Chapter

On the Nature of Moral Ideals

Larry S. Temkin

in Rethinking the Good

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199759446
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932214 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759446.003.0011

Series: Oxford Ethics Series

On the Nature of Moral Ideals

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A fundamentally important question for practical reasoning is how best to understand the goodness of outcomes and the nature of moral ideals: Is the Internal Aspects View correct, is the Essentially Comparative View correct, or is, perhaps, some other view correct? This chapter distinguishes between the Internal Aspects View and the Essentially Comparative View, and illustrates some of the implications of adopting one or the other. In doing this, it begins by exploring an important example that illuminates the appeal of the Essentially Comparative View, Derek Parfit's Mere Addition Paradox. Analyzing the Mere Addition Paradox, its implications, and various possible responses to it provides a much better understanding of a number of important views that stand or fall together. One of these views, called the Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives Principle, is also, along with the transitivity of “better than,” widely regarded as a fundamental principle of practical rationality.

Keywords: goodness of outcomes; moral ideals; Internal Aspects View; Essentially Comparative View; Derek Parfit; Mere Addition Paradox; Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives Principle; transitivity; practical rationality

Chapter.  20784 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy

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