Sometimes I hear people (well, philosophers) compare the goodness of one thing with the badness of another. They say, for example, the goodness of pleasure is less than the badness of pain; or pleasure is less good than pain is bad. Do such comparisons make sense?
Here’s a reason to doubt that they do. They seem similar to comparisons such as the following:
- Ben Wallace is less tall than Mugsy Bogues is short.
- Sydney is less hot than Glasgow is cold.
- Wood is less hard than feathers are soft.
But it’s not clear what these could mean.
Can anyone make sense of this?[Update: I neglected to say before that my thinking about this issue was prompted by an interesting talk which Tom Hurka recently gave here at Edinburgh.]