Altruism, self-interest, and the indistinctness of persons

In Jonathan Seglow (ed.), Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. F. Cass Publishers 49-67 (2004)
The problem of altruism is to determine intellectually compelling grounds for allowing others' interests and desires to weigh with us as well as our own. Two considerations impact on that problem. One concerns the clustering of particular interests and desires. The doctrine of the distinctness of persons gives prime importance to their origin in a particular individual. But clustering across individuals, rather than within individuals, may be more reasonable in the light of meta-attitudes towards our interests and desires and the interconnection of individuals' interests. The other concerns individuals' identification with the interests and desires of a collectivity to which they belong, for its own sake. This identification, while in some ways resembling altruism and self-interested motivation, is sui generis. It leads us to rethink the polarity of self and others by remainding us that the polarity does not adequately reflect an important aspect of human social relations
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DOI 10.1080/13698230410001702732
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