Does Psychological Egoism Entail Ethical Egoism?

Review of Metaphysics 76 (1):115-133 (2022)
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[If you find this article interesting, let me mention another of my articles, “On Deducing Ethical Egoism from Psychological Egoism” (Theoria, 2023), which in many ways is a more thorough treatment of the topic. But it’s not an expanded version of this one. For instance, each article addresses arguments not addressed in the other.] Philosophers generally reject the view that psychological egoism (suitably supplemented with further premises) entails ethical egoism. Their rejections are generally unsatisfying. Some are too brief to win confidence; others employ an uncharitable statement of psychological egoism. This is unfortunate, for the view that psychological egoism entails ethical egoism is philosophically significant (and not without proponents). Although it ultimately deserves rejection, it warrants better treatment than it typically receives. I thus examine it in some detail. Among other things, I carefully consider some original, sophisticated attempts to establish it, having first taken care to produce proper formulations of ethical and psychological egoism.

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John J. Tilley
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis


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