Against ‘Good for’/‘Well-Being’, for ‘Simply Good’

Philosophical Quarterly 71 (4):803-22 (2021)
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This paper challenges the widely held view that ‘good for’, ‘well-being’, and related terms express a distinctive evaluative concept of central importance for ethics and separate from ‘simply good’ as used by G. E. Moore and others. More specifically, it argues that there's no philosophically useful good-for or well-being concept that's neither merely descriptive in the sense of naturalistic nor reducible to ‘simply good’. The paper distinguishes two interpretations of the common claim that the value ‘good for’ expresses is distinctively ‘subject-relative’. One concerns the ground of this value, or the properties that make something good for you; it says these must involve some relation to you. The other concerns the resulting value itself, or what supervenes on this ground; it says that too involves a relation. Neither interpretation, the paper argues, yields a significantly distinct evaluative concept. The ethically fundamental evaluative concept is just ‘simply good’.


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Author's Profile

Thomas Hurka
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Citations of this work

Epistemic Welfare Bads and Other Failures of Reason.Antti Kauppinen - 2022 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 46:251-279.
Well‐being, part 1: The concept of well‐being.Eden Lin - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (2):e12813.
Well‐being, part 2: Theories of well‐being.Eden Lin - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (2):e12812.
Work and Social Alienation.Chris Bousquet - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (1):133-158.
Moore's moral philosophy.Thomas Hurka - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Principia ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Thomas Baldwin.
Ethics and the limits of philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Cambridge, Mass.: Routledge.

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