Putting together morality and well-being

Ruth Chang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

31 Scopus citations


It seems an inevitable fact of life that morality sometimes asks us to do something that requires a sacrifice in our own well-being. Should we keep a promise to accompany a friend to the dentist or go off to hear a rare performance of our favorite artist? Go out of our way to help a stranger in distress or hurry on our way to an important business meeting? Give a certain percentage of our income to charity or fund our own nest egg? Conflicts between moral and prudential values are thought to raise concerns about the normativity of morality and the scope of practical reason. If being moral involves making one's life go worse, why should one be moral? And if conflicts between moral and prudential values are genuine, how in such cases can practical reason guide decision about what to do? Both worries stem in part from an alluring picture of the relationship between morality and prudence. On this picture, moral and prudential values issue from two “fundamentally distinct points of view,” points of view so different that there is no more comprehensive point of view from which values from the one point of view and values from the other can both be given their normative due.For example, from the moral point of view, I should send my year-end bonus to Oxfam, but from the prudential point of view I should invest the money in my own retirement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPractical Conflicts
Subtitle of host publicationNew Philosophical Essays
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages41
ISBN (Electronic)9780511616402
ISBN (Print)0521812712, 9780521812719
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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