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By In Happiness, Ideas, Value Theory Comments (6)

Gwen Bradford: Pain’s Badness

There is surprisingly little discussion about pain’s badness in the philosophical literature. One might think that it falls naturally out of any of the various theories of well-being, but this is not so straightforward (as Shelly Kagan argues).[1] In recent work, I look at some ways pain’s badness can be explained. This post summarizes some of my arguments.

At first, the explanation for pain’s badness seems simple: it hurts! Ideally, an account of pain’s badness will appeal to pain’s feel in the explanation. It would be nice if that were all there were to it – pain is bad straightforwardly in virtue of the negative feeling tone. Call such a view dolorism. Straightforward dolorism is, however, too straightforward. It fails to allow for cases where pain is not intuitively bad. I will discuss one type of case. (Another, which I explain elsewhere, is a condition called pain asymbolia, in which patients report to experience pain but don’t find it bothersome.)

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By In Happiness, Ideas, Value Theory Comments (7)

Lorraine L. Besser: The Fundamental Value of the Interesting

Think of the most recent remarkable experience you’ve had. Perhaps it was reading an engrossing novel that opened your eyes to a new depth of poverty, stamina, and kindness. Perhaps it was attending a sporting event you thought would exemplify stereotypes on the basest level yet turned out to deliver an unexpected but welcome insight into empowerment and dedication. Perhaps it was a sappy movie that helped you to cry when you most needed it, and then to laugh it off, so that you emerge with a fresh emotional state. Perhaps it was simply the wrong turn you took when trying to get across town that led you to discover a playground full of Somali immigrants, dressed in beautiful colors, playing soccer.

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By In Applied Ethics, Normative Ethics, Value Theory Comments (15)

“Everyday” and “Alienated” Approaches to Moral Theory

This post is partly a “bleg” and partly an invitation for people to give their two cents on what strikes me as a very deep and important divide among moral theorists.

Consider so-called “common-sense morality”. It consists of claims like, “It’s wrong to take someone else’s property”; “You shouldn’t handle others’ bodies without their consent”; “The job should go to the person who deserves it”; “Academic censorship is wrong because it goes against the very purposes of the university”; “It’s worse to do harm than to merely allow it to occur”; “You shouldn’t make a promise that you don’t intend to keep”; etc. It gets called “common-sense” mainly because it’s thought to capture the moral leanings of the person on the street. But it’s also fair to call it “common-sense” just because of the way it conceptually carves the world for evaluation in terms of “should”, “worse”, and so on — namely, in terms of “property”, “consent”, “job”, “point”, “do/allow”, “promise”, “intend”. These are common-sense conceptualizations because they are the conceptualizations that common-sense morality employs.

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By In Happiness, Value Theory Comments (6)

David Sobel: Two Roles for the Attitudes in an Account of Well-Being

Steve Wall and I have been thinking together about what the best theory of well-being that claims that loving the (prudentially) good is itself (prudentially) good would look like. Such views have been lovingly explored by, among others, Parfit, Darwall, Kagan, and Feldman. On such a view, there are objective prudential values, for example, achievement or friendship, which either have prudential value independently from any attitudes or whose value is more easily unlocked by the relevant attitudes than options without this objective value. Typically such views maintain that being objectively good, and one in some way loving or enjoying that objective good, are each necessary conditions, and jointly sufficient, for a benefit. (NB: The view under discussion here is different from Hurka’s related version of “loving the good is itself good” as Hurka ties this thought to virtue and he is not talking about prudential value.)

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By In Discussions, JMP Discussions, Normative Ethics, Value Theory, Virtue Comments (28)

JMP Discussion of Kate Norlock’s “Can’t Complain”

Welcome to what should be a fun and enlightening discussion of Kate Norlock‘s “Can’t Complain” (which the Journal of Moral Philosophy has generously provided free access to throughout the weekend). Mariana Alessandri has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, which appears immediately below. Please join the discussion!

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By In Experimental Philosophy, Ideas, Normative Ethics, Political Philosophy, Value Theory, Virtue Comments (13)

New Research Avenues in Anthropology?

When was the last time you read an Anthropology article or book?  Did you know that there is a recent “Ethical turn” in anthropology and that anthropologists are writing interesting things about moral development, practical reasoning, virtue, autonomy, and other moral topics – all with reference to specific cultural contexts and practices?

If you are like me only a little while ago, you have never heard of the ethical turn because current anthropology is simply not on your radar.  And that is why I am posting!   I think this might be of interest to many philosophers, but especially to graduate students.

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By In Featured Philosophers, Normative Ethics, Value Theory Comments (13)

Uniqueness (by Gwen Bradford)

I’m happy to introduce our current Featured Philosophy, Gwen Bradford, who teaches at Rice University and has written a creative and insightful book on achievement.  Her post today is on the nature and value of uniqueness.  Please comment with your thoughts about the interesting new territory that Gwen is exploring!

Uniqueness

I have been thinking about uniqueness and its relationship to value.

The issue first arises in one of the important moments in value theory. The orthodox conception of intrinsic value as value strictly in virtue of intrinsic properties was questioned by counterexamples pointing to extrinsic properties generating what’s plausibly intrinsic value. Monroe Beardsley in 1965 wrote this:

One inconvenience of this definition can be brought out as follows: A sheet of postage stamps has been misprinted – the central figure, say, is inverted. …[but] its value is not for the sake of anything else. (Beardsley 1965: 61-62).

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