Is Cruelty Absolutely Bad?

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

Is Cruelty Absolutely Bad?

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This chapter begins by considering the views of Kant and Ross on absolute goodness, focusing on how they take it for granted that there is such a thing as absolute goodness. It then argues that we do not need the concept of absolute badness to explain why we should be disturbed by even unsuccessful acts of cruelty. We can, instead, say that we must not aim at what is bad for others for its own sake; to do so is impermissible. There is no reason to suppose that there is yet another demerit of acts of cruelty, namely, that they are, quite simply, bad. (It is also possible for someone to seek to cause pain because he conceives of it as bad simpliciter and because his goal is to increase the amount of badness in the world. That, too, would be a motive that merits condemnation. But we can justify our criticism of it without ourselves believing, as he does, that pain is absolutely bad.).

Keywords: Kant; Ross; absolute good; bad

Chapter.  3580 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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