How to Be a Friend of Absolute Goodness

Philosophia 41 (4):1237-1251 (2013)
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This paper critically examines Richard Kraut’s attack on the notion of absolute value, and lays out some of the conceptual work required to defend such a notion. The view under attack claims that absolute goodness is a property that provides a reason to value what has it. Kraut’s overall challenge is that absolute goodness cannot play this role. Kraut’s own view is that goodness-for, instead, plays the reason-providing role. My targets are Kraut’s double-counting objection, and his ethical objection against absolute value. After explaining the double-counting objection, and discussing the idea of non-additive reasons, I examine and reject Kraut’s reasons for holding that nonadditivity can rescue relative value but not absolute value. I proceed then to explore a different reply to the double-counting objection by introducing a distinction between normative reasons for action and reasons that explain why a certain consideration is a reason for action. Such a distinction (hinted at by Kraut) would either help both Kraut and the friend of absolute value, or neither of them. I defend the distinction from the objection that it would make absolute value just a ‘shadow’. Finally, I reply to Kraut’s ethical objection that being motivated by absolute value is depersonalizing, on two grounds: 1) if thinking in terms of absolute value depersonalizes relationships, then we have absolute-value-given reasons not to think in those terms; 2) the distinction between normative and explanatory reasons explains why even a motivation centred on absolute value need not be depersonalizing



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Francesco Orsi
University of Tartu

Citations of this work

The Worthwhileness of Meaningful Lives.David Matheson - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (1):313-324.

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References found in this work

Personal Value.Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Against Absolute Goodness.Richard Kraut - 2011 - New York, US: Oup Usa.

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