IN THIS ESSAY I ENGAGE THE DEBATE AMONG THEOLOGIANS, PHILOSOphers, and economists on the proper role of self-interest in the pursuit of economic well-being. Often, neither economists' use of self-interest nor critics' rejection of it is carefully specified. I consider conditions under which acting in one's self-interest is theologically and morally proper. Specifically, I argue that for socioeconomically disadvantaged persons, increased exercise of self-interest should not be regarded as sinful but as a fitting expansion of agency and well-being. Contextual factors of distribution and the quality of social relations must inform any analysis of self-interest. I introduce a theological perspective on self-interest within an egalitarian Christian framework and suggest ways in which this approach enables further theological and ethical reflection on the proper role of self-interest.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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DOI 10.5840/jsce200525128
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