How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues

By Roger Crisp | Go to book overview

II
How Emotions Reveal Value and Help Cure the Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories

MICHAEL STOCKER

Many modern ethical theories are schizophrenic--allowing, even requiring, a split between value and motivation. They see no need for values to serve as motivations, and they hold that motivations are irrelevant to the value of what is done or even intended.1 To explain and justify these splits, it is held that value and motivation are distinct and that it can be 'for the best' if values are not sought directly, perhaps are not even recognized as values. It is concluded that ethical theories can well be esoteric, self-effacing, or schizophrenic (to use, respectively, Sidgwick's, Parfit's, and my terms).

I suppose this could be for the best, much as it could be for the best if people never existed or ceased existing soon: i.e. the universe might contain most value that way. But neither is best for us. Neither tells us how best to live, nor even how to live well. Whether or not those theories are right about total value in the universe, they are not right about us, nor are they right for us. They are not good ethical theories.

Those theories misunderstand, and often do not allow for, large and. important parts of human life, including such important goods as love and friendship. For here, motivation and value must come together if the goods are to be actualized: if I do not act for your sake, then no matter whether what I do is for the best, I am not acting out of friendship. And whether or not friendship is for the best, human life without

____________________
1
I have discussed these issues in "'The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories'", Journal of Philosophy 73 ( 1976), 453-66; "'Values and Purposes: The Limits of Teleology and the Ends of Friendship'", Journal of Philosophy 78 ( 1981), 747-65; and "'Act and Agent Evaluations'", Review of Metaphysics 27 ( 1973), 42-61.

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