Psychological Egoism Essay

Psychological Egoism Essay

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Psychological Egoism is a claim that one’s own welfare is the governing aim that guides us in every action. This would mean that every action and decisions humans make come with an intention for self-benefit, and personal gain. The fundamental idea behind psychological egoism is that our self-interest is the one motive that governs human beings. This idea may be so deep within our morals and thought process that although one may not think selfishly, the intention of their action is representing to a degree of personal gains.
Psychological Egoism by Russ Shafer-Landau was written to argue against arguments that support the idea of psychological egoism. The argument from Our Strongest Desires follows a hypothetical syllogism. It states:
“Whenever you do something, you are motivated by your strongest desires. When you are motivated by your strongest desires, you are pursuing your self- interest. Therefore, whenever you do something, you are pursuing your self- interest” (Shafer-Landau 89).

Shafer-Landau argues against the truth of premise two, which states that motivation by our strongest desires leads to the pursuit of our self-interest. Shafer Landau disagrees with this statement, arguing a separate truth between “who’s desire it is, and what the desire is for” (91). Shafter Landau argues that because one desires something, it does not necessary mean that pursuit of such desire benefits our self-interest.
This topic is important in helping us as philosophers get down to the roots of why we do the things we do, answering questions about the human motive and the philosophy behind reasoning we cannot explain. Psychological egoism provides an answer to philosophical questions like “Why do we do the things we do?” It was perhap...


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...a Of Calcutta (1910-1997). Mother Teresa Of Calcutta Center. Missionaries of Charity, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. .

O'Neill, Dennis. "Darwin and Natural Selection." Early Theories of Evolution. N.p., 2012. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. .

"Reciprocal Altruism." Reciprocal Altruism. Princeton University, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .

Schino, Gabriele, and Filippo Aureli. "A Few Misunderstandings about Reciprocal Altruism." Communicative & Integrative Biology 3(6).561-563 (2010):

Shafer-Landau, Russ. "Psychological Egoism." The Fundamentals of Ethics. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. 86-99. Print.

Trivers, Robert L. "The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism." The Quarterly Review of Biology 46.1 (1971): 35-37. Print.

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