Human beings naturally care a great deal for themselves--and couldn't survive otherwise. As Aquinas observed, the drive for self-preservation is the first law of nature. Yet in the imperative of self-love, philosophers have also perceived a tacit threat. Plato reminds us that 'the excessive love of self is in reality the source to each man of all offences.' And so the inevitability of self- concern must be balanced with its manifest potential for harm. But how is such a reconciliation possible? (...) This collection brings tohether the efforts of twenty- three great thinkers addressing such themes as the nature of self-interest, its connection to benevolence and morality, and its implications for political theory. The philosophical results are rich and varied. Self-Interest is intended for philosophers, students, and anyone inclined to reflect upon a subject of such enduring importance and perplexity as the love of self. (shrink)
We re-examine the construct of Moral Hypocrisy from the perspective of normative self-interest. Arguing that some degree of self-interest is culturally acceptable and indeed expected, we postulate that a pattern of behavior is more indicative of moral hypocrisy than a single action. Contrary to previous findings, our results indicate that a significant majority of subjects (N = 136) exhibited fair behavior, and that ideals of caring and fairness, when measured in context of the scenario, were predictive of those (...) behaviors. Moreover, measures of Individualism/Collectivism appear more predictive of self-interested behavior than out-of-context responses to moral ideals. Implications for research and practice are discussed. (shrink)
On taking the common distinction between the legal and the ethical as a point of departure, and in an effort to understand Marshall's approach to self-interest, and thereby to his conception of an ethics of commerce, I read three of his essays in the light of some non-technical writings of Frank Hahn and three other Cambridge intellectuals. My larger project connects self-interest and self-deception to a possible ethics of theorizing in economics, and thereby to the ethics of the (...) relationship between the theorist and the theorized, the analyst and the analyzed. (shrink)
This article explores the association between medical professionalism, revenue enhancement, and self-interest. Utilizing the sociological literature, I begin by characterizing professionalism generally and medical professionalism particularly. I then consider “pay for performance” mechanisms as an example of one way physicians might be incentivized to improve their professionalism and, at the same time, enhance their revenue. I suggest that the concern discussed in much of the medical professionalism literature that physicians might act on the basis of self-interest is over-generalized, (...) and that instead we ought to argue about ways to distinguish permissible and impermissible self-interested actions. Also, I argue that financial incentives for medical professionals ought to be permissible but considered as “by-products” of doing what physicians are expected to do as professionals in any case. Nevertheless, I conclude that, even if a positive association between increasing professionalism and revenue enhancement can be established, in the long term it may not be an unambiguous good for physicians as professionals in that this association may tend to reduce their professional discretion. (shrink)
Self-interest is widely accepted as a powerful motivator by both academics and laypeople alike. However, research surrounding the self-interest motive paints a complicated picture of this most important psychological construct. Additionally, research on the social desirability of self-interest has revealed that despite its widespread acceptance, people do not readily accept that self-interest drives their own behaviors. This paper reviews the literature on self-interest and reveals several curious features surrounding its actual effect on helping behaviors, political (...) attitudes and voting, and people's apparent ambivalence toward self-interest as a motive. It is possible that norms against the expression of self-interestedness evolved, creating ambivalence towards this widely accepted construct, subsequently affecting its expression on many human behaviors. (shrink)
I will focus on Dworkin’s use of idealisation in his “Prudent Insurance” Ideal for healthcare. Dworkin identifies problems with the circumstances under which people make their insurance decisions in the current United States healthcare system and he sees these as being the cause of strange resource allocation outcomes. He therefore imagines idealising away these prima facie unjust circumstances to develop a hypothetical market in which people are able to make better decisions (Section “Idealisation of Circumstance”). I will identify two further (...) idealisations that Dworkin relies on in his theory. The first is to idealise people to be perfectly prudent (Section “Idealisation of Prudence”), which I consider to be justifiable, but difficult to actually apply in practise. The second is to idealise people to be perfectly self-interested (Section “Idealisation to Self-interest”). I do not see this as a justifiable idealization since it ignores principles of altruism and citizenship, which would seem to be deeply relevant to a theory of justice. (shrink)
This paper offers a justification of the principle of military proportionality that is based in considerations of self-interest. By offering such a justification, I hope to vindicate the principle on the basis of the least controversial argument available. The war between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 is used as a case study. Part 1 surveys recent work on military proportionality and suggests that the importance of this principle has increased in the age of asymmetrical warfare. Part (...) 2 considers and rejects the traditional realist concerns about proportionality. Part 3 offers a realist rationale for adhering to the principle. (shrink)
