The pen, the dress, and the coat: a confusion in goodness

Philosophical Studies 173 (7):1911-1922 (2016)
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Abstract

Conditionalists say that the value something has as an end—its final value—may be conditional on its extrinsic features. They support this claim by appealing to examples: Kagan points to Abraham Lincoln’s pen, Rabinowicz and Rønnow-Rasmussen to Lady Diana’s dress, and Korsgaard to a mink coat. They contend that these things may have final value in virtue of their historical or societal roles. These three examples have become familiar: many now merely mention them to establish the conditionalist position. But the widespread faith in such cases is, I believe, unjustified. This is because, surprisingly, the pen, the dress, and the coat cannot have final value. I argue that the problem is internal: these cases are ruled out by every conditionalist account of final value. Further, the problem with these well-known cases applies to most other supposed examples of extrinsic, final goods. Thus nearly all cases given to support the conditionalist view cannot succeed. I suggest a kind of diagnosis: I claim that these examples are best seen as instances of sentimental value, rather than final value. I close by providing a brief account of sentimental value and explain how it relates to instrumental, intrinsic, and final goodness

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Author's Profile

Miles Tucker
Virginia Commonwealth University

Citations of this work

The Fundamentality of Fit.Christopher Howard - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 14.
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic value.Michael J. Zimmerman - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Towards an account of basic final value.Timothy Perrine - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
How Final and Non-Final Valuing Differ.Levi Tenen - 2022 - The Journal of Ethics 26 (4):683-704.
No Intrinsic Value? No Problem.Levi Tenen - 2020 - Environmental Ethics 42 (2):119-133.

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

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