What is psychological egoism, and how does it differ from ethical egoism? What do you think is the best argument in favor of the theory? Do you think the theory. Psychological Egoism is the thesis that we always act from selfish motives. It holds that all don’t you see?” Taken from Feinberg, ‘Psychological Egoism’. Moral Motivation and Human Nature. Psychological Egoism*. JOEL FEINBERG. A. THE THEORY. 1. “PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISM” is the name given to a theory.

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Psychological Egoism By Joel Feinberg

We think you have liked this presentation. If you wish to download it, please recommend it to your friends in any social system. Share buttons are a little bit lower. Published by Isaiah Fowler Modified over joeel years ago. Feinberg presents four arguments often supplied in support of the theory of psychological egoism: Every action of mine is my action, springing from thoughts and motives that are mine, so every action is at base, selfish.

Joel Feinberg

The only thing we ever act out of is pleasure, once we get down to the most basic reasons for action, so since we always act only for our own pleasure, all of our actions are selfish.


We often deceive ourselves as to the real motives for our actions, and we rationalize them later.

We may be deceiving ourselves about even our most apparently selfless psycholoyical, and they may be selfish after all. That means all actions are selfish. He answer the arguments as follows: A logical mistake is made in the first argument.

Namely, nothing follows from a tautology. Feinberg has multiple responses to this one: Assuming that the purpose for all of our actions is pleasure just because pleasure usually accompanies the satisfaction joe, our desires is like arguing that since steamships burn coal every time they cross the Atlantic that the purpose of their journey is to burn coal. If they were really selfish, they would have no cause to feel pleasure at helping others.

We all occasionally sacrifice our own interests to those of others, if only to be polite, in many cases. We also often sacrifice our own interests out of spite.

Joel Feinberg – Wikipedia

It may be true that we often or even always deceive ourselves as to our true motives, but this argument is entirely inconclusive. It is equally possible that none of our actions are selfish, even the ones that look most selfish. When we find people that really obey the law and general moral principles to avoid punishment, or only do the right thing for some reward, we regard them as having missed the point.


This indicates that argument d. The Paradox of Hedonism: If we really only do things for the egoims of pleasure or avoiding pain, then a person like Jones p. This indicates that there are things we do feunberg their own sake, and also enjoy them as an added bonus. So our motivation cannot be simply driven by pleasure alone. Review The Path Principle: Reason and Egojsm Chapter 2.

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