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Self-Interest and Beyond

Self-Interest and Beyond
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Index , Notes
$16.95 (16.95)

“Use this book in your ethics courses, recommend it to all your students, and get a copy for yourself. Self-Interest and Beyond deserves a wide reading.”
Teaching Philosophy, June 2002, review by Todd R. Long, Department of Philosophy, University of Rochester

Classical and contemporary
Using classical and contemporary philosophical ideas, as well as stories from literature and recent films, this book involves the reader in considering alternative possibilities for self-development. By reflecting on possible selves and possible lives, the reader should be able to give greater depth to self-interested thinking. One who views self-interest in the light of what it takes to live a desirable life is likely to discover the value of building a self with a range of motivations besides self-interest.

This book challenges the reader to reflect seriously about his or her own patterns of thinking about how to live. It shows the superficiality of much of our thinking about what is in our interest. Often people count up potential gains of an act without considering whether the gains and the way of living required to attain them fit within their conception of the life they want to have. To work for us, instead of against us, our thinking about how to benefit ourselves needs to be guided by informed judgment about what kind of self to be.

The book shows that

(1) Self-interested thinking is incomplete and often counterproductive unless it is guided by a conception of the self one aspires to be and the life one aspires to live.

(2) The kind of thinking needed to choose a self differs from self-interested thinking and cannot be reduced to considerations of self-interest.

(3) Serious reflection on the self often gives a person reason to build into the self a range of concerns that result in motivations other than self-interest. Many people will have reason to form a self motivated by fundamental concerns for moral living.

Self-interest is usually conceived to be in significant conflict with moral living. However, descriptions of the nature of this conflict typically assume a self without a moral identity. If we imagine a self whose identity is partially shaped by moral aspirations, the contrast between self-interest and morality is less sharp, and the nature of the conflict is significantly altered.


Introduction Self-Interested Thinking

Part One: The Pursuit of Self-Interest

Prelude to Part One
Chapter One The Difficulty of Self-Interested Behavior
Chapter Two The Range of Human Concerns
Chapter Three Getting What You Want
Chapter Four Dealing With What You Don't Want

Part Two: Choosing a Self

Prelude to Part Two
Chapter Five The Expanded Self.
Chapter Six The Limited Self
Chapter Seven The Developed Self
Chapter Eight The Engaged Self.

Part Three: Becoming a Self

Prelude to Part Three
Chapter Nine Identity
Chapter Ten Integrity
Chapter Eleven Self-Transformation

Conclusion: Beyond Self-Interest
Additional Reading

DAVID M. HOLLEY has taught philosophy for the past twenty years at universities in Kansas, Texas, Arizona, and Mississippi. In his current position at the University of Southern Mississippi, he regularly teaches courses in Business Ethics. It was discussion of ethical issues with business students that drew his attention to the need for a better understanding of self-interest. His published writings include studies in philosophy of religion, ethics, and philosophical psychology.

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