Impersonality: An Ethical Objection to Absolute Goodness

Richard Kraut

in Against Absolute Goodness

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199844463
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919550 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Moral Theory

Impersonality: An Ethical Objection to Absolute Goodness

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This chapter considers what happens when absolute value points us in one direction but relative value pulls us in the opposite direction—when, for example, there is a conflict between doing what is bad for someone and doing what is assumed to be absolutely good. If absolute goodness is an important reason-giving property, we would expect that sometimes we should do something because it is absolutely good, even though we thereby bring about what is bad for someone. If the goodness (period) of an option we are considering is large enough, it should provide a reason that is sufficiently strong to justify undertaking actions that we recognize to be harmful. But it is doubtful that doing what is bad for someone can be justified in this way—and the explanation is that absolute goodness (and badness) are not genuine reasons.

Keywords: absolute value; relative value; goodness; badness

Chapter.  4325 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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