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In: Psychology

Psychological egoism is the theory that all human actions are aimed at avoiding some personal loss...

Psychological egoism is the theory that all human actions are aimed at avoiding some personal loss or gaining some personal benefit. If the theory is true, then altruism—the direct desire to benefit others for their own sake—does not exist. Psychological egoism is a descriptive theory about how people do behave rather than an ethical theory about how they ought to behave. Still, the truth of psychological egoism would have important ethical implications. Because we can’t be morally obligated to do the impossible, the truth of psychological egoism would mean that we cannot be obligated to behave altruistically. Accepting this would require us to substantially revise our ideas about morality.

There are a number of arguments for psychological egoism. One argument begins with the claim that every action is based on the strongest desire of the person performing it. For this to support the theory, however, the egoist must make the case that all of our strongest desires are for personal gain. A second argument claims that people always expect their actions to make them better off.

Ethical egoism is the theory that actions are morally right just because they best promote one’s self-interest. Although psychological egoism is one source of support for ethical egoism, one can consistently accept ethical egoism—the view that we ought to behave self-interestedly—while rejecting psychological egoism—the view that we always do behave in this way. Ethical egoism faces a serious difficulty at the outset: the theory implies that it is morally right to kill, rape, and steal any time these actions would be in our self-interest. These actions seem to be paradigmatic cases of immorality. This doesn’t prove that ethical egoism is false because our conventional ideas about morality could be mistaken. It does suggest, however, that we should accept ethical egoism only if there are strong arguments in its favor.

Egoists have advanced several arguments to support their position. Some claim that everyone would be better off if we were all to behave egoistically. According to egoism, however, the fact that something makes everyone better off is morally irrelevant, so this argument cannot support ethical egoism. Many egoists invoke libertarianism, according to which all of our moral duties derive from the sources of consent and reparation, to support egoism. The egoist cannot consistently accept such a view, however, because ethical egoism is committed to the idea that consent and reparation do not generate obligations—only self-interest can do so. The best argument for ethical egoism claims that if we’re morally required to do something, then we have good reason to do it. Furthermore, we have good reason to do something only if it makes us better off. This latter claim is questionable, however, because there seem to be cases in which we have good reason to do something (say, help a stranger) even if doing so does not benefit us.

Egoism also faces three serious problems. As mentioned before, it violates many widely shared moral beliefs. In addition, it cannot allow for the existence of moral rights that protect us from interference from others. After all, if violating my supposed rights would benefit you, egoism says that you morally ought to do so. Finally, egoism seems to arbitrarily elevate the interests of a single person over everyone else, and it is not clear how to defend such a bias. Given that the main arguments for egoism fail and that the theory suffers serious problems, we seem to be justified in rejecting it.

After reading the above text answer the following.

"What is the relationship between psychological egoism and ethical egoism? Define each theory and explain how they are similar and how they differ. Does accepting one theory commit you to accepting the other? Does rejecting one commit you to rejecting the other? Why or why not?" Write at-least 200 words.

Solutions

Expert Solution

Psychological egoism is the notion that human beings tend to do things always out of self interest.

Ethical egoism is the notion that the morality of anything that an individual performs is greatly dependent on the self interest of that individual.

Psychological egoism focuses on how things are performed, but not on how they should be performed. On the other hand, ethical egoism says that it is immoral for a person to go against his or her self interest.

Both concepts are dependent in many ways. Ethical egoism requires psychological egoism. Accepting or rejecting one concept makes you accept or reject the other as well. This is because it is dependent on the ideas of psychological egoism which does not focus on self-indulgence, but states that human beings should always look for self fulfillment. Here, it means that a person should not try to be the best if not required, but has some achievements in society. They only need to do things that will increase and motivate their self-interest.


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