parfit keep the conclusion that I need not care specially for some of my future selves, but would not justify the conclusion that I have reason to care specially about other people who are merely connected to me now or are merely admirable.

But the class of ultimate desires may include much more than this. Princeton University Press, 35—44, 51—