In Defense of an End-Relational Account of Goodness

Dissertation, University of California, Davis (2014)
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What is it exactly that we are attributing to a thing when we judge it to be good? According to the orthodox answer, at least in some cases when we judge that something is good we are attributing to it a monadic property. That is, good things are “just plain good.” I reject the orthodox view. In arguing against it, I begin with the idea that a plausible account of goodness must take seriously the intuitive claim that there is something in common between moral and non-moral goodness—something in virtue of which it makes sense to call ‘good’ both the things that are morally good and the things that are non-morally good. However, it is implausible that all judgments about the goodness of things attribute a monadic property to those things, as this does not capture what we mean when we judge something to be non-morally good. Instead, I propose and defend my own relational theory of goodness according to which goodness is a relation that holds between things and ends (or goals). That is, goodness is a relational property such that to be good is to be related in the relevant way to some goal or another. This is true in both the mundane everyday cases and in loftier cases concerned with moral goodness.
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