Smith - "Everyone always acts in their own best self-interest" (psychological egoism)

Jones - "In every case?"

Smith - "In every case."

Jones - "How does sacrificing one's life for a cause meet one's self-interest?"

Smith - "It pays ego dividends"

Jones - "How can it pay at all after you're dead?"

Smith - "It pays beforehand."

Jones - "So the rush of self-esteem is the payment for leaping in front of a bus to toss a child out of the way? Seems like a poor trade to me."

Smith - "Preserving one's values is also in one's self-interest."

Jones - "Does someone reacting in an instant to danger really make a decision to preserve one's values over one's life?"

Smith - "Not consciously..."

Jones - "Unconsciously, then? We're all constantly evaluating life versus values under the sheets?"

Smith - "Well, no..."

Jones - "So some acts are not self-interested when they're done."

Smith - "They're self-interested after the fact. That's why Kant said that the only moral act is the act one despises doing. Only if one hates one's acts of virtue can one be sure that it was purely inspired by duty and not ego dividends. But that's contradictory, because it says that only the thoroughly unvirtuous may have virtue, while those with apparent virtue have none."

Jones - "So virtuous acts are either self-interested before, by pursuing ego dividends, or after, because the moral agent doesn't despise the act, and therefore didn't act purely out of moral duty."

Smith - "Say, you're quick."

Jones - "That's trivial, though. It provides no means of separating acts into moral and immoral, since every act is self-interested. There's no meaningful distinction there. It says that either all acts are either moral, or all acts are immoral, depending on your view of self-interest."

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