Does the Failure of Utilitarianism Justify a Belief in Intrinsic Value?

Philo 5 (2):123-142 (2002)
Intrinsic goodness is a non-Ielational property, in that the worth of an intrinsically good thing does not consist in it standing in a beneficial relationship to anyone. Except for the non-relational intrinsic goodness, which if it exists must be acknowledged by all (rational) beings, the only relational good we humans can logically and plausibly deem good is the “human-related” good. Thus, only these two options exist: from our human viewpoint, either all good things are human-related goods, or some good things are also intrinsically good. Those theories that reject intrinsic goodness. and that declare that the only kind of good things there can be are the human-related goods, are all forms of feeling-consequentialism. if the (two) “default arguments” could refute all feeling-consequentialisms, they would thereby refute theories that deny the very possibility of intrinsic goodness. Hence they would establish that, so long as a theory holds that some things are indeed good, it must also hold that there exist (also) intrinsically good things. The default arguments do show that utilitarian calculations cannot account for all goodness, since no linkage exists between goodness and pleasure. But some “positive feelings” (let them be X, Y, and Z) can be inextricably linked to what is good. Hence theories that define the good in terms of X, Y. and Z, are not amenable to the criticisms that utilitarianism is. Thus, the default arguments do not establish the impossibility of there being a (non-utilitarian feeling-consequentialist) theory, which acknowledges only human-related good things, and denies intrinsic goodness altogether. The tenability of such a stance has not been ruled out. Moore’s inability to accept the consequences of things having intrinsic worth, further betrays the implausibility of the very concept of intrinsic value
Keywords Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 1098-3570
DOI 10.5840/philo2002528
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