Psychological Egoism is a descriptive theory about human motivation that we actually only ever look out for our own interests (Baillie).
Therefore, human are selfish in every act they do; and there is no such thing as altruism, concern for others (Rachels 70).
For example, an egoist will say that Mother Theresa is helping the poor because she wants to get the worlds attention or such. However is that what she really wants?
Many people appreciate this theory due to its simplicity. However, I believe that in some ways Psychological Egoism is true, but not always. I believe that there are different conditions for each person and each condition will yield different conclusions. In this paper, I will argue that there are no good arguments for Psychological Egoism by criticizing some of the arguments in its favor.
The first argument in favor of Psychological Egoism is “In all voluntary action you do what you want. When you do what you want your action is therefore selfish” (Baillie).
So, if I want to play soccer but I chose to help my friend with his homework then, I am selfish because I did what I desired. In another way, all my acts will be selfish, no such thing as altruism.
This argument has two weaknesses. First, not all our acts are results of what we want (Rachels 73).
For example, taking an antibiotic to relieve the pain or even do a surgery. So, we achieved a pain-free although we did not want to do a surgery. Another example is being ordered from your parents to do something such as cleaning your room not to be grounded. Therefore, if the premises are false then the argument goes wrong.
... seek happiness not selfishness. Next, I will give arguments against psychological egoism. First, the argument is flawed in onto itself. When humans choose ... it is, “Psychological egoism is the claim that humans are (and can be) motivated only by selfish desires or that humans ... theory. The second argument for ethical egoism runs along the lines of the first. Humans ought to act on whatever will ...
The other weakness, the conclusion would not follow from the premises. If I want other people to be happy then, that is not selfish even though I wanted that circumstance. On that account, being selfish depends on the nature of my act in knowing what it is that I want (Rachels 75).
Therefore, this argument is wrong due to not following the premises.
The second argument in favor of Psychological Egoism is “Allegedly unselfish actions make the agent feel good about themselves, or give the satisfaction, so this satisfaction was the real motive behind the action” (Baillie).
For instance, a person feels good when doing voluntary work; or a person would safe another person so he/she can be honored later on. We can respond to this argument as Joseph Butler, the leading 18th century critic of egoism, did. He replied by saying that, people get that satisfaction from helping others because of their care about others (Baillie).
Consequently, an egoist would not help others, because he/she will not satisfy their desires. In addition, the desire for the satisfaction depends on achieving the goal (Baillie).
So, if my goal is to help a blind man to cross the road, then I will be satisfied when performing that, because I achieved my goal, which is helping others. As a result, this argument does not hold because it is based on false premises.
The third argument in favor of Psychological Egoism is “Some think that Psychological Egoism is irrefutable because it is always possible to reinterpret any seemingly altruistic act as being selfish” (Baillie).
To understand this argument better we need to understand the strategy of Reinterpreting Motives, which Thomas Hobbes (1588 –1679) explained. He explained it by giving examples about acts that are true altruism interpreted in egoistic terms such as charity and pity (Rachels 72).
In the case of charity, he said that people give money to the poor to show their power over them not to help them (Rachels 72).
I have seen a similar act done back at my country; people give money to the poor to get the reputation of being generous. In the other case, pity, we sympathies with other people not because we want them to feel less depressed about their tragedy but, because we are scared it could happen to us (Rachels 72).
... liability, the recall and the TREAD act (The Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation act). Interests include the tire company Firestone/Bridgestone (and ... of 'feeling unsafe in your own car' is significant and people encounter this tire safety issue in their day to day ... life. The attention of people for safety issues that affect them in their day to ...
In a sense, pitying others is imagining your-self in their place.
As we can see, beside that Psychological Egoism is simple, many people will accept this theory because it seems irrefutable to them. One of the reason for it being irrefutable is that “once a hypothesis is accepted, everything may be interpreted to support it” (Rachels 80).
So how can we response to this? We can say, since the thesis is irrefutable then this theory is meaningless. Also, we need to be able to check our facts to justify this theory. Therefore, “if we do not allow some way in which we might be mistaken, we lose all chance of being right” Rachels 81).
Moreover, many people fall into confusion when expressing Psychological Egoism; but if we clarify these confusions this theory will not be convincible. First confusion, egoists can not distinguish between selfishness and self interest (Rachels 78).
For example, I will be acting in my self-interest if I exercise or wash my cloth. These acts are not related to selfishness at all, because I do not ignore others interest to satisfy my own interest. In addition, being called selfish is just another way of criticizing the action done (Rachels 78).
Thus, I would not be selfish for spending my money shopping; but I would be selfish if I spend my money on something I do not need or use while others can not eat because they are poor. Second confusion, egoists can not distinguish between self-interest and pleasure (Rachels 78).
People do things because they take pleasure from them, such as drinking lots of alcohol to get wasted. This act is not a self-interest behavior even after learning about the connection of drinking and kidney failure. Those people drink for the pleasure of it. We can reflect that as Joseph Butler said “The thing to be lamented is, not that men have so great regard to their own good or interest in the present world, for they have not enough” (Rachels 78).
In my point of view, human beings do not act always selfishly, as egoism says, for several reasons. First, sometime we are just forced to doing what we do not want; therefore, we are not always selfish. Second, to be called selfish we need to consider the nature of our act, so not all acts are selfish. Third, a person would not be helping others unless he/she cares about them. Fourth, Psychological Egoism is irrefutable then this theory is meaningless. In conclusion, for every theory there most some extra error, such as error added to equations in statistics or noise when analyzing a circuit. Therefore, this is a really interesting theory, because it covers about seventy percent of human acts.
... Freud (1856 – 1939) Freud focuses on the psychoanalytical theory; he was particularly interested in the development of characteristics and personality. Freud believed ... and needs come from and can be known as the selfish and passionate component of our personality e.g. a baby ... another person they will pick up and learn how to act in certain situations through modelling another person’s behaviour. ...