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PHIL 2070 Chapter Notes -Ethical Egoism, Tivo, Egotism

Course Code
PHIL 2070
Susan Dimock

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PHIL 2070 Jan. 22
Two Basic Technical Uses of the term Egoism
- (1) Psychological Egoism: theoretical description about how persons are
- (2) Ethical Egoism: normative thesis about how persons ought to behave
Psychological Egoism
- Thesis that we are so constituted by nature that we always seek what is to our own
- Thomas Hobbes (a psychological egoist): argued that, it is in fact in each persons
best interest to enter into contract with others stipulating that everyone will
comply with certain rules of conduct, and then to appoint a ruler to ensure that
everyone complies with the contract
oAccording to this, psychological egoism is compatible with social
cooperation as long as we all benefit from the cooperation
Ethical Egoism
- Thesis that each person always ought to seek his or her own advantage
- Problems:
oLeaves out the possibility that we act on mixed motives, we may have
concern for ourselves, we can also have concern for others and that both
concerns may motivate our actions
oContradicts themselves: ethical theory that claims that everyone ought to
act in their own best interest, but on the other hand it cannot be to her
personal advantage for everyone else to behave in this manner
oHe or she may not serve their own interest well by openly advocating
ethical egoism
oIt conflicts with our institutions about justice, fairness, advice and
- Although these problems are against many morals, the ethical egoist will not be
proven wrong since any situation may re redscribed
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