Saturday, December 17, 2022

The right can be derived from the good

There is a way to connect the right and wrong with the good and bad:

  1. An action is right (respectively, wrong) if and only if it is noninstrumentally good (respectively, bad) to do it.

This is compatible with there being cases where it is bad for one to do the right thing. Thus, refraining from stealing the money that one would need to sign up for a class on virtue is right and noninstrumentally good, but if the class is really effective then stealing the money might be instrumentally good for one, though noninstrumentally ba.

I think (1) is something that everyone should accept. Even consequentialists can and should accept (1) (though utilitarian consequentialists have too shallow an axiology to make (1) true). But natural law theorists might add a further claim to (1): the left-hand-side is true because the right-hand-side is true.

The title of this post contradicts the title of another recent post, but the contents do not.

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