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A Defense of Egoism

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Egoism is the view that self-interest is the exclusive standard of morally right action. In this dissertation, I present two arguments for egoism: a naturalistic argument and an intuitive argument.

The naturalistic argument grounds egoism in a theory of what the end of every living thing is: The end of a living thing is, I will argue, only to survive. I set the stage for and develop this argument across the first four Chapters. In Chapter 1, I present the case for the prevailing, neo-Aristotelian view of the end of a living thing: The end of a living thing is to instantiate its species. The pursuit of this end is typically understood to involve not only survival, but also flourishing, reproducing, and helping other members of one’s species, all in species-characteristic ways.

In Chapter 2, I argue that the aforementioned species view is false.

In Chapter 3, I develop the view that the end of every living thing, including every human living thing, is only to survive.

In Chapter 4, I argue that human well-being (or self-interest), the notion of what intrinsically benefits a human being, consists in and only in survival.

In the fifth and final Chapter, I develop the intuitive argument, which adopts the method of reflective equilibrium. I argue that egoism aligns well with a critical mass of our intuitions about the moral life.

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