Psychological egoism claims that whatever we do, we do out of self-interest. Give an example of an act you think is not done out of self-interest, and explain how the psychological egoist might try to interpret that act as selfish.
The definition of egoism that we will use here is, egoism is fulfilling your immediate self-interest by responding to your desire to act. [ In other words, even if you carry a beggar to his hometown on your back knowing there is nothing in it for you, the only thing there is in it for you is that you fulfilled your wish to do this. You may not have liked it very much but you liked it enough to
do it. The definition has to be correct for most refutations of psychological egoism and most proponents of psychological egoism are based on the false supposition that egoism is saying that we only go after what has the most future pleasure in it for us. If the supposition were true every na ve teenager and egoist would be on drugs. But it is not necessarily true.
An act can be self-interested without being about future pleasure. When you see a child, who is a stranger to you, in the middle of a busy road that is in danger of being killed within minutes and you run out to the child to save the child making it very likely that you will be the one that will end up dead you are not thinking of how much pleasure you will get by saving the child. You are not thinking of how bad you will feel if you stand there and let the child die. You desire to save the child and that is where the delight is: in doing the act or in fulfilling the desire. You crave the goodness inherent in the act. You are satisfying a need in yourself. To satisfy a need for alcohol is seen as selfish and to satisfy a need to save the child is seen as unselfish. It makes no sense for its just satisfying a need. A need is just a need. You are not thinking of the need when you save the child but its there and you are responding to it.
Let us clarify what egoism is. It is the pleasure we go after in the present, not future, fulfilling of the desire to do such and such an action and nothing else. Psychological egoists are right to say we go after what gives us the most pleasure but only in this sense. ]
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