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  1. Beyond Sacrificial Harm: A Two-Dimensional Model of Utilitarian Psychology.Guy Kahane, Jim A. C. Everett, Brian D. Earp, Lucius Caviola, Nadira S. Faber, Molly J. Crockett & Julian Savulescu - 2018 - Psychological Review 125 (2):131-164.
    Recent research has relied on trolley-type sacrificial moral dilemmas to study utilitarian versus nonutili- tarian modes of moral decision-making. This research has generated important insights into people’s attitudes toward instrumental harm—that is, the sacrifice of an individual to save a greater number. But this approach also has serious limitations. Most notably, it ignores the positive, altruistic core of utilitarianism, which is characterized by impartial concern for the well-being of everyone, whether near or far. Here, we develop, refine, and validate a (...)
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Altruism and Psychological Egoism
  1. Précis of Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.Joshua May - forthcoming - Behavioral and Brain Sciences:1-20.
    Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind argues that a careful examination of the scientific literature reveals a foundational role for reasoning in moral thought and action. Grounding moral psychology in reason then paves the way for a defense of moral knowledge and virtue against a variety of empirical challenges, such as debunking arguments and situationist critiques. The book attempts to provide a corrective to current trends in moral psychology, which celebrate emotion over reason and generate pessimism about the psychological (...)
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  2. Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke on Desire and Self-Interest.John J. Tilley - 2019 - The European Legacy 24 (1): 1-24.
    Among the most animating debates in eighteenth-century British ethics was the debate over psychological egoism, the view that our most basic desires are self-interested. An important episode in that debate, less well known than it should be, was the exchange between Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke of Hull. In the early editions of his Inquiry into Virtue, Hutcheson argued ingeniously against psychological egoism; in his Foundation of Morality, Clarke argued ingeniously against Hutcheson’s arguments. Later, Hutcheson attempted new arguments against psychological (...)
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  3. Butler's Stone.John J. Tilley - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4): 891–909.
    Early in the eleventh of his Fifteen Sermons, Joseph Butler advances his best-known argument against psychological hedonism. Elliott Sober calls that argument Butler’s stone, and famously objects to it. I consider whether Butler’s stone has philosophical value. In doing so I examine, and reject, two possible ways of overcoming Sober’s objection, each of which has proponents. In examining the first way I discuss Lord Kames’s version of the stone argument, which has hitherto escaped scholarly attention. Finally, I show that Butler’s (...)
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  4. Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke: Self-Interest, Desire, and Divine Impassibility.John J. Tilley - 2017 - International Philosophical Quarterly 57 (3):315-330.
    In this article I address a puzzle about one of Francis Hutcheson’s objections to psychological egoism. The puzzle concerns his premise that God receives no benefit from rewarding the virtuous. Why, in the early editions of his Inquiry Concerning Virtue, does Hutcheson leave this premise undefended? And why, in the later editions, does he continue to do so, knowing that in 1726 John Clarke of Hull had subjected the premise to plausible criticism, geared to the very audience for whom Hutcheson’s (...)
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  5. Apriorist Self-Interest: How It Embraces Altruism and is Not Vacuous.J. C. Lester - 1997 - Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems 20 (3):221-232.
    This essay is part of an attempt to reconcile two extreme views in economics: the (neglected) subjective, apriorist approach and the (standard) objective, scientific (i.e., falsifiable) approach. The Austrian subjective view of value, building on Carl Menger’s theory of value, was developed into a theory of economics as being entirely an a priori theory of action. This probably finds its most extreme statement in Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action (1949). In contrast, the standard economic view has developed into making falsifiable (...)
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  6. The Transient Suppression of the Worst Devils of Our Nature—a Review of Steven Pinker’s ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined’(2012).Michael Starks - 2017 - Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization -- Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 3rd Ed 686p(2017).
    This is not a perfect book, but it is unique, and if you skim the first 400 or so pages, the last 300 (of some 700) are a pretty good attempt to apply what's known about behavior to social changes in violence and manners over time. The basic topic is: how does our genetics control and limit social change? Surprisingly he fails to describe the nature of kin selection (inclusive fitness) which explains much of animal and human social life. He (...)
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  7. Empathy and Intersubjectivity.Joshua May - 2017 - In Heidi Maibom (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Empathy. New York: Routledge. pp. 169-179.
    Empathy is intersubjective in that it connects us mentally with others. Some theorists believe that by blurring the distinction between self and other empathy can provide a radical form of altruism that grounds all of morality and even a kind of immortality. Others are more pessimistic and maintain that in distorting the distinction between self and other empathy precludes genuine altruism. Even if these positions exaggerate self-other merging, empathy’s intersubjectivity can perhaps ground ordinary altruism and the rational recognition that one (...)
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  8. Hutcheson's Theological Objection to Egoism.John J. Tilley - 2016 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 14 (1):101-123.
    Francis Hutcheson's objections to psychological egoism usually appeal to experience or introspection. However, at least one of them is theological: It includes premises of a religious kind, such as that God rewards the virtuous. This objection invites interpretive and philosophical questions, some of which may seem to highlight errors or shortcomings on Hutcheson's part. Also, to answer the questions is to point out important features of Hutcheson's objection and its intellectual context. And nowhere in the scholarship on Hutcheson do we (...)
