The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 335-360

First online:

Organic Unities, Non-Trade-Off, and the Additivity of Intrinsic Value

  • Erik CarlsonAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Uppsala University

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Whether or not intrinsic valueis additively measurable is often thought todepend on the truth or falsity of G. E. Moore'sprinciple of organic unities. I argue that thetruth of this principle is, contrary to received opinion, compatible with additivemeasurement. However, there are other veryplausible evaluative claims that are moredifficult to combine with the additivity ofintrinsic value. A plausible theory of the goodshould allow that there are certain kinds ofstates of affairs whose intrinsic value cannotbe outweighed by any number of states ofcertain other, less valuable, kinds. Such``non-trade-off'' cannot reasonably be explainedin terms of organic unities, and it can bereconciled with the additivity thesis only ifwe are prepared to give up some traditionalclaims about the nature of intrinsic value.

additivity basic value intrinsic value lexicality G. E. Moore organic unities