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egoism, ethical

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics also called normative egoism or rational egoism. An ethical view that holds that satisfying some desire of mine is a necessary and sufficient condition for me to act. This theory places the self at the center of ethical life in relation to other persons. According to this view, people will naturally behave unjustly and reject fundamental moral rules, if they can do so without any negative consequences for themselves. It then follows that we do not have a natural regard for the public interest, and that a rational person will act to maximize selfish satisfactions. For an ethical theory based on this account of human psychology, moral life is the life that maximizes the good-for-me. Psychological egoism provides a theoretical basis for ethical egoism, but the failure of psychological egoism would not entail that ethical egoism is false. It only shows that ethical egoism must find another basis. Egoism stands in contrast to altruism, which claims that morality must be based on our desire to help others. Egoism was explicitly argued for by Thrasymachus in Plato 's Republic and developed by Hobbes . To explain obvious acts of altruism and benevolence in many situations, egoists argue that altruism or the observance of the general moral order is disguised self-seeking, for it will create a stable society, which can preserve us and promote our long-term interests. The ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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