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‘All people serve their own self-interest.’ . Egoism. Starter – Rate each of the following statements on the mini whiteboards between one and five, one being strongly agree… Reading – Palmer p39…bring these next lesson please. Learning Objectives To explore egoism and psychological egoism

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  • Starter – Rate each of the following statements on the mini whiteboards between one and five, one being strongly agree…
  • Reading – Palmer p39…bring these next lesson please
  • Learning Objectives
  • To explore egoism and psychological egoism
  • To critically evaluate egoism in empirical and moral terms

All actions are selfish

All actions have a selfish motive

Human nature is generous and giving

Each person ultimately tries to maximise their own self-interest

Some people are cruel and do not think about others

The best way to behave ethical is through consideration of one’s own needs

egoism notes

Epicurus (341-270BCE) was a hedonist and began the formal strand of rhetoric called egoism. Egoism is ‘that a person ought to maximise his or her self-interest.’

Epicurus thought that pleasure was an intrinsic good (worth having for its own sake) and all other goods are instrumental (something that leads to goodness).

Egoism – notes

Classify the following in your opinion as intrinsically or instrumentally good or bad

1 – kindness

2 – vaccination

3 – freedom

4 – beauty

5 – murder

6 – duty

7 – punishment

8 – wealth

9 – courage

10 – disease

psychological egoism

The following clip shows the position of psychological egoism. VIDEO

Not and ethical doctrine, just telling us how humans work.

‘Human beings are psychologically incapable of doing anything that does not promote self-interest.’

In other words, psychologically egoism says that all actions have an ultimately selfish motive. They could be very good actions, but they are motivated by self-interest as this is how humans behave.

Psychological egoism
psycholoigical egoism problems

Can you think of any examples of an act without a selfish motive? Does psychological egoism seem reasonable?

Consider the following criticism

1 – Psychological Egoism is making an empirical claim which is based on evidence. Thus it is true or false.

2 – The claim is ‘All men serve their own self-interest.’

Hold on…

Psycholoigical egoism - problems
empirical statements

Which of the following are true and which are false empirical statements?

I have a nose

Some men have beards

All cats have wings

I have a beak

All cats have whiskers

Some men have fins

Empirical statements
psychological egoism1

Empirical statements like ‘All cats have wings’ are empirical generalisations since we have not observed all cats. Psychological egoism says that ‘All men serve their own self-interest,’ is true. This can only be true if there is evidence that there has never been an unselfish action and there never can be.

All people might be selfishly motivated, but it is possible that all are not therefore psychological egoisms central claim is refuted.

Psychological egoism
psychological egoism2

Debate, discussion, responses

Plenary – In pairs, prepare an explanation of what psychological egoism is and its main problem that a year 7 pupil would understand. You may use examples or thought experiments.

Psychological egoism

Basic foundations instrumental and intrinsic

Difference and scenario questions classify

Then psychological egoism explain and example, discussion and then criticism, scenarios

Ethical egoism – scholars and explain, inner contradiction. Thoughts and discussions

Plenary – if time a review of egoism for Hello magazine or underline the crucial bits of what you’ve just taken notes of.