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  9. Introduction: The Biology of Psychological Altruism.Justin Garson & Armin W. Schulz - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 56:1-2.
    I develop a distinction between two types of psychological hedonism. Inferential hedonism (or “I-hedonism”) holds that each person only has ultimate desires regarding his or her own hedonic states (pleasure and pain). Reinforcement hedonism (or “R–hedonism”) holds that each person's ultimate desires, whatever their contents are, are differentially reinforced in that person’s cognitive system only by virtue of their association with hedonic states. I’ll argue that accepting R-hedonism and rejecting I-hedonism provides a conciliatory position on the traditional altruism debate, and (...)
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  10. Two Types of Psychological Hedonism.Justin Garson - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 56:7-14.
    I develop a distinction between two types of psychological hedonism. Inferential hedonism (or “I-hedonism”) holds that each person only has ultimate desires regarding his or her own hedonic states (pleasure and pain). Reinforcement hedonism (or “R–hedonism”) holds that each person's ultimate desires, whatever their contents are, are differentially reinforced in that person’s cognitive system only by virtue of their association with hedonic states. I’ll argue that accepting R-hedonism and rejecting I-hedonism provides a conciliatory position on the traditional altruism debate, and (...)
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  11. Hedonism.John J. Tilley - 2012 - In Ruth Chadwick (ed.), Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, 2nd ed., vol. 2. Academic Press. pp. 566-73.
    This article covers four types of hedonism: ancient hedonism; ethical hedonism; axiological hedonism; and psychological hedonism. It concentrates on the latter two types, both by clarifying them and by discussing arguments in their behalf. It closes with a few words about the relevance of those positions to applied ethics.
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  12. The Positive Side of Psychopathy: Emotional Detachment in Psychopathy and Rational Decision-Making in the Ultimatum Game.Takahiro Osumi & Hideki Ohira - 2010 - Personality and Individual Differences 49:451–456.
    An emotional deficit in individuals with psychopathy has been regarded as a potential factor in the disinhibition of selfish behaviors, which can be an impediment to a successful life in human society. However, recent studies in the field of economics have made clear that emotional function is associated with irrational decision-making. In the present study, to test whether psychopathy may have a positive aspect in a social setting, we examined the decision-making of college students with high and low tendencies for (...)
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  13. John Clarke of Hull's Argument for Psychological Egoism.John J. Tilley - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (1):69-89.
    John Clarke of Hull, one of the eighteenth century's staunchest proponents of psychological egoism, defended that theory in his Foundation of Morality in Theory and Practice. He did so mainly by opposing the objections to egoism in the first two editions of Francis Hutcheson's Inquiry into Virtue. But Clarke also produced a challenging, direct argument for egoism which, regrettably, has received virtually no scholarly attention. In this paper I give it some of the attention it merits. In addition to reconstructing (...)
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  14. Moral Psychology as Accountability.Brendan Dill & Stephen Darwall - 2014 - In Justin D'Arms Daniel Jacobson (ed.), Moral Psychology and Human Agency: Philosophical Essays on the Science of Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 40-83.
    Recent work in moral philosophy has emphasized the foundational role played by interpersonal accountability in the analysis of moral concepts such as moral right and wrong, moral obligation and duty, blameworthiness, and moral responsibility (Darwall 2006; 2013a; 2013b). Extending this framework to the field of moral psychology, we hypothesize that our moral attitudes, emotions, and motives are also best understood as based in accountability. Drawing on a large body of empirical evidence, we argue that the implicit aim of the central (...)
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  15. Choosy Moral Punishers.Christine Clavien, Colby Tanner, Fabrice Clément & Michel Chapuisat - 2012 - PLoS ONE.
    The punishment of social misconduct is a powerful mechanism for stabilizing high levels of cooperation among unrelated individuals. It is regularly assumed that humans have a universal disposition to punish social norm violators, which is sometimes labelled “universal structure of human morality” or “pure aversion to social betrayal”. Here we present evidence that, contrary to this hypothesis, the propensity to punish a moral norm violator varies among participants with different career trajectories. In anonymous real-life conditions, future teachers punished a talented (...)
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  16. Moral Reason, Moral Sentiments and the Realization of Altruism: A Motivational Theory of Altruism.JeeLoo Liu - 2012 - Asian Philosophy 22 (2):93-119.
    This paper begins with Thomas Nagel's (1970) investigation of the possibility of altruism to further examine how to motivate altruism. When the pursuit of the gratification of one's own desires generally has an immediate causal efficacy, how can one also be motivated to care for others and to act towards the well-being of others? A successful motivational theory of altruism must explain how altruism is possible under all these motivational interferences. The paper will begin with an exposition of Nagel's proposal, (...)
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  17. Altruism - a Philosophical Analysis.Christine Clavien & Michel Chapuisat - 2012 - eLS.
