Selfishness - Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
|Date:||October 12th, 2004 05:36 am (UTC)|| |
Showin' off my philosophy chops
So, Hume's rebuttal of Hobbes's idea of human nature is that people obviously don't act in ways that are motivated by material self-interest. (Hume argues that there is a kind of "natural benevolence," whereas Hobbes thinks that left to their own devices, humans would devolve into a nasty and brutish existence.) But, don't humans have needs and kinds of self-interest that aren't only material - that are, say, psychological?
Is that the kind of point you are trying to make here?
|Date:||October 12th, 2004 06:00 am (UTC)|| |
Re: Showin' off my philosophy chops
No, that's true, but orthogonal to what I was trying to say, which is more like the distinction between act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism. Now, strictly speaking I think that you can either treat act-utilitarianism as a special case of rule-utilitarianism (with the only rule being “Do what produces the most benefit”) or rule-utilitarianism as a special case of act-utilitarianism (in which one of the actions is the formation of a rule). However, in pragmatic terms, it makes a difference which schema one uses to describe his values.
The specific desire to have a relationship in which one doesn't keep a ledger of who owes whom interacts with this in an interesting way—it actively interferes with the implementation of what most would think of as act-utilitarianism. (How can one assess whether a particular act benefits one if one isn't keeping score?)
(Also, as is probably obvious, I'm talking about egocentric utilitarianism here. Altruistic utilitarianism is more common in the literature, but I don't find it very interesting. The calculi are pretty much the same other than the whole “intersubjective incomparability of values” issue with altruistic utilitarianism.)