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OF'PHILOSOPFNY Thi rd Editton edited by



T ke Rockefeller Univ ersitY



1971,1975 A 1965, CoPYright by DickensonPublishing Company'Inc' No part of this book may be Att ighrc reserved. stored in a retrieval systetn'or reproduced, transcribed,in any form or by any means' recording' photocopying' mechanical, electronic, permission written prior the without or otherwise, of thepublisher, 16561VenturaBoulevsrd'Encino' Californiq 91316' Cotalog Card Number: 74-22624 Library of Congress ISBN: 0-8221-0144*X Printed in the United Statesof America 12345678910

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Psychological Egoisrn*

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A. THE THEORY l. "Psychological egoism"is the name given to a theory widely held by ordinary men, and at onetime almostuniversally accepted by political philosophers, economists, and psychologists, according to which all human actionswhen properly understoodcan be seento be motivatedby selfish desires. More precisely, psychological egoism is the doctrinethat the only thing anyone is capableof desiringor pursuingultimately (as an end in itsel{) is his owz self-interest. No psychological egoistdeniesthat men sometimes do desirethings other than their own rvelfare-the happiness of other people, for example; but all psychological egoistsinsist that men are capable of desiringthe happiness of othersonly when theytakeit to be a means to their own happiness. In short, purely altruistic and benevolent actions and desiresdo not exist; but peoplesometimes appear to be actingunselfishly and disinterestedly whenthey take the interests of othersto be means to the promotion of their own self-interest. psycltological 2. This theoryis called to egoism indicatethat it is not a theory aboutwhat ought to be the case, but rather aboutwhat, as amafier of fact, l3 the case.That is, the theory claims to be a description ofpsychological facts,not a prescriptionofethicalideals. It asserts, however, not merely that all men do as a contingentmatter of
tFrom materials composedfor philosophy $tudents at Brown University, 1958.Not previouslypublished.

fact "put their own interestsfirst," but also that they are capableof nothing else,human nature beingwhat it is. Universalselfishness is not just an accidentor a coincidence on this view; rather, it is an unavoidable consequence ofpsychological laws. The theory is to be distinguished from another doctrine,so-called "ethical egoism,"accordingto which all men ought to pursue their own wellbeing.This doctrine,beinga prescriptionof what ought to be the case,makes no claim to be a psychologicaltheory of human motives; hence the word "ethical" appears in its narneto distinguish it from psychological egoism. 3. Thereare a numberof typesof motivesand desires which might reasonably be called "egoistic" or "selfish," and correspondingto each of them is a possibleversion of psychological egoism. Perhaps the most commonversionof the theory is that apparently held by Jeremy Bentham.l According to this version, all persons haveonly one ultimate motive in all their voluntary behavior and that motive is a selfishone; more specifically,it is one particular kind of selfishmotive-namely, a desire for one's own pleosure. According to this versionof the theory, "the only kind of ultimate desireis the desireto get or to prolong pleasantexperiences, and to avoid or to cut short unpleasant experiences for oneself."2 This form of psychologicalegoismis oftengiventhe cumbersome name-psJrc hologic al egoistichedonism.


SELF-LOVE AND THE CLAIMS OF MORALITY to only because they are createdand subscribed serveto restrainother men'segoismas much as sort of one'sown, moralitybeingonly a speciai 'racket'or intrigueusingweapons of persuasion guns. Underthrs and machine of bombs in place interpretation of humannature,the ca.tegories of commercialisrnreplace those of disinterested and the spirit of the horsetraderbroods service over the face of the earth."a Morality, good manners, dsd. iufora!Educatio,re. Psycency,and ottier virtuesmust be teachable. chologieal egoists often notiee that moral educationand the ineulcationof mannersusuo'sanctions of ally utilize rvhatBenthamcallsth.e pleasure and pain."5 Chiidren are made to ac' quire the eiviiizingvirtuesonly by the method of enticing rewards and painful punishments. is true of the history of the lace. lVluchtlie Feoplein generalhavebeeninclined to behave well only when it is made plain to them that in it foiithem."Is it not then thereis'"something of highly probablethat just such a meehanism must motivaiion as Eentharndeseribes huma.n of moral educaby our nrethods be presupposed tion?

JOEL FETNBERG cism a matter of special interestto the analytic philosopher. 6. The psychological egoist'sfirst argument (4a, above)is a good example of logicalconfusion.It begins with a truism*namely, that all of my motivesand desires are ftty motivesand desiresand not someone (Who rvoulddeny else's. this?) Eut from this simple tautologynothing whatever concerning the natureof my motives or the objective of my desires can possiblyfollow. The fallacyof this argument consists in its violation ofthe generallogicalrule that analyticstatements (tautologies) cannot entail synthetic (factual) ones.8 That every voluntary act is prompted by the agent's own motives is a tautology; hence,it cannotbe equivalentto ".d person is alwaysseeking something for himself, or,.All of a person's motivesareselfish," rvhichare synthetic.What the egoist mustproveis not merely:


