Analysis Of Psychological Egoism Philosophy

Essay add: 19-06-2017, 15:50   /   Views: 46

Psychological egoism is the empirical doctrine that the determining motive of every voluntary action is a desire for ones own welfare. On this view, even though all actions are regarded as self-interested actions, the egoist readily points out that people usually try to conceal the determining motives for their actions because such concealment is usually in their self-interest.

Psychological egoism is a theory about motivation that claims that all of our ultimate desires are self-directed. Whenever we want others to do well (or ill), we have these other-directed desires only instrumentally; we care about others only because we think that the welfare of others will have ramifications for our own welfare. As stated, egoism is a descriptive, not a normative, claim. It aims to characterize what motivates human beings in fact; the theory does not say whether it is good or bad that people are so motivated.

"Ethical Egoism purports to tell us how to live". As such, it is a consequentiality theory; that is, it maintains that the rightness or wrongness of acts depends on their consequences. More specifically, it says that right actions promote self-interests and wrong actions detract from self-interest.

Besides, Ethical egoism claims that it is necessary and sufficient for an action to be morally right that it maximize one's self-interest. It makes claims about what one ought to do, rather than describe what one does do.

One of the problems with this position is that it might not be in one's self-interest to have everyone act from the perspective of self-interest. This 'state of nature' would not be desirable (in Hobbes' terms, life would be "beastly, brutal, and short") and so it might ultimately be in one's self-interest to enter into a contract with others that would place restraints upon self-interested actions.

Teleological Theory

The teleological theory of ethics has broad appeal to many because it explains the rightness or virtue of action in terms of the good realized by it. The word "teleology" is derived from the Greek word "telos" that means "ends." In this theory, you would consider the ends, or the outcomes of your decision. Teleology was explored by Plato and Aristotle, by Saint Anselm around 1000 A.D., and later by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgement. It was fundamental to the speculative philosophy of Hegel.

Since this theory is concerned about the consequences of the decision, it is also referred to as consequentialist. For example, a moral theory that maintains that the rightness of an action is one which achieves the goal of maximizing happiness counts as a teleological theory.

The two main types of theory brought under the rubric of teleological ethics are Utilitarianism and Ethical Egoism.

Utilitarianism is clearly the most widely accepted teleological theory.

Some however, have accepted another teleological view--ethical egoism. Thus, in what follows we state and evaluate ethical egoism and different form of utilitarianism, in that order.

Utilitarianism is a moral theory according to which welfare is the fundamental human good. Welfare may be understood as referring to the happiness or well being of individuals. Utilitarianism is most commonly a theory about the rightness of actions; it is the doctrine that, from a range of possibilities, the right action is the action which most increases the welfare of human beings or sentient creatures in general. Of the many moral theories now called Utilitarian, all share this claim that morality ought to be concerned with increasing welfare.

The sense of utilitarianism can be started in this way: the rightness or wrongness of an act or moral rule is solely a matter of the nonmoral good produced directly or indirectly in the consequences of that act of rule.

Utilitarianism has its historical origins in seventeenth century Britain although its central ideas may be traced back to Plato and ancient Greek discussions of eudaimonia. The most important developers and proponents of utilitarianism are Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832); He first attained attention as a critic of the leading legal theorist in eighteenth century England, Sir William Blackstone. Bentham's campaign for social and political reforms in all areas, most notably the criminal law, had its theoretical basis in his utilitarianism, expounded in his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, a work written in 1780 but not published until 1789. In it he formulated the principle of utility, which approves of an action in so far as an action has an overall tendency to promote the greatest amount of happiness.

In its historical context, utilitarianism aspired to be a movement of social reform. It was closely tied to its political aspirations, promoted a new conception of morality which eschewed references to God and religion, and took morality to be fundamentally an attempt to bring about as much happiness of pleasure, to achieve the "greatest good for the greatest number."

Utilitarianism is divided into two branches which are Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism. The type of utilitarianism outlined to date is termed 'act utilitarianism.' Every single act is judged by its individual consequences and decisions on morality reached. Act utilitarianism is entirely situational and consequences in terms of happiness cannot be applied across situations.

Rule utilitarianism removes this tension. The maximising happiness principle is applied not to an individual situation, but rather to that set of circumstances in general and the moral rule is then created. For example it is generally the case that murdering innocents does not maximise happiness for the majority therefore it is immoral on all occasions. Whilst this gets around certain unpalatability with utilitarianism, it does remove the true consequential nature of the system. Judgment on general consequences is not the same as judging the consequences of a specific circumstance.

The other main branch of Teleology theory is Egoism. In philosophy, egoism is the theory that one's self is, or should be, the motivation and the goal of one's own action. Egoism has two variants, descriptive or normative. The descriptive (or positive) variant conceives egoism as a factual description of human affairs. That is, people are motivated by their own interests and desires, and they cannot be described otherwise. The normative variant proposes that people should be so motivated, regardless of what presently motivates their behaviour. Altruism is the opposite of egoism. The term "egoism" derives from "ego," the Latin term for "I" in English. Egoism should be distinguished from egotism, which means a psychological overvaluation of one's own importance, or of one's own activities.

The most plausible form of ethical egoism, embraced by such philosophers as Ayn Rand and John Hospers, is called universal or impersonal rule egoism: each person has a moral rule that will be in the agent's maximal self-interested over the long haul. For the ethical egoist, one has a duty to follow "correct" moral rules. And the factor that makes a rule a "correct" one is that, if followed, it will be in the agent's own best interest in the long run. Each person ought to advance his/her own self-interested and that is the sole of foundation of morality.

Ethical egoism is sometimes confused with various distinct issues. First, there is individual or personal ethical egoism, which says everyone has a duty to act so as to serve my self-interest. Here, everyone is morally obligated to serve the speaker's long-term best interests. Second, there is psychological egoism, roughly, the idea that each person can only do an act that the person takes to maximize his or own self-interested. Psychological egoism is a descriptive thesis about motivation to the effect that we can only act on motives that are in our own self-interest. Psychological egoism is sometimes used as part of an argument for ethical egoism, but the two are distinct theses.

Psychological egoism is also called the "pleasure principle". It is the most famous descriptive position, claims that each person has but one ultimate aim: her own welfare. Psychological egoism insist that people are capable of desiring the happiness of other only when they taken it to be acting unselfishly and disinterestedly when they take the interests of others to be means to the promotion of their own self-interest.


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