Talk:Psychological egoism

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This gave me a good laugh. Can anyone remove this passage? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:23, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

About the soldier jumping on the grenade paragraph - I am a soldier with the U.S. Army. There was an instance where a fake grenade was thrown into a group of future-soldiers for a training exercise. By instinct, I had jumped on it. My head was filled with ideals of glory as I've had seen movies in which soldiers heroically jumped on grenades.

While at first it is hard to describe, based on my own personal experience it is easy to explain. My environment and society (an authority) teaches me that a soldier jumping on a grenade is heroic. Our society values heroes. For sacrificing myself, I would be remembered. After I had jumped on the grenade, the other cadre said this was wrong and joked how they would had run away. All in self-interest. The 1SG even talked me down as one recruit didn't want to join the Army anymore after this incident, which I assume is because they are scared for their life. I felt like a fool. Self-interest, seems to be everywhere doesn't it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:09, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

"People still sit or jump on the grenade simply because a similar action in the past resulted in a good."

Reflexive actions & self-knowledge[edit]

Someone posted the following two "criticisms" under the "Criticism" section (my qualms with them follow):

Reflexive actions: "There is another criticism about reflexive actions. Suppose a person does some action that harms himself because of a reflex. This actions is not the pursuit for pleasure, but an innate action. Though this can be argued against as the person would have believed at the time that the harm caused by their action would be less than that caused if they did not act.

I'm no egoist, but this is not a problem. Psychological egoism is a thesis about intentional actions (i.e. actions that we intend to perform, not mere behaviors or reflexes). So this doesn't affect the issue at all. Keep it out of the article unless you have a citation that makes sense of it.

Self-knowledge: "Some argue that the theory claims that we cannot know our own motives, so that even if we think we are doing something altruistically, we will be wrong. In this way, psychological egoism may be viewed as a form of eliminative materialism. This may leave psychological egoism open to common attacks on eliminative materialism. However others would argue that our motives can still be known, just that some people are not as in touch with their selfish motivations that drive their seemingly altruistic ones.

I'm no egoist, but this is not a problem, at least as stated . This problem of lack of self-knowledge, if it is a problem, is about knowledge of our own motives. Eliminative materialism is a metaphysical thesis mental states, such as motives, don't exist. So, since psychological egoism isn't a form of eliminativism, it doesn't inherit the problems of eliminativism. So keep this "criticism" out of the article unless you have a citation that makes sense of it.

Rational egoism and Ayn Rand[edit]

Someone ( keeps trying to drastically change stuff on rational egoism in a bad way. The person seems to think that the view is something it's not. Person, please see any encyclopedia of philosophy entry (e.g. IEP or SEP). Rational egoism is view that it is rational to be an egoist---i.e. it's rational to be selfish in some sense. The person also seems to think that the view is specific to Ayn Rand. This is misleading. Whatever Rand calls her view exactly is irrelevant to how everyone in the field uses the term "rational egoism". You can note that Rand uses the term in a certain way, but don't make the entire entry on her. If you want to do that, then created the article Rational egoism (Ayn Rand) or something. - Jaymay (talk) 22:25, 12 August 2008 (UTC)


I find this article lacking in several respects. First and foremost, it does not discuss psychological egoism as it relates to the theory of evolution, which states that individuals act in a way that maximized their average inclusive fitness over an evolutionary time-scale. In this sense, there are no problems with the drug use example, since they have not occured frequently enough for selection to act against them. This is also the case with the Manhattan destruction example. If this was a common occurence, selection would make people choose the life in torture since by doing so they may sometimes save some relatives who can propagate some of their genes (see kin-selection).

Another problem is the trust the authors seem to put into these "thought-experiments". How do we know that what people say they will do, is also what they will do? In fact, from social psychology we know that this is often not the case. People tend to think of themselves as having noble motives, but act differently. In one study described in "The Social Animal" participants were asked to rank the most important factors when choosing a life partner. "Looks" did not rank very high. However, when their actual choices were investigated this turned out to be the most important factor of all.

The Manhattan destruction example seems to use a different definition of self-interest than the theory of evolution. If this is the case, then there is no need for suspicious thought experiments. Simply state that the theory of kin-selection shows that an individual should sacrifice herself for sufficiently many relatives, which disproves the idea of psychological egoism.

