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  • 1: a concern for one's own advantage and well-being <acted out of self–interest and fear>
  • 2: one's own interest or advantage <self–interest requires that we be generous in foreign aid>


Psychological egoism is the view that humans are always motivated by self-interest, even in what seem to be acts of altruism. It claims that, when people choose to help others, they do so ultimately because of the personal benefits that they themselves expect to obtain, directly or indirectly, from doing so. It is a non-normative view, since it only makes claims about how things are, not how they ought to be. It is, however, related to several other normative forms of egoism, such as ethical egoism and rational egoism.

A specific form of psychological egoism is psychological hedonism, the view that the ultimate motive for all voluntary human action is the desire to experience pleasure or to avoid pain. Many discussions of psychological egoism focus on this variety, but the two are not the same: one can hold that all actions are ultimately motivated by considerations of self-interest without thinking that all agents conceive of their self-interest in terms of feelings of pleasure and pain.[1]

External links

  • Egoism in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Egoism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy