Thursday, June 2, 2016

Goods of instantiation

It's good that there have been someone with Albert Schweitzer's character, or a planet like Saturn. When we talk of the value of there being a thing of a particular sort, we're talking of the value of some property being--say, being a ringed gas giant of such and such appearance--being instantiated. Intuitively, that value of instantiation resides in the instantiated thing: it seems clear that Albert Schweitzer and Saturn have the goods of instantiating Schweitzerlikeness or Saturnlikeness.

But there is a problem with this obvious thing to say. For if the value of Saturnlikeness being instantiated is found in Saturn, then if there were a second planet, Shmaturn, that was Saturnlike then we would have that good twice over, once in each planet. But that misunderstands how goods of instantiation work. It is good that Saturnlikeness be instantiated. It isn't twice as good that it be instantiated twice.

So what do goods of instantiation reside in? One could answer: "Nothing. Goods don't need to have a substrate as a home." But I do have the Aristotelian intuition that goods have something like a metaphysical home, that it is good that p only if that is a good for something that p. Maybe I should abandon that intuition. But let's see what we can say given that intuition.

If Platonism is true, then a very natural answer is that the goods of instantiation are goods for the instantiated properties. This leads to a very interesting idea. Artists do good to the Platonic realm by instantiating it. God benefited kangarooness by creating kangaroos. This seems a bit crazy.

If theism is true, then perhaps goods of instantiation are actually good for God (in a non-internal way that is compatible with divine aseity). God has something supra-Schweitzerlike or supra-Saturnlike about him. It is good for God--it glorifies him--for there to be something Schweitzerlike or Saturnlike. This approach may not actually be that different from the Platonist one if properties are divine ideas.


Heath White said...

How about: it is good for everybody in the world if the world is full of a variety of interesting and admirable things. But once you have one of a given interesting/admirable thing, you are no longer increasing variety by adding more.

Michael Gonzalez said...

I like Heath's answer, with the tiny addendum that sometimes adding more creates a different "admirable thing". So, for example, it could indeed be a greater good that there are two Saturns, but not by virtue of multiplying the goodness by 2. It's a new situation overall, for the world to have two Saturns, and that situation may very well also be good (even a greater good than the situation with just one).

To address your later post, Pruss, it can be good that there are basketball teams, and that there is a whole association of them, and it can also be good that there is a much bigger association of them. It isn't a numerical increase; a larger association is a different situation with different effects on the country and the world.

Alexander R Pruss said...

In one respect, it could be a greater good to have two Saturns. But in another it could be a lesser: the uniqueness might be more valuable.

Michael Gonzalez said...

Perhaps, but the point is simply that the value does not increase numerically; it's a matter, in each case, of whether such-and-such number of Saturns is a greater or lesser good than some other number for particular reasons.