Egoism: A Theory Based on Self-Interest

The question of what is moral or immoral has been one of the foundational questions of philosophy. Over the course, Ethics has proposed several theories designed to help people discern what morality really is (Murrell n.p). What is good or bad is defined differently across different contexts. Some view morality as what is defined by society, others according to their experiences or consequences. Despite all those beliefs, the egoism theory has well defined that the best way for someone to act morally is by acting according to their own interest. This paper will argue that what is good or bad is determined by what an individual finds interest in according to egoism theory. It will briefly introduce the theory and key features and explain the theory’s core morality. Further, it will justify the approach and describe the application of the approach.

Exposition of the Egoism Theory

The theory of morality that I find convincing enough is the egoism theory. The core morality that this theory holds is that morality depends on the “self’s interest.” What is moral comes from an individual who is performing an act. For one to determine what is right for them, they do not have to consider someone else’s or society’s standing of the right. The critical thing is fulfilling oneself, and therefore, to fulfill oneself, an individual must do things according to their own interests. Egoism defines good as anything that satisfies an individual’s interests. In other words, a good act is one that makes an individual happy and gives them some sense of confidence. For instance, if I am interested in wearing short dresses in terms of dressing, that is good for me, and I find happiness from that. Even if society holds a different view of dressing, for instance, wearing long dresses shows respect and such things, since that is not my interest, it is not suitable for me. The critical factor is deriving pleasure from what I do.

The subjectivity that egoism holds about morality is that morality is different across individuals. Just like many other theories, such as morality varies across cultures, for egoism, it varies depending on the individual because each individual has their own interests, feelings, tastes, and opinions. It assumes that, likewise, morality ought to be different because of the difference in interests across individuals. For instance, if I am interested in being a homosexual, and another person is interested in being straight, engaging in homosexuality is moral to me. Nobody has the right to mock me because that is where my interest is. Furthermore, that is what I believe is right to do, and after all, all I want is pleasure and something that will fulfill my happiness. The scope of morality in egoism is limited to a person’s interests and does not account for other people’s opinions or feelings.


Egoism discerns what is good or bad based on whether an act gives individual happiness and self-fulfillment or not. The principle of right action is acting in accordance with one’s interests. There are two main values that egoism articulate to constitute the core moral principles of morality. One is liberty. Everybody has the right to liberty or to act on self-judgment without experiencing external forces. The other value is the pursuit of happiness. It conceives that everybody has the right to do what makes them happy. The ultimate source of morality, which is personal interest, provides a strong basis for the theory by suggesting that an individual can only say something is moral if it fulfills their desires. Virtually, something good is that which we find pleasure in. The theory can provide equal value to everybody by allowing everybody to do what makes them happy and find interest in because, after all, everybody has some interests that they feel is right for them. If everybody is let to do according to their interests, no one will complain of inequality because they will have fulfilled their desires.

Justification of the Theory

Egoism theory has several strengths, but the primary strength is that people get a chance to pursue their interests and achieve happiness. The most important thing in life is fulfilling what we desire and, in the end, derive pleasure and happiness from what we do. Another strength is it encourages self-awareness (Connectus 1). Knowing oneself and what you need is one way of staying productive in contemporary society, and this can be achieved by egoism theory. Thirdly, the theory is critical for personal improvement. If doing an act does not bring happiness, then it sheds light to improve on the interests. The fourth strength is it eliminates the structure of classes in society and taking advantage of others; hence, no one manipulates others. Based on the strengths, I can regard the theory of egoism is true because, after all, happiness, self-awareness, productivity, self-improvement, and democracy is what a human needs to be moral.

Even though the theory presents sound strengths, it also has objections. The strongest objection is that egoism creates a self-centered society with a lack of empathy. The biggest weakness is that no one looks after the other person’s needs, except themselves. Egoists believe that being one’s brother’s keeper is doomed because knowing what other people want is not easy (Murrell n.p). Hence, this creates a self-centered society, which, according to sociologists, is not fit for humans. For instance, marriages cannot work in an egoistic family because everyone is only concerned about their wellbeing. At the same time, married people are advised to be concerned about the other person’s needs. Reflecting on a self-centered society, people do not advance because advancement comes from collaborating with others, and collaborating means putting other people’s needs before their own needs.  Also, a self-centered society rejects the values of love and respect that constitute an individual’s happiness. Therefore, I think the theory fails because it does not promote togetherness and empathy, which are essential factors in humans’ survival.

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Application of the Theory

Even though the theory has a weakness, it holds a true argument, but it does not mean that other people with different views believe in false moral theories. Egoism theory itself permits all other theories to be considered true and moral because those people find interest in what they believe in. Hence, if they are interested in being moral based on cultural values, that makes them happy, and their moral theories are true. Because egoism holds a true belief, people should live based on their interests. It makes no sense to live according to other people’s interests, for instance, the rules of society, and in the end, regret why the rules were formulated. Living according to personal interests, enables an individual to live a true and happy life. People can get away with pleasing others for the sake of following the rules. Nobody is responsible for defining happiness for people because we all have different interests. The theory can solve the free-rider problem by eliminating the shared resources that bring the problem. This is possible because everybody will be concerned about their own interest and not for others; hence, shared resources will no longer be needed.

The theory impacts my life by bringing happiness. I can claim that acting according to what I am interested in has made me achieve self-fulfillment that makes me happy. For instance, I love wearing short clothes because that is where my interest lies. I do not care whether society views this as immoral, but in the end, my happiness is derived from short clothes. Secondly, the theory has created an avenue for self-improvement in my life. One thing I have improved is self-dependency. I do not depend on anyone to tell me what to do or not to do. Even though I get advice from my parents, I have learned to explain my interests, and my interests count the most.

To sum up, what is good or bad depends on personal interests. Everybody has the right to liberty and happiness by acting according to their interests. The primary strength of egoism theory is that happiness and pleasure are guaranteed after acting according to what you find interest in. Hence, people ought to focus on what makes them happy. After all, happiness is what matters in life.

Works Cited

Connectus. “15 Important Pros and Cons of Ethical Egoism.” ConnectUS, 13 Nov. 2019,

Murrell, N. “Types of moral theories.” 9 Feb. 2019,