Daniel Coren
McMaster University
Philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Brentano, Moore, and Chisholm suggest marks of intrinsic value. Contemporary philosophers such as Christine Korsgaard have insightful discussions of intrinsic value. But how do we verify that some specific thing really is intrinsically valuable? I propose a natural way to test for intrinsic value: first, strip the candidate bare of all considerations of good consequences; and, second, see if what remains is still a good thing. I argue that we, as ordinary human beings, have an astonishingly difficult time completing this test for plausible candidates. More precisely, for us as we are, it seems that the conditions for completing the first step of the test militate against the conditions for completing the second step. I conclude, then, that we have a good reason to think that we cannot verify whether or not particular things are intrinsically good. I explore some implications and I consider a number of important objections.
Keywords Agency  Value  Practical Reason
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DOI 10.1080/0020174x.2019.1667866
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