, Volume 112, Issue 1, pp 1-30

A Defense of Two Optimistic Claims in Ethical Theory

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I aim to show that (i) thereare good ways to argue about what has intrinsicvalue; and (ii) good ethical arguments needn’tmake ethical assumptions. I support (i) and(ii) by rebutting direct attacks, by discussingnine plausible ways to argue about intrinsicvalue, and by arguing for pain’s intrinsicbadness without making ethical assumptions. If(i) and (ii) are correct, then ethical theoryhas more resources than many philosophers havethought: empirical evidence, and evidencebearing on intrinsic value. With moreresources, we can hope to base all of our moralbeliefs on evidence rather than on, say,emotion or mere intuition.