Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Butler on Psychological Egoism

This is an explanation of Butler's critique of psychological egoism.

2 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

The person who goes down with a sinking ship rather than take a life-supporter from a child is not acting for his long-range happiness.

The problem with these types of analogies is that once a captain's ship went down and he is to be blamed for it all, then he might as well be dead. It's an act of suicide...and of honor. His life is over at that point and rather than deal with the consequences of the shame of it all he decides to have a fond lasting memory of himself because that's all he has left at that point. And since we all die, one might as well do the only thing left to do; be remembered with some sense of dignity. It's not much different than when a soldier falls on a grenade to protect his foxhole friends. Even though he himself could escape he knows that he could not face life knowing he ran. As soon as that grendae hit the dirt he was already dead. So he might as well be remembered well and save some lives, since he would eventually die anyway.

John W. Loftus said...

While what I wrote had to do with a captain going down with his ship, it also applies to people on the sinking ship. Sometimes a person cannot deal with the guilt of doing such a deed, as seen in Sophia's Choice. From the moment she made her choice she was dead. She might as well have died at that moment. Some people would rather not live any more with the guilt of such a choice. For these people it's better that they just die, since we all do anyway, sometime.