Self-interest has long been recognized as a powerful human motive. Yet, much remains to be understood about the thinking behind self-interested pursuits. Drawing from multiple literatures, we propose that situations high in opportunity for self-interested gain trigger a type of moral cognition called moral disengagement that allows the individual to more easily disengage internalized moral standards. We also theorize two countervailing forces—situational harm to others and dispositional conscientiousness—that may weaken the effects of personal gain on morally disengaged reasoning. We (...) test our hypotheses in two studies using qualitative and quantitative data and complementary research methods and design. We demonstrate that when personal gain incentives are relatively moderate, reminders of harm to others can reduce the likelihood that employees will morally disengage. Furthermore, when strong personal gain incentives are present in a situation, highly conscientious individuals are less apt than their counterparts to engage in morally disengaged reasoning. (shrink)
B'Imagine that you could choose a book that everyone in the world would read. My choice would be this book.' Roger Crisp, Ethics -/- Many people have an uneasy feeling that they may be missing out on something basic that would give their lives a significance it currently lacks. But how should we live? What is there to stop us behaving selfishly? In a highly readable account which makes reference to a wide variety of sources and everyday issues, Peter Singer (...) suggests that the conventional pursuit of self-interest is individually and collectively self-defeating. Taking into consideration the beliefs of Jesus, Kant, Rousseau, and Adam Smith amongst others, he looks at a number of different cultures, including America, Japan, and the Aborigines to assess whether or not selfishness is in our genes and how we may find greater satisfaction in an ethical lifestyle. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to explicating Dai Zhen’s defense of self-interested desires, over and against a tradition that sets strict limits to their range and function in moral agency. I begin by setting the terms of the debate between Dai and his opponents, noting that the dispute turns largely on the moral status of directly self-interested desires, or desires for one’s own good as such. I then consider three of Dai’s arguments against views that miscategorize or undervalue directly self-interested desires. (...) I begin with the most widely recognized line of defense, which holds that the suppression of such desires makes those in positions of authority less sensitive to the mistreatment of those with whose interests they are entrusted. I call this the “Pity for the Powerless” argument. I then explore an argument that Dai offers in the form of a multi-faceted metaphor, which likens the suppression of desires to attempts to block or dam natural waterways. I call this is the “Damming the Desires” argument. I conclude with a brief summary of a third and fundamental defense implied by structural features of ethics as Dai understand them. As I read Dai, he thinks ethical appraisal is concerned first and foremost with the dispositions and resultant behavior that allow us to participate in relationships that are mutually beneficial, as opposed to those required merely for the performance of obligations to others or other-directed concern more generally. I call this the “Argument from Mutual Fulfillment.” On the view spelled out here, directly self-interested desires are not just morally tolerable, nor is the possession of them merely a necessary condition for the possession of moral virtue; instead, moral virtue is constituted in part by self-interested desires. This is the strong position that Dai endorses when he characterizes the Confucian path as the “way of mutual fulfillment.”. (shrink)
This essay seeks to start a dialogue between two traditions that historically have interpreted the economy in opposing ways: the individualism of classic economic liberalism (CEL), represented by Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, and the communitarianism of Catholic social teaching (CST), interpreted primarily through the teachings of popes and secondarily the U.S. Catholic bishops. The present authors, an economist and a moral theologian who identify with one or the other of the two traditions, strive to clarify objectively their similarities and (...) differences with the opposing perspective. Section one focuses on each position''s perspective of love of self and love of others. We find both CEL and CST saying that self-love, rightly understood, constitutes a moral good and that the love of others serves as an important principle in the political economy. We find less agreement in section two regarding justice and rights, but even here, we discover a few surprises. Both traditions uphold justice (giving to each party what is due) as essential to the political economy, and recognize some similarity in that type of justice called commutative. We note, however, substantial differences regarding a second type of justice that we call "public justice." First, they differ over the extent to which government should be involved. Here the meaning of rights, especially that of individual freedom, arises. Secondly, the traditions diverge over whether benevolence as a motivator ought to serve as a partner for public justice. Thirdly, CEL in general opposes CST''s emphasis on social justice that calls upon institutions to be proactive in helping citizens and groups to become active participants in the economy. We conclude our essay by summarizing our discoveries and by suggesting areas for further dialogue. (shrink)
This essay gives a new interpretation of some of the central ethical doctrines of Bishop Butler's Sermons -- in particular, of his claim that a review of the empirical facts of human nature shows that we have "an obligation to the practice of virtue", and of the precise claims that he makes about the relations between morality and self-interest.
