Value Theory

Thomas Hurka

in The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195325911
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Value Theory

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Value theory is important in its own right, which is sufficient reason to consider it, but consequentialism lacks content unless it is combined with a theory of value. It is important to distinguish the idea of an intrinsic good from the idea of an instrumental or extrinsic good. Instrumental goods are good or valuable only because of something else they bring about—something that is good in itself—whereas intrinsic goods are good in themselves. The distinction between the intrinsic and the instrumental can be drawn in different ways, as explained here. This article, however, is concerned with intrinsic goods. It argues against hedonism, which is the view that only pleasure is intrinsically good, and against desire theories, which hold that the good in a person's life is her getting what she desires intrinsically—or what he would so desire if he were rational and informed.

Keywords: value theory; intrinsic good; extrinsic good; instrumental goods; hedonism

Article.  11394 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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