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PHL275H1 Lecture Notes - Ethical Egoism, Psychological Egoism, Egotism

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Ethics Lecture
September 19, 2011
Psychological Egoism
Humans can only act from self-regarding motives
Types of proof:
oHedonism: helping someone actually makes us feel better
oNature/Self-preservation: we are programmed to pursue
our self-preservation [Hobbes] we are biologically wired
this way
If we were only interested in preserving our life and health, then
we wouldn’t smoke
Hobbes argument
Believer in the psychological and the normative claim
Everyone naturally wants their own self-preservation
However, my self-preservation and advancement are
incompatible with the self-preservation and advancement of
I act only in such a way as to further my own self-preservation
and advancement [psychological egoism]
I ought to do this because it keeps me alive [ethical egoism]
When everybody does this, it is war of all against all
War of all against all is bad for everyone
I ought to enter civil society so as to better protect my own
We act nicely to others only to preserve the civil law that
protects our own interests [psychological egoism again]
Hobbes argument continued
Article 2: we like some people and not others; this must be
because they are useful to us
Article 4: we naturally want to hurt one another
oWe fight over things that can’t be shared
Even when it appears we are doing something for our fellows, we
are actually doing it for ourselves
We love ourselves more than our fellows
Gravity is as natural for the impulsion we have to do what is best
for us and avoid what is bad for us and the worst thing for us is
death and we do anything to avoid it
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