Well-being and Intrinsic Value: A Challenge from Value Holism
Takagi, Tomofumi (2016). 'Well-being and Intrinsic Value: A Challenge from Value Holism' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.
It is considered that well-being is one of most important considerations in moral philosophy, partly because well-being is intrinsically valuable. It is valuable not for something else, but for its own sake. If something is intrinsically good, it is the ultimate object which we have to consider when establish a moral theory. In this sense, well-being provides a guiding principle for morality. A utilitarian who want to maximize pleasure insist that utility is the only intrinsic value. In some situations, however, pleasure is not valuable. For example, pleasure stemming from abusing animals is clearly not valuable. This means that well-being may depend on something other than its intrinsic properties.
To understand this, it is useful to introduce a distinction between final value and intrinsic value. Since Kristine M. Korsgaard’s “Two Distinctions in Goodness” (1983), it has been known that intrinsic value and final value are different notions. The former relates to metaphysical location of objects, whereas the latter to the appropriate way of valuing. If something is valuable by virtue of its intrinsic properties, it is intrinsically valuable. Therefore, the problem with intrinsically bad well-being is about final value, not about intrinsic value. If, however, we accept that well-being is not always intrinsically good but can be intrinsically bad because of extrinsic properties, we lose invariable normative force of intrinsic value in well-being. This is problematic because moral importance of well-being is partly based on its guiding role for actions.
To resolve this problem, we need to elucidate the meaning of intrinsic value and the relationship between intrinsic properties and extrinsic properties. In this paper I elucidate the meaning of intrinsic value and try to explain why well-being is intrinsically good, although its value depends on extrinsic properties as well.