David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Jonathan Seglow (ed.), The Ethics of Altruism. F. Cass Publishers. 68-86 (2004)
The essay argues that the most influential liberal accounts of moral theory (utilitarianism and deontology) assume that human material nature is the seat of desire, and that desire is essentially unsociable. Moral systems are then interpreted as a means of counteracting the essentially self-interested desires that are assumed to ordinarily drive human beings. The essay challenges the normative presuppositions of these arguments. It maintains that liberal moral philosophy must be interpreted in the historical context of the rise of a competitive market society. It then contends that contra liberal moral theory, human beings are neither essentially egoistic nor altruistic, but interdependent. Moral theory is better seen as following from a recognitions of this material interdependence than as an ideal limit on ?naturally? self-interested and competitive behaviour
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