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Procedural Self-Interest And The Good Society

Whether ideas or interests motivate most human behavior is a useful debate. In the final analysis people usually agree that most human action is driven or guided by a mixture of ideas and interests. I will imagine here that discussion of the role of ideas in motivating human action is finished or postponed, and smart people generally agree that most people are usually motivated by some mix of three types of interest:

1. a person’s status interest (gaining respect, esteem, etc., which can also be the motivation of a group, organization, or even a country);

2. a person’s ideal interest (another large category which can include motivations based on ideas, ideology, or values which could include, for example, notions of fairness);

3. a person’s material interest (the typical category of motivation, whose most common subcategory is economic interest, often understood as ‘vested’ interest).