Filur 04:32, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

Because psychological hedonism makes a very strong claim (we are always motivated by self-interest), it appears to be quite easy to refute empirically.

If it hasn't actually been empirically studied, then this comment is just personal opinion. FWIW, I think that psychological hedonism makes a vague claim, referencing subjective concepts... therefore it is not testable at all. Also, this article is not about psycological HEDONISM. AdamRetchless 03:14, 21 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Sorry, I haven't been on wikipedia much, I would otherwise have replied on this earlier. It may not be necessary to study this question empirically — it seems, to me at least, there are thought experiments which refute psychological egoism. Consider this one:
I am captured by a Mad Ethicist, who has a gigantic weapons platform orbiting above Manhattan. He gives me a choice: either, submit myself to a liftetime of horrendous torture in his dungeon (with amnesia surgery to ensure that I can't take heart from my good deed); alternatively, say the word, he'll nuke Manhattan, but I get an instant and painless death (or even a luxurious life in his spaceship).
Now, personally, I would go for option 1 (saving Manhattan). Some people would go for 2. But in order for psychological egoism to be true, everyone must go for 2. In this extreme thought experiment, the arguments which Moseley describe in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy ("seemingly altruistic behavior necessarily has a self-interested component, that if the individual were not to offer aid to a stranger, he or she may feel guilty or may look bad in front of a peer group") are not applicable. -- pde 08:12, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Psychological egoism can easily be witnessed to be false merely by looking around, whereas psychological hedonism is much harder to refute. I'd still pick 2, myself, if I would be guaranteed survival. ;) - Korpios 19:58, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I believe the reason why many people wouldn't decide to destroy manhattan is guilt. They would feel extreme guilt, a negative emotion, and therefore would opt for the second choice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:44, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

This example doesn't refute anything. It's inconsistent, ill-defined, and simply uninformed. Without being an expert in this area, even I can tell that you're using a simplistic approach for evaluation of a highly complex issue. (11.16.06)

Whether one ought or ought not be motivated by self interest may be dependent on how well one takes into account the "big picture." The "big picture" tends to include consciousness of factors which interconnect the survival potential of all people and ultimately all living things, which further depend for their survival on the health of the planet as a whole. So- if one is able to envision man as dependent on the success of other life forms and life forms in general as dependent on the health of the planet, then, at least within the limited sphere of the earth, one's self-interest will always be served by doing the best for the most.

There is something I thought about... a way to prove that psychological egoism is true.

If implementation of our will is a self-interest of ours, and since everything we do is part of our will, then psychological egoism MUST be true.

hmmm... what do you think?

Well, the theory you're proposing isn't the same as psychological egoism. It could be given a new name (if it doesn't already have one) and a restatement. Depending on how you put the proposition, it might still have difficulties with some behaviours (such as procrastination), but that depends on whether you allow us to have involuntary/counter-motivated behaviour.
I suspect that the versions of these theories which are irrefutable are also (1) tautological and (2) address questions which appear to be separate from the really interesting questions about motivation (such as, "when are we selfish and when are we altruistic"?) -- pde 06:00, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes, perhaps you are right. However, although it might indeed be tautological, I don't think its very obvious. My line of thinking was that if psychological egoism is true and yet there still some actions which seem to defy it (like the known example of a soldier jumping on a granade), then the problem might lie in the use of some unaccurate definition of "selfishness" (which might be different from what we used to think in everyday life). I thought that actions which are seemingly altruistic are still, in some point, sellfish. Instead of explaining for each action why it is so (which might be difficult, since it seems like evolution made us gain pleasure from actions which intuitively seem altruistic), I tried thinking of a more general way of showing that EVERY action is ultimately sellfish.
Because doing what we want is something which gives us pleasure, regardless of the reasons we do it (because those, as I said, might seem altruistic, in the way we use this term in everyday life), we are, ultimately, selfish.
It is tautological, and it indeed might be different from the original definition of psychological egoism (which makes this a new theory, or some other theory which I'm not aware of), but I don't think it makes it less interesting.

