Enlightened self-interest
Enlightenment (concept)
Enlightenment broadly means wisdom or understanding enabling clarity of perception. However, the English word covers two concepts which can be quite distinct: religious and spiritual enlightenment and secular or intellectual enlightenment...

is a philosophy in ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 which states that persons who act to further the interests of others (or the interests of the group or groups to which they belong), ultimately serve their own self-interest
Self-interest generally refers to a focus on the needs or desires of oneself. By extension, it can mean:*Individualism, a philosophy stressing the worth of individual selves...


It has often been simply expressed by the belief that an individual, group, or even a commercial entity
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

 will "do well by doing good". Enlightened self-interest might be considered to be unrealistically idealistic
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

 and altruistic
Altruism is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of 'others' toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of...

 by detractors and practically idealistic
Practical idealism
Practical idealism is a term first used by Mahatma Gandhi . It describes a philosophy that holds it to be an ethical imperative to implement ideals of virtue or good. It further holds it to be equally immoral to either refuse to make the compromises necessary to realise high ideals, or to discard...

 and utilitarian
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness", by whatever means necessary. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, and that one can...

 by proponents.
In contrast to enlightened self-interest is simple greed or the concept of "unenlightened self-interest," in which it is argued that when most or all persons act according to their own myopic
Myopia , "shortsightedness" ) is a refractive defect of the eye in which collimated light produces image focus in front of the retina under conditions of accommodation. In simpler terms, myopia is a condition of the eye where the light that comes in does not directly focus on the retina but in...

Selfishness denotes an excessive or exclusive concern with oneself, and as such it exceeds mere self interest or self concern. Insofar as a decision maker knowingly burdens or harms others for personal gain, the decision is selfish. In contrast, self-interest is more general...

, that the group suffers loss as a result of conflict, decreased efficiency because of lack of cooperation, and the increased expense
Operating cost
Operating costs can be described as the expenses which are related to the operation of a business, or to the operation of a device, component, piece of equipment or facility.-Business operating costs:...

 each individual pays for the protection of their own interests.