Archive for the ‘Metaphysics’ Category

J.L. Mackie: The Subjectivity of Values (Part 5)

December 11th, 2007 Comments off


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In summation, consider the following hypothetical imperatives: if you are looking for an unambiguous explanation of why the concept of intrinsic value is metaphysically and epistemologically bizarre, read Mackie’s “The Subjectivity of Values”; if you are looking for a normative validation of a moral free-for-all, read Gilbert Harman’s “Moral Relativism Defended” instead; if you are looking for proof that objective values do not exist, you must extend your search a bit farther than Mackie’s limited, albeit excellent, article.


Mackie, J. L. “The Subjectivity of Values” In Ethical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings, edited by Louis Pojman, 446-456. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2002.

[1] In this essay I am speaking about a very specific counter-example to Mackie’s claims; it is conceivable that someone could argue for other kinds of objective values that are not intrinsic (such as a collective “that is good which contributes to human prosperity”)

[2] “What if I don’t want to live? ” is a question that merits some serious discussion beyond the scope of this paper. My summarized response is that life is a necessary precondition for all possible values that follow. One who does not want to live constitutes one who has chosen to reject interaction with reality, which cannot be replaced by something else.

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