ts. PRIMA FACiE R.EASONSIN SUPPOR.TOF' THE TI.IEOR.Y plausible has seemed egoism 4. Fsychological of which to many peoplefor a variety of reasons, the following are typicalr
"Every actionof mine is promptedby motives and or impulses which aremy motives or desires not somebodyelse's.This fact might be expressed I act tr am alby sayingthat whenever rvayspursuingmy own endsor trying to satisfy on my orvndesires. And from this we might pass for myself to-'tr am alwayspursriingsornething is ivhat tr-Iere or seekingmy own satisfaction,' of a man acting seems like a properdescription appliesto all selfishiy,and if the description actionsof all men, then it lbllows that all rnen in ail their actionsare selfish."8 he a persongetsrrrha-t b. It is a truism that r,vhen This feelspleasure, wants he charaeteristicaiiy we reto many ireoplethat r,vhat has suggested and is our own pleasure, ally warrtin everycase that we pursneother things only as a means. into ourselves Se(-freception Often we deceive fineor noble something thinking that we desire when what rvereally vrantis to be thought well ourof by ottrersor to be ableto congratulate of a selves, or to lre ableto erijoythe pleasures good conscience. It is a well-knownfact that peoplefend to conceal their true motivesfrom them with words by camouflaging themselves we are so often like "virtue," "duty," ete.Since rnisled eoncerningtroth our own t'eal motives is ii not t'easonand the real motivesof others, be deceived that we might always ableto suspect andaltruisdisinterested whenrvethink motives away matterto explain it is a simple tic?Indeed, "Once the con' unselfish motives: all aiiegedly is universalfinds root in viction that selfishness out iikely to burgeon person's is very mind, it a trt generalizations, corroborating in a thou-sand that a friendlysmileis really will be discovered only an attempt to win an approvingnod from a more or less gullible recording angel;that a only an opdeedis, for its performer, charitable himselfon the good portunity to congratulate him to be that enables fortuneor the cleverness plain public isjust benefaction a that charitable; that It will emerge good business advertising. they indulge godsare worshipped only because or hopes; that the fears,or tastes, men'sselfish 'golden sound rule'is no morethanan eminently formula;that socialand politicalcodes success

oF PSYCIJOLOGICAI, c. c].rrTxQ{.J8, EGeIStu[: CONtr{JSIGIqS n}d TF{E A,RGUIEdENTS af theArgurnents. 5. Non-EmpiricalCharacter egoisicon' psychological of the trfthe arguments emacqriired sistedfor the most palt of earef'ully of (well-documented reports pirical evidence labointerviews, surveys, experiments, controlled rataty data,aud so on), then ttre critir;al philosocarping ai thein. phei' would have no business purportsto egoism After all, sincepsychological it is the motives, theoryoi trruman be a scientifie not the psychologist, of theexperimental eorlcern a philosopher, to accept or rejectit. tsutas matter sort is of the required of fact,empiricalevidence psychological in support of seldom presented on the whole, shy away egoism.Fsyehologists, vririch abouthurtan rnotives from generalizations that and so vaguelyfbrmulated are so sweeping It testing' cfscientific theyarevirtualiyincapable the rvhoholds is usuallythe "armchairscientist" and his ustlalar' selfishness, theoryof universal siinplyon his "impresguments are eitherbased sort' sions"or elseare largelyof a non-empirical The latter areoften shotfull of a very subtlekind and this makestheir cliti' of logicalconfusion,

7. But if argument 4a fails to proveits point, argument 4b does no better. Frornthefactthat all our successful actions(thosein which we get what we wereafter)areaccompanied or followed by pleasureit does not follow, as the egoist claims,that the objective of everyactionis to get pleasure for oneself. To beginwith, the premise of the argumentis not, strictly speaking, even true. Fulfillmentof desire(simply gettingrvhat one was after) is no guaranteeof satisfaction (pleasant feelings of gratification in the mind of the agent).Somefimes whenwe get rvhattvervant tvealsoget,as a kind of extradividend, a tvarm, glowingfeeling of contentment; but often,far too often, we get no dividend at all, or, evenlvorse, the bitter tasteof ashes. Indeed,it hasbeensaid that the characteristic psychological problem of our time is the dissatisfaction that attends the fulfillment of our very most powerful desires. Evenifwe grant,however, for the sake ofargu(i) Every voluntary action isprompted bya motive ment, that gettingwhat one wants usually yields of theagent's own. satisfaction, the egoist's conclusion doesnot follorv. We can concede that we normally get pleabut rather: sure(in thesense of satisfaction) whenour desires are satisfied,no matter whot our desires arefor; (iD Everyvoluntary actionis prompted by a mo- but it doesnot follow from this roughlyaccurate tiveofa quite particular kind,viz.a selfish one. generalization that the only thing we everdesire is our own saiisfaction. Fleasure may rvellbe the (i) is obviously Statement true, but it cannotall usualaccompaniment of all actionsin which the by itselfgiveany logicalsupportto statement (ii). agentgetsrvhat he wants; but to infer from this The source of the confusion in this argument is that what the agentalwaysrvantsis his own pleareadilyapparent. trtis not thegenesis ofan action sureis like arguing, in William James's example,s or the origin or its motives which makes it a that because an ocean liner constantly consumes "selfish"one,but ratherthe "purpose"ofthe act coal on its trans-Atlantic passage that therefore or the objectiye of its motives;nat wherethe mothepuryoseof its voyageis to consume coal.The tive comes frorn (in voluntary actions it always immediateinferencefrom evenconstantaccomcomesfrom the agent)but whatit aims at deter- panirnent (or motive)is always to purpose a non mineswhetheror not it is selfish. Thereis surely sequitur. a valid distinctionbetweenvoluntarybehavior,in Perhapsthere is a sense of "satisfaction" (dewhich the agent'sactionis motivatedby purposes sirefulfillment)suchthat it is certainlyand uniof his own, and selfsh behavior in which the versallytrue that we getsatisfaction whenever rve agent'smotives are of one exclusive get what rve want. But satisfactionin this sense sort. The egoist's argument assimilates all voluntaryaction is simplythe"cominginto existence of that which into the class of selfishaction, by 4equiring,in is desired."I{ence,to say that desirefulfillment efect, that an unselfish actionbeonewhich is not yields"satisfaction" always in this sense is to say really motivated at all. In the words of Lucius no more than that rve alwaysget what we tvant Garvin, "to say that an act proceeds from our when we get what lve want, which is to utter a own . . . desireis only to say that the act is our tau-tology like "a roseis a rose."It can no more own. To demandthat we should aetan motives entail a synthetic truth in psychology(like the that are not our own is to ask us to make ouregoistic thesis)than"a roseis a rose" can entail selves living contradictions in terms.,,? significantinformation in botany.




