This article examines the concept of interests in politics which has been the subject of major debate in recent years. It makes two proposals: one concerns the elucidation of the concept of interests; the other concerns the relative status of an agent's perception of his or her own interests and an observer's specification of them. For brevity, statements of the form ‘x is in A's interest’ are referred to as interest-statements.
* Department of Politics, University of Warwick. An earlier version of this article was given to the Department's Political Theory Workshop. The authors wish to thank all participants, particularly Peter Burnell and Timothy Kenyon. for their comments. Alan Ware discussed the subject in Chapter 2 of The Logic of Party Democracy but has incorporated revisions to his position in this paper.