Some think that life is worth living not merely because of the goods and the bads within it, but also because life itself is good. I explain how this idea can be formalized by associating each version of the view with a function from length of life to the value generated by life itself. Then I argue that every version of the view that life itself is good faces some version of the following dilemma: either (1) good human lives are (...) worse than very long lives wholly devoid of pleasure, desire-satisfaction, knowledge, or any other goods, or (2) very short lives containing nothing but suffering are worth living. Since neither result is plausible, we ought to reject the view that life itself is good. On the view I favor, any given life may be worth living because of the goods that it contains, but life itself is neutral. (shrink)
It is natural to assume that every value bearer must be good, bad, or neutral. This paper argues that this assumption is false if value incomparability is possible. More precisely, if value incommensurability is possible, then there is a fourth category of absolute value, in addition to the good, the bad, and the neutral.
G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica of 1903 is often considered a revolutionary work that set a new agenda for 20 th-century ethics. This historical view is hard to sustain, however. In metaethics Moore's non naturalist position was close to that defended by Henry Sidgwick and other late..
Addressing distributive justice issues in health policy—ranging from the allocation of health system funding to the allocation of scarce COVID-19 interventions like intensive care unit beds and vaccines—involves the application of ethical principles. Should a principle of sustainability be among them? I suggest that while the value of temporal neutrality underlying such a principle is compelling, it is already implicit in the more basic principle of equal treatment. Munthe et al imagine sustainability accompanying four other principles: need, prognosis, equal treatment (...) and cost-effectiveness. Some are spelled out, however, in ways that are ambiguous or incomplete. (shrink)
In traditional consequentialism the good is position-neutral. A single evaluative ranking of states of affairs is correct for everyone, everywhere regardless of their positions. Recently, position-relative forms of consequentialism have been developed. These allow for the correct rankings of states to depend on connections that hold between the state being evaluated and the position of the evaluator. For example, perhaps being an agent who acts in a certain state requires me to rank that state differently from someone else who lacks (...) this connection. In this chapter several different kinds of position-relative rankings related to agents, times, physical locations, and possible worlds are explored. Arguments for and against adopting a position-relative axiology are examined, and it is suggested that position-relative consequentialism is a promising moral theory that has been underestimated. (shrink)
Is consciousness intrinsically valuable? Some theorists favor the positive view, according to which consciousness itself accrues intrinsic value, independent of the particular kind of experience instantiated. In contrast, I favor the neutral view, according to which consciousness is neither intrinsically valuable nor disvaluable. The primary purpose of this paper is to clarify what is at stake when we ask whether consciousness is intrinsically valuable, to carve out the theoretical space, and to evaluate the question rigorously. Along the way, I also (...) show why the neutral view is attractive and why certain arguments for the positive view do not work. (shrink)
Discussion of whether values and norms are neutral or not has mainly appeared in works on the nature of prudential rationality and morality. Little systematic has yet appeared in the up and coming field of the meaning of life. What are the respects in which the value of meaningfulness is neutral or, in contrast, partial, relational, or ‘biased’? In this article, I focus strictly on answering this question. First, I aim to identify the salient, and perhaps exhaustive, respects in which (...) issues of neutrality arise in the contexts of life’s meaning. In addition to providing a taxonomy of the key points of contention, a second aim is to advance reflection about them by considering the most important arguments that have been marshalled in favour of one side or the other, particularly as they appear in recent neutral positions. I conclude that meaning in life is neutral with respect to time but not any other conditions such as agents and patients, with a third aim being to point out that this makes the value of meaning different from the kinds of non/neutrality encountered in some salient conceptions of prudence and morality. (shrink)
Erik Carlson puts forward a new way of defining monadic value predicates, such as ‘good’, in terms of dyadic value relations, such as ‘better’. Earlier definitions of this kind have the unwanted feature that they rule out some reasonable axiologies by conceptual fiat. Carlson claims that his definitions do not have this drawback. In this paper, I argue that they do.
Philosophers have used the terms 'impersonal' and 'personal value' to refer to, among others things, whether something's value is universal or particular to an individual. In this paper, I propose an account of impersonal value that, I argue, better captures the intuitive distinction than potential alternatives, while providing conceptual resources for moving beyond the traditional stark dichotomy. I illustrate the practical importance of my theoretical account with reference to debate over the evaluative scope of cultural heritage.
In this paper, I argue against defining either of ‘good’ and ‘better’ in terms of the other. According to definitions of ‘good’ in terms of ‘better’, something is good if and only if it is better than some indifference point. Against this approach, I argue that the indifference point cannot be defined in terms of ‘better’ without ruling out some reasonable axiologies. Against defining ‘better’ in terms of ‘good’, I argue that this approach either cannot allow for the incorruptibility of (...) intrinsic goodness or it breaks down in cases where both of the relata of ‘better’ are bad. (shrink)
Unmatched in scholarship and scope, _The International Encyclopedia of Ethics_ is the definitive single-source reference work on Ethics, available both in print and online. Comprises over 700 entries, ranging from 1000 to 10,000 words in length, written by an international cast of subject experts Is arranged across 9 fully cross-referenced volumes including a comprehensive index Provides clear definitions and explanations of all areas of ethics including the topics, movements, arguments, and key figures in Normative Ethics, Metaethics, and Practical Ethics Covers (...) the major philosophical and religious traditions Offers an unprecedented level of authority, accuracy and balance with all entries being blind peer-reviewed. (shrink)
This paper critically examines Richard Kraut’s attack on the notion of absolute value, and lays out some of the conceptual work required to defend such a notion. The view under attack claims that absolute goodness is a property that provides a reason to value what has it. Kraut’s overall challenge is that absolute goodness cannot play this role. Kraut’s own view is that goodness-for, instead, plays the reason-providing role. My targets are Kraut’s double-counting objection, and his ethical objection against absolute (...) value. After explaining the double-counting objection, and discussing the idea of non-additive reasons, I examine and reject Kraut’s reasons for holding that nonadditivity can rescue relative value but not absolute value. I proceed then to explore a different reply to the double-counting objection by introducing a distinction between normative reasons for action and reasons that explain why a certain consideration is a reason for action. Such a distinction (hinted at by Kraut) would either help both Kraut and the friend of absolute value, or neither of them. I defend the distinction from the objection that it would make absolute value just a ‘shadow’. Finally, I reply to Kraut’s ethical objection that being motivated by absolute value is depersonalizing, on two grounds: 1) if thinking in terms of absolute value depersonalizes relationships, then we have absolute-value-given reasons not to think in those terms; 2) the distinction between normative and explanatory reasons explains why even a motivation centred on absolute value need not be depersonalizing. (shrink)
THE STRUCTURE OF THIS PAPER IS AS FOLLOWS. I begin §1 by dealing with preliminary issues such as the different relations expressed by the “good for” locution. I then (§2) outline the Locative Analysis of good for and explain its main elements before moving on to (§3) outlining and discussing the positive features of the view. In the subsequent sections I show how the Locative Analysis can respond to objections from, or inspired by, Sumner (§4-5), Regan (§6), and Schroeder and (...) Feldman (§7). I then (§8) reply to an imagined objector who claims that the Locative Analysis generates implausible results with respect to punishment, virtue and agent-centered duties. (shrink)