When deciding what to do, is it best to treat one’s own interests as more important than the interests of others, others’ interests as more important than one’s own, or one’s own and others’ interests as equally important? This book develops an account of others-centeredness, a way of putting others first in the process of deciding what to do. Over the course of six chapters, Putting Others First investigates other-centeredness by drawing upon a wide range of academic disciplines including biblical studies, feminist scholarship, philosophy, psychology, and theology.
The author begins by explaining the nature of others-centeredness as a character trait in detail and connecting it with other contemporary projects in virtue theory. He argues that foundational texts of the New Testament can be plausibly read as advocating for others-centeredness. He then develops a provisional case for the value of others-centeredness from the perspective of each of the three major approaches to normative ethics: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Next, the author confronts challenging questions about the value of others-centeredness, including whether others-centeredness requires an impossibly strong sort of altruism, whether it leads its possessors into self-destructive relationships, and whether it leads to offering help that hurts others. Finally, he examines the place of others-centeredness within a person’s moral psychology by considering the relationship between it and other virtues and vices, and reviews relevant scientific findings that illuminate the value and causal role of others-centeredness.
1. Putting Others First as the Character Trait of Others-Centeredness
2. Others-Centeredness in the New Testament
3. Others-Centeredness as a Moral Ideal
4. Objections to Others-Centeredness
5. Others-Centeredness, Vice, and Virtue
6. The Science of Others-Centeredness