    Altruism is a malleable notion that is understood differently in various disciplines. The common denominator of most definitions of altruism is the idea of unidirectional helping behaviour. However, a closer examination reveals that the term altruism sometimes refers to the outcomes of a helping behaviour for the agent and its neighbours – i.e. reproductive altruism – and sometimes to what motivates the agent to help others – i.e. psychological altruism. Since these perspectives on altruism are crucially different, it is important (...)
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  18. A Defense of Psychological Egoism.Scott Berman - 2003 - In Naomi Reshotko (ed.), Desire, Identity and Existence. Academic Printing and Publishing.
    The purpose of this paper is to argue for psychological egoism, i.e., the view that the ultimate motivation for all human action is the agent’s self-interest. Two principal opponents to psychological egoism are considered. These two views are shown to make human action inexplicable. Since the reason for putting forward these views is to explain human action, these views fail. If psychological egoism is the best explanation of human action, then humans will not differ as regards their motivations for their (...)
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  19. Psychological Egoism.Joshua May - 2011 - Internet Encyclopeida of Philosophy.
    Provides an overview of the theory of psychological egoism—the thesis that we are all ultimately motivated by self-interest. Philosophical arguments for and against the view are considered as well as some empirical evidence.
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  20. About Altruism.Judith Lichtenberg - 2008 - Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 28 (1/2):2-6.
    When people act to aid others, they get something in return—at the very least, the satisfaction of having their desire to help fulfilled. Some conclude from this and other puzzles about motivation that people always act simply to benefit themselves. But this is an error: there is altruism in the world, although it is often inextricably linked with the well-being of the agent who does good.
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  21. Egoism, Empathy, and Self-Other Merging.Joshua May - 2011 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):25-39.
    [Emerging Scholar Prize Essay for Spindel Supplement] Some philosophers and psychologists have evaluated psychological egoism against recent experimental work in social psychology. Dan Batson (1991; forthcoming), in particular, argues that empathy tends to induce genuinely altruistic motives in humans. However, some argue that there are egoistic explanations of the data that remain unscathed. I focus here on some recent criticisms based on the idea of self-other merging or "oneness," primarily leveled by Robert Cialdini and his collaborators (1997). These authors argue (...)
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  22. Egoism as a Theory of Human Motives.C. D. Broad - 1949 - Hibbert Journal 48:105-114.
    Now it is plain that such consequences as these conflict sharply with common-sense notions of morality. If we had been obliged to accept Psychological Egoism, in any of its narrower forms, on its merits, we should have had to say: 'So much the worse for the common-sense notions of morality!' But, if I am right, the morality of common sense, with all its difficulties and incoherences, is immune at least to attacks from the basis of Psychological Egoism.
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  23. Hume's Alleged Success Over Hutcheson.Noriaki Iwasa - 2011 - Synthesis Philosophica 26 (2):323-336.
    David Hume thinks that human affections are naturally partial, while Francis Hutcheson holds that humans originally have disinterested benevolence. Michael Gill argues that Hume's moral theory succeeds over Hutcheson's because the former severs the link between explaining and justifying morality. According to Gill, Hutcheson is wrong to assume that our original nature should be the basis of morality. Gill's understanding of Hutcheson's theory does not fully represent it, since for Hutcheson self-love and self-interest under certain conditions are permissible, or even (...)
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  24. Relational Desires and Empirical Evidence Against Psychological Egoism.Joshua May - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):39–58.
    Roughly, psychological egoism is the thesis that all of a person's intentional actions are ultimately self-interested in some sense; psychological altruism is the thesis that some of a person's intentional actions are not ultimately self-interested, since some are ultimately other-regarding in some sense. C. Daniel Batson and other social psychologists have argued that experiments provide support for a theory called the "empathy-altruism hypothesis" that entails the falsity of psychological egoism. However, several critics claim that there are egoistic explanations of the (...)
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  25. Psychological Altruism Vs. Biological Altruism: Narrowing the Gap with the Baldwin Effect.Mahesh Ananth - 2005 - Acta Biotheoretica 53 (3):217-239.
    This paper defends the position that the supposed gap between biological altruism and psychological altruism is not nearly as wide as some scholars (e.g., Elliott Sober) insist. Crucial to this defense is the use of James Mark Baldwin's concepts of “organic selection”and “social heredity” to assist in revealing that the gap between biological and psychological altruism is more of a small lacuna. Specifically, this paper argues that ontogenetic behavioral adjustments, which are crucial to individual survival and reproduction, are also crucial (...)
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  26. The Status of Altruism.Angus Ross - 1983 - Mind 92 (366):204-218.
    It is argued that to possess the concept of distress is to be able to apply the concept to others, and that this implies a qualified form of altruism, in the sense that to perceive another as being in distress is, other things being equal, to see them as in need of help and be moved to help them.
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Altruism, Misc
  1. Expanding the Motivations for Altruism: A Philosophical Perspective.Julian Friedland - 2013 - Journal of Organizational Behavior 34 (8).
    We argue that attempts to extrapolate moral motives for non-egoistic behavior in organizational behavior often interpret results empathically or deontically, while leaving other moral motivational frames, such as the utilitarian and virtue ethical, under-examined. We encourage the creation of experimental measures to distinguish various philosophical frames.
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