Degrees 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

Degrees of Goodness

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This is the fourth of five chapters on good, and looks at the question of whether goods are commensurable—measurable in degrees. As a preliminary, the question is asked as to whether pleasures are commensurable, and as a preliminary to that question, whether pleasures are comparable, and whether one pleasure can be said to be greater or more pleasant than another. The chapter examines two of three aspects of degrees of goodness: the commensuration (calculus) of pleasures against one another; and the commensuration of different states of knowledge against one another, including the dependence of the value of a state of knowledge on the nature of the state of mind, and the value of a state of opinion (which is regarded as inferior to knowledge); the third aspect, the balancing of virtuous actions and dispositions against one another, is examined in the next (and last) chapter. The question is then addressed as to whether virtue, knowledge, and pleasure can be compared in value—measured against one another; here, evidence is put forward to support Ross's view that pleasure is inferior in value to virtue and knowledge. The last part of the chapter looks at the relative value of moral goodness (which is discussed in the next chapter) and value as ends in themselves.

Keywords: commensuration; degrees of goodness; good; goodness; knowledge; measurement; moral goodness; opinion; pleasure; state of knowledge; state of mind; state of opinion; value; virtue

Chapter.  5261 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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