•  447
    The Speech Act Fallacy Fallacy
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3): 509-526. 1982.
    John Searle has charged R.M. Hare's prescriptivist analysis of the meaning of ‘good,’ ‘ought’ and the other evaluative words with committing what he calls the ‘speech act fallacy.’ This is a fallacy which Searle thinks is committed not only by Hare's analysis, but by any analysis which attributes to a word the function of indicating that a particular speech act is being performed, or that an utterance has a particular illocutionary force. ‘There is a condition of adequacy which any analysis of t…Read more
  •  406
    Perfectionism
    Oxford University Press. 1993.
    Hurka gives an account of perfectionism, which holds that certain states of humans, such as knowledge, achievement and friendship are good apart from any pleasure they may bring, and that the morally right act is always the one that most promotes these states. Beginning with an analysis of its central concepts, Hurka tries to regain for perfectionism a central place in contemporary moral debate.
  •  233
    How Great A Good Is Virtue?
    Journal of Philosophy 95 (4). 1998.
  •  233
    Why Value Autonomy?
    Social Theory and Practice 13 (3): 361-382. 1987.
  •  232
    Value and friendship: A more subtle view
    Utilitas 18 (3): 232-242. 2006.
    T. M. Scanlon has cited the value of friendship in arguing against a ‘teleological’ view of value which says that value inheres only in states of affairs and demands only that we promote it. This article argues that, whatever the teleological view's final merits, the case against it cannot be made on the basis of friendship. The view can capture Scanlon's claims about friendship if it holds, as it can consistently with its basic ideas, that (i) friendship is a higher-level good consisting in app…Read more
  •  213
    Games and the good
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (1): 217-235. 2006.
    Using Bernard Suits’s brilliant analysis (contra Wittgenstein) of playing a game, this paper examines the intrinsic value of game-playing. It argues that two elements in Suits’s analysis make success in games difficult, which is one ground of value, while a third involves choosing a good activity for the property that makes it good, which is a further ground. The paper concludes by arguing that game-playing is the paradigm modern (Marx, Nietzsche) as against classical (Aristotle) value: since it…Read more
  •  206
    Virtue, Vice, and Value
    Oup Usa. 2001.
    What are virtue and vice, and how do they relate to other moral properties such as goodness and rightness? Thomas Hurka defends a distinctive perfectionist view according to which the virtues are higher-level intrinsic goods, ones that involve morally appropriate attitudes to other, independent goods and evils. He develops this highly original view in detail and argues for its superiority over rival views, including those given by virtue ethics.
  •  201
    The moral issues about nationalism arise from the character of nationalism as a form of partiality. Nationalists care more about their own nation and its members than about other nations and their members; in that way nationalists are partial to their own national group. The question, then, is whether this national partiality is morally justified or, on the contrary, whether everyone ought to care impartially about all members of all nations. As Jeff McMahan emphasizes in [another chapter of the…Read more
  •  196
    Virtuous act, virtuous dispositions
    Analysis 66 (1): 69-76. 2006.
    Everyday moral thought uses the concepts of virtue and vice at two different levels. At what I will call a global level it applies these concepts to persons or to stable character traits or dispositions. Thus we may say that a person is brave or has a standing trait of generosity or malice. But we also apply these concepts more locally, to specific acts or mental states such as occurrent desires or feelings. Thus we may say that a particular act was brave or that a desire or pleasure felt at a p…Read more
  •  148
    The well-rounded life
    Journal of Philosophy 84 (12): 727-746. 1987.
  •  145
    Value theory
    In David Copp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory, Oxford University Press. pp. 357--379. 2006.
    This chapter surveys a variety of views about which states of affairs are intrinsically good, that is, in themselves or apart from their consequences. It considers the claims to intrinsic value of such states of individuals as pleasure, the fulfillment of desire, knowledge, achievement, moral virtue, and personal relationships; the different ways such goods can be compared and aggregated both within and across individual lives; and the possibility, given a principle of “organic unities,” of good…Read more
  •  143
    Feeling good: four ways -- Finding that feeling -- The place of pleasure -- Knowing what's what -- Making things happen -- Being good -- Love and friendship -- Putting it together.
  •  138
    Moore in the middle
    Ethics 113 (3): 599-628. 2003.