Then other than his own happiness' something Thefallacy in ar' Benevolence. 8. Disinterested of course Lincoln when that desirewas satisfied, gument 4b then consists,as Garvin puts it' "in pleasure.The obiect of Lincoln's desire derived deunselfishIhe suppositionthat the apparently rather pleasurewas the conse' pleasure; sire tobenefit othersis transformedinto a selfish was not desirefor- something quenceof his preexisting from-carone by the fact that we derivepleasure ilse. [f Lincoln had beenwholly indifferentto the rying it out."s Not only is this argumentfallaplight of the little pigsas he claimed,how could of a cioui; it also providesus with a suggestion from help' possiblyhavederivedany pleasure counter-argumentto show that its conclusion 6e peace of achieved could not have ingthem? Ftre (psychologicalegoistic hedonism)is false' Not prior a not he pigs, had the mind from rescuing asa ofpleasure(satisfaction) only is the presence peace of mind depended his which concern-on action proof the that by-product of an action no pigs -for the welfare of the for its own sake' wai selfish; in some special casesit provides hedonistanalyzes the psychological trngeneral, rather conclusiveproof that the action was un' into a desirefor "benevo' appaientbenevolence the fact that we selfsh. For in thosespecialcases the benevolentman from a particular actionpresupposes lent pleasure." No doubt get pleasure but in does get pleasurefrom his benevolence, e/se-somethingother something lnoi ,, desired previously has he this is only because mostcasei, than our own pleasure-as an end in itself and person, or animal,or good of some the desired state pleasant not merely as a meansto our own mankind atlarge' Where there is no suchdesire, of mind. conductis not generallyfound to give benevolent This way of turning the egoistichedonist'sarpleasure to the agent. gumentback on him can be illustratedby taking for the psychoDifficult cases 9. Malevolence. (per' i typical egoist argument, one attributed of disin' logical egoistinclude not only instances haps apouyphally) to Abraham Lincoln, and of cases teiested benevolence, but also then examiningit closelY: and malice Indeed, malevolence." "disinterested generallyno more "selfish" than beare hatred on to a fellow-passenger remarked Mr. Lincolnonce Both are motives likely to causean nevolence. by prompted were men all that mud-coach anold-time of his own interests-in the case wasan- agentto sacrifice Hisfellow-passenger in doinggood. selfishness the in else, in orderto helpsomeone binevolence, overa passing theyrvere when thisposition tagonizing in order to harm someone malevolence they case of As a slough' bridge that spanned ultimatelyonly sow else. "oidotoy man is concerned The selfish anoldrazor-backed theyespied thisbridge crossed or power;the her pigs with his own pleasure; happiness, because on the bankmakinga terriblenoise with ofdrown- benevolent in danger andrvere man is often equally concerned hadgotinto theslough Mr' hill' man' to climb the. of others;to the malevolent ing. es the old coachbegan the happiness a mo' Just out' "Driver,can'tyoustop called Lincoln the injuiy of anotheris often an end in itself-an out, ran backand ThenMr. Lincolnjumped ment?" with no thoughtfor endto bi pursuedsometimes lifted the little pigs out of the mud and waterand his orvn interests.There is reasonto think that hiscomhereturned, When placed themon thebank. to injure themselves men haveas often sacriflced selfishness does where "Now Abe, panionremarked: with and others, save or to help to as kill others or yoursoul "Wh!, bless on thislittleepisode?" asin the other' I should asmuch "heroism" in the onecase of selfishness' Ed, that wasthe veryessence wasfirst no' malevolence of nature and unselfish gone on The ofmindall dayhadI hadno peace have Bishopand moral philosopigs'I overthose ticedby the,A'nglican old sowworrying left that suffeiing pher JosephButler (16g2-i752), who regretted of mind,don'tyousee?"lo did it to getpeace than they are'll that men are no moie selfish Self-Decep' universol Evidence of Lack 10. for If Lincoln had carednot a whit for the welfare psychological of sort cynical rnore The tion. of the little pigsand their "sufering" rnother,but pheby the widespread egoistwho is impressed only for hii own "peaceof mind," it would be (see4c above)cannot of self-deception didcult to explain how he could have derived n"o*.non no he hascommited for of, quickly disposed so be pleasure from helpingthem' The veryfact that he ac' We can only argue tha.tthe Iogicaimistakes. asa resultofhelping the pigs iiO feetsatisfaction is insuffiof self-deception frequency kriowledged that he had a preexistingdesirefor presupposes

