Against Absolute Goodness

Hardcover | December 26, 2011

byRichard Kraut

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Are there things we should value because they are, quite simply, good? If so, such things might be said to have "absolute goodness." They would be good simpliciter or full stop - not good for someone, not good of a kind, but nonetheless good (period). They might also be called "impersonalvalues." The reason why we ought to value such things, if there are any, would merely be the fact that they are, quite simply, good things. In the twentieth century, G. E. Moore was the great champion of absolute goodness, but he is not the only philosopher who posits the existence and importanceof this property. Against these friends of absolute goodness, Richard Kraut here builds on the argument he made in What is Good and Why, demonstrating that goodness is not a reason-giving property - in fact, there may be no such thing. It is, he holds, an insidious category of practical thought, because it can be andhas been used to justify what is harmful and condemn what is beneficial. Impersonal value draws us away from what is good for persons. His strategy for opposing absolute goodness is to search for domains of practical reasoning in which it might be thought to be needed, and this leads him to anexamination of a wide variety of moral phenomena: pleasure, knowledge, beauty, love, cruelty, suicide, future generations, bio-diversity, killing in self-defense, and the extinction of our species. Even persons, he proposes, should not be said to have absolute value. The special importance of humanlife rests instead on the great advantages that such lives normally offer.

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Are there things we should value because they are, quite simply, good? If so, such things might be said to have "absolute goodness." They would be good simpliciter or full stop - not good for someone, not good of a kind, but nonetheless good (period). They might also be called "impersonalvalues." The reason why we ought to value suc...

Richard Kraut was educated at the University of Michigan and Princeton University. He has taught in the Philosophy Departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University, where he is Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor in the Humanities.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.12 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:December 26, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199844461

ISBN - 13:9780199844463

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Table of Contents

ContentsAcknowledgments1. Moore and the Idea of Goodness2. Goodness Before and After Moore3. An Argument for Absolute Goodness4. Absolute Evil, Relative Goodness5. Recent Skepticism about Goodness6. Being Good and Being Good for Someone7. Non-Instrumental Advantageousness8. The Problem of Intelligibility9. The Problem of Double Value10. Pleasure Reconsidered11. Scanlon's Buck-Passing Account of Value12. Moore's Argument Against Relative Goodness13. Goodness and Variability14. Impersonality: an Ethical Objection to Absolute Goodness15. Further Reflections on the Ethical Objection16. Moore's Mistake About Unobserved Beauty17. Better States of Affairs and Buck-Passing18. The Enjoyment of Beauty19. Is Love Absolutely Good?20. Is Cruelty Absolutely Bad?21. Kant on Suicide22. Future Generations23. Bio-Diversity24. Is Equality Absolutely Good?25. The Value of Persons and Other Creatures26. Euthanasia27. The Extinction of Humankind28. The Case Against Absolute Goodness Reviewed29. The Problem of Intelligibility Revisited30. Attributive and Predicative Uses of "Good"Appendix A: Killing PersonsAppendix B: J. David Velleman on the Value Inhering in PersonsAppendix C: Robert Merrihew Adams on the Highest GoodAppendix D: Thomas Hurka on the Structure of GoodsAppendix E: Jeff McMahan on Impersonal ValueAppendix F: Other Authors and Uses1. Plato2. Aristotle3. John Rawls4. John BroomeBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"When one reads this, one sees the possibility of real philosophical progress. If Kraut is right, I'd be wrong to say that this book is good, period. Or even great, period. But I will say that, as a work of philosophy, and for those who read it, it is excellent indeed." --Russ Shafer-Landau, University of Wisconsin-Madison