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Voluntary human actions—those actions with which ethics is primarily concerned—typically arise as an agent seeks to satisfy a desire. Satisfying desires, moreover, is typically in an agent's interest. Thus, there seems to be a rather straightforward connection between identifying an action as voluntary and identifying that action's motivation (i.e., the desire for the sake of which the action is being pursued) as self-interested.

Additional support is lent to this line of thought by considering that human agents are, on the one hand, members of a species that seeks to secure its own survival and, on the other hand, social creatures. Insofar as humans seek to secure their own survival, they are motivated to act in ways to satisfy their desires for food, shelter, and security. ...

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