Butler and the nature of self-interest

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (2):421-438 (2000)
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Butler’s famous arguments in Sermon XI, designed to refute psychological egoism and to mitigate conflict between self-interest and benevolence, turn out to depend crucially on his own distinctive conception of self-interest. Butler does not notice the availability of several alternative conceptions of self-interest. Some such alternatives are available within the framework of Butler’s moral psychology; others can be developed outside that framework. There are a number of interesting reasons to prefer one or other such account of the ordinary concept of self-interest; but, ultimately, no such reasons prove decisive, and we should reject the idea that there is a uniquely correct account of self-interest. Since Butler’s arguments require the unique adequacy of his own distinctive conception of self-interest, they must be rejected



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David Phillips
University of Houston

Citations of this work

Explaining the Paradox of Hedonism.Alexander Dietz - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (3):497-510.
Butler's Stone.John J. Tilley - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4): 891–909.

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