Must I Benefit Myself?

In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism (forthcoming)

Authors
Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
Morality seems to require us to attend to the good of others, but does not require that we assign any importance to our own good. Standard forms of consequentialism thus appear vulnerable to the compulsory self-benefit objection: they require agents to benefit themselves when doing so is entailed by the requirement of maximizing overall impersonal good. Attempts to address this objection by appealing to ideally motivated consequentialist agents; by rejecting maximization; by leveraging consequentialist responses to the more familiar special relationships and demandingness objections; or by appealing to dual rankings of moral and all-things-considered reasons fall short of adequately answering this objection. A satisfactory response to the compulsory self-benefit objection is elusive because of consequentialism struggles to account for directed options (in this case, an option not to maximize one’s own good but not that of others) and for moral considerations that do not rest on the value of outcomes or states of affairs.
Keywords Self-interest  Moral options  Moral permissibility  Consequentialism  Self-sacrifce  Directed duties
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