Misunderstanding “self-interest”

Narrow preoccupation with the economic market has led to a narrow interpretation of self-interest as myopic selfishness, as exclusive concern with immediate material rewards.

That is a great mistake.

Self-interest is not myopic selfishness. It is whatever it is that interests the participants, whatever they value, whatever goals they pursue.  The scientist seeking to advance the frontiers of his discipline, the missionary seeking to convert infidels to the true faith, the philanthropist seeking to bring comfort to the needy — all are pursuing their interests, as they see them, as they judge them by their own values.

— Free to Choose by Milton Friedman

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