Well, since the comments on my last post were so interesting and helpful, let’s see how things go with this, another apparent problem with Chisholm’s views. Chisholm (in 1978) defined intrinsic goodness in terms of a generic account of intrinsic value states (e.g., either intrinsic goodness or intrinsic badness):
p is an intrinsic value state =df there is a world w such that p reflects all the good and evil that there is in w; and if p is not neutral, then every thing that reflects all the good and evil that there is in w either entails or is entailed by p.
This sure seems to spell out nicely the intuition that the goodness of an intrinsic good, for instance, doesn’t require that there be some distinct other good which neither includes it nor is included within it.
However, Chisholm notes that this has the implication that disjunctive states of affairs can’t be the bearers of intrinsic value. For instance:
A. Either 3 Canadians being happy or 2 Canadians being unhappy
His argument: This disjunctive state can’t reflect all of the good and evil there is in any possible world, since in any world in which it obtains will also contain the good and evil that is in one or both of the disjuncts, and that good and evil will reflect all of the good and evil in that world.
As a result, we can’t say, for instance, that A is intrinsically better or worse that any other state, not even the intrinsically neutral state
B: There are stones.
So here’s the problem. Consider these disjunctive states:
C. Either 3 Canadians are happy or 4 Canadians are happy.
D. Either 2 Canadians are happy or 1 Canadian is happy.
Doesn’t the disjunctive state C seem intrinsically better than D? But how can this be so if neither can be the bearers of intrinsic value? Indeed, they both must, since intrinsic goodness for Chisholm is defined as being better than neutral, and both C and D are that.
That is the problem. But how to fix the account of intrinsic value states, which it seems to me is basically right?
Another puzzling feature of this situation: If disjunctions can be the bearers of intrinsic value, then there are bearers of intrinsic value whose value is indeterminate. All that we can say is that it is better or worse that other states, but not how much better. C, for instance, is better than D somewhere in between 1 and 3 units, but we can’t say exactly how much.
It could be that somewhere Chisholm altered his view on the value of disjunctive states, though I don’t know where, if so. Or maybe this isn’t a problem after all. Is it?