Ethical Egoism

A consequentialist moral theory which maintains that normative judgements are rooted in what is best for me, or what makes me happy. That is, all moral considerations are really just considerations of self-interest.

There are several distinct varieties of Egoism which should be distinguished:

  1. Psychological Egoism - is the discriptive claim that people (as a matter of fact) always act in their own self-interest. It is a claim about human psychology, i.e., the way people make decisions. As such it has been claimed by some that it is not really a normative thesis at all.

  2. Personal Egoism - is the discriptive claim that I will always act in my own self-interest.

  3. Ethical Egoism - is a normative claim about how people ought to act, and divides into two sub-theses:

    1. Individual Egoism - is the normative claim that others ought to act in my self-interest.

    2. Universal Egoism - is the normative claim that others ought to act in their own self-interest.