Chapter

Theories That Are Indirectly Self‐Defeating

Derek Parfit

in Reasons and Persons

Published in print January 1986 | ISBN: 9780198249085
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598173 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019824908X.003.0001
 Theories That Are Indirectly Self‐Defeating

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According to the Self‐interest Theory, or S, our own well‐being is the supremely rational aim. According to Consequentialism, or C, the ultimate moral aim is that things go as well as possible. The chapter explains how these theories can be indirectly self‐defeating, in the sense that our trying to achieve these aims may cause them to be worse; how it can be rational to cause ourselves to be irrational, and how it might be right to cause ourselves to be disposed to act wrongly; how these theories might be self‐effacing by telling us to believe other theories; and how these theories do not fail in their own terms.

Keywords: self‐interest; collective; consequentialism; determinism; rationality; self‐defeating; self‐effacing; utilitarianism; wrong‐doing

Chapter.  26502 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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