5o5 cient evidencefor his universal generalization. his imagination. Imaginea person(let'scall him His argumentis not fallacious, but inconclusive. "Jones")who is, first of all, devoidof intellectual No one but the agenthimselfcan everbe cercuriosity. He hasno desire to acquire any kind of tain what conscious motives reallypromptedhis knowledge for its own sake,and thus is utterly action,and wheremotives aredisreputable, even indifferent to questions of science, mathematici, the agent may not admit to himself the true naandphilosophy. Imagine furtherthat thebeauties ture ofhis desires. Thus,for everyapparent case of natureleaves Jones cold:he is unimpressed by of altruistic behavior,the psychological egoist the autumnfoliage, the snow-capped mountains, can argue,with someplausibility, that the true andthe rollingoceans. Long walksin the country motivation might be selfish, appearance to the on springmorningsand skiing forages in the wincontrary. Philanthropicactsare reallymotivated ter are to him equallya bore. Moreover,let us by the desireto receivegratitude;acts of self- suppose that Jones can find no appealin art. Nov_ sacrifice, when truly understood, are seento be elsaredull, poetryapain,paintings nonsense and motivatedby the desireto feelself-esteem; and so musicjust noise.Suppose further that Jones has on. We must concede to the egoistthat all appar- neitherthe participant's nor the spectator's pasent altruismmight be deceptive in this way; but sion for basebail, football, tennis,or any other sucha sweepinggeneralization requires consider- sport.Swimmingto him is a cruel aquaticform ableempiricalevidence, and suchevidence is not of calisthenics, the sun only a cause of sunburn. presentlyavailable. Dancing is coeducational idiocy, conversation ll. The "Paradoxof Hedonism',ond lts Con- a wasteof time, the other sex an unappealing sequences for Education. The psychological mystery.Folitics is a fraud, religion mere suegoistic Hedonist(e.g., Jeremy tsentham) hasthe perstition;and the miseryof millions of undersimplest possibletheory of human motivation. privilegedhuman beingsis nothing to be conAccordingto this variety of egoistictheory, all cerned with or excited about.Suppose finallythat humanmotives withoutexception canbe reduced Joneshas no talent for any kind of handicraft, to one-namely, the desirefor one's own pleaindustry,or commerce, and that he doesnot resure. But this theory, despiteits attractive simgret thet fact. plicity, or perhapsbecause of it, involvesone What then is Jones interested in? He must deimmediatelyin a paradox.Astute observers of siresomething. To be sure,he does. Jones hasan humanaffairsfrom the time of the ancientGreeks overwhelming passion for, a complete preoccupahaveoften noticedthat pleasure, happiness, and tion with, his own happiness. The one exclusive satisfaction are statesof mind which standin a desire of his life is to be happy. trt takes little very peculiarrelationto desire. An exclusive deimagination at this point to seethat Jones,s one sire for happiness is the surestway to prevent desireis boundto befrustrated.Peoplewho-like happiness from cominginto being. F{appiness has Jones-most hotly pursuetheir own happiness a way of"sneakingup" on persons whentheyare are the least likely to find it. Flappy peopleare preoccupied with otherthings;but whenpersons those who successfully pursue such things as deliberately and single-mindedly setoffin pursuit aesthetic or religious experience, self-expression, of happiness, it vanishes utterly from sight and service to others, victory in competitions, know!cannotbe captured.This is the famous,.paradox edge, power,and so on. Ifnone ofthesethinesin of hedonism": the single-minded pursuitof hapthemselves and for their own sakesmeaninypiness is necessarily self-defeating, for the woyto thing to a person, if they are valuedat all then get hoppiness is to forget it; then perhapsit will only as a meansto one'sown pleasant states of cometo you. If you aim exclusively at pleasure mind-then that pleasurecan never come.The itself,with no concernfor the thingsthat bring rvayto achieve happiness is to pursuesomething pleasure, then pleasure will nevercome.To deelse. rive satisfaction, one must ordinarilyfirst desire Almost all peopleat one tirne or anotherin something other than satisfaction, and then find their livesfeelpleasure. people(thoughperSome the meansto get what one desires. hapsnot many)realiy do live liveswhich are on To feel the full forceofthe paradoxofhedonthe wholehappy.But if pleasure and happiness ism the readershouldconducfan experiment in presuppose desires for something otherthanplea-



SELF-LOVE AND THE CLAIMS OF MORAI-ITY psychology to rest put that form of the egoistic claims hedonist that onceandfor all. The egoistic for to the singledesire canbe reduced all desires is Now the word "pleasure" one'sown pleasure, On the one hand, it can standfor a ambiguous. but very familiar and specific certainindefinable, a property or moreaccurately, kind of sensation, if not excluand it is generally, of sensations; For example, with the senses. sively,associated ther' such as sweetness, certain taste sensations from a hot bath of the sortderived mal sensations or the feel of the August sun while one lies on a olfactory sensasandy beach,erotic sensations, or perfume, of flowers tions(say)of the fragrance from a and tactual and kinesthetic sensations Let good massage, are all pleasantin this sense. of "pleasure,"which is the con' us call this sense verseof "physicalpain," pleasurel. On the other hand, the word "pleasure"is of' ten usedsimply as a synonymfor "satisfaction" (in the senseof gratification,not mere desire of plea' the existence fulflllment.) In this sense, the prior existenceof desire. sure presupposes Knowledge, religious experience,aestheticex' "spiritual activities" pression, and other so-called In fact, as we often give pleasurein this sense. in this sense we tend to get pleasure haveseen, we get what we desire,no matter what whenever evenderivespleasure we desire.The masochist (in the senseof "satisfaction") from his orvn I-et uscall thesense physicallypainful sensations. of "pleasure"which means"satisfaction"-pleaSUf2.

ofpleasure thentheexistence sureandhappiness, people of some in experience the and happiness provesthat thosepeoplehave strong desiresfor somethingother than their own happinessto the contrary. hedonism egoistic of the "pafadoxof hedonism" Theimplications should be obvious.The theory for educational raise a happy child are to parents least likely train intentions, the best thosewho, evenwith E{ow often directly. happiness their child to seek have we heard parentssay: anintellecnotbecome I don'tcareif my childdoes artist.I just wanthim stat,or a great tual,or a football not does Happiness average sortofperson. to bea plain it's not greatambitions frustrations; andgreat require of for thesake neurotic andbecome worthit to suffer I justwantmy childto be art,or do-goodism. science, happy. for it is thechild mistake, This canbea dangerous (and the adult for that matter) without "outer' directed" interestswho is the most likely to be unhappy.The pure egoistwould be the most wretchedof persons. of "life adjust' The educatormight well beware goal of the educational ment" as the conscious processfor similar reasons."Life adjustment" can be achievedonly as a by-product of other pursuits.A whole curriculum of "life adjustment to designed by couses unsupplemented courses" incitean interestin thingsotherthan life adjust' ment would be tragically self-defeating. it is probablytrue that As for moral education, means punishment and rewardareindispensable to believe But if the child comes of inculcation. for being motal ate that he that the sole reasons therebyandl the pain of punishment will escape of a goodreputaor that he will gainthe pleasure tion, then what is to preventhim from doing the immoral thing wheneverhe is sure that he will and reward not be found out? While punishment then are important tools for the moral educator, they obviouslyhave their limitations' Bewareof the man who doesthe moral thing only out of fear He is not likely to be of pain or love of pleasure. is truly sucwholly trustworthy. Moral education persons who are willing when it produces cessful it is right, and to do the right thing simplybecause it is popular or safe. not merely because One final argument as Sensation. 12. Pleasure hedonismshouldsufficeto againstpsychological

hedonthe psychological Now we can evaluate ist'sclaimthat the solehumanmotiveis a desire bearing in mind (as he for one's own pleasure, often doesnot) the ambiguityof the word "pleato be saying sure."First, let us takethe hedonist (pleasant pleasurel sensa' it the desire for is that people all of desire is the sole ultimate which tion) of providing a motive and the soledesirecapable doubt that all (or tr little Now have for action. pleasure,some' people their own desire most) kind of desireoc' familiar this times. Eut even When I am very rarely. rather curs, I think, specifically' more I to eat, or, hungry, oftendesire Much potatoes. of steakand these to eatthis piece simply eat certain morsels I to lessoftendo desire for the sakeof the pleasantgustatorysensations I have,on the otherhand,been theymight cause. motivatedin the latter way when I havegoneto French or Chi' exotic (and expensive) especially

