The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
vorxxox
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

As a complete view, Psychological Egoism is false.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/21/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,594 times Debate No: 6594
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (3)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

After reading a couple debates on this matter, I have decided to touch on this subject also. I'm aware that some words I use in my resolution may be shifty, so I intend to clarify in my opening argument.

[Definition - Psychological Egoism]
"Psychological egoism claims that each person has but one ultimate aim: her own welfare."
http://plato.stanford.edu...

When I say "as a complete view", I mean that psychological egoism's (PE) assertion that all our actions are ultimately driven by self-interest is wrong in some examples.

It is up to my opponent to prove that we as humans always ultimately act in self-interest. I will leave further arguments for the next round.
vorxxox

Con

Thank you for such a topic.

Here is the resolution:
As a complete view, Psychological Egoism is false.

And as you said:
"Psychological egoism claims that each person has but one ultimate aim: her own welfare."

Definition of Ultimate: arrived at as the last result
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Therefore:
"Psychological egoism claims that each person has but one aim to be arrived at as the last result: her own welfare."

Now, you argue that:
"When I say "as a complete view", I mean that psychological egoism's (PE) assertion that all our actions are ultimately driven by self-interest is wrong in some examples. It is up to my opponent to prove that we as humans always ultimately act in self-interest."

Definition of Self Interests: a concern for one's own advantage and well-being
Definition of Well Being or Welfare: the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous
http://www.merriam-webster.com...
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

So you're arguing that not all of our actions are driven by intent to eventually become happy, healthy or prosperous as a last result.

Hmmmmmmm.

Well, we have to ask ourselves, what brings happiness?

The only actions I can think of that would not seem to regard self interests is interests in other people. Selflessness. Good citizens, you know. But ultimately, the person who commits selfless actions is actually brought happiness by the prosperity of others, and therefore it all proves psycological egoism, because the actions ultimately lead to the persons welfare.

:)

Well, I humbly challenge you to prove how the resolution is affirmative.

When you say:
"as a complete view"

You define it as:
"psychological egoism's (PE) assertion that all our actions are ultimately driven by self-interest is wrong in some examples"

So you just put the burden of proof on yourself, because you must give examples of such.

Well, now that I have proven the resolution:

Please vote CON.

Even my opponent.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank my opponent for taking up this debate.

=====Counterarguments=====

Because psychological egoism is an empirical doctrine, I need to find only one example or instance where it can disprove this notion. I will first refute my opponent's only claim, then move on to bring up other points of why psychological egoism is at best, a weak and unfulfilling theory.

>>>Altruistic acts are only seemingly selfish; ultimately it's still driven by self-interest<<<

This is my opponent's only point - that seemingly altruistic acts (like charity or feeding the poor) are ultimately selfish for various reasons (either personal gain or just the feeling of relief). By definition, if this were to be true then my opponent is correct. However, I can bring up one example: a soldier jumping on a grenade to save his partners.

He only has a split second to jump on the grenade, and he won't reap any benefits after it becauase he'd be dead (duh). This is obviouosly an act of altruism and thus psychological egoism is not absolutely true. Of course, my opponent can attack this example, and I will be waiting for any rebuttal. Until then, this stands as one counterexample of psychological egoism.

>>>Circular Reasoning<<<

The circular logic in psychological egoism has been expounded many times before. The social philosopher Joel Feinberg also rephrases the circular argument criticism.

"All men desire only satisfaction."
"Satisfaction of what?"
"Satisfaction of their desires."
"Their desires for what?"
"Their desires for satisfaction."
"Satisfaction of what?"
"Their desires."
"For what?"
"For satisfaction"—etc., ad infinitum

The hypothesis and conclusion are the same, thus making it circuluar logic. Unless my opponent can give independent empirical evidence that psychological egoism is true, then simply relying on casual observations of human nature is hardly proof.

=====Concnlusion=====

I'd go into evolution and it's role with psychological egoism, but frankly I'm too busy. I've given one counterexample and a reason for the circularity of psychological egoism. This seems to suffice, and I await my opponent.
vorxxox

Con

Well, not quite.

Now, to set the parameters:

Definition of Altruism: unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others

Definition of Selfish:

1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2: arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others

Definition of Regard: attention , consideration

Ok, now, listen.

According to you, I argue that :
>>>Altruistic acts are only seemingly selfish; ultimately it's still driven by self-interest<<<

"This is my opponent's only point - that seemingly altruistic acts (like charity or feeding the poor) are ultimately selfish for various reasons (either personal gain or just the feeling of relief)."

So your trying to tell me that I'm saying that altruistic acts are ultimately selfish?

"By definition, if this were to be true then my opponent is correct"

By definition, that doesn't make any sense. That's not what I'm arguing.

For someone to accurately fit the definition of "selfish", they cannot give any consideration to others.

Someone can be concerned with themselves without being selfish.

Consideration of others can still bring happiness.

Can the welfare of others can bring welfare to one?

Yes. The welfare of others can bring the welfare of one.

If so, then what happens to your arguments?

Here's you example:

"However, I can bring up one example: a soldier jumping on a grenade to save his partners.

He only has a split second to jump on the grenade, and he won't reap any benefits after it becauase he'd be dead (duh). This is obviouosly an act of altruism and thus psychological egoism is not absolutely true. Of course, my opponent can attack this example, and I will be waiting for any rebuttal. Until then, this stands as one counterexample of psychological egoism."

To care more about someone than yourself, that means obviously that the welfare of others brings welfare to you. What brings the soldier welfare is not the welfare of himself, but the welfare of his country and his comrades. Indirectly, that person intends to bring themselves welfare, but that welfare is only achieved through the welfare of others.

You say:

"He only has a split second to jump on the grenade, and he won't reap any benefits after it becauase he'd be dead (duh)."

