Mistakes about Good: Prichard, Carritt, and Aristotle

T. H. Irwin

in Underivative Duty

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577446
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725425 | DOI:
Mistakes about Good: Prichard, Carritt, and Aristotle

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Carritt follows Prichard — with some modifications — in recognizing two senses of ‘good’. According to Prichard, when we use the term adjectivally we attribute to a subject a non‐relational and indefinable quality. But when we use it substantivally we attribute to the subject a relational property, and we mean ‘a good to someone’. When we analyse ‘good to someone’, we see that we mean ‘something which directly or indirectly excites pleasure in us’. Prichard's attempt to explain Aristotle's use of ‘agathon’ on the basis of this distinction leads him into serious misunderstanding of Aristotle. Carritt's modified version of Prichard's view maintains four theses: (1) ‘Good’ has two senses, relational and non‐relational. (2) ‘Good’ in the relational sense has a hedonist analysis. (3) Aristotle uses ‘good’ in both senses. (4) He fails to distinguish the two senses. While all these theses are disputable, the third points to an important non‐relational use of ‘good’ in Aristotle.

Keywords: Carritt; Prichard; Aristotle; good

Chapter.  10917 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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