Nagelian arguments against egoism

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (2):191 – 208 (2002)
Abstract
On ethical egoism, the fact that I would suffer is no reason by itself for you not to torture me. This may seem implausible—monstrous, even—but what evidence can we offer against it? Here I examine several arguments which receive some expression in Thomas Nagel’s work. Each tries to show that a normative reason to end my pain is a reason for all agents. The arguments in Section 1 emphasize reasons that don’t entail agents and thus purportedly apply to all agents. In Section 2, I examine the Argument from Dissociation, according to which my pain seems bad upon reflection, even without reflecting on its relation to me. Section 3 examines the Argument from Inability, which claims that my occurrent pains would seem bad to me, even if I couldn’t think about their relation to me. Finally, I discuss the Argument from Introspection, according to which I seem, introspectively, to have a reason to end my pain, a reason that has nothing to do with the pain’s being mine. All but one of these arguments fail utterly. The Argument from Introspection provides some grounds for rejecting egoism.
Keywords Egoism  Thomas Nagel  The View from Nowhere  Reasons  Pain  Introspection  Agent-Relativism  Agent-Neutralism
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DOI 10.1080/724051031
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