Internalism about a person’s good: don’t believe it

Philosophical Studies 154 (2):161-184 (2011)
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Abstract

Internalism about a person's good is roughly the view that in order for something to intrinsically enhance a person's well-being, that person must be capable of caring about that thing. I argue in this paper that internalism about a person's good should not be believed. Though many philosophers accept the view, Connie Rosati provides the most comprehensive case in favor of it. Her defense of the view consists mainly in offering five independent arguments to think that at least some form of internalism about one's good is true. But I argue that, on closer inspection, not one of these arguments succeeds. The problems don't end there, however. While Rosati offers good reasons to think that what she calls 'two-tier internalism' would be the best way to formulate the intuition behind internalism about one's good, I argue that two-tier internalism is actually false. In particular, the problem is that no substantive theory of well-being is consistent with two-tier internalism. Accordingly, there is reason to think that even the best version of internalism about one's good is in fact false. Thus, I conclude, the prospects for internalism about a person's good do not look promising

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Alexander Sarch
University of Surrey

Citations of this work

Against Welfare Subjectivism.Eden Lin - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):354-377.
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Against Contextualism about Prudential Discourse.Guy Fletcher - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):699-720.

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References found in this work

The Right and the Good. Some Problems in Ethics.W. D. Ross - 1930 - Oxford: Clarendon Press. Edited by Philip Stratton-Lake.
Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics.David Owen Brink - 1989 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Natural goodness.Philippa Foot - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Internal and External Reasons.Bernard Williams - 1979 - In Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational action: studies in philosophy and social science. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 101-113.

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