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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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Further Reflections on the Ethical Objection

(p.91) Chapter 15 Further Reflections on the Ethical Objection
Against Absolute Goodness

Richard Kraut

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that it is that in all our interactions with all other human beings, we should be guided by our conception of what is good for them rather than by any conception of what is good absolutely. In fact, we should go one step further, since it would be odd to suppose that whereas human pain is objectionable because it is bad for humans, animal pain is objectionable not because it is bad for animals but because it is absolutely bad. Thus, in all our interactions with all other animals (in fact, all creatures) we should be guided by our conception not of what is good period, but of what is good for them. That does not mean that our interaction with other creatures should be governed by no other concepts aside from those of benefit and harm. In our dealings with others, we need to keep track of all sorts of considerations—not only benefit and harm, but also justice, respect, obligation, duty, responsibility, and so on. We do not need, in addition to these familiar sorts of considerations, the concepts of absolute goodness and absolute badness.

Keywords:   good, absolute goodness, animals, badness

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