In this article I reply to Thomas Schramme's argument that there are no good reasons for the prohibition of severe forms of voluntary non-therapeutic body modification. I argue that on paternalistic assumptions there is, in fact, a perfectly good reason.
By showing disapproval of unethical follower behavior (UFB), leaders help creating an ethical climate in their organization in which it is clear what is morally acceptable or not. In this research, we examine factors influencing whether leaders consistently show such disapproval. Specifically, we argue that holding leaders accountable for their actions should motivate them to disapprove of UFB. However, this effect of accountability should be inhibited when leaders personally benefit from UFB. This prediction was supported in a lab experiment. Furthermore, (...) a follow-up study showed that followers in fact accurately predict when leaders will most likely disapprove of UFB. These findings imply that followers can thus get away with unethical behavior in some situations and they are capable of accurately predicting such situations. (shrink)
While self-interest is depreciated in Confucian ethics the processes of family relations in traditional China are animated by the self-interested actions of family members. The paper outlines the Confucian ideology of filial piety which is commensurate with the governance of family life organized hierarchically and through the senior male's management of the joint-family's collective property. The structure, operations and principles of membership in traditional Chinese families are indicated, highlighting the tensions within them between consanguinity and conjugality and their material (...) bases. The differential operation of self-interested actions by husbands and wives is also presented. A non-Confucian model of the relational-self is outlined in which both the collective context of Chinese families and the self-interested actions of individual family members within them is explicated. (shrink)
In the moral philosophy of the last two centuries, altruism of one kind or another has typically been regarded as identical with moral concern. When self-regarding duties have been recognized, motivation by duty has been sharply distinguished from motivation by self-interest. I think this view is wrong: self-interest can be the motive of a moral act. My chief concern is to argue that self-interested action -- i.e., action motivated by rational self-interest -- can be moral, but the (...) data I use to argue for this also provide compelling empirical evidence that all human motives do not reduce to self-interest, that altruism is possible. (shrink)
Self-interest is widely regarded as an important, if not as the only, source of reasons for action, and hence it is widely held that one can rationally give special weight to one’s self-interest in deciding how to act. In what follows, I will argue against this view. I will do so by following the lead of Derek Parfit, and considering cases in which personal identity appears to break down. My argument will differ from Parfit’s, however, in that it (...) will have a stronger conclusion, it will involve fewer assumptions, and it will be compatible with a wider range of theories of personal identity. (shrink)
Moralists tend to have a low opinion of self-interest. It is seen as force that has to be controlled or transcended. This essay tries to get beyond the bifurcation of human motivations into self-interest (which is seen as vicious or non-moral) and concern for others (which is virtuous). It argues that there are some surprising affinities between self-interest and morality. Notably the principal force that checks self-interest is self-interest itself. Consequently, self-interest often coincides with (...) and reinforces the commands of morality and promotes civility and consideration for others. Therefore it provides us with resources for constructing a more humane and civil society. (shrink)
Chapter 49 of the Han Feizi, entitled 'Wudu' ('The Five Vermin'), includes one of the earliest discussions in Chinese history of the concepts of gong and si: Han Fei (d. 233 B.C.) takes si to mean 'acting in one's own interest'. Gong is simply what opposes si. 'Acting in one's own interest' is not inherently reprehensible in Han Fei's view; but a ruler must remember why ministers propose their policies: they are concerned only with enriching themselves, and look upon the (...) ruler as nothing more than a resource to be exploited in their quest for material aggrandizement. The interests of the ministers and the ruler are diametrically opposed. Ministers <span class='Hi'>hope</span> for a comfortable career; a ruler must weed out the posers in his search for those rare and invaluable adjuvants who are genuinely capable of administering the state. In short, if si is the self-interest of the minister, gong is the self-interest of the ruler. (shrink)
: In this article it is assumed that human goodness is to be judged with respect to how well one does at practical reasoning. It is acknowledged that (1) there is a difference between moral practical reasoning (MPR) and prudential practical reasoning (PPR) and (2) what these would recommend sometimes conflict. A distinction is then made between absolute PPR and relative PPR and it is argued that doing well at absolute PPR is always consistent with MPR. It is also argued (...) that since it is more reasonable to assess prudential practical rationality in terms of the absolute standard than the relative standard, there is no conflict between the demands of MPR (morality) and PPR (self-interest). (shrink)
