Value, Reality, and Desire

Value, Reality, and Desire

Value, Reality, and Desire

Value, Reality, and Desire

Synopsis

What is the nature of value and how can we have knowledge of it? Is something valuable because we desire it or do we desire it because it is valuable? These are the fundamental questions addressed and answered in this book. Graham Oddie argues that there are mind-independent irreducible facts about value, which are causally efficacious, and that we have knowledge of value by experiential acquaintance. Anyone working in ethics and metaphysics will find Value, Reality, and Desire a highly original and rewarding contribution.

Excerpt

The world presents a sensible being—like you or me—with an astonishing array of objects of every variety of shape, colour, texture, and composition. Mostly we take these objects of experience for granted. We take it for granted that they are part of the world; that they have both sensible features and features which lie below the surface of appearance; that they have both kinds of features independently of our sensing them as such; and that their having these features produces various tangible effects, including our experiences of them. To abandon some of these beliefs is to abandon an aspect of realism. Most of us, however, are reasonably robust realists about the sensible world.

The world also presents a sensitive being—like you or me—with a rich array of values. It is a world replete with goods and evils: pleasure and pain, joy and misery, kindness and callousness, graciousness and greed, the beauty of Bach and the banality of Britney Spears. the value of some of these—like the value of pleasure, or of kindness—forces itself upon us. Their value lies on or near the very surface of appearance. the value of others—like the putative value of forgiving those who have harmed you—may be not so easily discerned. They may lie some distance from the surface, to be discovered only through close attention or the acquisition of specific skills. But whether they lie on the surface of appearance or below it, they are there, whether or not some particular person notices or knows of them. Questioning the reality of the sensible world is largely a philosopher's pastime, but philosophers are by no means alone in questioning the reality of the valuable.

What is at issue between a realist and an antirealist about value? An unflinching realist about value will affirm those same theses of the valuable that we are all naturally disposed to affirm of the sensible. There are genuine claims about value, and these claims are true or false. the true claims—the facts about value—have a certain ontological robustness. They are mind-independent—they

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