Loading presentation...

Present Remotely

Send the link below via email or IM

Copy

Present to your audience

Start remote presentation

  • Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
  • People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
  • This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
  • A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
  • Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article

Do you really want to delete this prezi?

Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.

DeleteCancel

Egoism

No description
by

Brandon Carey

on 3 September 2018

Comments (0)

Please log in to add your comment.

Report abuse

Transcript of Egoism

Desired Action Argument
3) Therefore, whenever a person performs an action, he is acting in his own interest.
1) Whenever a person performs an action, he is doing what he most wants to do.
This argument is valid.
Even though Sam wanted to go to the movies, she decided to go to her grandmother’s.
So what about the premises?
Objection: Acting for Other Reasons
Sometimes people do something that they don’t want to do for one of two reasons.
Objection: Wants vs. Interest
People often want to do things that are not in their own interest:
1) Whenever a person performs an action, he is doing what he most wants to do.
2) If a person is doing what he most wants to do, then he is acting in his own interest.
Good Feeling Argument
Psychological Egoism
Ethical Egoism
Selflessness
Suppose that Sam is planning to go out and see a movie with her friends, but her grandmother asks her to come over and clean out her rain gutters instead.
Sam would enjoy the movie and will get nothing out of cleaning the rain gutters. Nevertheless, she goes to clean out the gutters because she feels it is the right thing to do.
Counterexample:
S performs action A
performing A is in S’s own interest
(PE)
One vs. Many
Suppose that Garrett is a janitor in an elementary school. While cleaning at night, he finds that the money that has been raised for the school field trip has been left out on the Principal’s desk.
Garret is certain that he could take the money without getting caught, so taking it would benefit him the most. However, this would be very bad for the other staff and the students, as they would no longer be able to go on the field trip.
Counterexample:
S’s performing A is morally right
A benefits S more than any other available action
(EE)
No Advocacy Argument
Objection: Self-Defeating vs. False
There are different ways to be self-defeating, and not all of them make a principle false. Consider two different sentences:
(Liar) This sentence is false.
(Secret) No one should ever say this sentence.
(Liar) is self-defeating in the sense that if it’s true, then it’s false. That is a troubling kind of self-defeat, and might be a reason to think that (Liar) is false (although that has some problems).
If (Secret) is true, then you shouldn’t say it. But that is no reason at all to think that (Secret) is false.
Objection: Beneficial Advocacy
Suppose you’re imprisoned with some other people, and the best thing for you is to escape.
Escaping would also be the best thing for them, so if you convince them all to that (EE) is true, they will break down a door to escape. This will also achieve what’s best for you, since you will also be able to escape.
So, according to (EE), you should advocate (EE) in this case, which means that (1) is false.
Nagel's Umbrella Argument
Best for Everyone Argument
Objection: Lone Egoism
It is in my interest to live in a good society, but that doesn’t require that I help make society good.
The best thing for me is to live in a society where other people try to do what’s best for everyone and I only look out for myself.
But if everyone did this, that wouldn’t be best for everyone.
Then, I would get the benefits of living in that kind of society without having to sacrifice any of my own benefits for the benefit of others.
And the same goes for you.
Objection: Egoism?
If (EE) is true, then there is no reason to accept this premise (unless (1) is true).
According to (EE), there is no reason to do what’s best for everyone unless that is also what’s best for you. So, for the egoist, there is no reason to accept (2) on its own.
Arguments for (PE):
Argument for (EE):
Psychological Egoism
is the view that people only ever act according to their own self-interest:

Ethical Egoism
is the view that people (morally) ought to promote their own self-interest:

Arguments against (EE):
Is Sam acting in her own interest?
Is it morally right for Garrett to take the money?
2) If a person is doing what he most wants to do, then he is acting in his own interest.
If this argument is sound, then (PE) must be true.
So, she must have wanted to go to her grandmother’s more than she wanted to go to the movies. Otherwise, she would have gone to the movies!
The same is true of any other action.
Doing what you want to do just is acting in your own interest.
Your interest is just made up of the things that you want, so if you are doing what you want, then you are doing what is in your own interest.
Either:
it will lead to something that they want in the future, or
they feel obligated to do it.
In either kind of case, they are not doing what they want to do.
Since (1) says that this never happens, (1) must be false.
A gambling addict may want to continue gambling until he is broke, but this is not in his interest.
People also sometimes do things because they benefit a loved one.
For example, a parent might do something that is in his child’s interest, but not his own.
In both kinds of cases, (2) is false.
1) Whenever a person helps someone else, she is doing something that makes her feel good.
Altruism comes with certain psychological satisfaction—it feels good to do a good deed.
So, any time a person does something that seems selfless, she gets this good feeling.
This true even if she had to sacrifice something else that she wanted. E.g. Sam would feel good for helping her grandmother.
2) Whenever a person does something that makes her feel good, she is acting in her own interest.
Feeling good is a kind of benefit you can get from an action, and anything that benefits you is in your interest.
So, if an action makes you feel good, then it must be in your interest in the sense that it benefits you.
In this way, even the most seemingly selfless actions can secretly be in the actor's own interest, so long as they lead to a good feeling.
3) Therefore, whenever a person helps someone else, she is acting in her own interest.
This argument is valid.
So, there might still be some other kind of action that people do that is not in their own interest.
1) Whenever a person helps someone else, she is doing something that makes her feel good.
2) Whenever a person does something that makes her feel good, she is acting in her own interest.
Note that the conclusion here does not guarantee that (PE) is true. The conclusion is just that apparently altruistic actions (like Sam’s) are really self-serving.
Still, this would be a big step toward establishing (PE), so let's check the premises.
Objection: Miserable Helping
Helping others may often come with a pleasant feeling of having done something good, but it doesn’t always.
Suppose that Sam hates her grandmother but nevertheless feels obligated to help her. She gains no satisfaction from cleaning out the gutters, and is miserable the entire time.
This seems possible, which is all it takes for (1) to be false.
1st Objection: Feeling Good vs. Interest
Many things that give some kind of good feeling are nevertheless not in a person’s overall interest.
The gambling addict, for example, may get a good feeling from gambling, but this does not mean that gambling is in his (overall) interest.
2nd Objection: 'own interest'
We need to clarify what we mean by acting in your own interest. That might mean:
(a) doing something because it benefits you, or
If it means (a), then (2) is false. You might do something that feels good for another reason (such as because it benefits someone else).
If it means (b), then (2) might be true, but then (3) is not a statement of psychological egoism.
(b) doing something that happens to benefit you in some way.
1) Each person promoting her own interest is what’s best for everyone.
The idea here is that, in the long run, it is in my interest to live in an orderly, well-functioning society in which everyone’s well-being is promoted.
So, the best way to pursue my own self-interest is actually to work towards that kind of society that is beneficial to everyone.
And the same goes for you (and everyone else).
2) Each person ought to do what’s best for everyone.
This is a premise that even egoism’s opponents should accept. If we think that morality really consists in doing what is best for everyone, then we have to accept (2).
3) Therefore, each person ought to promote her own interest.
This argument is valid.
So, what about the premises?
1) Each person promoting her own interest is what’s best for everyone.
2) Each person ought to do what’s best for everyone.
If it's sound, then (EE) is true, but for an interesting reason--Egoism is what's best for everyone. So, even those who think you should care about others would have a reason to adopt Egoism.
1) If (EE) is true, then no one should ever advocate (EE).
Suppose you should always do what’s best for you.
Well, telling other people to do what’s best for them isn’t best for you. It would be better for you to convince to do what's best for
you
.
So, according to (EE), you shouldn't advocate (EE). You should instead try to convince others to be altruistic while you continue to be an egoist.
2) If (1), then (EE) is false.
If (EE) says that you can’t advocate (EE), then (EE) is in some sense self-defeating.
It’s a moral theory that has as a consequence that you shouldn’t try to get other people to follow it. So, it can’t be a good moral theory.
3) Therefore, (EE) is false.
This argument is valid.
So, what about the premises?
1) If (EE) is true, then no one should ever advocate (EE).
2) If (1), then (EE) is false.
If it's sound, then (EE) is false, and not for any reason having to do with altruism. If this argument works, then even people who don't care about others at all will have a reason to doubt ethical egoism.
If (1) is true, then (EE) is self-defeating in a way similar to (Secret), not (Liar). So, this is not a reason to think that (EE) is false.
1) A thief would have a reason not to steal your umbrella.
If a thief stole your umbrella, you wouldn’t just be inconvenienced—you would
resent
the thief. You would think that the thief shouldn’t have taken your umbrella.
But for that to be true, the thief must have had some (moral) reason not to steal your umbrella.
2) If the thief would have a reason not to steal your umbrella, then you have a reason not to steal this umbrella.
Whatever reason the thief would have not to steal your umbrella, it’s not because the umbrella is yours in particular.
The thief would have the same reason not to steal any umbrella, and anyone in the thief’s position would have the same reason not to steal any umbrella.
3) Therefore, you have a reason not to steal this umbrella.
This argument is valid.
Can we object to the premises?
1) A thief would have a reason not to steal your umbrella.
2) If the thief would have a reason not to steal your umbrella, then you have a reason not to steal this umbrella.
If it's sound, then we could apply similar reasoning to any situation of harming someone else for your own gain. That would give us a reason to think that (EE) is false--these cases would be counterexamples.
Suppose you are considering whether to steal someone’s umbrella, and you think about how you would feel if someone stole your umbrella in a similar situation.
So, you have a reason not to steal this umbrella, since your situation is just like the thief’s.
Full transcript