In 1990, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a consent order to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The order decreed the AICPA to lessen its longstanding ethics code which had until then banned the receipts of commissions, referral fees and contingent fees. The FTC alleged that the AICPA banned receipt of the fees as an attempt to restrain trade (FTC, 1990).In the present study, we sought to determine if CPAs'' preference for bans on commissions, referral fees and (...) contingent fees is related to their moral reasoning whereby CPAs perceive the bans to serve as a means of resolving ethical issues. While determining this matter cannot prove whether the bans did or did not actually result in restrained trade, it can offer insight into the perceived ethical importance to CPAs of the overturned rules. Based on a random sample of AICPA members and using Rest''s Defining Issues Test (DIT) to measure moral reasoning, we did not find a CPA''s moral reasoning to be related to his/her preference for ethics rules which ban commissions, referral fees or contingent fees. However, our results did indicate that most CPAs prefer banning commissions, referral fees and contingent fees, with those CPAs holding a higher financial stake in public accounting, namely partners, favoring banning referral fees and contingent fees significantly less than CPAs with a lesser stake. Further, we noted a significant negative relationship between financial stake and moral reasoning. These results seem to suggest that self-interest among CPAs may influence their moral reasoning.Further study is needed to examine the relationship between self-interest of CPAs and their moral reasoning. If self-interest clouds moral judgments made by CPAs, capital markets are in danger. Rendering an independent audit opinion must exclude self-interest. (shrink)
Part II. Section 5. Interests, Self-Interest and Autonomy: Two questions drive this chapter: 1) What kinds of things can be objects of autonomous choices? and 2) How are these related to an individual's authentic self? If self-interest is construed as securing a set of basic goods for oneself, personal autonomy and self-interest can collide. Still, Meyers holds that autonomy based on exercising autonomy competency is compatible with the dominance principle, which counsels opting for a course of action (...) that satisfies at least one more authentic desire than other available possibilities. (shrink)
The Puritan ethic is conventionally interpreted as a set of individualistic values that encourage a degree of self-interest inimical to the good of organizations and society. A closer reading of original Puritan moralists reveals a different ethic. Puritan moralists simultaneously legitimated economic individualism while urging individuals to work for the common good. They contrasted self-interest and the common good, which they understood to be the sinful and moral ends, respectively, of economic individualism. This polarity can be found in (...) all the details of their moral system, including the Puritan understanding of vocation, economic virtues, property rights, contracts, wealth and poverty, market prices and interest, and the proper economic role of government. The efforts of contemporary ethics to confront the problem of self-interest in business organizations and society would be enriched by a rediscovery of the Puritan understanding of self as a fundamental problem for any individualistic value system. (shrink)
Some in public relations have suggested that practitioners adopt a philosophy of enlightened self-interest as an ethical baseline. The author contends that such a theory must be rejected because even the enlightened variety does not adequately weigh the needs of significant others - a central consideration in any effort to define ethical behavior. The author maintains that genuine sacrifice - at times required of those desiring to do the right thing - clearly can conflict with any theory espousing (...) class='Hi'>self-interest as a baseline. Further, there is a social dimension to ethics. By virtue of occupational title, the author holds that public relations practitioners have a particular responsibility to advance the social order. Ethical behavior - especially as it relates to public relations - must go well beyond a narrow concern that no injustice is done to individual persons. (shrink)
The self-interest paradigm predicts that unethical behavior occurs when such behavior benefits the actor. A recent model of lying behavior, however, predicts that lying behavior results from an individual''s inability to meet conflicting role demands. The need to reconcile the self-interest and role conflict theories prompted the present study, which orthogonally manipulated the benefit from lying and the conflicting role demands. A model integrating the two theories predicts the results, which showed that both elements — (...) self benefit and role conflict — influenced lying, separately and interactively. Additionally, the relative strength of the roles in conflict affected their level of influence. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of the conflict between morality and self-interest typically proceed on the assumption that we have a relatively unproblematic understanding of self-interest. That assumption can be challenged by asking how to relate acts of self-interest and acts of integrity. I argue that when we are talking about motivations, it is better to keep the motivation of self-interest distinct from the motivation of integrity. But the term “self-interest” can also be used to refer to an (...) end, and acts of integrity may sometimes serve the end of self-interest. Against an identity-independent conception of interests (which gives to acts of integrity a possible instrumental value in achieving some interests), I argue in favor of an identity-dependent conception of interests that makes interests relative to the evaluative perspective of someone with a particular identity that acts of integrity help to preserve. (shrink)
