Here’s a problem with Roderick Chisholm’s well-known account of intrinsic goodness I’d like solved, and I bet some of you will know how to solve it.
Here’s a problem with Roderick Chisholm’s well-known account of intrinsic goodness I’d like solved, and I bet some of you will know how to solve it. I favor such an account myself, primarily because, as Chisholm noted, it provides a nice way of reducing concepts of value to those of deontology. Also, it gives a nice version of the isolation test for intrinsic value, a version in which contemplation focuses on p and q as such.
Chisholm defines intrinsic goodness in terms of intrinsic betterness, and intrinsic betterness in terms of required attitudes. More precisely, at the bottom of the analysis is this principle, which yeilds an interpretation of the isolation test of intrinsic value:
p is intrinsically better than q only if it is appropriate for one to prefer p to q and the contemplation of just p and q requires one to prefer p to q.
Problem: Assume that we can’t get ‘ought’ from ‘is’. Now note the second conjunct in the consequent. It appears to get an ‘ought’ our of an ‘is’. In particular, the second conjunct says that either one is required to prefer p to q because of the natures of p and q themselves, or else because of the contemplation of p and q.
If it is the former, then either p and q themselves contain values that demand the preference ordering or not. If so, then we haven’t gotten anywhere with this definition of intrinsic goodness, and certainly not to a reduction of axiological concepts to deontological ones. But if not, then we’ve gotten an ‘ought’ out of an ‘is’.
The latter is little better. Why should the contemplation of two states of affairs result in a requirement to prefer one to the other? Again, either ‘contemplation’ is somehow itself value-suffused or not (that is, either Chisholm thinks of contemplation as in some sense ‘valuing’ or not). If it is, we again appear not to have gotten very far, or at least not all the way to a reduction of value concepts to deontological concepts; if not, then again, we get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.
My guess is that Chisholm is assuming in the consequent some general normative principle which says something to the effect that it is ‘appropriate’ to prefer p to q and, when contemplating things such as p & q as such one is required to prefer p to q. But that is just a guess at this point.