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Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 6 HT09

Event Name Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 6 HT09
Start Date 23rd Feb 2009 4:30pm
End Date 23rd Feb 2009 6:30pm
Duration 2 hours

Richard Kraut (Northwestern) 'Against Absolute Goodness' to be held in the Lecture Room, 10 Merton Street, Oxford - Seminars in Moral Philosophy webpage


In What is Good and Why, I investigated what it is for something to be good for someone, but I left aside what might be called absolute rather than relative goodness goodness period or full stop, rather than goodness for someone. That concept plays a central role in the moral philosophies of G.E. Moore and W.D. Ross, an it is arguable that it is no less important to figures as diverse as Plato, Aquinas, and Kant, as well as the classical utilitarians. More recently, doubts have been raised by P. Geach, P. Foot, and J. Thomson about whether it is a viable concept, but it has by no means disappeared from academic moral philosophy, as can be seen from recent work by R. Adams, T. Hurka, and R. Audi.

I argue that a form of skepticism about absolute goodness is defensible, though my arguments differ from those of Geach, Foot, or Thomson. The question I ask is whether any widely accepted, secular, normative assumptions support the conclusion that there is such a thing as goodness (as conceived by Moore, Ross, etc.), and I argue that there are there are none.

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