A challenge to Brink's metaphysical egoism

Res Publica 9 (3):243-256 (2003)
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Those who subscribe to a prudential conception of practical reason do not believe that there is a conflict between other-regarding and self-regarding norms as the former are held to be founded on the latter. Moral conduct, they maintain, is always rationally justifiable. The reasons we should fulfil the demands of other-regarding norms are the same as those we have for fulfilling self-regarding norms. David Brink has put forth an interesting and novel account of this approach to practical reason which he calls ‘metaphysical egoism’. Metaphysical egoism requires that we modify our pre-theoretical understandings of self-interest on metaphysical grounds. I critically assess Brink’s argument and claim that metaphysical egoism does not adequately function as a motive or guide for action. It is susceptible to many of the same problems which strategic egoism faces.



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Colin Farrelly
Queen's University

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References found in this work

Internal and External Reasons.Bernard Williams - 1979 - In Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational Action. Cambridge University Press. pp. 101-113.
The Normativity of Instrumental Reason.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1997 - In Garrett Cullity & Berys Gaut (eds.), Ethics and Practical Reason. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Justice as reciprocity versus subject-centered justice.Allen Buchanan - 1990 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 19 (3):227-252.

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