Your wrong. He knew what he was doing. The benefits that he reaped was knowing that his friends would survive, and that he would die for his country. That's what made him happy. He did it because the success of something else made him happy. Unselfish. Yet still, ultimately but indirectly, self-interest.

I'm afraid I'm out of time, but I'm sure I've proven that acts of altruism can indirectly serve as self - interests without being selfish.

So:

Please vote CON.

Even my opponent.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

My opponent's argument is part semantics, and the other part just a weak point.

=====Counterarguments=====

"Now, to set the parameters:"
---->You do not set the parameters. I, BEING THE INSTIGATOR, has set the parameters. You can not expect to come into a debate and start changing the rules and placing down the definitions. As I have stated in my opening round, I used the term WELFARE.

"So your trying to tell me that I'm saying that altruistic acts are ultimately selfish?"
----> If you're arguing FOR psychological egoism, then you HAVE to argue this. Otherwise, you will be conceding your side, duh.

"For someone to accurately fit the definition of "selfish", they cannot give any consideration to others."
---->According to the definition of welfare, which I have placed down and you haven't attacked in the first round, you don't have to be fully concerned with yourself to be considered "selfish" or "concerned for your own welfare".

"Someone can be concerned with themselves without being selfish."
----> Selfish doesn't mean to be fully indulged in yourself like some brat you see on TV. Selfish, or welfare, can also mean self-interest. Think of the denotation, not the connotation. If in any way you act partly because of some benefit you personally want to gain, then by definition that is an act out of consideration of your OWN WELFARE. This also means SELFISH. Do not play word games when the terms and definitions have already been set.

>>>Example of soldier jumping on grenade<<<

Yes, we can conceive of examples of soldiers jumping on grenades because they feel "welfare from other's welfare". However, simply conceiving of a possible scenario does not make that an absolute necessity. How do you know that ALL soldiers who jump on grenades or other acts of self-sacrifice are life this? You have not shown why EVERY soldier or EVERY person who commits a split-second act of self-sacrifice do so because they gain welfare from other people's welfare. Surely, some people do that - and by definition that's selfish interests. But can you say EVERYONE has? No, you have not yet shown so and thus my example still stands.

=====Conclusion=====

My opponent has tried to place his own definitions of selfishness and then twist it into a word game. I have already placed down term, which is welfare, in the opening round. Selfishness/welfare does NOT mean you have to completely indulged in yourself, that's just the popular connotation when you say "he's a selfish person". People who give money to charity because they feel good from that are by definition acting out of SELF-INTEREST.

My opponent then proposes to my counterexample of the soldier by saying perhaps that solider did so because he gains welfare or personal peace knowing that his fellow soldiers will be safe. However, he has NOT shown that this is an absolute necessity for every case of self-sacrifice. Because we can conceive of a situation that involves self-interest, this does NOT mean that every similar situation has to be the same. Can I not conceive of a situation of when a soldier did so out of purely altruistic reasons? Why not, my opponent has not shown otherwise.

Finally, my opponent has failed to attack my example of the circular logic of psychological egoism. Either it's because he's out of time, or because he can't refute it, I have no clue. However, this argument still stands and until this and my other points get's refuted, vote PRO.
vorxxox

Con

vorxxox forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by CorieMike 2 years ago
CorieMike
Con would ultimately have won this debate if not for his concession. Pro makes the assertion that it is false but ultimately can't do so, therefore, all Con had to do is show why it could be true. Stating that it uses circular reasoning does not prove it is false.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
I think you got PRO and CON switched around. Additionally, how exactly did vorxxox refute my example? He gave a possible reason for the soldier's action that included selfish reasons, but he did not show how selfish reasons can be the ONLY type of reasons for the soldiers actions.
Posted by Maya9 8 years ago
Maya9
Nice try for Con, but ultimately a failure. Con stated that he needed to find only one scenario in which Psychological Egoism could not be true, and he failed to do so. Pro proved that Con's example was not necessarily altruistic and therefore fails to meet the requirements of the needed example.
Posted by xaeon 8 years ago
xaeon
@TheSkeptic

No problem. That's why I wanted to clarify in the comments rather than take up the debate for a non-starter.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Well there's backing for a "selfish gene" to be found in Joyce's "The Evolution of Morality" - basically an evolutionary explanation for altruistic behavior.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
Unfortunately xaeon, Psychological Egoism doesn't really touch upon the topic of the Selfish Gene, which of course was put forth ever so eloquently by Richard Dawkins.
Posted by xaeon 8 years ago
xaeon
burningpuppies101: "I don't see how this can be proven..."

I think the major factor in regards to proving a gene-centric view of selfishness is whether the selfishness is intentional or not. Genes have no intent, but natural selection favours genes that look out for their own genes, regardless of who is "transporting" those genes.

(Sorry if your comment wasn't directed at me, by the way).
Posted by burningpuppies101 8 years ago
burningpuppies101
I don't see how this can be proven.... If you argue instead that we *should* all act in our own self interest, then it gets interesting... Look to ayn rand...
Posted by xaeon 8 years ago
xaeon
I'd like some clarification on this debate before possibly accepting. What are your thoughts (and how would they apply to this debate) on taking a gene-centric view of altruism rather than an individual view of altruism? I feel from a gene-centric view that I can prove that all actions are selfish. This seems to me slightly outside the bounds of the debate though, so I wish to clarify this with you beforehand.

Cheers.
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Vote Placed by rougeagent21 8 years ago
rougeagent21
TheSkepticvorxxoxTied
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Vote Placed by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
TheSkepticvorxxoxTied
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Vote Placed by vorxxox 8 years ago
vorxxox
TheSkepticvorxxoxTied
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