The sociological models of functionalism and conflict are introduced and utilized to analyze professionalism in the accounting profession as it is manifest in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant's Code of Conduct. Rule 203 of the Code and provisions of the Code related to the public interest are examined using semiotic analysis to determine if they are most consistent with the functionalist or conflict models. While the analysis does not address intent of the Code, it is determined that the (...) Code contains semantic defects which result in different interpretations of the Code to different readers. The defects found are most consistent with the conflict model of professionalism. This has implications for the public and for individuals within the profession, making the Code less useful to both groups. The defects are seen as a potential battleground for the self-interest vs the public interest orientation of the accounting profession. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Self-Interest and Public Interest in Western Politics showed that the public, politicians, and bureaucrats are often public spirited. But this does not invalidate public-choice theory. Public-choice theory is an ideal type, not a claim that self-interest explains all political behavior. Instead, public-choice theory is useful in creating rules and institutions that guard against the worst case, which would be universal self-interestedness in politics. In contrast, the public-interest hypothesis is neither a comprehensive explanation of political behavior nor a (...) sound basis for institutional design. (shrink)
“Economic man” assumes not only self-interest, but also rationality of choices. The finding that ultimatum game offers can be explained by ambiguity aversion as well as pessimism, plus other findings, suggests the usefulness of taking bounded rationality more into account. Neurodevelopmental and heritability research supports the authors' emphasis on the importance of social learning and socialization.
ABSTRACT Four decades ago, Gerald Kramer showed that economic conditions affect electoral outcomes. Some researchers took this to mean that voters were self-interested, voting their ?pocketbooks,? while others, such as Leif Lewin, took it to mean that voters were sociotropic, motivated by the public interest?and therefore altruistic. It is important, however, to avoid conflating sociotropic voters with altruistic ones. Voters might be voting in favor of politicians or parties that they think will further the public interest as an indirect (...) route to furthering their own interests, as members of the public. More research, perhaps conducted using novel methodologies, is needed in order to settle the extent to which voters are motivated by self-interest or by the public interest. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In its attempt to prove that voters, politicians, and bureaucrats are motivated by the public interest, Self-Interest and Public Interest in Western Politics overlooks a great deal of public-choice research, to which much has been added during the two decades since it was published. The importance of self-interest at both the micro and macro levels of politics becomes clear once one looks not simply at the ?inputs? of a democracy but at its ?outputs? as well. The prevalence (...) of interest groups, the dysfunction of the United States tax code, the lobbying by unions for their members? self-interest, the earmarks in the Patriot Act, the numerous cases of corruption in Western democracies, and the dissatisfaction of citizens with their governments? failings all point to the importance of self-interest in politics. (shrink)
Central to the United Nations Framework setting out the human rights responsibilities of corporations proposed by John Ruggie is the principle that corporations have a responsibility to respect human rights in their operations whether or not doing so is required by law and whether or not human rights laws are actively enforced. Ruggie proposes that corporations should respect this principle in their strategic management and day-to-day operations for reasons of corporate (enlightened) self-interest. This paper identifies this as a serious (...) weakness and argues that identifying the responsibility to respect human rights as an explicitly ethical obligation to be respected for that reason would provide a much stronger justificatory foundation for respecting the principle seen from a corporateperspective, given that corporations are accountable to their shareholders for their deployment of the firm’s financial resources. (shrink)
The adoption of experimental methods from economics, in particular script-enactment, performance-related payment, and the absence of deception, will turn experimental social psychology into a trivial science subject. Such procedures force participants to conform to a normative expectation that they must behave rationally and in accordance with their self-interest. The self-fulfilling prophecy inherent in these procedures makes it more difficult to conduct innovative social-psychological research.
