Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

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

Fitting Attitude Analyses of Value and the Partiality Challenge



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.


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



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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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