Philosophia:1-21 (2021)

Aristotelian theory, as found in Michael Thompson and Philippa Foot, claims that to be good is to be good as a member of that kind, and so there are varying standards of goodness dependent on an individual’s kind-membership. It is a perhaps little noticed feature of Foot’s project, in particular, that it aims to provide more than just a kind-relative account, but seeks an exhaustive account of goodness. She concludes, in effect, that goodness admits of only the kind-based sort. Accordingly, an individual’s goodness obtains solely in virtue of its satisfying kind-based standards. However, Mark Murphy has argued that a hypothetical “ignorant being” could satisfy its kind-relative standards by being ignorant, but we plausibly judge it to be bad when it does. Thus, an individual’s goodness does not obtain solely in virtue of meeting kind-based standards. In this sense, the ignorant being is a counterexample to any Aristotelian account similar to Foot’s. Unfortunately, Murphy’s counterexample fails because kind-based standards cannot require the lack of something. Nonetheless, I develop Murphy’s insight that something can satisfy kind-relative standards but nonetheless be bad—I propose a hypothetical Ebola-like microbe that meets its kind-standards of being destructive for its own sake, but it would plausibly be bad for doing so. In defending my counterexample, I challenge the Aristotelian contention that evaluations should only be made from “within” the standpoint of a particular lifeform conception, rather than an “external” one from which that kind itself can be judged to be bad.
Keywords Philippa Foot  Michael Thompson  natural goodness  Aristotelian categoricals  Mark Murphy  goodness  excellence  good in a kind  Micah Lott
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-021-00392-w
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A Platonic Kind-Based Account of Goodness.Berman Chan - 2021 - Philosophia 49 (4):1369-1389.

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