(1) If psychological egoism is true, then we can't be altruistic.As Shafer-Landau suggests, the upshot of this argument is that "most of what we take for granted about the ethical life would turn out to be mistaken" if psychological egoism is true. So maybe I've been hasty in thinking that ethicists shouldn't concern themselves with this theory. I'm curious what readers of this blog think about psychological egoism (generally speaking) and about the argument above (more specifically).
(2) If we can't be altruistic, then it can't be our duty to be altruistic.
(3) Therefore, if psychological egoism is true, then it can't be our duty to be altruistic.
(4) Psychological egoism is true.
(5) Therefore, it can't be our duty to be altruistic.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Why Should We Care About Psychological Egoism?
Psychological Egoism is the theory that all human actions are aimed at avoiding some personal loss or gaining some personal benefit. I've found it surprising that so many philosophy textbooks for ethics courses have a chapter or two devoted to this theory, since it's merely a descriptive/psychological theory and not an ethical theory. Even if it were true, why should ethicists really care? Russ Shafer-Landau presents an interesting argument for why we should: