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PHLA11H3 Lecture Notes - Psychological Egoism

Course Code
Kelin Emmett

of 3
Ethics - Tutorial #5.
psychological egoism
(class debate)
all human action is selfish
ultimately aimed for self-interest
P1. all human action is motivated by the individual’s own aims
does not describe a specific case
extreme generalization
needs something more concrete
perhaps an example
colour analogy
ex. This is brown.
(unlike P1.)
ex. All objects are coloured
(like P1.)
an action without a selfish aim
anonymously donating
note: saying that the action is still an act done in one’s self-interest if an indirect
feeling of satisfaction is felt is another argument as it does not attack P1. nor P2.
if one has an action
one is aiming at something with that action
P1. needs to lead us from a trivial claim
needs to move to a more controversial claim
if an action is motivated by the individual’s own aims
then that individual must be aiming to satisfy something that is in their self-interest
criticism of P1.
lack of empirical claims for support
circulatory argument
P2. seems to be circular
assumes that psychological egoism is true
What is the justification for P2.?
defending P2. by saying that psychological egoism is true is circular
coming up with an argument that gives us reason to believe it
difficult task
challenge in philosophy
seems that P2. leads to P1.
P2. “…that individual… interest.”
seems to lead to P1. “…motivates…aims.”
view conceptually
need to state, not follow
need to explain why
consider the meaning of the terms
note: paper needs to show this kind of stuff out
If basis for this claim is only appearances…
move in P2.
do not look out into the world for every action
otherwise the claim that P2. renders the argument circulatory will be true
move inside the mind