Sociology: Morality and Psychological Egoism Essay

Submitted By torifrigaard
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Pages: 4

Tori Frigaard
Philosophy 101
Professor Weaver
Do we please or be pleased?
Psychological egoism is the view in ethics that oneself is always motivated by self-interest, even in what seems to be acts of altruism. It is said that when people choose to help others or “do the right thing”, they do so ultimately because of the personal benefits that they themselves expect to obtain, directly or indirectly, from doing so. This is seen as a descriptive view as opposed to a normative view; it only makes claims about how things are rather than how they ought to be or if that is right thing to do. When discussing the thought that moral action is motivated only by selfish interests I would have to agree without any omission. I dispute the idea that an action is conducted in an effort to be “morally right” without any motivation for themselves is unrealistic and naive. Opponents of psychological egoism argue that the theory or philosophy itself is false either because it is an over-simplified interpretation of human behavior or that there exists empirical evidence of altruistic behavior. The evolutionary theory is said to provide evidence against this stating that it is in our nature, or biology, to do things solely for the well being of others. Critics also state the supporters of psychological egoism often confuse the satisfaction of their own desires with the satisfaction of their own selfregarding desires meaning that ones desires could be to help someone for just the purpose

that it is their human nature. A common example of this situation could be phoning an ambulance when a car accident has taken place. The caller shows concern for the victim by placing this call, along with being concerned for their well-being. Another example would be a mother caring for an infant; the mother gives them the essential care not the betterment of the child and not for themselves. The points made by skeptics are valid but can easily be argued.
When evaluating my own personal philosophy I would have to associate myself with a specific form of psychological egoism that is called psychological hedonism.
Psychological hedonism states that the ultimate motivation for all voluntary human action is the desire to experience pleasure or avoid pain. Let’s refer back to the example of phoning an ambulance when a car accident has happened and alter the scenario; if the witness seen the accident and not called an ambulance, the witness would later feel sadness and remorse for not reporting the accident. When seeing an accident first hand, it is in our own human nature react in a positive way and help the victim in order to not only help the victim, but also to not feel the culpability that could arise later in time.
Many discussions of psychological egoism focus on this type, but the two are not the same. Theorists have explained behavior motivated by self-interest without using pleasure or pain as the final cause of behavior. Psychological hedonism argues actions are caused by both a need for pleasure immediately and a need for