The Wisdom of the Egoist: The Moral and Political Implications of Valuing the Self

Social Philosophy and Policy 14 (01):21- (1997)
Abstract
There is a traditional understanding of what morality is, an under-standing that most contemporary moral philosophers take for granted. This understanding is not itself a theory, but rather an account of the phenomenon of morality, to which these philosophers have thought any theory of the phenomenon must conform if it is to be considered successful as either an explanation or a justification of our moral life. According to this account, there are three prominent features that, together, characterize the moral: First, moral action and moral regard are taken to be other-regarding. While some philosophers have identified a certain kind of self-respect as part of morality, in general morality has been thought to involve duties to others, requiring that they be treated with respect. Self-interest is generally taken to be outside the province of the moral
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