Rational Desire and the Good

Business Ethics Quarterly 14 (2):329-336 (2004)
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essay on the theory of value. It is among the best defenses of a rational desire/preference theory of the good. Even those not inclined to accept such theories will profit from reading Carson's discussion. Moreover, it would be worthwhile reading for scholars and students in various areas of applied ethics. The book is divided into two parts. The first half of the book addresses firstorder questions about what things are good and bad. The second half discusses various metaethical questions which he takes to be relevant to answering the first order questions. In his first two chapters, Carson presents arguments for and against hedonistic theories of value. This is a thorough and fair discussion of hedonism. He then devotes a chapter each to rational desire theories of value, Nietzsche's views of value and the good life, and Aristotelian theories of value. Each of these is good, but the chapter on rational desire theories is perhaps the most important given the view that Carson ultimately defends. The second half of the book consists of three chapters. Chapter six concerns the concept of goodness. In chapter seven, Carson raises objections to various forms of moral and axiological realism. In the final chapter, entitled "The Concept of Rationality as a Basis for Normative Theories," Carson develops and defends his own views about rational preference and its role in moral and axiological theories. In most of what follows I will focus on Carson's own positive views about value and..



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Noah Lemos
William & Mary

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