A Defense of Egoism


This paper defends the strong thesis of ethical egoism, the view that self-interest is the exclusive standard of morally right action. The method of defense is that of reflective equilibrium, viz., back and forth reflection on intuitive judgments in particular cases and the principles that seem to explain our judgments, with the goal of aligning the two. The defense proceeds in three steps. First, I define what selfishness is and characterize what selfishness looks like in real life; an accurate depiction of selfishness will show that selfishness, at least generally, is morally attractive. Second, I defend the view that helping others and not helping others is morally right when and because doing so serves one’s self-interest. Third, I defend the same position in regard to harming and not harming others.


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