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  • Print publication year: 1994
  • Online publication date: May 2010

8 - Intrinsic value and modest a priori justification


In the last chapter, it was claimed that in making an ordinary judgment that something is intrinsically good, one is attributing to it the property of being intrinsically good, or accepting a state of affairs of the form “X is intrinsically good.” It was argued that it is reasonable for us to believe that this property and such states of affairs are not identical with or analyzable by any natural state of affairs or property. The ontological distinctiveness of intrinsic value is one of the theses of the traditional view set forth in Chapter 1. But a further claim, central to that tradition, is that there is knowledge that some things are intrinsically good, some bad, and some better than others. The claim that we have such knowledge is accepted by philosophers such as Brentano, Moore, and Ross, though it is not clear that they agree about how we have it or what is the nature of such knowledge.


I begin, however, by stating four general assumptions about the nature of epistemic justification or warrant and two more specific assumptions about justified belief in intrinsic value. Let us begin with the general assumptions. First, I assume that there is a difference between justified belief and true belief. The set of one's justified beliefs need not be identical with the set of one's true beliefs. If a person makes a lucky guess about the outcome of a horse race, forming a belief about the winner on the advice of his tea leaf reader, his belief might be true but unjustified.

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Intrinsic Value
  • Online ISBN: 9780511663802
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