James Rachels

Topics: Altruism, Ethical egoism, Egoism Pages: 2 (745 words) Published: November 25, 2001
James Rachels argues against theories of selfishness that the psychological egoists maintain. He challenges the view that everyone always does what he or she wants by showing that we often dounpleasant tasks for the future pleasures or from obligation. Altruism is recognized as not acting in self interest. He also clears up the confusions that selfishness and self interest share the same meaning. *Psychological egoists argue that we always do what we want to do. Rachel says that is questionable and there are two classes of actions that are exceptions to the generalization. One is a set of actions we do not want to do but we do as a means toan end we want to achieve. For example, going to the dentist to fix a toothache or going to work everyday to get paid at the end of the month. The other set of actions are those which we do, not because we want to or because there is an end to achieve but because we feel obligation to do them. Rachel states for example, someone may do something because he or she has promised to do it and thus feels obligated, even though he or she does not want to do it. The second statement psychological egoists argue is that, to do what one wants to do is acting selfishly, therefore we always act selfishly. Rachels states this example, Smith wants to do something that will help his friend even if it means putting on hold his own enjoyments, and Rachel says that is what makes Smith unselfish. Rachel says the mere fact that I am acting on my wants does not mean I am acting selfishly; that depends on what it is that I want. If I want only my own good, and care nothing for others, then I am selfish; but if I also want to help other people, and if I act on that desire, then m y actions are not selfish.*The psychological egoism stance can ask then why Smith gets satisfaction from helping hisfriend and the answer is because he is selfish. But actually if we have a positive attitude towards reaching a goal, we get satisfaction from reaching the goal....
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