Review Questions For Feinberg

1. How does Feinberg define the theory of psychological egoism? How is this theory different from ethical egoism? Do you find psychological egoism to be a plausible theory? Why or why not?

2. Briefly summarize the four prima facie reasons (4a-4b) in support of psychological egoism that Feinberg gives.

3. Describe Feinberg’s criticism of argument 4b in detail. Take particular care to note what he says about the premise that “desire fulfillment always yields satisfaction”. Feinberg says that, even if we grant this premise to the egoist, psychological egoism still fails to follow. Why?

4. In his reply to argument 4b (with the help of an anecdote about Abraham Lincoln), Feinberg distinguishes the object of a desire from the consequence of its satisfaction. Explain this distinction.

5. What is the “paradox of hedonism”? What does it say about how one ought to proceed in life if one wishes to be happy? Do you agree or disagree with this advice? Why?

6. Feinberg closes the article by giving an argument that the theory that everyone desires only their own satisfaction (the “satisfaction thesis”) exhibits the logical flaw of falling prey to an infinite regress. What does this mean?

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