Recombinant values

Philosophical Studies 106 (3):259 - 292 (2001)
Authors
Graham Oddie
University of Colorado, Boulder
Abstract
An attractive admirer of George Bernard Shaw once wrote to him with a not-so modest proposal: ``You have the greatest brain in the world, and I have the most beautiful body; so we ought to produce the most perfect child.'' Shaw replied: ``What if the child inherits my body and your brains?''What if, indeed? Shaw's retort is interesting not because it revealsa grasp of elementary genetics, but rather because it suggests his grasp of an interesting and important principle of axiology. Since the brainy but ugly Shaw and his beautiful but apparently dim admirer both fall short of the ideal, she suggests that the best thing would be to genetically recombine his intelligence with her beauty. But what then would be the value of another genetic possibility: that of recombining his ugliness with her stupidity? Underlining the prompted inference is a fundamental principle of the theory of value which, perhaps surprisingly, has so far gone largely unnoticed in the ethical literature. I will call it the principle of recombinant values.
Keywords additivity of value  organic unity  separability  bare differences
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1013307330391
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Truth, Thinking, Testimony and Trust: Alvin Goldman on Epistemology and Education.Harvey Siegel - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):345-366.

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