An Ebola-Like Microbe and The Limits of Kind-Based Goodness

Philosophia 50 (2):451-471 (2022)
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Abstract

Aristotelian theory, as found in Michael Thompson and Philippa Foot, claims that to be good is to be good as a member of that kind. Moreover, Foot argues in effect that goodness admits of only the kind-based sort, obtaining solely in virtue of something’s satisfying kind-based standards. However, I contend that something can satisfy kind-relative standards but nonetheless be bad—I propose a hypothetical Ebola-like microbe that meets its kind-standards of being destructive for its own sake, but it would plausibly be bad for doing so. In defending my counterexample, I respond to the Aristotelian contention that evaluations should only be made from “within” the standpoint of a particular lifeform conception, rather than an “external” one from which that kind itself can be judged to be bad.

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Berman Chan
Lanzhou University

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