    The rhetoric of Principia Ethica, as of not a few philosophy books, is that of the clean break. Moore claims that the vast majority of previous writing on ethics has been misguided and that an entirely new start is needed. In its time, however, the book’s claims to novelty were widely disputed. Reviews in Mind, Ethics, and The Journal of Philosophy applauded the clarity of Moore’s criticisms of Mill, Spencer, and others, but said they were “not altogether original,” had for the most part “alread…Read more
  •  128
    Sidgwick on Consequentialism and Deontology: A Critique
    Utilitas 26 (2): 129-152. 2014.
    In The Methods of Ethics Henry Sidgwick argued against deontology and for consequentialism. More specifically, he stated four conditions for self-evident moral truth and argued that, whereas no deontological principles satisfy all four conditions, the principles that generate consequentialism do. This article argues that both his critique of deontology and his defence of consequentialism fail, largely for the same reason: that he did not clearly grasp the concept W. D. Ross later introduced of a…Read more
  •  125
    Indirect Perfectionism: Kymlicka on Liberal Neutrality
    Journal of Political Philosophy 3 (1): 36-57. 1995.
  •  119
    Value and population size
    Ethics 93 (3): 496-507. 1982.
    Just because an angel is better than a stone, it does not follow that two angels are better than one angel and one stone. So said Aquinas (Summa contra Gentiles III, 71), and the sentiment was echoed by Leibniz. In section 118 of the Theodicy he wrote: "No substance is either absolutely precious or absolutely contemptible in the sight of God. It is certain that God attaches more importance to a man than to a lion, but I do not know that we can bc sure that he prefers one man to an entire species…Read more
  •  116
    Right act, virtuous motive
    In Heather D. Battaly (ed.), Virtue and Vice, Moral and Epistemic, Wiley-blackwell. pp. 58-72. 2010.
    Abstract: The concepts of virtue and right action are closely connected, in that we expect people with virtuous motives to at least often act rightly. Two well-known views explain this connection by defining one of the concepts in terms of the other. Instrumentalists about virtue identify virtuous motives as those that lead to right acts; virtue-ethicists identify right acts as those that are or would be done from virtuous motives. This essay outlines a rival explanation, based on the "higher-le…Read more
  •  110
    Asymmetries In Value
    Noûs 44 (2): 199-223. 2010.
    Values typically come in pairs. Most obviously, there are the pairs of an intrinsic good and its contrasting intrinsic evil, such as pleasure and pain, virtue and vice, and desert and undesert, or getting what one deserves and getting its opposite. But in more complex cases there can be contrasting pairs with the same value. Thus, virtue has the positive form of benevolent pleasure in another’s pleasure and the negative form of compassionate pain for his pain, while desert has the positive form …Read more
  •  107
    Two kinds of organic unity
    The Journal of Ethics 2 (4): 299-320. 1998.
    This paper distinguishes two interpretations of G. E. Moore''s principle of organic unities, which says that the intrinsic value of a whole need not equal the sum of the intrinsic values its parts would have outside it. A holistic interpretation, which was Moore''s own, says that parts retain their values when they enter a whole but that there can be an additional value in the whole as a whole that must be added to them. The conditionality interpretation, which has been defended by Korsgaard, sa…Read more
  •  102
  •  99
    A Kantian Theory of Welfare?
    Philosophical Studies 130 (3): 603-617. 2006.
    Two main foundations have been proposed for the side-constraints that deontologists think make it sometimes wrong to do what will have the best effects. Thomist views agree with consequentialism that the bearers of value are always states of affairs, but hold that alongside the duty to promote good states are stronger duties not to choose against them.1 Kantian views locate the relevant values in persons, saying it is respect for persons rather than for any state that makes it wrong to kill, lie…Read more
  •  97
    The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia
    with Bernard Suits
    Broadview Press. 1978.
    In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. "Nonsense," says the sensible Bernard Suits: "playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles." The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Suits not only argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing ga…Read more
  •  91
    Normative ethics: back to the future
    In Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy, Oxford University Press. 2004.
  •  89
    On ‘Hybrid’ Theories of Personal Good
    Utilitas 31 (4): 450-462. 2019.
    ‘Hybrid’ theories of personal good, defended by e.g. Parfit, Wolf, and Kagan, equate it, not with a subjective state such as pleasure on its own, nor with an objective state such as knowledge on its own, but with a whole that supposedly combines the two. These theories apply Moore's principle of organic unities, which says the value of a whole needn't equal the sum of the values its parts would have by themselves. This allows them, defenders say, to combine the attractions of purely subjective a…Read more