Irreplaceability and Unique Value

Philosophical Topics 32 (1&2):111-129 (2006)
This essay begins with a consideration of one way in which animals and persons may be valued as “irreplaceable.” Drawing on both Plato and Pascal, I consider reasons for skepticism regarding the legitimacy of this sort of attachment. While I do not offer a complete defense against such skepticism, I do show that worries here may be overblown due to the conflation of distinct metaphysical and normative concerns. I then go on to clarify what sort of value is at issue in cases of irreplaceable attachment. I characterize “unique value” as the kind of value attributed to a thing when we take that thing to be (theoretically, not just practically) irreplaceable. I then consider the relationship between this sort of value and intrinsic value. After considering the positions of Gowans, Moore, Korsgaard, Frankfurt, and others, I conclude that unique value is best understood not as a variety of intrinsic value but rather as one kind of final value that is grounded in the extrinsic properties of the object.
Keywords irreplaceability, intrinsic value, final value, unique value, love
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DOI 10.5840/philtopics2004321/219
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Christopher Grau (2010). Love and History. Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (3):246-271.
Aaron Smuts (2012). The Power to Make Others Worship. Religious Studies 48 (2):221 - 237.

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