5o7 neserestaurants; but normally,pleasant gastro- sure2 (satisfaction) and not merely pleasurel nomicsensations aresimply ahappy (pleasant sensation) which is the sole ultimate or by-productof my eating, not the "on..qu.n.. antecedently objectiveof all voluntary behavior. In one redesiredobjectiveof my eating. There are, of spect, the "satisfaction thesis', is evenlessplausi_ course, otherswho take gustatory sensations far ble than the "physicalsensation thesis',; for the moyeseriously:the gourmet wiro eats only to latter,at least is a genuineempirical hypothesis, savorthe texturesand flavorsof fine foods.and testable in experience, though contrary to the the wine fancierwho ,,collects,' the exquisitely facts which experience discjoses. The former, subtleand very pleasant tastes of rareold wines. however, is so confused that it cannotevenbe Suchmen are truly absorbed in their tastesensa- completelystatedwithout paradox.It is, so to tions when they eat ancldrink, and there may speak, defeated in its own formulation.Anv at_ evenbesome(rich)persons whose clesire for such temptedexplicationof the theory that all men at sensations is the solemotive for eatingand drinkall timesdesire only their own satisfaction leads ing. It should take little argument, however, to to an infrnite regress in the following nay: convince the reader that such personsare ex* tremely rare. Similarly,I usually derivepleasure from taking "AIl mendesire onlysatisfaction." a hot bath, and on occasion (though not very "Satisfaction of what?', often) I evendecideto bathesimply for the sake "Satisfaction of theirdesires." "Theirdesires of suchsensations. for what?" Evenif this is equallytrue of "Theirdesires for satisfaction",, everyone,however, it hardly provides grounds "Satisfaction of what?" for inferring that no one ever bathes from any "Theirdesires." other motive. It should be empiricallyobvious "For rvhat?" that we sometimes bathesimply in order to gec "For satisfaction"-etc., ad infnitum. clean,or to please others,or simplyfrom habit. The view then that wr;areneverafter anything in our actions but our own pleasure*thatail men In short,psychological hedonism interpreted in are complete "gourmets,, of onesort or another this way attributes peopie all to as iheir sole inr:-is not only moraily cynical;it is also contrary tive a vrhollyvacuorls and infiniteiy sel&defeating to common sense and everyda;r experience. In desire. T'hesourceoi this absurdityis in the nn.r%ct, the view that pleasairt pla.ysueir sensations tion that satisfaction eail, so to speak,feed on an enormous role in humanaffair:s is so patenilv itseif;and perfbrrnthe nriracleof perpetual seiifalse,on the availa.bie evidence, that we mrrsi regeneration irr t?reatrsence of desiresfor any_ concludethat the psyehologica,l hedonisfhas the thing other th.anitselfl 'Uo othersense of "pleasure,,-satisfaction--in mind summarize the a_rgument of sections l l ancl 'I'he when he states his thesis. If, on the other hand, 12: wol'd "pleasure,,is ambiguous. Fieahe really doestry to reducethe appar"ent multisDrlr?3_t1s a certainindefinable chaizcteristicof tudeof humanmotives to theonedesire for pleas- physical sensation. Fleasure2 refersto the feeling ant sensations, fhen the abundance of historical of satisfaetion that often comeswhen one gets counter-examples justifies our rejectionout of what one desires whatever be the nalureof that handof his thesis. It surelyseems incredible that which one desires. Now, if the heclonist meails the Christian martyrs were ardenfly pursuing pleasurcl vuhen he saysthat on'sown pleasurc is their own pleasure when they marcheel off to fur'. the ultirnateobjectiveof all of oire'sbeha,lor, the lions, or that what the Russiansolcjiers at thenhisviewis not supported by theiacts.Cn the Stalingrad"teally" wanted when thev dousecl otherhand, if he means pleasure2, thenhis theory themselves with gasoline, ignitedthernselves, and cannotevenbe clearlyformulated, sinee it leacls then threw the flamingtorchesof their own bod,,I clesire to the following infinite regress: only teson Germantanks,wassimplythe experience satisfaction of my desire for satisfaetioir of rny of pleasant physicalsensations. desirefor satisfaction . . . etc., ad iryInitum.,,[, 13. Pleasureas Satisfoction. tr-et us consider concludethen that psychological hedonism(the nowtheotherinterpretation ofthe hedonist,s thernost common form of psychological egoism), sis,that according to rvhichit is one'sown plea- however interpreted, is untenable.