The second-to-last two paragraph is still biased.

it is very difficult to explain, for example, the actions of a soldier who sacrifices his life by jumping on a grenade in order to save his comrades. In this case, there is simply no time to experience a "warm fuzzy glow" or any other reward for one's actions.

But there is time such for a "pre-reward," such as knowing that he will be remembered as a hero, or pride in bravery/helping to win, etc.

I specifically came to this talk page to point out the "pre-reward". Thanks for doing my job for me, Mr Unsigned. - Vague | Rant 12:09, August 19, 2005 (UTC)

Looking at the soldier example more practically I would say that he has no time to think or even feel at a moment like that, and that it all comes down to reflexes. In this case I'd say that his reflexes to protect others are stronger than his reflexes to protect himself. These reflexes could be based on earlier experiences of the power of a guilty conscience rather than feelings of reward. Is there no analysis of conscience in psychological egoism? - Wintran 23:14, 21 August 2005 (UTC)


I am not an expert, nor do I have any knowledge about this subject other than what's in this article and my own thoughts. Even though, I'd like to make a contribution. In the scenario with the soldier all opinions (in favor of psychological egoism) here claim that the reason for his action is that he recieves some sort of reward. Perhaps in a case where you have no time to react or think, this would be correct, but if you would have another similar dilemma: "Your best friend or relative has a heartcondition, s/he will die unless s/he recieves a new heart. The only way to save your friend is to give up your own heart, would you do it?" In this situation you might look at the direct effects of giving your heart away, but how about the remorse? Think about knowing you could save someone, but didn't, and how that would affect you the rest of your life. Wouldn't that be a greater selfish cause to save someones life? Kiwok 01:07 10/5 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:08, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

warm fuzzy glow[edit]

That "warm fuzzy glow" thing, is it referenced anywhere worded as such? I found no reference to it in that sense on the internet but I'm reticent to removing it altogether without replacing it with something else. Anyone knows what terms Max Stirner used? btw, is it in The Ego and Its Own that Stirner supports this theory, or is it in another text? We need sources on this article. Jules LT 22:04, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm fairly sure that the term "warm fuzzy feelings" is used by Elliot Sober and David Sloan Wilson in their book "Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behaviour", and I'm positive that the same term is used by John S. Brunero in an article titled "Evolution, Altruism and Internal Rewards Explanations" in the journal "The Philosophical Forum" (Winter 2002 edition). --RhysDavies 01:18, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

A simple-minded opinion is that this subject should not be merged with another. For someone with more basic knowledge, being able to find the subject of psychological or moral egoism on its own is quite helpful. It would be great if other subjects are linked through the content of this specific subject but for those of us with a more basic knowledge of this subject being able to find a definition that stands alone is much better.

How can one say that a "pre-reward" is available for the soldier? How would the soldier know that his/her comrades would survive for him/her to be remembered as a hero?

Whether people remember him not is only one possible source of pleasure. You also have the current pleasure -- the feeling of doing the right thing, of honor, of comradeship. For a large portion of people, they believe they will have a happy afterlife even after they die. And you also have the avoidance of displeasure -- fear of dishonor, of the shame that would come if he did not do his duty, the horror of seeing his homeland/family/whatever destroyed. And last but not least, you need to remember that human logic is not perfect. We don't always take things into account, sometimes ignoring thoughts if it makes us feel better.

Hedonism merger[edit]

I merged psychological hedonism. See Talk:psychological hedonism for old talk. Sam Spade 22:56, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Good idea. Psychological hedonism is just a form of psychological egoism. - Jaymay (talk) 22:14, 12 August 2008 (UTC)


But even accepting the theory of the universal good feeling, it is difficult to explain, for example, the actions of a soldier who sacrifices his life by jumping on a grenade in order to save his comrades. In this case, there is simply no time to experience a good feeling or any other reward for one's actions.

the time for a good feeling is simply before the soldier jumps on it. before he does it, he is sort of happy that he can save other people's life. IMO this paragraph should include my idea. --Fairychild 17:12, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

