Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 38, Issue 1–2, pp 3–17 | Cite as

The Human Face of Self-Interest

  • Ian Maitland


Moralists tend to have a low opinion of self-interest. It is seen as force that has to be controlled or transcended. This essay tries to get beyond the bifurcation of human motivations into self-interest (which is seen as vicious or non-moral) and concern for others (which is virtuous). It argues that there are some surprising affinities between self-interest and morality. Notably the principal force that checks self-interest is self-interest itself. Consequently, self-interest often coincides with and reinforces the commands of morality and promotes civility and consideration for others. Therefore it provides us with resources for constructing a more humane and civil society.


Economic Growth Civil Society Human Face Human Motivation Principal Force 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Maitland
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MinnesotaU.S.A.

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