SELF-LOVE AND THE CLAIMS OF MORALITY true-i.e., that (1) is true, but that is is necessarily that it cannot possiblybe false, that no future could possiblyupset or observations experiences it, that to deny it would be to asserta logical contradiction.But notice that what a tautology truth") it losesin gainsin certainty ("necessary (1) imparts no incontent.Statement descriptive formation whateverabout any matter of fact; it simply recordsour determinationto use certain words in a certainway. As we say' "It is true by definition." true solelyin virSimilarly, (2) is (necessarily) tue of the meaningsof the words "cause" and no further observations "effect" and thus requires observa' to confirm it. And ofcourse,no possible matter of no tions could falsify it, sinceit asserts (necessarily) (3) is fact. And finally, statement true solelyin virtue of the meaningof the English "either . . . or". Suchterms as "either expression . .. orrt' "If . , . thenr" "andr" and "not" are calledby logicians"logical constants."The def' nitions of logical constantsare made explicit in "laws of thought"-the law of conthe so-called tradiction, the law of the excludedmiddle, and the law of identity. These"laws" are not lawsin as are (say) the laws of physics. the samesense of the def' Rather,they are merelyconsequences and as such,though nitions oflogical constants, true, they impart no infor' they are necessarily mation about the world. "Either Providence is the capital of R.hodetrslandor it is not" tells us nothing about geography;and "Either it is now raining or else it is not" tells us nothing about the weather.You don't have to look at a map or look out the window to know that they are true. Rather, they are known to be trve a priori (independently of experience); and, like all (or many)lz a prioti statements' they are vacltolts,i.e', devoid of informative content. The denial of an analytic statementis calleda The following aretypical examples contradiction. or married"' "Somespinsters of contradictions: both no effects," have "Providence causes "Some is and is not the capitalof RhodeIsland."As m the truth valueofcontraoftautologies, the case dictions (their falsehood)is logically necessary' and not contingenton any facts of experience, uninformative.Their ialsity is derived from the (definitions) of the wordsin which theY meanings are expressed.

D. CRITIQUE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISM: UNCLEAR LOGICAI, STATUS OF THE THEORY 14. There remain, however, other possible forms of the egoistic psychology.The egoist might admit that not all human motivescan be reducedto the one ultimate desirefor one's own and yet still maintainthat pleasure, or happiness, our ultimate motives,whetherthey be desirefor (J. S. Mill), self-fulfillment(Aristotle), happiness power (Hobbes) or whatever, arc always self' regardingmotives.He might still maintain that, given our common human nature, wholly disinterested action impelled by exclusively otherimpossible, regardingmotivesis psychologically and that thereforethere is a profoundly imporin which it is true that, whether they tant sense be hedonistsor not, all men are selfish. to me that this highly paradoxiNow it seems cal claim cannot be flnally evaluateduntil it is and that it cannotbe prop' properly understood, erly understooduntil one knows what the psychologicalegoistis willing to acceptas evidence either for or against it. In short, there are two (a) whetherthe thethings that must be decided: (b) its truth or whether and false or is true ory falsity (its truth value) dependsentirely on the or of the wordsin which it is expressed meanings whether it is made true or falseby certainfacts, in this casethe facts of psychology. 15. Anatytic Statements. Statementswhose of the truth is determinedsolelyby the meanings can thus and are expressed, in which they words of' are evidence, empirical from be held immune The tautologies. or statements ten calledanalytic of tautologies: followingare examples areunmarried. (l) All spinsters (2) All effects havecauses' of RhodeIs' is the capital (3) EitherProvidence land or it is not. The truth of (1) is derivedsolelyfrom the meaning of the word "spinster,"which is defined(in part) as "unmarried woman." To find out whether(1) is true or falsewe neednot conduct or performexperi' compilestatistics. interviews, and is superfluous ments..dll empiricalevidence of "spinfor if we know the meanings irrelevant; ster" and "unmarried," then we know not only

5Og 16. SyntheticStatements. On the other hand, evidence againstit. If o personosserts or believes statements whosetruth or falsity is derivednot a generolstotement in sucha way that he csnnot from the meanings of worcJs but rather from the conceive of onypossibleexperience whichke would flctl ole](perience(observations) are calledsyn_ countosevidence agoinstit, thenhecannotbesaid tltetic,ts Prior to experience, therecanbeno good to be assertingor believingan empirical hypothereason to think either that they are true or that , sls. We can refer to this important characteristic they are false.That is to say,their truth value is of empiricalhypotheses asfatsifability in princicontingent;and they can be confirmed or dis_ ple. confirmed only by empirical evidence,ra i.e.,con_ Somestatements only appearto be empirical trolled observations of the world. Unlike analytic hypotheses but are in fact disguised tautologies statements, they do impart information about reflecting the speaker,s determination to use ,,It mattersof fact. Obviously, is rainingin Newwords in certain (often eccentric)ways. For ex_ port now," if true, is moreinformative than ,.Eiample, a zoologist might refuse to allow the exis_ ther it is raining in Newport now or it is not.,, tence of "Australianswans', to countasevidence eventhoughthe former could be false, while the against the generali zation that all swans are latter is necessarily true. I take the followingto white,on the groundsthat the black Australian be examples of synthetic(contingent) statements: swans are not "really" swansat all. This would indicatethat he is holding wLtiteness to be part of (1') All spinsters the definitionof "swan,',and that therefoie, arefrustrated. the (2') All events statement have causes. "All srvans arewhite,,is, for him, ,,true (3) Providence is thecapital by definition"-4pd thus just as immune from of Rhode Island. (3") Newport is thecapital ,,All of Rhode Island, counterevidence as the statement spinsters are unmarried." Similarly, most of us would refuse Statement (3') is true; (3") is false;and (1') is a to allow any possible experience to counr as evidence matterfor a psychologist against,,2 + 2 : 4', or,,Either uni_ (not for a philosopher) cornsexist or they do not,', indicatingthat the to decide; and the psychologist himselfcanoniy decideempirically.i.e.,by makingmanyobserva_ propositions of arithmeticand logic are not empirical hypotheses. tions. The statusof (2') is very Oifficultand its 18. Ordinary Languoge and Equivocation. truth valueis a matterof greatcontroversy. That Fhilosophers, is because evenmore than ordinaiy men,are its truth or falsitydepends on sll the prone to make startling and paradoxicalclaims fa,cts ("all events"); and, needless to say,not all that take the form of universal generalizations of the evidence is in. and henceresemble perhaps 17. Empirical Nypotheses. empiricai hypotheses. For the mosr example, interestingsubclass "All things are rnental(there are no of syntheticsta-ternents are .,All physical thosegeneralizations objeets),', thingsare good(thereis of experience of the sorr ,,All no evil)," eh_aracteristically ".4.11 voluntarybehavior made by scientists; is selfish,', etc. e.g., released objeets heavier thanair fall,,' ,.A11 swans Let us confineour attentionfor the momentto are white," "A.ll men haveOedipus of psycho_ compiexes.,, the latter which is a rough statement ,.empirical I shall call suchstatements At fi.rst sight,the statemeni,,Ali hypothe- Iogicalegoism. voluntary behavioris selfish,'seemsobviously ses"to indicatethat their functionis to ium up false. pastexperience Onemight replyto the psychological a_nd enable us successfuilv egoist to orein some dict or anticipatefuture $uchmanneras this: T.hry"ura neverlogicallycertain,sinceit is alwavsat ieasr \ know some behavior, at least, is unselfish, conceivablethat future experiencewill disbecause I sawmy Aunt Emma yesterday give herlastcenr conlirm them. For example, ro zoologists oncebe_ abeggar.I{orv shewiil have go a whole to rveek rvith lievedthat all swans are white,until blackswans nothing to eat.Surely, that wasnot selfish of her. were discovered in Australia"The most impor_ tant cha,racteristic of empir ical hypotheses for Nevertheless, the psychological egoist is likely our present purposes is their relationto evidence. not to be convincerl, and insist that,in this case, ,4.personcan be said to unclerstand. an empirical if we knewenough aboutz\unt Emma,we rvould hypothesis only if he knows how to recognize learnthat her primaryrnotive in helpingthe beg_