In order to explain the idea that sacrifice involves voluntary diminution of the agent’s well-being, “well-being” must be explained. The thesis that an agent’s well-being just consists in the occurrence of events wanted is rejected. Overvold replaces it by the view that the motivating desires involve the existence of the agent, alive, at the time of their satisfaction. This view seems counterintuitive. The whole desire-satisfaction theory is to be rejected partly because we dont’t think an event worthwile if it is (...) not liked when it occurs, and partly because the theory cannot give a sensible account of what is good for an individual when his desires change. A more satisfactory view is that the goodness of an event for a person is fixed by his total gratifications as a result of its occurrence, provided they would occur if the person were fully informed about facts knowledge of which would change them if it existed. But self-sacrifice seems to involve not only voluntary diminution of well-being in this sense, but belief that the action is taken for the benefit of someone else. Overvold’s view leaves open the possibility that acting morally is never contrary to self-interest, if one of the agent’s major interests is that he act morally. This is an ingenious suggestion, but seems a bit counterintuitive. (shrink)
We examine the writings of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman regarding their interpretation and use of the concept of self-interest.We argue that neither Smith nor Friedman considers self-interest to be synonymous with selfishness and thus devoid of ethicalconsiderations. Rather, for both writers self-interest embodies an other-regarding aspect that requires individuals to moderate theiractions when others are adversely affected. The overriding virtue for Smith in governing individual actions is justice; for Friedman it isnon-coercion.
We studied the role of social dynamics in moral decision-making and behavior by investigating how physical sensations of dirtiness versus cleanliness influence moral behavior in leader–subordinate relationships, and whether a leader’s self-interest functions as a boundary condition to this effect. A pilot study (N = 78) revealed that when participants imagined rewarding (vs. punishing) unethical behavior of a subordinate, they felt more dirty. Our main experiment (N = 96) showed that directly manipulating dirtiness by allowing leaders to touch a (...) dirty object (fake poop) led to more positive evaluations of, and higher bonuses for, unethical subordinates than touching a clean object (hygienic hand wipe). This effect, however, only emerged when the subordinate’s unethical behavior did not serve the leader’s own interest. Hence, subtle cues such as bodily sensations can shape moral decision-making and behavior in leader–subordinate relationships, but self-interest, as a core characteristic of interdependence, can override the influence of such cues on the leader’s moral behavior. (shrink)
The emergence of population as an object of government in the 18th century produced a new problematic of government. The focus of this new problematic was how to ensure that the pursuit of self-interest by individual economic actors was compatible with the reproduction and useful employment of the population. From the 18th century to the present, government in the West has addressed this problem in a number of different ways, each of which represents a 'tricky adjust ment' between a (...) liberal element concerned with commercial freedom and a pastoral element concerned with the welfare of the population. The tension between the liberal and pastoral elements of modern Western governance is explored by examining the place of commercial freedom within a householding concept of rule in which security at the level of the state is dependent upon the sovereign's rational management of the population. (shrink)
I argue in this paper that there are two considerations which govern the dynamics of a two-person bargaining game, viz. relative proportionate utility loss from conceding to one's opponent's proposal and relative non-proportionate utility loss from not conceding to one's opponent's proposal, if she were not to concede as well. The first consideration can adequately be captured by the information contained in vNM utilities. The second requires measures of utility which allow for an interpersonal comparison of utility differences. These considerations (...) respectively provide for a justification of the Nash solution and the Kalai egalitarian solution. However, none of these solutions taken by themselves can provide for a full story of bargaining, since, if within a context of bargaining one such consideration is overriding, the solution which does not match this consideration will yield unreasonable results. I systematically present arguments to the effect that each justification from self-interest for respectively the Nash and the Kalai egalitarian solution is vulnerable to this kind of objection. I suggest that the search for an integrative model may be a promising line of research. (shrink)
If agents motivated only by self-interested reasons practice different degrees of ethical environmental behavior at least partly because they hold different notions of what is in their self-interest, then the nature of our self-interest conceptions is a central issue in environmental ethics. Unless set by biology, as seems unlikely from the evidence, the breadth of the individual self-interest conception we each develop must depend on the specific experiences we are each contingently exposed to in our lives. If (...) nurturing a stronger environmental ethic within our society is a goal, if that ethic depends at least in part on how we individually conceive of our self-interest, and if the development of each of our self-interest conceptions responds contingently to input from others, then these reflections lead to normative considerations that reach beyond the standard ethical questions regarding how to act to others that concern, antecedently, whether to act at all. (shrink)
