Great Beyond All Comparison

In Sarah Buss & Nandi Theunissen (eds.), Rethinking the Value of Humanity. New York, US: OUP Usa. pp. 181-201 (2023)
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Many people find comparisons of the value of persons distasteful, even immoral. But what can be said in support of the claim that persons have incomparable worth? This chapter considers an argument purporting to show that the value of persons is incomparable because it is so great—because it is infinite. The argument rests on two claims: that the value of our capacity for valuing must equal or exceed the value of things valued and that our capacity for valuing is unbounded in a very strong sense. After laying out this argument, I consider its implications for how we should regard each other. In particular, I suggest that it complicates efforts to understand morality as a system of principles. Instead, I propose that an aesthetic attitude, not unlike our experience of the sublime, is an apt response to humanity’s infinite value.



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Kenneth Walden
Dartmouth College

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References found in this work

Totality and infinity.Emmanuel Levinas - 1961/1969 - Pittsburgh,: Duquesne University Press.
The value of humanity in Kant's moral theory.Richard Dean - 2006 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Beyond Price.J. David Velleman - 2008 - Ethics 118 (2):191-212.
The Infinite.A. W. MOORE - 1990 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 182 (3):355-357.
On infinite size.Bruno Whittle - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 9:3-19.

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