Ethics: Paper Psychological Egoism

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Introduction to Ethics
Position Paper
Psychological Egoism vs. Altruism

It is to be understood that “ethics is the branch study dealing with what is the proper course of action for man” (Jeff Landauer, 2001). It may be concluded that ethics is the philosophical study of what is right or wrong, good or bad, in that part of human conduct for which we are responsible, excluding areas such as etiquette, professional codes, legal and religious codes. Many people raise the question: Is ethics possible? In order to answer “no” to that question people look at the psychological theory of Egoism, vice versa, in order to answer yes to that questions many others look to the theory of Altruism. Both theories make important points that one must look at and decide for them self weather ethics can be possible. The theory of Psychological Egoism is “the empirical doctrine that the determining motive of every voluntary action is a desire for one’s own welfare” (, 2009). Basically this states that every voluntary action that a human does is done for self interest. This theory states that, by nature, humans are born so as to always pursue our interest, even if it means bringing harm to others. This theory is a result from observations from human behavior. Psychological egoism makes no claim as to how one should act. That all persons seek their self-interest on this theory is a purported fact, and this belief is viewed by the psychological egoist as immoral and verifiable. For instance, the great Saints of history have served their ‘private interest’ just as the most money grubbing miser has served his interest (Egoism, Psychological Egoism an Ethical Egoism, 2001). This theory concerns itself with benefiting oneself. In order to do this it means to provide oneself with what one requires for flourishing, excelling, developing in positive ways. For instance, some believe that to benefit one is to become satisfied. This may be obtained by doing whatever one would like to do or obtaining whatever one would like to have (, 2009). For example, I like to jog so jogging may be considered an egoistic act because it brings me satisfaction. However, many people feel that to say that humans are selfish 100 percent of the time is a false assumption. Those who believe that humans are not selfish 100 percent of the time tend to look to the psychological theory of altruism. This theory is “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of other” or “the philosophical doctrine that right action is that which produces the greatest benefits to others” (, 2011). In other words this theory suggested that it is possible at times to put the interest of others before your own, even if it means bringing harm to yourself. Promoting the welfare of others is an unselfish act and it may involve donating to charities