Strong psychological egoism claims that people always act only out of self-interest (Hinman, 2013, p. 96). The concept of self-interest remains a crucial aspect of human behavior. I believe that humans always act out of self-interest. For proof, consider all great innovators and inventors in history. While altruists might argue that the inventors produced things that became a boon to mankind, the motive power behind these inventions was self-interest. The inventors were interested in advancing their skill and knowledge. In doing so, they discovered things on the frontiers of science. Their inventions, therefore, should properly be taken as supreme manifestations of individual self-interest.
The argument that universal ethical egoism is inconsistent is based on false premises. An individual has to be always propelled by self-interest and egoism if the person has to follow values in life. Opponents would argue that people couldn’t forever be guided by self-interest. They would provide the example of accidents and natural calamities where people sacrifice their own lives for those of others. These examples, however, only serve to highlight that the concept of universal ethical egoism needs to be seen in a broader light. An egoist holds himself to be at the highest esteem. He accordingly holds human life important as a mirror to his own self worth. When he rescues others from accidents, he is doing so to uphold his own sense of humanity, as a selfish act, not as an altruistic one (Haddow, n.d.).
The concept of individual self-interest and group self-interest would always be at odds with each other. What is in the individual’s interest may often be at odds with what is good for the group (Pecorino, 2000). For instance, an individual’s interest would be to keep all he earns for his own benefit. However, the government taxes individuals so that a part of the taxes could be used for the welfare of the jobless and homeless. Thus, taxes provide a platform to confront the contradictions between group self-interest and individual self-interest.
Haddow, N. (n.d.). Toward a logically consistent kind of ethical egoism. Retrieved July 07, 2015, from http://enlightenment.supersaturated.com/essays/text/neilhaddow/egoism.html
Hinman, L.M. (2013). Ethics: A pluralistic approach to moral theory. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.
Pecorino, P.A. (2000). Individual versus group interest. Retrieved July 07, 2015, from http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/ppecorino/INTRO_TEXT/Chapter%2010%20Political%20Philosophy/Group_vs_Individual_Interest.htm