The meaning ascribed in popular usage to the word “selfishness” is not merely
wrong: it represents a devastating intellectual “package-deal,” which is
responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested moral
development of mankind.
In popular usage, the word “selfishness” is a synonym of evil; the image it
conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve
his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the
gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.
Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is:
concern with one’s own interests.
This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether
concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what
constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such