There is not enough time for the "good feeling" before he jumps. 01:42, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Whether or not he experienced such a "good feeling", undoubtedly he irrationally expected his actions to result in one, even though he likely died before this could occur. He was likely spurred into action by the briefest, most fleeting sensation of heroism and subsequent aclamation. Or, his jumping on the grenade could be the result of a reflex, in which case no actual decision was made.
I have thought and written extensively on this subject, and what I want to get across is that the actual benefit received by the actor is irrelevant-- the perceived benefit, which is what one expects, logically or illogically, to receive from his actions decides whether or not he jumps on the grenade. AdamBiswanger1R.I.P. Steve Irwin 13:57, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

"Another criticism comes from Robert Nozick's experience machine thought experiment. The thought experiment goes as follows; imagine that superduper neuropsychologists have created an experience machine, which you can plug into. Once you are plugged in you cannot tell that your experiences are not real, much like in the brain in the vat thought experiment. Prior to plugging in you can pre-program all the experiences you desire, so that it is the case that if you were to plug in, you would experience more pleasure than if you were to stay in the real world. The question is, would you plug in? It turns out that most people would not. This is a refutation of psychological hedonism because it shows that people want something other than to maximise their own pleasure."

I dont think the excerpt above is a refutation of hedonism. What is pleasurable and what is painful seems confused. The mere fact in knowing that a person is to be hooked up to a pain (the machine) is confused as denying pleasure. People in this case aren't denying more pleasure but rather avoiding a pain i.e. the knowing of being hooked up to a machine. So hedonism is still at work. Darwinzape 17:55, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Sorry for not replying until now. As I understand it, your objection to the argument from the experience machine is that it is (hedonistically) rational not to plug in, because one wants to avoid the the pain experienced after choosing to plug in and in knowing that you will abandon your life projects and never see your loved ones again, etc. Therefore someone who is always motivated by maximising pleasure and minimising pain can rationally choose not to plug in.
I do not think that this is a good objection. Let me say why.
It is not a good reason for staying out of the machine because for it to be rational (assuming psychological hedonism) the pain averted by choosing to stay in the real world AND the consequent life afterwards would have to give rise to more overall happiness (and less pain) than the initial pain experienced as a result of choosing to plug in AND the vast amounts of pleasure (and pain aversion) experienced afterwards. I do not think that this is plausible.
If you think I missed your point, or my answer is not convincing, please say so. Also, if your objection is obvious to the general reader, and my answer to it isn't obvious, perhaps both should be included in the article? --Herman88 00:57, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
I added another way to interpret the refusal to plug in to the main article. People recognize that there is an encompassing "real world" and therefore feel concern for the safety of their real bodies. This makes plugging in not necessarily a guarantee of greater pleasure because of the concern over control in the real world, particularly regarding physical safety. - SRS

Now, I think that the subject of a psychological egoism is a very complex one, and very demanding for a consideration. I personally think that egoism in deed is the basis of all human actions, but I found people very reluctant to accept it out of fear that it will make them less human. Commonly, when I discuss it with someone, the collocutor would get surprised, upset or even angry about it. Usually they would say: "Not everything I do is for my own PLEASURE, you know!" That is the major misconceptions: it is not about the PLEASURE, it is about PERSONAL GAIN, or even better yet: it is about what one BELIEVES is his PERSONAL GAIN. The irrationality in this matter is not to be omitted, cause after all it is all about the "meaning of life" (no matter how stupid this subject really is). Some people tend to identify themselves with some "higher" ideas like religion, nation, state, military unit... even football club! In that case a personal sacrifice for that idea one can see in fact as a personal gain. Hence suicide bombers, a soldier who throws himself on a bomb to save his comrades, Mother Teresa etc. For instance: "I do good things to others, hence I'm a good person, I will feel good about myself, might even go to paradise." or "If I talk, many people will be hurt. I will be despised. Will I be able to live with it?!" or "I will be a brave soldier. Everybody will be proud of me. People will tell stories about me." or simply "I'll do it cause it's the right way to do it. If I do it another way I won't be able to look myself in the mirror." etc. etc. etc. It's always "me, myself and I" in the end. I never saw somebody (including myself) helping someone without the slightest gain for himself, even if it's a mere feeling good about himself. It's very difficult to accept it, but it's true. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:18, 25 May 2010 (UTC)


has anybody considered that will and self-subservience are synonymous? Therefore any willful act is selfish, regardless of extraneous or altruistic motives. This is a perfectly simple, logical argument that can be corroborated via your favorite dictionary, but seems to have no historical value on a factual wikipedia article. What should I do with it? 23:00, 15 February 2007 (UTC)amp

look at the standford encyclopedia link, you're talking about "trivial" psychological egoism. it is not interesting to define it like this as you have pointed out. maybe we should point out the difference in the article.--Ruben 16:19, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

