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Against Absolute Goodness$
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Richard Kraut

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199844463

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844463.001.0001

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Is Cruelty Absolutely Bad?

Is Cruelty Absolutely Bad?

Chapter 20 Is Cruelty Absolutely Bad?
Against Absolute Goodness

Richard Kraut

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by considering the views of Kant and Ross on absolute goodness, focusing on how they take it for granted that there is such a thing as absolute goodness. It then argues that we do not need the concept of absolute badness to explain why we should be disturbed by even unsuccessful acts of cruelty. We can, instead, say that we must not aim at what is bad for others for its own sake; to do so is impermissible. There is no reason to suppose that there is yet another demerit of acts of cruelty, namely, that they are, quite simply, bad. (It is also possible for someone to seek to cause pain because he conceives of it as bad simpliciter and because his goal is to increase the amount of badness in the world. That, too, would be a motive that merits condemnation. But we can justify our criticism of it without ourselves believing, as he does, that pain is absolutely bad.).

Keywords:   Kant, Ross, absolute good, bad

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