Egoism and Morality

Stephen Darwall

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Early Modern Europe

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199556137
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Egoism and Morality

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  • Philosophy
  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Moral Philosophy



This article examines changes in the conception of morality and egoism in early modern Europe. It explains that the postulate that human beings were fractious, covetous, and endowed with a strong drive towards self-aggrandizement was associated with Thomas Hobbes, and his writings produced a strong counterflow in the form of assertions and demonstrations of altruism and benevolence as natural endowments of human beings. It suggests that the modern ethical thought has defined itself by its concern with a specific ethical conception whose distinctness from eudaimonist prudential concerns is part of its very idea.

Keywords: morality; egoism; Europe; self-aggrandizement; Thomas Hobbes; ethical thought

Article.  10496 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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