"Another criticism comes from Robert Nozick's experience machine thought experiment. The thought experiment goes as follows; imagine that superduper neuropsychologists have created an experience machine, which you can plug into. Once you are plugged in you cannot tell that your experiences are not real, much like in the brain in the vat thought experiment. Prior to plugging in you can pre-program all the experiences you desire, so that it is the case that if you were to plug in, you would experience more pleasure than if you were to stay in the real world. The question is, would you plug in? It turns out that most people would not. This is a refutation of psychological hedonism because it shows that people want something other than to maximise their own pleasure."

I dont think the excerpt above is a refutation of hedonism. What is pleasurable and what is painful seems confused. The mere fact in knowing that a person is to be hooked up to a pain (the machine) is confused as denying pleasure. People in this case aren't denying more pleasure but rather avoiding a pain i.e. the knowing of being hooked up to a machine. So hedonism is still at work.


Don't forget that the decision not to connect is based on a subconscious, though completely illogical feeling that connecting would be painful or dangerous. Sometimes the subconscious makes decisions contrary to logical thought. AdamBiswanger1 18:00, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

possibility of afterlife reward[edit]

A (imho) valid argument often pointed out in discussions, is that seemingly altruistic people may be motivated by what one could call an "after life reward". For example a Christian might exhibit altruistic behaviour, because he fears to burn in hell for all eternity if he hadn't. One will not receive any benefit in life, but one has sufficient believe in "afterlife", where one fears to be punished. This is especially interesting, because many religions (if not all) try to motivate non-egoistic behaviour by rewards or punishment in afterlife (Sinful Christians go to hell, bad Buddhists are not enlightened). The threat/incentive is similar to the one already pointed out, but even amplified by the fact that you'll be punished for all eternity. -- I'm sorry, I overread the subclause in the Thomas Hobbes sentence. However, this qualifying statement ensues: "However, there are many acts of apparent altruism that do not immediately appear to admit an account of this kind." I think this is why I overread it. It is biased and I beg to differ. There are few "big" altruistic actions exhibited by atheists and agnostics. People, who think, that this one is their only life, tend to egoism. This is my own observation of course, but the statement critiqued above is just as empirical.

I also think, that this qualifier should be included in the soldier-example: "In this case, there is simply no time to experience a good feeling for one's actions" To end the discussion, if the time that you spend lying on the grenade until it explodes is long enough to feel good, we can simply include the qualifier, that he may do so because of a believe in afterlife. One cannot say that soldiers never are religious. But, as pointed out in the Stanford article, he may even have non-religious reasons for example the fame he receives. Such motivation is for example show in the German film Napola, where a youngster who is weary of life anyway, chooses this way of ending his life, because it is the only suicide, which is honoured in the Nazi value system.

These qualifiers contribute to my impresssion, that the example is badly chosen anyway.

--Ruben 16:26, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

The possibility of afterlife reward is irrelevant because what *really* motivates people is not an actual reward they're gonna get after death, but their hope that they're gonna get something then. In other words, this is a probabilistic reward like most rewards and (almost) all delayed rewards. Lebatsnok (talk) 10:54, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Complete Rewrite[edit]

I would submit the suggestion that this article deserves a complete re-write. Not only does it appear to rather biased on several points (for example, its presentation of the "grenade-hugging soldier" example and lack of any refutation), but it fails to address some of the most fundamental tenets of psychological egoism. It fails to even mention, for instance, the arguments of those such as Elliott Sober and his comments regarding immediate pleasure versus greatest eventual pleasure.

