Wittgenstein and the Metaphysics of Ethical Value

Ethic@ - An International Journal for Moral Philosophy 5 (1):91-102 (2006)
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This paper develops Wittgenstein’s view of how experiences of ethical value contribute to our understanding of the world. Such experiences occur when we perceive certain intrinsic attributes of a particular being, object, or location as valuable irrespective of any concern for personal gain. It is shown that experiences of ethical value essentially involve a characteristic ‘listening’ to the ongoing transformations and actualizations of a given form of life—literally or metaphorically speaking. Such immediate impressions of spontaneous sympathy and agreement reveal ethics and aesthetics as transcendental. Ultimately, I will attempt to show that from this point of view, forms of life are transcendental determinants of meaning and, as such, the principal objects of ethical value. Descriptive ontological grounding is thereby provided for the ethical value of species, languages, and cultures

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Julian Friedland
Metropolitan State University of Denver


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