Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Natural Goodness

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Natural Goodness

Article excerpt

Natural Goodness, by Philippa Foot.

A lovely, profound, and remarkably agile work by a senior analytic philosopher which strikes out in a direction and toward an aim that will surprise the many philosophers who have not been paying attention to Foot's work, and the work of some of her students and colleagues, in the past several decades. The book articulates, defends, and explores the implications of the idea of "natural goodness" as a conceptual lens through which to understand the moral life. By this phrase Foot means to suggest that human goodness is as much on a continuum with other creatures' requirements for flourishing, as it is a distinct sort of concern. Thus, against Kant, Foot argues that human goodness is rooted not just in the will but in the whole shape of a flourishing life. (Evil, in contrast, becomes a kind of defect of the "health," broadly conceived, of the person.) The book is both an exploration of this view and an explanation of why it took her so long to find a way to say it that did not seem to her to be completely philosophically disrespectable. …

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