By this, of course, I simply mean that it seems perfectly logical to note that the soldier would not hurl his body over the grenade if it was not what he wanted to do, i.e. if it would not give him either immediate pleasure or perceived eventual pleasure. This has already been mentioned by other commentators on this talk page, and should certainly be worked into the article.

Basically, what I'm attempting to communicate is that the article needs to explore the corresponding relationship between a Want and a Pleasure. No one would argue against the fact that people always do what they want, whether they believe it or not. And, derivitively, there is essentially no difference between Want and Desire - one need only reference virtually any dictionary to see this. Desire is, of course, inseparably linked to Pleasure (I would submit even synonymous with pleasure), and likewise, therefore, is Want.

The end result is this: because we ultimately all do what we want (excepting some fantastic example of futuristic technology allowing one person to control the brain functions of another, which is highly irrelevant to this article), we ultimately all do whatever will give us pleasure. Therein lies the core tenet of psychological egoism, or more specifically, psychological hedonism.

I submit that such a tenet is absolutely vital to any discussion of psychological egoism, and should be worked into the article with proper research and references. From my understanding, while it is not necessarily a falsifiable premise, there is certainly plenty of evidence to demonstrate its veracity. - Kwub 16:18, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

The debate is precisely over whether all desires are aimed at pleasure, over whether desire is inseparably linked to pleasure. It is a trivial statement that everyone always does what they desire, where desire is defined as any motivational feature within an agent that leads to action. However it is not trivial whether there are desires which are not ultimately aimed at producing desired inner states. I think that the experience machine thought experiment shows that there are such desires, ones which are ultimately aimed at the external world. --Herman88 14:10, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Evolutionary Theory proves Psychological Egoism False?[edit]

An examination of the arguments for and against psychological egoism can be found in Unto Others (1998), by Elliot Sober and David Sloan Wilson. Sober and Wilson ultimately argue that the psychological evidence and philosophical arguments are inconclusive on this debate, yet evolutionary theory provides good evidence that psychological egoism is false. I've never heard of this evidence evolutionary theory provides for the falsity of psychological egoism... who put this here? I myself am an egoist but I want to see this evidence. After all I'd much rather know the truth that delude myself in ideology, but as I said I have serious doubts about this dubious claim. Even if it was true and in citation form, I think it's not all that much in encyclopedia format.

Just some observations... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:17, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

The person who posted the bit about Sober and Wilson is right. But the person didn't say that evolutionary theory proves that psychological egoism is false. They said that that's what Sober and Wilson claim. And that's true. See their book. I've added a reference and clarified the wording. - Jaymay (talk) 22:17, 12 August 2008 (UTC)


People [...] jump on the grenade simply because a similar action in the past resulted in a good - 1. "good" what? 2. one wouldn't jump on the going-to-blow-up-grenade more than one more time, so the part "similar action in the past" doesn't make sense. (talk) 22:15, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

The grenade issue[edit]

Myself being an egoist can think of a good interpretation of the phrase "People still sit or jump on the grenade simply because a similar action in the past resulted in a good." If I had seen a this action in the past of someone that after doing so had been regarded as a hero and I would like to become one as well, I would think that his/hers actions resulted in something good for him/her. Probably I would fantasize of doing the same and eventually actually jumping on a grenade in order to pursuit my ultimate goal. Of course I think it has to be rewritten though, 'cause it does sounds funny. (English is not my native language, that's up to you fellows) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:14, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

grenade issue response[edit]

Your response supporting this statement is essentially already a part of the paragraph when it is stated, "one's contemplated or reactionary expectation of this is the main factor in the decision." Certainly a person can be motivated by posthumous fame or accolade, there are innumerable accounts of self sacrifice undoubtedly this factors in many. The problem I have with this statement is the direct comparison made to dog training. If we want to say that a soldier can be mentally trained to act in ways that are contrary to his own "good(feelings)" then lets simply say that. Odin1 (talk) 05:28, 13 November 2009 (UTC)


Whoever decided to add the little caveat on Nietzsche needs to do their homework. "ego" and "ism", and certainly the conjunction of the two, is something Nietzsche would never attach his name to. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:15, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Hedonism merger (again)[edit]

