Good and Good For
Good and Good For
This chapter tries to understand the notions of good and good for (and related evaluative notions) that seem to be in operation when, for instance, one says that by bringing about the greatest good, or by acting as morality requires us to act, we do something that is worse for Bill. The first section of the chapter tries to present more specific intuitions that seem to require that good and good for be capable of diverging, as well as presenting some intuitive reasons to think that these notions are also importantly related. This section ends by trying to express more precisely the difficulty in accounting for all these intuitions. The second section of the chapter argues that a number of seemingly promising ways of accounting for the relation between good and good for face serious problems. The third section suggests that the problems are actually more complex than they appear at first. When we consider personal relations, whatever reason we had to accept two different evaluative notions seems now to call for an indefinite number of such notions. For as we develop personal relationships, the same reasons that led us to drive a wedge between “good” and “good for” seem to work to generate a putatively infinite number of similar evaluative notions. In the last sections, I sketch a (hopefully) better account of “good” and “good for”, which I call “the appearance view”. According to the appearance view, the distinction between “good for” and “good” is not a distinction between two modes of evaluation, but a distinction between what appears to be good to someone and what is, in fact, good. However, the appearance view does not imply that any kind of evaluative appearance is constitutive of what is good for someone. The appearance view accounts for what is good or bad for someone in terms of how recalcitrant or persistent an evaluative appearance is. This account of “good for” allows us to show that a defense of “a guise of the good thesis” (or as I call it “a scholastic view”) can take the notion of good simpliciter as its central notion, and still be able to make room for a notion of well-being or good for.
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