Two Concepts of Intrinsic Value

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (2):111-130 (2006)
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Recent literature on intrinsic value contains a number of disputes about the nature of the concept. On the one hand, there are those who think states of affairs, such as states of pleasure or desire satisfaction, are the bearers of intrinsic value (“Mooreans”); on the other hand, there are those who think concrete objects, like people, are intrinsically valuable (“Kantians”). The contention of this paper is that there is not a single concept of intrinsic value about which Mooreans and Kantians have disagreed, but rather two distinct concepts. I state a number of principles about intrinsic value that have typically (though not universally) been held by Mooreans, all of which are typically denied by Kantians. I show that there are distinct theoretical roles for a concept of intrinsic value to play in a moral framework. When we notice these distinct theoretical roles, we should realize that there is room for two distinct concepts of intrinsic value within a single moral framework: one that accords with some or all of the Moorean principles, and one that does not.



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Ben Bradley
Syracuse University

Citations of this work

Intrinsic vs. extrinsic value.Michael J. Zimmerman - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Value theory.Mark Schroeder - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Towards an account of basic final value.Timothy Perrine - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

View all 39 citations / Add more citations

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What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Principia ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Thomas Baldwin.

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