Good-for-nothings

Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 85 (2):47-64 (2010)
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Abstract

Many academic works as well as many works of art are such that if they had never been produced, no one would be worse off. Yet it is hard to resist the judgment that some such works are good nonetheless. We are rightly grateful that these works were created; we rightly admire them, appreciate them, and take pains to preserve them. And the authors and artists who produced them have reason to be proud. This should lead us to question the view that in order for a thing to be good, in a sense which implies that the thing merits our attention and positive concern, it needs to be good for someone or something whose welfare is enhanced by it.

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Susan Wolf
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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