In biosemiotics, life and living phenomena are described by means of originally anthropomorphic semiotic concepts. This can be justified if we can show that living systems as self-maintaining far from equilibrium systems create and update some kind of representation about the conditions of their self-maintenance. The point of view is the one of semiotic realism where signs and representations are considered as real and objective natural phenomena without any reference to the specifically human interpreter. It is argued that the most (...) basic concept of representation must be forward looking and that both C. Peirce’s and J. v. Uexküll’s concepts of sign assume an unnecessarily complex semiotic agent. The simplest representative systems do not have phenomenal objects or Umwelten at all. Instead, the minimal concept of representation and the source of normativity that is needed in its interpretation can be based on M. Bickhard’s interactivism. The initial normativity or natural self-interest is based on the ‘utility-concept’ of function: anything that contributes to the maintenance of a far from equilibrium system is functional to that system — every self-maintaining far from equilibrium system has a minimal natural self-interest to serve that function, it is its existential precondition. Minimal interactive representation emerges when such systems become able to switch appropriately between two or more means ofmaintaining themselves. At the level of such representations, a potentiality to detect an error may develop although no objects of representation for the system are provided. Phenomenal objects emerge in systems that are more complex. If a system creates a set of ongoingly updated ’situation images’ and can detect temporal invariances in the updating process, these invariances constitute objects for the system itself. Within them, a representative system gets an Umwelt and becomes capable of experiencing triadic signs. The relation between representation and its object is either iconic or indexical at this level. Correspondingly as in Peirce’s semeiotic, symbolic signs appear as more developed — for the symbolic signs, a more complex system is needed. (shrink)
In advocating that we extend our experiment in political democracy in America to include economic democracy as well, the Bishops' Letter assumes the basic social nature of man. This leaves an enormous gap between the values and attitudes they recommend and the private and individualistic view of man that undergirds our traditional economic thinking.This essay attempts to bridge that gap in terms of a theory of practice, individual in emphasis, but bringing out the enabling conditions of any and all practice (...) without which practice would not be possible. It is suggested that these presuppositions of practice function normatively in all practice, economic as well as other types, and ought to be of interest to the practice of any adequately self-interested individual. They constitute a large part of what we used to call the public interest. (shrink)
Reason, egoism, and utilitarianism, by H. Sidgwick.--Is egoism reasonable? By G. E. Moore.--Ultimate principles and ethical egoism, by B. Medlin.--In defense of egoism, by J. Kalin.--Virtuous affections and self-love, by F. Hutcheson.--Our obligation to virtue, by D. Hume.--Duty and interest, by H. A. Prichard.--The natural condition of mankind and the laws of nature, by T. Hobbes.--Why should we be moral? By K. Baier.--Morality and advantage, by D. P. Gauthier.--Bibliographical essay (p. 181-184).
This paper challenges the idea that there is a natural opposition between self-interest and morality. It does by developing an account of self-love according to which we can have self-regarding reasons that (1) differ substantially from the standard conception of self-interest and that (2) share enough crucial features with moral reasons to count as morally respectable.The argument involves three steps. The first step concentrates on the idea of a moral point of view as a means to distinguish (...) between reasons that could be morally respectable and those we have reason to distrust as not morally respectable. The second step discusses Harry Frankfurt's work on love, in order to develop an attitude of selfless love as a source of morally respectable reasons. The third step introduces the idea of an alternative of oneself to show that selfless self-love is a coherent conception of an attitude that provides one with self-regarding and self-grounded reasons that are also morally respectable. (shrink)
It is natural to oppose morality and self-interest; it is customary also to oppose morality to interests as such, an inclination encouraged by Kantian tradition. However, if “interest” is understood simply as what moves a person to do this rather than that, then – if persons ever actually are good and do what is right – there must be moral interests. Bradley, in posing the “Why should I be moral?” question, raises Kant-inspired objections to the possibility of moral interests (...) qua particular, conditional causes. The paper argues that these objections can be met if (a) one distinguishes between what makes something right and what makes something right happen, and (b) doing what is right is intrinsic to a person’s interests and not merely a means to ulterior ends. The requisite completeness of rational morality is shown to exclude pluralistic approaches. Given rational monism, people can find intrinsic advantage in morality’s justifiability, cooperativeness and communality. (shrink)