I Agree Rachels!

Egoism is a teleological theory of ethicist that sets its goal the benefit, pleasure, or greatest good of oneself alone. (Kay) According to James Rachels, there are two ego’s that need to be discussed and refuted: Psychological Egoism and Ethical Egoism. Within his essay, Rachel argues that both of these Egoism have no bases on which they can make sense and be justifies. This is an argument that I agree with.

Psychological Egoism is the view that all men are selfish in everything that they do and the only motive is self-interest. This theory need not describe proper behavior, instead it tells how people act for themselves. (Rachels) Throughout the article, Rachels gives a many ideas that explain why this idea just isn’t possible. One may support the idea by saying that people only do what they want, thus they’re acting selfish. However, the claim just doesn’t make sense. One has to realize that under different circumstance you “want to achieve” or in the same respect feel as though you are guilty/ obligated to do something. Obviously these are the actions of wanting, instead these are tasks that one has to complete.  To furthermore explain Rachels ideas, you have W. D. Glasgow who defines a part of Psychological Egoism, principle egoism, as:

“Everyone is so constituted by nature that insofar as he acts only on any principle, he acts, and can only act, on the principles ‘I ought to act so as to maximize  my own interest’.”

This statement basically saying that one is aware of other human beings and respects their egotist ways/wants a; yet, they still try to follow the same doctrine themselves. As you can see, this idea shows how if one has respect for someone else and there ways that obviously they aren’t just looking for self-interest.

Another idea that Rachel disagrees with, is that of Ethical Egoism. Ethical egoism is the view on how men ought to act regardless of the effect on others. Egoist don’t care about other people’s feelings, emotion, and such like things. This idea obviously, then, can’t be universal, which is what Rachel tries to tell us. Once of the most important supporters of this theory Thomas Hobbes said that ethical egoism had to be controlled in order to work, clearly supporting the claim that it couldn’t be universal. (Jennings) Ironically, although this theory, ethical egoism, is not common, some major players in the world follow this doctrine. For instance, if we were to look at this economically, you have Nike, one of the leading companies in the world that happens to follow the egoism theory. In recent years, Nike has had many child labor cases because it employs many underage children in other countries. Nike only thinks about the profit in the long run and not about the hurt and unjust that it is doing to the people of these countries. This act clearly is ethical egoism since Nike isn’t caring for these people or bringing about change. Furthermore, if every company followed in the footsteps of Nike and was an ethical egoists, then the economic system wouldn’t survive. There wouldn’t be any care for the employee, thus most things fail and there wouldn’t even be a system to call economic.

With all being said, I truly think that Rachels arguments against Psychological Egoism and Ethical Egoism are justifies and make sense. There are many others who follow these doctrines and modern examples that help explain many of his claims.




Works Cited:

Dr. Charles Kay.  “Varieties of Egoism.” » Egoism. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2014. <http://sites.wofford.edu/kaycd/egoism/>.


Jennings, Marianne. Business Ethics: Case Studies and Selected Readings. 7th ed. Australia: South-Western, Cengage Learning, 2012. 12. Print.


“Nike Info” StudyMode.com. 12 2012. 2012. 12 2012 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Nike-Info-1291043.html>.


W. D. Glasgow.” Psychological Egoism.” American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Jan., 1976), pp. 75-79 Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the North American Philosophical Publications  Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20009607


Rachels, James. “Egoism and Moral Skepticism.” The University of Morality (1971): 233-239. Blackboard. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.




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