People often equate morals with despicable egoism. Egoism here understood as an attitude of self-interest are always come first. The opposite of egoism is altruism, an attitude that put the interests of others. Morality is often equated with altruism, and egoism are considered the source of all sin; such as Hutcheson argues that the essence of morality consists in benevolence, in the attitude toward others.
In this case, Butler correcting a one-sided understanding. Butler did this by showing two things. First, what is generally considered to egoism, such as those who follow the passions and emotions, not called as a egoism, and second, if egoism can be rightly understood, egoism is a positive attitude and supporting the development of a mature personality.
Let us look at the first point. If a person becomes a drunkard and a gambler and eventually destroy her own life and family life, when he was often angry with his wife, if he can not control sexual appetite and eventually contracted the HIV virus, if he was envious, emotion, sentiment, blinded by emotion, and what else, whether it egoism? Is not the attitudes and behaviors that only conflict with the interests of the actors themselves? Didn’t he get lost?
Disability of Attitudes and behaviors was not because people think too much about their own interests, but because he did not think, because he let himself be taken by passion rather than quietly thinking what is best and right for him. Sinful attitudes those are not located in the attention to himself, but that person did not use reason and attention, that he let himself dominated by irrational impulses – like the animal who always follow the strongest inner drive. The essence of sin is not that people consider their own interests, but that he released on his own power, that he does not use reflection, that he would become a slave to his feelings. Then, he often not only harm others but also himself.
Conversely, people who always make reflections, which could consider the means in performing an act and the consequences was a mature personality, mature mentally and emotionally. The ability to control the reactions, attitudes, and actions by considering their own interests is a sign of strong moral character.
Because of that, Butler correcting the popular notion of sin, as if the nature is the attention to itself. Greatest sins not because people pursue what is the real interest, but because he let himself be taken by the feelings and passions.
Therefore, Butler, followed Shaftesbury, giving positive values of love itself. He talked about the cool self-love. Self love is the equivalent reflection or conscience earlier. Cool self-love is part of the inner voice that assess the pros and cons of an action. Instead of greedily pursuing what at that time to stimulate and seemed most comfortable, quiet selfish considering what actually accordance with self-interest, viewed from nature.
Therefore, in building up the moral personality, not only emphasized the goodness of others. A balanced personality and love can justify himself. Because he was positive about himself, he is easy to be positive about other people because human nature is social. I was not able to develop myself if I did not support the development of others. I also can not be positive about someone else if not steady with myself.
Thus, Butler also can provide a more convincing explanation about a problem the Shaftesbury and Hutcheson basic difference of opinion, which is about the relationship between benevolence, kindness toward others, and morality. We recall that for Shaftesbury good moral attitude is a balance between love of self and a good attitude toward others. The Hutcheson almost identifies the moral attitude with a good attitude toward others and do not provide a positive place for the love of self.
By emphasizing reflection and conscience, where the cool self-love plays an important role, Butler shows that the identification between morality and kindness can not be maintained. Moral attitude requires more than benevolence. Quietly love to yourself is an important part in it. However, Butler also overcome the Shaftesbury. He asserted that naturally the moral stance is not a feeling at all, but rather a moral attitude to consider whether an action or not in accordance with human nature. Actions that can bring a good attitude toward others, as well as efforts to implement what is in accordance with cool self-love. Cool self-love does not conflict with benevolence. Good attitude toward others according to our social nature. Therefore, people who self-love also open to other people. Cool self-love is open to the needs of others, so do not self-interested in the strict sense. Butler rejected the identification of morality with a good attitude toward others.
Butler also rejected the notion firmly Hutcheson that the main principle of morality is “the greatest happiness for the greatest number”. Butler suggests here an argument which will then be used against many utilitarianism: the name of the happiness of many, various actions can be justified is not fair.