Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 31–52 | Cite as

Intrinsicalism and Conditionalism about Final Value

  • Jonas Olson


The paper distinguishes between two rival views about the nature of final value (i.e. the value something has for its own sake) — intrinsicalism and conditionalism. The former view (which is the one adopted by G.E. Moore and several later writers) holds that the final value of any F supervenes solely on features intrinsic to F, while the latter view allows that the final value of F may supervene on features non-intrinsic to F. Conditionalism thus allows the final value of F to vary according to the context in which F appears. Given the plausible assumption that there is an intimate tie between final values and appropriate attitudinal responses, it appears that conditionalism is the better approach for mainly the following three reasons: First, intrinsicalism is too indiscriminate, which makes it subject to what I call ‘location problems’ of final value. I illustrate this problem by discussing alleged examples of Moorean organic unities. Second, intrinsicalism evokes symptoms of ‘evaluative schizophrenia’. Third, considerations of theoretical economy tell in favour of conditionalism. Thereafter I respond to some recent challenges to conditionalism. An appendix surveys some meritorious implications that conditionalism offers for various substantial versions of such structurally different views about value as monism, pluralism, and particularism.

conditionalism final value intrinsicalism G.E. Moore organic unities pain pleasure supervenience 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonas Olson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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