Egoism “ Someone said me, and there was nothing to be gained by saying us.” Ian McEwan
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’
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.
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.
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.
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