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Res Philosophica


published on June 3, 2015

T. Ryan Byerly, Meghan Byerly
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2016.93.1.5

The Special Value of Others-Centeredness

Suppose you confront a situation in which you can either promote a good for yourself or a good for someone else, but not both. The present paper argues that it is valuable for your conduct in such circumstances to be regulated by a character trait the possession of which constitutes one way of having one’s life be centered upon others as opposed to centered upon oneself. The trait in question, which we shall call “others-centeredness,” is a disposition to promote goods of others rather than one’s own goods when the values of these goods are equal or incommensurable. We argue that possessing this trait makes one more likely to maximize total value, because in addition to promoting the goods of the other, this trait also promotes goods of interpersonal union. We explain why this conclusion is significant, and we defend our argument for it against several objections.