What Is Good and Why

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-05-15
  • Publisher: Harvard Univ Pr
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What is good? How can we know, and how important is it? In this book Richard Kraut, one of our most respected analytical philosophers, reorients these questions around the notion of what causes human beings to flourish--that is, what is good for us. Observing that we can sensibly talk about what is good for plants and animals no less than what is good for people, Kraut advocates a general principle that applies to the entire world of living things: what is good for complex organisms consists in the maturation and exercise of their natural powers.Drawing on the insights of ancient Greek philosophy, Kraut develops this thought into a good-centered moral philosophy, an "ethics of well-being" that requires all of our efforts to do some good. Even what is good of a kind--good poems no less than good people--must be good for someone. Pleasure plays a key role in this idea of flourishing life, but Kraut opposes the current philosophical orthodoxy of well-being, which views a person's welfare as a construct of rational desires or plans, actual or ideal.The practical upshot of Kraut's theory is that many common human pursuits--for riches, fame, domination--are in themselves worthless, while some of the familiar virtues--justice, honesty, and autonomy--are good for every human being.

Table of Contents

In Search of Good
A Socratic Question
Flourishing and Well-Being
Mind and Value
Rawls and the Priority of the Right
Right, Wrong, Should
The Elimination of Moral Rightness
Rules and Good
Categorical Imperatives
Conflicting Interests
Whose Good? The Egoist's Answer
Whose Good? The Utilitarian's Answer
Self-Denial, Self-Love, Universal Concern
Pain, Self-Love, and Altruism
Agent-Neutrality and Agent-Relativity
Good, Conation, and Pleasure
"Good" and "Good for"
"Good for" and Advantage
"Good that" and "Bad that"
Pleasure and Advantage
Good for S That P
The "for" of "Good for"
Plants, Animals, Humans
Ross on Human Nature
The Perspectival Reading of "Good for"
The Conative Approach to Well-Being
Abstracting from the Content of Desires and Plans
The Faulty Mechanisms of Desire Formation
Infants and Adults
The Conation of an Ideal Self
The Appeal of the Conative Theory
Conation Hybridized
Strict Hedonism
Hedonism Diluted
Prolegomenon to Flourishing
Development and Flourishing: The General Theory
Development and Flourishing: The Human Case
More Examples of What Is Good
Appealing to Nature
Sensory Un-flourishing
Affective Flourishing and Un-flourishing
Hobbes on Tranquillity and Restlessness
Flourishing and Un-flourishing as a Social Being
Cognitive Flourishing and Un-flourishing
Sexual Flourishing and Un-flourishing
Too Much and Too Little
Comparing Lives and Stages of Life
Adding Goods: Rawls's Principle of Inclusiveness
Art, Science, and Culture
The Vanity of Fame
The Vanity of Wealth
Making Others Worse-Off
Virtues and Flourishing
The Good of Autonomy
What Is Good and Why
The Sovereignty of Good
The Importance of What Is Good for Us
Good's Insufficiency
Cosmic Justice
Social Justice
Pure Antipaternalism
Moral Space and Giving Aid
Moral Rightness Revisited
Honoring the Dead
Meaningless Goals and Symbolic Value
Good-Independent Realms of Value
Good Thieves and Good Human Beings
Final ThoughtsWorks Cited Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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