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What it is to be Good

  • John Harris (a1)
Abstract

If someone says ‘I'm good thank you!’, usually in response to a polite ‘how are you,’ I am tempted, and often do, reply: ‘That's an interesting claim or hypothesis – how are we going to test it?’ This paper is about testing that hypothesis, taken literally; the hypothesis that someone is good, how such a claim might be tested and what thinking about the exercise tells us about goodness and hence of course about how to increase goodness in the world and in people.

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The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license .
References
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2. T. Douglas (2008) Moral enhancement. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 25, 228–245; I. Persson and J. Savulescu (2008) The perils of cognitive enhancement and the urgent imperative to enhance the moral character of humanity. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 25, 162–177. See also J. Harris (2010) Moral enhancement and freedom. Bioethics, 25(2), pp. 102–111, published online December 2010 doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01854.x. M. J. Crockett, L. Clark, M. Hauser, et al. (2010) Serotonin selectively influences moral judgment and behavior through effects on harm aversion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, 107, 17433–17438. See also J. Harris and S. Chan (2010) Moral behaviour is not what it seems. PNAS, early edition, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1015001107. Chan S. and Harris J. (2011) Moral enhancement and prosocial behaviour. Journal of Medical Ethics, 37, pp. 130131.
3. William Shakespeare Hamlet Act. 1., Scene 2. The Arden Shakespeare, Complete Works. Edited by R. Proudfoot, A. Thomson and D. S. Kastan (Walton-on-Thames: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1998).
4. See for example Kenny A. (1998) A Brief History of Western Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell), pp. 25ff and Afterword, pp. 346ff.
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15. I am indebted to John Coggon for important suggestions in this section.
16.Harris J. (2010) Moral enhancement and freedom. Bioethics, 25(2), pp. 102111, published online December 2010 doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01854.x.
17.Persson I. and Savulescu J. (2008) The perils of cognitive enhancement and the urgent imperative to enhance the moral character of humanity. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 25, 162177.
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European Review
  • ISSN: 1062-7987
  • EISSN: 1474-0575
  • URL: /core/journals/european-review
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