Intrinsic Consequentialism

Steven Sverdlik

in Motive and Rightness

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594948
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725401 | DOI:
Intrinsic Consequentialism

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Thomas Hurka's Virtue, Vice, and Value presents a version of consequentialism that can be called ‘intrinsic consequentialism.’ Traditional forms of consequentialism like utilitarianism hold that motives are deontically relevant only because of their effects. These can be called versions of extrinsic consequentialism. Hurka agrees that motives can be extrinsically valuable, but he claims that motives can also be intrinsically valuable. He focuses on the intrinsic value of character traits, but his theory also entails that certain desires (and hence motives) have intrinsic value and badness. Hurka's abstract argument for the claim that certain desires are intrinsically valuable is flawed. The ‘desire to produce new knowledge as an end’ is then considered as a test case. It is shown that all the value judgments we are inclined to make about it can be explained by assuming that it is only extrinsically valuable. Extrinsic consequentialism is more plausible than intrinsic consequentialism.

Keywords: Thomas Hurka; consequentialism; intrinsic value; extrinsic value; motive; virtue; character; value of knowledge; trait; desires

Chapter.  6418 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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