roEL FErNtsERc



SELF-LOVE AND THE CLAIMS OF MORAI-ITY ently means by .,selfish"simply .,motivated,,, when he saysthat all motivated actionis selfish Thus oneword-"selfish,'-must for him do the no-tassertingo syntheticempirical hypotltesis ,.unselfish', work of trvo words (,,selfish" and in about human mofives;rothen iis stateient is a their old meanings); and, as a result, a very real tautologyroughly equivalentto ,,all motivatedocdistinction, that betweenactionsfor the sakeof tionsare motivated.,'And if that is the case, then others and actionsat the expense of others,can whathe saysis true enough; but, Iike all tautolo- no longer be expressed in the language. Because gie,s, it is empty, uninteresting, and trivial. the egoisthasnoticedsomerespects in which two Moreover, in redefining,,selfish"in this way, types of actionsare alike, he wishesto make it the psychologicalegoist has committed the falimpossible to describe the respects in which they Iacy of the suppressed correlative. For what can differ. It is difficult to see any utility in this state we now contrast,,selfish voluntaryaction', with? of affairs. Not only are there no octual caies of unselfish ,.proposal,' But suppose we adopt the egoist's voluntary actionson the new definition;thereare nevertheless. Now we would have to say tirat all not even any theoreticallypossibleor conceivable actions are selfish;but, in addition, we would casesof unselfishvoluntary actions.And if we want to say that there are two different kinds of cannotevenconceive of what an unselfish volunselfishactions, thosewhich regardthe interests of tary action would be like, how can we give any othersand thosewhich disregardthe interests of s:nr-:-t9_the expression,,selfishvoluntary acothers,and, furthermore,that only the latter are tion"? The egoist,so to speak, has so blown up blameworthy.After a time our ear would adjust the sense of "selfish,,that, like inflatedcurrency, to the new uses of the word .,selfish,,' and we it will no longerbuy anything. would find nothing at all strangein such srate20. PsychologicalEgoism as a Linguistic promentsas"Someselfish actionsaremorally praiseposol.Thereis still oneway out for the egoist.He worthy." After a while, we rnight eveninventtwo mightadmitthat his theoryis not reallya psycho- new ,,selfitic" words,perhaps and ,,unselfitic,,, to Iogicalhypothesis abouthumannatuie desisneO distinguishthe two important ..selfish" classes of to accountfor the facts and enableus to pr;dict actions.Then we would be right back wherewe or anticipatefuture events. He may evenwillingly started,with new linguistic tools (,.selfish,' for concedethat his theory is really a disguised "motivated," "selfitic"for "selfish,,' and,,unselfiredefinitionof a word. Still, he might argue,he to do the same old necessary !ig" for "unselfish") has made no claim to be giving un u".u.-ut. d._ jobs.That is, until somenewegoistic philosophei scription of actual linguistic usage. R.ather, he is aroseto announce with an air of discovery that makinga proposalto reviseour usage in the inter"All selfishbehavioris really selfltic-theie are estofeconomy andconvenience,just asthebiolono truly unselfiticselfishactions.,'Then, God gistsonceproposed that we change the ordinary help us! meaning of "insect'o in suchaway thatspiders are no longercalledinsects, and the ordinarymean_ NOTES ing of ,,fish,' so that whalesand sealsare no longercalledfish. _ l. See his Introduction to the principles of Morals and L.egislation What are we to sayto this suggestion? First of .(1789), Chap. I, first paragiaptr,-,.Xatuietras placed manklndunderthe governance all, stipulativedeflnitions(proposals of trvosovereign mas_ to reviseusters,poin andpleasure. age)are nevertrue or false.They are simply use- we ought to do, as well It is for them aloneto point oirt what as to determinewhat we shal do. . . . ful or not useful. Would it be useful to ieiefine .Theygovernus in all we do, in all we say,in a[ we?ink: 'every effort rvecanmaketo throw offour su6:..ti"" *itt-r..u. "selfish"in the way the egoist recommends? It is but to demonstrate and confirmit." difficultto see what wouldbegained thereby. The egoist hasnoticedsomerespects in which actions ..-2. C. D. Broad,Ethicsand theHistoryof philosophlt (New press,1952), York: The Humanities normally called "selfish',and actionsnormally Essay"lG_..Egoi'., usu Theory of Human Motives," p. 2ta. fiis essay"is iilghly calledo'" arealike,namelythey areboth recommended, motivated and they both can give satisfaction_ 3. ettherin prospect Butler'sMoral philosophy (Lonor in retrospect-to the agent. , *Austin Duncan-Jones, don:.Penguin Books, p. t952), 96. Duncan-Jon., go.s on to Because of these likenesses, the egoistfeelsj-usti- reJecr rnrsargument. Seep. 5 l2 f.