It seems that Psychological hedonism was at one time merged with Psychological egoism, then un-merged again later. We should try to reach consensus on whether this topic deserves its own article. Currently the "Psychological hedonism" article is a stub with no citations and minimal content. I think there is not much material which applies to psychological hedonism which does not apply to psychological egoism in general, other than the definition of the term. Hence, I recommend merging it back into this article, but want to establish consensus before doing so. Augurar (talk) 17:10, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Potential new edits[edit]

Since this is a start article, I want to add more information about psychological hedonism. Here is an outline of what I am planning on adding. I want to relate this topic more to psychology not just philosophy. 1. First expand the two sentences on psychological hedonism and give it more breadth in the opening section. I would also put more references to psychological hedonism throughout the article. 2. I would like to discuss Jeremy Bentham contributions to psychological hedonism. Specifically, his use of the ideas of of both motivational and normative hedonism and classification of what is pleasure and pain. 3. Discuss of how psychological hedonism feeds into the idea of the pleasure principle in Psychoanalysis and any other psychological perspectives that borrow from psychological hedonism. 4. Discuss Cognitive/Behavioral perspective on psychological hedonism from the modern era including studies with new models and experiments involving pain and pleasure. 5. Make the Debate section more fair and balanced instead of just discussing criticism. 6. Clean up the Criticism section and make it more objective, and also add more modern critiques of the issue. Here is link to what I have done so far in my sandbox (link) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ericmknapp (talkcontribs) 18:13, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Impossible standard for altruism[edit]

Psychological egoism seems to use a definition of altruism that's impossible to satisfy. It seems to posit altruism as some magical thing that is not satisfied by any possible conscious or unconscious intent. It seems to imply that altruism can only be "real" if it does not coincide with any other goal of a being, making it impossible for any being to ever be altruistic (no being can act without some reward function in its brain or circuitry being satisfied), or at the very least it keeps moving the goalposts whenever there is a coinciding other goal: psychological egoism will always maintain that that other goal was the "true" motivation of the being all along, which makes psychological egoism unfalsifiable and circular.

Altruism as it is seen by psychological egoism is a fantasy as much as free will and good and evil are. They simply have no meaning except in the human mind, there is no divine "true" or "real" meaning to it. Looking for such divine meaning is a perfectly normal human emotion but it should not be passed off as science or serious philosophy.

Also, who decided that in an argument one gets to trace back a motivation as far as one needs to win the argument? If you say a person helping out a stranger is "really" motivated by some ancient evolutionary instinct then you should be consisted and always trace any motivation back to evolutionary instincts. You can't just shop between direct motivation and evolutionary instincts whenever it suits you (btw, either view is ok, you just have to be consistent and use a different word for the other view). 99% of "philosophy" comes down to people not being precise and/or consistent in their definitions, creating bogus arguments/conflicts.

Anyway, I'm sure some academic with credentials must have made the above arguments at some point and the article is not complete without them. (talk) 13:30, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

What is the difference between psychological egoism and hedonistic egoism?[edit]

This article purports that psychological egoism and hedonistic egoism are not the same thing, that the latter is a form of the former, but it fails to give any examples of actions that would fall under psychological egoism without also falling under hedonistic egoism.  If hedonistic egoism were to define pain and pleasure very strictly, I could see a distinction, but this piece claims that "Psychological hedonists tend to construe 'pleasure' very broadly, so as to include all positive feelings or experiences, such as joy, satisfaction, ecstasy, contentment, bliss, and so forth.  Likewise, 'pain' is typically understood so as to include all negative feelings or experiences, such as aches, discomfort, fear, guilt, anxiousness, regret, and so forth."

But maybe that article is wrong.  After all, this article, in describing the difference, merely says that "Psychological hedonism restricts the range of self-interested motivations to only pleasure and the avoidance of pain" and does not go on to define those terms in the broad manner of the first article.

So, is there a difference, and if so, what is it?

allixpeeke 10:44, 30 September 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:14F:8105:AE10:217:F2FF:FE9C:2261 (talk)

Barton & Empirical Experimentation[edit]

Why is there no mention of C. Daniel Barton's study that claimed to falsify egoism? It is mentioned in both the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entries for Psychological Egoism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:40, 20 December 2018 (UTC)