Value Theory (Bloomsbury Ethics)
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What is it for a car, a piece of art or a person to be good, bad or better than another? In this first book-length introduction to value theory, Francesco Orsi explores the nature of evaluative concepts used in everyday thinking and speech and in contemporary philosophical discourse. The various dimensions, structures and connections that value concepts express are interrogated with clarity and incision.
Orsi provides a systematic survey of both classic texts including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Moore and Ross and an array of contemporary theorists. The reader is guided through the moral maze of value theory with everyday examples and thought experiments. Rare stamps, Napoleon's hat, evil demons, and Kant's good will are all considered in order to probe our intuitions, question our own and philosophers' assumptions about value, and, ultimately, understand better what we want to say when we talk about value.
senses (more or less explicitly), it is not uncommon to find oneself assessing general or particular situations and outcomes with no specific relativization in mind: ‘military intervention in Syria is a really bad idea’, ‘human extinction would be the worst possible outcome’, ‘critical thinking is better than passive acquiescence’. 46 VALUE THEORY Notice: we are not necessarily thinking that these things would be good or bad for or relatively to someone or something, nor that military
65 by ‘x is good for me’ is ‘x benefits me’, and then interpret the latter as a non-ethical claim like ‘x increases my chances of getting what I (really) want’, or some hypothetical claim about what I would desire if I were in ideal conditions of information and psychologically well-functioning. Again, this sort of view would make egoism immune from Moore’s criticism. However, such replies explicitly turn the concept of good for into a non-normative concept: what is good or bad for me would not
stranger showing their sympathy by praying for the criminal’s success).8 Therefore a better idea is that only those for whom it is fitting to care for A will also fittingly favour things for A’s sake. This is proposal (d). The proposal has two virtues: first, it restricts the pool of ‘favouring agents’: what is good for A need not concern just anyone who could want or do something for A’s sake; second, it maintains the idea that what is good for A has to do with what benefits A (something one
disvalue. So, if we consider this state of affairs: ‘killing people and being jailed for that’, we will have two intrinsically bad things: people being killed, and someone being jailed. We could then evaluate it by just summing these intrinsic disvalues: say –10 (people being killed) and –2 (someone being jailed) = –12. But then this state will turn out to be worse than the state in which people are being killed and the killer gets away with the crime: -10, for simplicity. For many, including
prospect of torture gives us only secondary reasons to admire the demon. This is because we cannot directly respond to the belief See Kavka (1983). 15 148 VALUE THEORY that the demon will torture us if we don’t admire him by admiring him, for we cannot see that belief as justifying admiration towards the demon (ibid.: 7). Our direct response will rather be a desire to admire him (a second-order attitude). Consequently, reasons of fittingness should be identified with primary reasons only,