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The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Are We Selfish? - Hume

Many philosophers have agreed with you that at least some of our behavior is altruistic: performed for the benefit of others.

The 18th century philosopher David Hume, for example, stressed our capacity for sympathy.

One more question: When blood donors go to give blood, are they doing something they want to do?

1. Perhaps you think the answer is “yes”: that blood donors are indeed moved to donate only because they want to. And perhaps you think that this shows that even blood donors are ultimately self-interested. And perhaps this chain of reasoning leads you to think that psychological egoism might be true after all.

that blood donors are acting on altruistic desires, and that the presence of such desires is sufficient to undermine psychological egoism.


3. Finally, perhaps you think that the answer is “no”: that such behavior, like other moral behavior, is driven by a sense of duty that transcends desire.

Answer 1Answer 2Answer 3
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