Examples Of Psychological Egoism

Good Essays
Book Assignment 3: Egoism

Dwight Ong

AG 401.07

Dr. Nancy Merlino

October 14th, 2017

According to Shafer-Landau (2015), psychological egoism “...tells us that there is only one thing that motivates human beings: self-interest” (pg.91). This means that any actions taken by human beings correlates to achieving a benefit for one’s self. This would then also mean that it would reject the view of altruism, which is where you perform acts of selflessness without any intention of benefiting from it (Shafer-Landau, 2015). The claim “Every action is motivated by one’s strongest desire”, can be used to support this theory of psychological egoism because following your strongest desire is technically what you want
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One example of how this claim does not support psychological egoism is through the case of strictly conscientious action. When someone desires something due to temptation and resists taking action, it is no longer desire that motivated this action; rather, it is their sense of duty that made them resist (Shafer-Landau, 2015). This means that the action no longer becomes part of self-interest because it does not benefit them. Another example of how opponents of psychological egoism will respond to this false claim would be through the motives of selfless people. It could be that our desire is to help people in need. When we help others, we do not necessarily do it for the self-satisfaction; it merely accompanies our feelings when we are able to successfully help those in need (Clohesy, 2000). This means that our strongest desire does not necessarily have our self-interest in mind. According to Shafer-Landau (2015), “As a general matter, when you discover that your deepest desire have been satisfied, you often feel quite pleased. But that does not mean that your ultimate aim is to get such pleasure” (pg.97). With this statement and examples, it is hard for psychological egoists to convey the pursuit of self-interest in every action by one’s strongest …show more content…
There are more cases regarding those whose desires do not coincide with their self-interest and these contradict the theory of psychological egoism. In cases where a psychological egoists would claim that everyone would expect even just a little bit of benefit, does not take into account pessimistic people or people who know that the action will not benefit them at all (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Using sincere love as an example, the claim that our actions are motivated our strongest desire would not hold up because our self-interested desires would not be our priority; rather, you would want the other person to be happy even if it caused you pain (Jorati, 2014). There are times that people go after their own self-interest, however if they did it all the time, there would be no sense of morality. Even Shafer Landau (2015) states “If all we can do is look out for Number One, then there is little point in demanding we do otherwise.” (pg.104). Action is not always motivated by one’s strongest desire, because it is skewed by perceptions such as duty and human emotions. This is why opponents of psychological egoism have a stronger argument against this

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