Is the right prior to the good?

South African Journal of Philosophy 26 (2):143-149 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX


One popular line of argument put forward in support of the principle that the right is prior to the good is to show that teleological theories, which put the good prior to the right, lead to implausible normative results. There are situa- tions, it is argued, in which putting the good prior to the right entails that we ought to do things that cannot be right for us to do. Consequently, goodness cannot (always) explain an action's rightness. This indicates that what is right must be determined independently of the good. In this paper, I argue that these purported counterexamples to teleology fail to establish that the right must be prior to the good. In fact, putting the right prior to the good can lead to sets of ought statements which potentially con- flict with the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. I argue that no plausible ethical theory can determine what is right independently of a notion of value or goodness. Every plausible ethical theory needs a mapping from goodness to rightness, which implies that right cannot be prior to the good.

Similar books and articles

The "Good" and the "Right" Revisited.Ralph Wedgwood - 2009 - Philosophical Perspectives 23 (1):499-519..
Epistemic Teleology and the Separateness of Propositions.Selim Berker - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (3):337-393.
The goodness of searching: good as what? good for what? good for whom?Amelie Oksenberg Rorty - 2011 - In Ruth Weissbourd Grant (ed.), In search of goodness. London: University of Chicago Press.
The Carpenter and the Good.Rachel Barney - 2007 - In Douglas Cairns, Fritz-Gregor Herrmann & Terrence Penner (eds.), Pursuing the Good: Ethics and Metaphysics in Plato's Republic. University of Edinburgh. pp. 293-319.
Good and bad actions.Alastair Norcross - 1997 - Philosophical Review 106 (1):1-34.
What’s a good argument?John W. Powell - 2010 - The Philosophers' Magazine 51 (51):87-92.
Is Creation Really Good? Delio - 2009 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 83 (1):3-22.
The good's magnetism and ethical realism.Irwin Goldstein - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (1-2):1-14.
Good for and good about.Jenny Teichman - 2003 - Philosophy 78 (1):115-121.


Added to PP

740 (#22,058)

6 months
104 (#43,290)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Julian Fink
Universität Bayreuth

References found in this work

Weighing lives.John Broome - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Ethics.William K. Frankena - 1963 - Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,: Prentice-Hall.
Ethics Out of Economics.John Broome - 1999 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

View all 19 references / Add more references