The Value of Persons and Other Creatures

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

The Value of Persons and Other Creatures

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This chapter argues that we do not need to make use of the concept of absolute goodness to speak meaningfully about the distinctive value or preciousness of human life. It is possible, instead, to compare what is good for us and what is good for other sorts of living things and meaningfully say that the things that are good for us—love, friendship, civility, respect, music, poetry, science, philosophy—exemplify the relation of being good for someone more fully than do the things that are good for wasps, mice, or mosquitoes. What is best for them is not as good for them as the best things in human life are good for us. If we have to choose between the two, there are reasons to work for the good of our own species rather than that of another. Our interest in human well-being can be justified and is not a mere bias that results from our membership in the human species. It is the relation, good for, that stands behind this comparison, not the property, good.

Keywords: absolute goodness; human life; animals; well-being

Chapter.  6541 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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