Predominant EgoismSeptember 5th, 2010 by Kara in Dictionary, Moral Terms
In “The Reconciliation Project,” Gregory Kavka coined the term “predominant egoism” as a more plausible alternative to psychological egoism. Whereas psychological egoism states that human beings always act to promote their self-interest, predominant egoism claims that they predominantly (but not always) act to promote their self-interests.
Predominant egoism contains two crucial principles. First, until people have attained a desirable level of security and individual welfare, their “self-interested concerns tend to override their other-regarding, idealistic, and altruistic motives in determining their actions.”1 Second, the extent to which individuals perform actions and behaviors which are significantly against their own interests is usually quite limited. People often perform such actions only on behalf of family members, close friends, or institutions or projects with which they feel a strong personal connection. Clearly altruistic actions which only benefit complete strangers are extremely rare.
- Gregory Kavka, “The Reconciliation Project,” in Ethical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings, 5th ed., ed. Louis P. Pojman (Belmont: Wadsworth, 2006), 112.