On the whole, his moral attitude is cynical, and he is inclined to regard self-interest as the best criterion.
Underlying them were such maxims as that of Hume, that in erecting a stable government every citizen must be assumed a knave, and be bound by self-interest to co-operation for the public good.
The act linked the land-owning class in Canada and the church by ties of self-interest to the British cause.
This he modifies by explaining that self-interest is based on the relationships of life; a man needs money for the sake of his children, his friends and the state whose general prosperity depends on the wealth of its citizens.
Motives of self-interest may have lurked in them - otherworldly motives of buying salvation for a little price, or worldly motives of achieving riches and acquiring lands.
From the Greek sophists they borrowed ingenious ways of playing off one duty against another, or duty in general against self-interest - leaving the doubter in the alternative of neglecting the one and being a knave, or neglecting the other and being a fool.
The Lord is to be approached by faith (bhakti) - dis- interested devotion and surrender of self in perfect love, and all actions are to be purified of self-interest in contemplation of Him.
By this principle Ferguson endeavours to reconcile all moral systems. With Hobbes and Hume he admits the power of self-interest or utility, and makes it enter into morals as the law of self-preservation.
Butler does not deny this, so far as mere claim to authority is concerned; 1 but he maintains that, the dictates of conscience being clear and certain, while the calculations of self-interest lead to merely probable conclusions, it can never be practically reasonable to disobey the former, even apart from any proof which religion may furnish of the absolute coincidence of the two in a future life.