Human Goodness

Philippa Foot

in Natural Goodness

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780198235088
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597428 | DOI:
Human Goodness

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Foot considers the difference between calling a plant and an animal ‘good’ and calling a human being ‘good’; in the former case we think of the plant or animal as a whole, while in the latter we are evaluating the person with respect to his or her rational will. This particular type of evaluation may be called ‘moral evaluation’, although Foot is keen to show that ‘moral’ judgements belong to a wider class of evaluations of conduct with which they share a common conceptual structure. Foot discusses and criticizes J. S. Mill's understanding of the word ‘moral’, as an example of the modern view that contrasts ‘moral’ and ‘prudential’ considerations. Thus, Foot denies the expressivist view that moral evaluation must be understood in terms of the expression of special mental states such as approval, or mental acts such as endorsing. Drawing upon Aquinas's theory of the sources of good and bad actions, Foot argues that there is no reason to think that Mill's ‘moral’ evaluations should be treated differently from other evaluations concerning the human will.

Keywords: Aquinas; mental states; Mill; moral evaluation; moral judgements; prudential; rational will

Chapter.  6109 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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