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Egoism
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  • 1. Egoism “ Someone said me, and there was nothing to be gained by saying us.” Ian McEwan
  • 2. Ethical Egoism
    • Idea that you should do whatever you need to do for YOUR greatest good.
    • This does not mean that ethical egoism is seen as ‘egotistical’, ‘narcissistic’ or ‘selfish’.
    • To be selfish you would have to think that such behavior is in your best interest.
    • Therefore if judging modesty and being considerate for others could be the best way to act for your own interest.
    • This leads to recognizing the need to co-operate with others and to act ‘morally’ for your own best interest.
    • So in other words, by being moral you are benefiting yourself.
    • Someone who sees things like this is known as an ‘enlightened egoist’
  • 3. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
    • Adopted an ‘enlighted egoist’ position
    • ‘ state of nature ’ = each person pursues what benefits themselves
    • Avoid pain, seek pleasure
    • This leads to ‘war of every man against every man’
    • Therefore its rational for everyone to follow rules requiring co-operation between everyone (social contract)
    • To agree to follow these rules is rational, only as long as you can rely on others to do as well
    • Egoist should actually want to follow moral behavior to avoid getting harmed by other egoists.
  • 4. Psychological Egoism
    • Being primarily motivated by self interest
    • It is by NATURE that humans are self-interested
    • Therefore if it is natural than we should have the right to seek for self-interest / own benefit
    • All motives must ultimately be egotistical.
  • 5. Criticism
    • If we follow the idea of human nature it shouldn’t mean we then have to follow that we are morally obliged to act in our own self interest.
    • David Hume – sympathetic concern for others as strong as a feeling of self interest.
    • Looking at Psychological Egoism if there is only selfish acts than there can be no difference in not being selfish.
    • Kant believed Ethical Egoism is self-contradictory because if everyone was selfish then it becomes inconsistent because someone would be a fool to be any other way.
    • Asking for advice goes against ethical egoism because if we should only do what suites us best than we shouldn’t have to ask for advice on what to do.
  • 6.
    • Kurt Baier – egoists are “self centred, inconsiderate, unfeeling, unprincipled, ruthless, self- aggrandizers, pursuers of the good things in life what ever the cost to others, people who think only about themselves or, if about others, then merely as a means to their own ends” 1997
    • Hume: moral sentiment and feelings that engage us in concern for others – love, friendship, compassion and gratitude play roles -influenced by them – psychological egoism fails to account for this
    • No single cause for behaviour – humans more complex- memories, future , how others treat me, experiences,
    • Hume – not clear that desire is in our interest to satisfy – self destructive – vanity, smoking etc
    • Should we recognise that others are instrumental to our own satisfaction – care for others?? Altruism