Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 365–378 | Cite as

Fitting Attitude Analyses of Value and the Partiality Challenge

Article

Abstract

According to ‘Fitting Attitude’ (FA) analyses of value, for an object to be valuable is for that object to have properties—other than its being valuable—that make it a fitting object of certain responses. In short, if an object is positively valuable it is fitting to favour it; if an object is negatively valuable it is fitting to disfavour it. There are several variants of FA analyses. Some hold that for an object to be valuable is for it to be such that it ought to be favoured; others hold that value is analyzable in terms of reasons or requirements to favour. All these variants of the FA analysis are subject to a partiality challenge: there are circumstances in which some agents have reasons to favour or disfavour some object—due to the personal relations in which they stand to the object—without this having any bearing on the value of the object. A. C. Ewing was one of the first philosophers to draw attention to the partiality challenge for FA analyses. In this paper I explain the challenge and consider Ewing's responses, one of which is preferable to the other, but none of which is entirely satisfactory. I go on to develop an alternative Brentano-inspired response that Ewing could have offered and that may well be preferable to the responses Ewing actually did offer.

Keywords

A. C. Ewing FA analyses Fittingness Ought Partiality Value Wrong kind of reason problem 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the speaker series on Partiality and Impartiality in Ethics at the University of Reading in May 2008 and at the ECAP conference in Krakow in August 2008. An ancestor was presented at a seminar at Uppsala University. I thank the participants of these meetings for helpful comments and discussions. I am especially grateful to Per Algander, Johan Brännmark, Krister Bykvist, Erik Carlson, Jonathan Dancy, Brian Feltham, Max de Gaynesford, Brad Hooker, Jens Johansson, Kevin Mulligan, Jan Österberg, Christian Piller, Doug Portmore, Wlodek Rabinowicz, Andrew Reisner, Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen, Philip Stratton-Lake, Jussi Suikkanen, Folke Tersman, and Michael J. Zimmerman.

References

  1. Blanshard B (1961) Reason and goodness. Allen and Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Brentano F (1969) The origin of our knowledge of right and wrong. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London German original published 1889Google Scholar
  3. Bykvist K (2009) No good fit: why the fitting attitude analysis of value fails. Mind 118:763–792. doi:10.1093/mind/fzn151 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chisholm RM (1986) Brentano and intrinsic value. CUP, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Dancy J (2000) Should we pass the buck? In: O’Hare (ed) Philosophy: the good, the true, and the beautiful. CUP, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Danielsson S, Olson J (2007) Brentano and the Buck-Passers. Mind 115:511–522. doi:10.1093/mind/fzm511 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ewing AC (1939) A suggested non-naturalistic analysis of good. Mind 39:1–22. doi:10.1093/mind/XLVIII.189.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ewing AC (1947) The definition of good. Routledge and Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Ewing AC (1959) Second thoughts in moral philosophy. Routledge and Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Ewing AC (1980) Blanshard’s view of good. In: Schilpp (ed) The philosophy of Brand Blanshard. Northwestern UP, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  11. Frankena WK (1942) Obligation and value in the ethics of G. E. Moore. In: Schilpp (ed) The philosophy of G. E. Moore. Northwestern UP, Evanston, IllGoogle Scholar
  12. Hurka T (2003) Moore in the Middle. Ethics 113:599–628. doi:10.1086/345624 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lang G (2008) The right kind of solution to the wrong kind of reason problem. Utilitas 20:472–489. doi:10.1017/S0953820808003282 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lemos NM (1994) Intrinsic value: concept and warrant. CUP, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  15. Moore GE (1903) Principia ethica. CUP, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Mulligan K (2004) Husserl on the "Logics" of Valuing, values, and norms. In: Centi, Gigliotti (eds) Fenomenologia della Ragion Pratica. L'Ethica di Edmund Husserl. Bibliopolis, NaplesGoogle Scholar
  17. Nagel T (1986) The view from nowhere. OUP, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  18. Oddie G (2005) Value and Reality. OUP, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Olson J (2004) Intrinsicalism and conditionalism about final value. Ethical Theory Moral Pract 7:31–52. doi:10.1023/B:ETTA.0000019981.46807.4f CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Olson J (2006) G. E. Moore on goodness and reasons. Australas J Philos 84:525–534. doi:10.1080/00048400601079029 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Olson J 2009. ‘The Wrong Kind of Solution to the Wrong Kind of Reason Problem’. Forthcoming in Utilitas 21:325–32.Google Scholar
  22. Portmore WD (2005) Combining teleological ethics with evaluator relativism: a promising result. Pac Philos Q 86:95–113. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0114.2005.00217.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rabinowicz W, Rønnow-Rasmussen T (1999) A distinction in value: “Intrinsic” and “For Its Own Sake”. Proc Aristot Soc 100:31–52Google Scholar
  24. Rabinowicz W, Rønnow-Rasmussen T (2004) The strike of the demon: on fitting pro-attitudes and value. Ethics 114:391–423. doi:10.1086/381694 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rabinowicz W, Rønnow-Rasmussen T (2006) Buck-passing and the right kind of reason. Philos Q 56:114–120. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9213.2005.00432.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Scanlon TM (1998) What we owe to each other. Harvard UP, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  27. Schroeder M (2007) Teleology, agent-relativity, and “Good”. Ethics 117:265–295. doi:10.1086/511662 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Smith M (2003) Neutral and relative value after Moore. Ethics 113:576–598. doi:10.1086/345626 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zimmerman MJ (2001) The nature of intrinsic value. Rowman and Littlefield, LanhamGoogle Scholar
  30. Zimmerman MJ (2009). ‘Partiality and Intrinsic Value’. In a volume on partiality and impartiality in ethics, to be edited by J. Cottingham and B. Feltham.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations