The Philosophical Concept Of Human Self Interest And The Relationship Between Ethics, Altruism, And Rationality

The Philosophical Concept Of Human Self Interest And The Relationship Between Ethics, Altruism, And Rationality

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Egoism is the philosophical concept of human self-interest and the relationship between ethics, altruism, and rationality (Robbins). Psychological egoism and ethical egoism are the two concepts or positions that explain how one is or ought to be motivated to obtain their self-interest. The difference between ethical and psychological egoism is that the former deals with how a person should act and the latter deals with a universal concept practiced by all. With the theory of psychological egoism, selfishness proves it to be false; thus, can true ethical egoism be possible?
Ethical egoism is the normative view that each individual should seek out their own self-interest (Robbins). One ought to act and do what is in one’s own maximum interest, benefit, or advantage; and, the action must be moralistic for it to produce happiness. According to this theory morality is based on everyone promoting their self-interest or selfish motives. In the article “Ethical Egoism” by Jan Narveson. Narveson quotes Bishop Joseph Butler’s theory of rational behavior as “the rational agent acts so as to maximize the realization of one’s interest.” Meaning that one will only act if they are carrying out an action with the intention to achieve their interest to its full extent.
In order for ethical egoism to be true, actions taken must be moralistic for it to produce happiness. To achieve this happiness, there must be a punishment-reward system meaning that if people are not treating others morally, this could result in those people not achieving what they need to be happy. An example would be two individuals who become friends for the mutual benefit that friendship and association brings such as: companionship and support with problems. Friends will tre...


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... self-interest cannot be our universal concern because having it sometimes involves a desire for something other than pleasure itself (White) - it cannot be the only determinant of our motivation to obtain happiness. He also pointed out that even if we feel gratification when we satisfy our desires, it cannot be assumed that such gratification is the object of those desires. Joseph Butler continues to argue that since human well-being is resulting from numerous individual factors, people must also desire these means as pathways to their happiness (Garret); and, all individual desires and passions are towards external things themselves, separate from the pleasure ascending from the desires and pleasure.
Philosophers have sometimes tried to disprove egoism by showing that it contains a contradiction. The best known attempt is that of G.E. Moore in “Principia Ethica”.

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