Psychological Egoism

Topics: Ethical egoism, Egoism, Objection Pages: 2 (764 words) Published: December 11, 2012
Psychological Egoism
Generally, every society has certain actions that are agreed upon as either being selfish or selfless. Psychological egoists try to raise questions about whether selflessness is even a possibility. James Rachel on the other hand tries to refute their argument. He believes that psychological egoism is the viewpoint that everything you do is selfish, because the motive behind any action is your own self-interest. (Sumner, pg.75) James Rachel mentions two arguments made by a psychological egoist. The first argument is that every time you do something it’s selfish because you’re doing what you most want to do. For instance, you are being selfish when you stay back and help a friend study instead of going on a trip. Even though helping your friend study isn’t as appealing as your trip, you’re doing it because in the end you would rather help a friend then be on a trip. In a psychological egoists viewpoint you are only doing what you most want to do therefore this action is selfish. The second argument argues that every “unselfish” action a man commits gives him a sense of self satisfaction, and because this satisfaction is pleasant the purpose of his every action is to gain this “pleasant state of consciousness” (Sumner, pg.76). For example, if Tom were to help an old lady carry groceries up the stairs, from an egoist’s viewpoint this would be considered a selfish act. Due to the reason that by helping the old lady he gained a level of pleasurable consciousness; in their eyes his real motive wasn’t to help the old lady but to achieve a pleasant self-satisfaction. (Sumner, pg. 75-76) James Rachel made numerous objections to these arguments laid out by the egoists. I believe his best objection is the one he made to the egoists second argument. He refutes this argument by stating that we don’t desire self- satisfaction and then go about trying to achieve it. Rather, it is quite the opposite. We first desire things and then only after achieving...
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