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Lecture

PHL275-nov16.doc

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHL275H1
Professor
Tom Hurka
Semester
Fall

Description
Monday, November 16, 2009 Ross’s theory of what is good-objective list theory. The value of a pleasure depends on its duration and intensity. The value of knowledge depends on its generality, knowledge of general laws in science are the best type of knowledge. This is one kind of valuable knowledge but it is the only kind? Ross thinks that pleasure is vastly inferior to virtue. He makes an objection towards hedonism about morally vicious pleasures-rather than having knowledge you just have opinions with no justification. His view is that virtue is infinitely better than pleasure (page 150). The relationship between the value of pleasure and virtue is like the relationship between a finite number and an infinite. Page 151-malicious pleasure in someone else’s pain, if pleasure were not infinitely inferior to virtue, then as the pleasure got more and more intense, my sadistic pleasure would be greater than the evil it involves for being malicious. Virtue is infinitely better than pleasure, and vice is infinitely worse. When you are planning your life no amount of ecstasy could make up for one malicious thought, this seems unreasonable. Prof’s view-A virtuous attitude always has less value than its object. Ex. You’re in pain, and I feel compassionate that you are suffering. Compassion is a good thing, and it would be better to have compassion than none. My compassion can’t be better than your pain is evil. Teacher who is teaching a class, she is motivated by a virtuous desire that her students acquire knowledge, they all learn, should you be more pleased that the teacher taught from a virtuous motive, or that the students actually learned. You should be more pleased that the students learned, that is the point of the exercise. The students’ learning is a greater good than the teacher’s virtuous motive. This is opposite from what Ross would think. When we take great pleasure in other peoples minors evils ex. laughing at someone slipping on a banana peel, which might be unbalanced good. He also says that (page 152) virtue or moral goodness is infinitely better than knowledge. You can know everything about the universe and that wouldn’t be as good as a tiny malicious feeling toward someone else as bad. It is not just effects on you, it would never be right for you to sacrifice any virtue in yourself for the pleasure of other people. You are considering a career as a surgeon; you are going to help relieve a lot of peoples’ suffering. Isn’t it likely that working as a surgeon, your character is going to be hardened because you are around so much pain; it is part of the job. Surgeons are cold-blooded, able to slice people up, can’t think all the time about their pain. According
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