Must I Benefit Myself?

In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. pp. 253-268 (2020)
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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.

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Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh

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References found in this work

Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Oxford University Press USA.
Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
The Survival Lottery.John Harris - 1975 - Philosophy 50 (191):81 - 87.
The impotence of the demandingness objection.David Sobel - 2007 - Philosophers' Imprint 7:1-17.
Too Much Morality.Stephen Finlay - 2008 - In Paul Bloomfield (ed.), Morality and Self-Interest. New York: Oxford University Press.

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