Two kinds of organic unity

Journal of Ethics 2 (4):299-320 (1998)
This paper distinguishes two interpretations of G. E. Moore''s principle of organic unities, which says that the intrinsic value of a whole need not equal the sum of the intrinsic values its parts would have outside it. A holistic interpretation, which was Moore''s own, says that parts retain their values when they enter a whole but that there can be an additional value in the whole as a whole that must be added to them. The conditionality interpretation, which has been defended by Korsgaard, says that parts can change their values when they enter wholes, so no additional value is needed. The paper shows that the two interpretations, which differ on such apparently important issues as the nature of intrinsic value, can always yield the same conclusions about the overall value in a state of affairs, so there is in that sense nothing to choose between them. At the same time, though, the differences between the interpretations make sometimes one and sometimes the other more appropriate for expressing a given evaluative view. In this last connection the paper considers views about beauty, posthumous achievement, vices of disproportion, deserved and compassionate pain, and undeserved and malicious pleasure.
Keywords desert  G. E. Moore  holism  intrinsic value  pleasure  value  wholes
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009795120631
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Ben Bradley (2006). Two Concepts of Intrinsic Value. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (2):111-130.
Dominic McIver Lopes (2008). Virtues of Art: Good Taste. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 82 (1):197-211.
Nathan Hanna (2013). Two Claims About Desert. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (1):41-56.

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