Self-Interest, Ethical Egoism, and the Restored Gospel
BYU Studies Quarterly
Brigham Young University
The gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Latter-day Saint Church may be seen as advocating a legitimate focus on our own interest. Thus some people have argued that the gospel is the same as ethical egoism, which is that people ought to act only in their long-term interest. This article examines the relationship between the gospel and ethical egoism and concludes that they are not equal, for two reasons: the gospel and ethical egoism accept different normative grounds for right actions, and they contain incompatible accounts of motivation. In distinguishing the gospel from ethical egoism, the author concludes that even though we almost always act with some awareness of self-interest, that is very different from saying that everything we do is based entirely on self-interest or that such awareness prevents us from having a genuine concern for others.