The Nature of Goodness

W. D. Ross

in The Right and the Good

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199252657
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598333 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

The Nature of Goodness

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This is the second of five chapters on good, and starts by making the point that it is around the question of the intrinsically good that the chief controversies about the nature of goodness or value revolve, for most theories of value may be divided into those that treat it as a quality and those that treat it as a relation between that which has value and something else (which is usually some state of mind); Ross says that it seems clear that any view that treats goodness as a relation between that which is good and something else denies that anything is intrinsically good. The chapter first discusses R. B. Perry's relational view of value—in the sense of good, and other theories that also identify goodness with some relation, either as a relation between that which is good and some or all of its elements, or as a relation between some or all of its elements, or as a relation between it or some or all of its elements and something else. Next, the psychological theories of good are discussed; these, as a rule, hold that a thing being good means either that some person or persons have some feelings towards it, or some person or persons think it to be good; this is an objective view of good. The rest of the chapter looks at both R. B. Perry's and G. E. Moore's arguments on these theories, at Ross's own views, at badness as incompatible with goodness or as an element of a good thing, at W. M. Urban's work on the question of values (value often being considered as qualities of goodness or badness), and at B. Croce's arguments on value judgements. Ross concludes that the arguments in favour of thinking of value as an objective are no more successful than those in favour of treating it as a relation, and presents a lengthy validation of his conclusion, based largely on discussion of beauty and goodness.

Keywords: bad; badness; B. Croce; good; good as a relation; good as an objective; goodness; intrinsic goodness; G. E. Moore; nature of goodness; nature of value; R. B. Perry; psychological theories of good; relational theories of good; relational view of good; relational view of value; theories of good; theories of value; value; value as a relation; value as an objective; value judgements; W. M. Urban

Chapter.  24776 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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