Psychological egoists such as Thomas Hobbes believe that altruism does not exist. Psychological egoism is an empirical doctrine that all humans act to further their needs. Thomas Hobbes was at the forefront of psychological egoism in the 17th century, but the same concept has been echoed by Social Darwinism, which claims that everyone is acting to sustain his or her survivability. Even in international relations, the realist view that all countries act to advance their self-interests predominates most current events. The two versions of psychological egoism are 1) we act selfishly and 2) we act in our self-interest. The first concentrates on our motives and the second on the results. This paper will explain the rationale behind the claim that actions are based on selfish motives, and conclude that these motives can only partially explain human behavior.
Every action is a selfish action
The first argument for psychological egoism is that it is always possible to reinterpret any action to reveal selfish motives. In order to prove such a claim we must take altruistic acts and reinterpret them into self interested actions. For example, one argues that the rich give charity to the poor to show they have power over them or to enrich their reputation. Almost all charity organizations have some form of a publication that lists the donors with the amount given. No charitable organization would use valuable resources to publish such a document unless it increased donations in the end because donors now have the incentive to advance their reputation. Another selfish motive for charity stems from empathy. When one sees a starving homeless man dressed in rags, one may give the man change because he pities the man and even would feel culpable if he doesnâ€™t. Yet, we still cannot claim that he acted unselfishly, even though the action was intended to improve the welfare of someone else. Therefore, we begin to witness that psychological egoism is in...