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Holmes draws heavily on the writings of eighteenth century clergyman Joseph Butler to argue that there is a fundamental distinction between "true self-love" and "debauched self-love." True self love, as Butler defined it, "may be self-referential, but it is not self-confined, not purely and solely egotistical." To cite Holmes's example, a person may desire sex with their partner because it gives them pleasure, but also because they want to make their partner happy and enjoy being with them. Debauched self-love seeks out pleasure for its own sake, and with no other purpose. A person may work hard and seek a promotion because they want recognition for their efforts, and are personally ambitious. But they also might want to provide for their families, and make them proud of them. Holmes argues that spiritual, academic, and artistic ambitions, because they require a great deal more sacrifice and discipline, and provide less immediate gratification, usually fall into the category of "true self-love." Holmes's position can be seen to contrast with that of egoism, which makes the self the reference point for all actions.
Source: Holmes, Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions, 38.
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