is to or assuage a thing has one of the abovecharacteristics gar wasto promoteher own happiness pair. know To the in contrist it with the opposite or increaseher own self' f,., o*n conscience, in the pair, we must term one of meaning the esteem,etc. We might then presentthe egoist know the meaningof the correlativeterm with with even more difrcult casesfor his theorywhich it is contrasted.trf we could not conceive patriots,and oth' saints,martyrs,military heroes, of what it would be like for a thing to be bad, for for a cause'If themselves ers who havesacrificed example,then we could not possiblyunderstand refusesto the psychologicalegoist nevertheless what is being said of a thing when it is called of unselfishbea"..!t any of theseas examples we had a notionof what "good." similarly,unless havior, then we havea right to be puzzledabout iiwould be like for an action tobe unselfsh,we what he is saying.Until we know what he would "So'and-so the sentence could hardly understand count as unselfsh behavior,we can't very well for we would have nothing to selfishly"; acted that all volunwhenhe says know what he means contrast "selfishly" with. The so-called"fallacy tary behaviotis selfsh. And at this point we may is committedby correlative"16 of the suppressed that he is holdinghis theoryin a "privisuspect re' a person-whoconsciouslyor unconsciously leged position"-that of immunity to evidence' defines pair in one of the terms in a contrasting behaviorto that he would allow no conceivable the sucha rvaythat its new meaningincorporates againstit. What he saysthen, count as evidence of its correlative. sense if true, must be true in virtue of the way he defines Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines -or redefines-the word "selfish'" And in that "selfish" (in part) as "regarding one'sown comhypothesis' empirical an be it cannot case, etc. in disregard of, or at the fort, advantage, by is "true says egoist psychological Ifwhat the of that of others." In this ordinary and expense and him with can I "agree" redefinition," then of "selfish," Aunt Emma'sactionin pt'opaa sense word of the your sense in that say "It is true giving trer last cent to the beggarcertainly was 'selfish' my Aunt Emma's behaviorwas selfish; her own comfort ior selfish.Emma disregarded which imof 'selfish,' but in the ordinary sense (it is not "comfortable" to go a week without (thereis no "advantage"in plies blameworthiness, she surely was not eating)and advantage in arguing selfish." There is no point of course malnutrition\ -similarly, for thesakeof (not "at the expense the martyr marchingoff about a mere word. The importantthing is not another. of') (not indulging)his "com' is foregoing what particular words a man uses,but rather stake to the life for the sakeof(not very his indeed whether what he wishesto say in thosewords is and fort" of' can language and the mar' If Emma ordinary from cause. of) a Departures expense true. at the pur' in a strange certain for so be must justified utility they their by are "selfish," ten be tyr then invite they when dangerous word' are of the they poses; but new sense egoistmay be The psychological A careful examination of the egoist's argu' equivocation. what new that he says when 4b above)reveals is true which something ments(seeespecially saying 'nselfish'" redefines fle doesn't he if word but givei the to ir sense, in he sense Emma is selfish (roughly) the "66fiv2fsd"' from means differs it so that "selfish" of the word realizethat his sense or perhaps"intentional." "After all," says the ordinary one, he may be tempted to infer that imwhich sense egoist,"Aunt Emrnahad somepurposein giving in the ordinary Emma is selfish (de' would and this of course tte beggarall her money, and this purpose plies blameworthiness; and an extraor' It is indeed sire,inilntion, motive,aim) was &er purpose be unfair and illegitimate' of airn some to further out was word She no one else's' dinary extensionof the meaningof the shewaspursuing Therefore, "self-indulgent" (as G. C. Chestertonremarks her own,wasn'tshe? she motives); own her (aeting from to say her own ends which allows a philosopher somewhere) and acting' so in herself wasafter something for when he wantsto be that a man is self-indulgent by calling her actionselfish' mean I what that's stake. the at burned action-action done'on all intentional Correlative' Moreover, 19. The Fallacy of the Suppressed rno' the agent's-own from deliberately purpose,' in operate Certainwordsin the Englishlanguage see can We sense"' same the in pairs-e.g., "selfish-unselfish," "good-bad," iiu.i-i. selfish appar' ;'large-smal1," now, from this reply,that sincethe egoist that To assert "mental-physical."

fied inattach,"r rr.;; ;:ilT;




(thosecalled"rationalists") be13. Somephilosophers whose truth can statements synthetic that therearesome Iieve beknorvna priori (seefootnoteI 2)' If they are right, then the aboveis not entirely accvtate, statement in footnotes12and 14. Again, subjectto the qualification 13. givenabove all havethe generic 15. The threeexamples characterthere indicated,but they also differ from one another in variousother ways,someof which are quite impor' however,we can ignore the tant. For our presentpurposes rvaysin which they differ from one anotherand concentrate of experience on their commoncharacteras generalizations con' As such they are.sharply ("inductive generalizations"). as "All puppiesare young irastedwithiuch a generalization dogs," which is analYtic. Lowenberg'Seehis-artiwascoinedby .1. 16. The phrase May cle "What is Empirical?" in the Jaurnal of Philosophy, 1940.

4, I-uciusGarvin, A ModernIntroductionto Ethics (Bos' p. 37' Quotedhereby permiston: HoughtonMiffiin, 1953), sion of the author and Publisher. 5. Op. cit, Chap.III. 6. SeePart D, 15 and 16,below. 7. Op. cit., P.39. (New York: Henry Holt' of Psychology, 8. ThePrinciples vol. II, p. 558. 1890), 9. Op. cit., P,39. 10. Quotedfrom the Springlfeld(Illinois) Moniton by F' 1928)' C. Sharpinhis Ethics (NervYork: Appleton-Century' p.75. on Human Nature Preached ll. Seehis FifteenSermons the first and eleventh' at the RollsChapel(1726),especially 12, Whether or not there are some a priori statements is still that are not merely analytic,and hencerot vacuous, a highly controversialquestionamongphilosophers'