Psychological egoism refers to the notion that human conducts are always done out of self interest, as apposed to ethical egoism, which means that the morality of an action is dependent on the self interest of a person performing that very act.
The term psychological egoism refers to the notion that human conducts are always done out of self interest. This means that they are selfish by nature to the extent that anything they do, is only meant to benefit themselves, in one way or another. Psychological egoism is a form of descriptive ethics which only emphasizes on how things are done, but do not say how they ought to be performed. On the other hand, ethical egoism simply means that the morality of an action is dependent on the self interest of a person performing that very act. According to this theory, it is immoral for an individual to act contrary to his self interest. Otherwise, they will not feel motivated to do that act (Solomon, R.C., 2009).
These concepts are interrelated and dependent in many ways. It is true that ethical egoism require psychological egoism. This is so, because it is based on the ideas of psychological egoism which does not put a lot of emphasis on hedonism, but on the claim that people should always strive for self fulfillment. In this situation, it implies that an individual must not unnecessarily aim at being the best, but at least realizing some acceptable level of achievement in the society. They only need to perform an action that will maximize their self interests.
Individual interest always overrides anything else. For instance, when a person decides to help another one, they will not be doing that just to help the benefit. Instead, they will always have a hidden agenda which they want to fulfill. So, even if it can appear that they are offering a selfless service, this will not be the case. Their main motive is accomplishing their individual interests. This is what happens to people like politicians and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs).
Therefore, an egoist may only be pragmatic if they are acting for their own. In this case, they will be seeking individual pleasure as they do all that they can to reduce pain. However, they should not only focus on themselves. They should be more consequential for the general good of all the people. In my opinion, this is what will make them be morally justified.
Consequentialism is the branch of ethics that holds that the rightness or wrongness of an action is dependent on its results. Hence, to a consequential moralist, an action can only be said to be morally right when its consequences are good. Otherwise, it will be immoral. Of course, utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism because it also focuses on the results of an action before determining its morality. In fact, just like consequentialists, utilitarians believe that an action is considered being moral if it benefits the highest number of people involved. In both, satisfaction is accomplished in case people are contented with an action (Solomon, R.C., 2009).
Consequentialism is different from pragmatism which is more scientific and focuses on the ability of an action to solve a real life problem. Similarly, it differs from deontological theory which asserts the morality of an action is determined by the set rules. The duty of an act is pegged on the regulations that determine how it is being performed in order to achieve morality.
I rally behind consequentialism theory because it can be beneficial if an action is performed after considering its consequences. I think it is immoral to do something just to conform to some regulations. This can be quite detrimental especially if the motive of the person is immoral. In such a situation, an action will be performed to meet the selfish demands of a few individuals. However, it is good to be selflessly democratic to do something whose results are beneficial to all the people in the society.
UTILITARIAN VS. IMMANUEL KANT ON MORALITY
Morality is an issue of ethical concern that has been explained by various philosophers. According to Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill’s argument on utilitarianism, the moral worth of an action is determined by its consequences. Meaning, to a utilitarian, an act is morally right if its results are producing good results. If many people benefit from it, then it is right. Otherwise, it will be wrong. On the other hand, Immanuel Kant argued that the morality of an action is determined by reason. In his opinion, he believed that rightness comes from rational thinking that he described as Categorical Imperative (CI).
I would like to argue in favor of utilitarianism theory because of its consequential claims. I think focusing on the aftermaths of an action is better than just adhering to the logically accepted standards. If a person decides to perform a moral act, it will benefit a lot of people. This is encouraging because it will help to promote the democracy of the majority. However, Kant’s reason does not hold water on the grounds that the motives for rational action may be detrimental (Solomon, R.C., 2009).
Solomon, R.C. (2009) Morality and the Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics Through Classical
Sources, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.