At first, my theory of psychological egoism consists of perfect desires and imperfect desires. They are based on the notions of hypothetical and practical choices.

Hypothetical choice - a choice human would make out of all hypothetically possible choices.

Practical choice - a choice human would make out of all practically possible choices.

Perfect desire - a desire that is in accordance with hypothetical choice.

Imperfect desire - a desire that is not in accordance with hypothethcal choice.

While all desires are in accordance with practical choice, not all desires are in accordance with hypothetical choice, there comes a distinction.


  1. Carol had a toothache, so she went to the dentist. The operation would be painful, but Carol knew, if she won't do it, things would get even worse.

So, the choice to go to the dentist and put up with pain is a practical choice. It is not a hypothetical choice as she would prefer the operation to be painless. Therefore her desire to go to the dentist is imperfect.

  1. Mike played videogames on his weekend. He was not regret he did it.

This time the desire is not contradicting hypothetical choice, as Mike did not imagine any "better" alternative to it. Therefore his desire to play videogames was perfect.

So, now I can oppose such arguments that wikipedia's page contains as

a soldier who sacrifices his life by jumping on a grenade in order to save his comrades

According to my theory he does it in in accordance with practical choice, but not with hypothetical choice, according to which he could prefer the grenade never to explode.

So, what would be the counterargument for psychological egoism given my theory?

  • 1
    I could not get past the first half. "All hypothetically/practically possible choices" are incoherent notions akin to the "set of all sets", so perfect and imperfect desires are not well defined. What using them amounts to is that the desirer does/not, then or at a later time, "imagine" a "better" alternative. In other words, the distinction turns on the latest whim, the circular "it was perfect if it wasn't regretted", and powers of imagination. How one is supposed to distinguish imperfection from changing one's mind, or who is supposed to do the imagining for the dead soldier I am not sure. – Conifold Jul 12 '18 at 17:42
  • @Conifold, hypothetical choice does not involve the past and the future - choices are done in the present. Retrocausal desires are conceptually wrong. But one might desire the consequences of the past not exist in the present. The soldier would prefer the grenade not being there exactly at the time before it exploded. – rus9384 Jul 12 '18 at 17:45

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