Class Notes (835,426)
Canada (509,186)
Philosophy (388)
PP110 (97)

PP 110 - psychological egoism.docx

4 Pages
Unlock Document

Ashwani Peetush

Psychological Egoism  Descriptive/empirical theory about human nature (the way things are – why people behave in a particular way – mind): People only ever act for the sake of their own interests; they are selfish beings o The evidence  The strategy of re-interpreting motives (not a definitive argument)  Ex. psychological egoists consider all good works done by the person will have personal gain – Jane works as a hospital (his motivation is a good reference for med school)  All actions human beings take are done through personal interest  People do not need to agree with you  Thomas Hobbes: claimed that the real motivation to give to a starving child is you are showing the society that you are more capable than others (ex. Bill Gates help those in need for personal gain) o Claims that sympathy is caused by fear of action happening to self (ex. you are afraid that your friend’s injury could have happened to you instead)  Not a conclusive method of showing the true reason for your behaviour – this only shows the re-interpretation of motivation  The view that people are really selfish/ self-interested – their nature is always selfish (What’s in it for me? – we can’t be anything but selfish) o How is this a problem for morality and ethics?  Their capabilities are not the same as what they ought to do  The arguments 1. In both selfish and unselfish acts, people are simply doing what they most want to do. o Ex. Jane who gives to charity is acting as selfishly as John, who is a billionaire, and keeps every penny for himself o Objection: it is the object what one wants that determines whether she is selfish or not. The simple fact that I am acting on my wants does not mean that I am acting selfishly. It is human nature that we do what we want to do. We have desires and beliefs on taking such action, therefore we act. o Selfishness: when one acts based on only self-interests and ignoring the interests of those that need to be considered  Based on what we want  When you should have paid attention, you didn’t pay attention 2. So called “unselfish” acts produce a sense of satisfaction. And, that is their real motive. o Ex. Jane feels amazing when helping others. In fact, she would feel terrible if she did not help. So, unselfish acts are unselfish at a superficial level only o Objection: the object of your desire is the happiness of the person you help. It is inaccurate to say that your “feeling good” is your desire.  The motive or object of our desire is not our own pleasure; and, feeling pleasure when you attain something you desire does not make you selfish  Ex. if you desire that Jane is happy, then this means that you will feel satisfaction from helping her. But this does not mean that (a) your feeling of satisfaction is the motive/object of your desire that Jane is happy or (b) that you are selfish because you feel satisfaction when Jane is happy. o Other problems with psychological egoism a. Confusion between selfishness and self-interest  Ex. watching your health by going to the dentist b. Confusion between self-interest and pleasure  Drug addiction – it is bad for your health c. Self-interest not incompatible concern for other  Creating false dichotomy: limiting options to only one (often no grey area – third option) – fallacy  Selfish vs. altruistic  Ex. Bush says “either you’re with us, or you’re a terrorist” o You may not agree with war, but that does not mean you are a terrorist  The Theory is irrefutable (no possibility of refuting)  Ex. Stanford Prof held an experiment where he sent his grad students into a mental institution as patients o Every action the grad students took (even though they were normal) were perceived as being part of the mental illness  Nothing they did would disapprove their illness  The hypothesis was irrefutable – was already accepted as true (could not be refuted)  If it cannot be tested, it is meaningless – we do not know if it is true or false  Ex. horoscopes are untestable – often, the reader makes it happen  Psychological egoism is similar – believing that everyone has self- interest motivations on all actions (“on a deeper analysis…”) o Once the theory is accepted as true, nothing can deny it o Every case is reinterpreted to fit the situation Psychology  What we can do (capabilities) Morality 
More Less

Related notes for PP110

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.