Must I benefit myself?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Consequentialism
EditorsDouglas W. Portmore
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780190905347
ISBN (Print)9780190905323
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • self-interest
  • moral options
  • moral permissibility
  • self-sacrifice
  • directed duties


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