Psychological Egoism

Topics: Psychological egoism, Mind, Happiness Pages: 2 (765 words) Published: September 17, 2013
Chelsea Gee
Philosophy
September 11, 2013
Psychological Egoism
Psychological Egoism is the position that the ultimate motive of all actions is selfish. It is not the position that everyone should be motivated by selfish desires, but rather that they are motivated by selfish desires. This is supposed to be a psychological fact of human motivations. Joel Feinberg presents a multitude of arguments against psychological egoistic hedonism. There are four “arguments” which support psychological egoism: (a) “Every action of mine is prompted by motives or desires or impulses which are my motives and not somebody else’s.” (b) “When a person gets what she or he wants, she or he feels pleasure.” (c) “We often deceive ourselves about our selfish motives.” (d) “Moralists often appeal to pleasure and pain to instill morality (to educate).” In statement (a), he is saying that it is not “origin of its motives which makes it a ‘selfish’ one, but rather the ‘purpose’ of the act or the objective of its motives; not where the motive comes from...but what it aims at determines whether or not it is selfish” (p. 430). In statement (b), Feinberg argues that this argument also fails to prove its point. He states that “fulfillment of desire (simply getting what one was after) is no guarantee of satisfaction (pleasant feelings of gratification in the mind of the agent).” Sometimes when we do things we get a feeling of contentment but other times we get bad results. Feinberg uses the example of Lincoln pulling over in his coach to help some little pigs out the mud and water and placed them on the bank. And Mr. Lincoln then replies that he would have had no peace in mind if he would have left them there. If Lincoln had not cared for the welfare of the little pigs, but only for his own “peace of mind”, it would be difficult to explain how he could have derived pleasure from helping them. “The very fact that he did feel satisfaction as a result of helping the pigs presupposes that he had...
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