Join to Simply Philosophy online community. Open your mind, post your thoughts, think critically!
Culture / Ethics / Sociology

An Argument for Moral Pluralism

In a previous post, I explained that if goodness exists, then intrinsic goodness must exist and I gave an argument for that conclusion. I also explained that there are two views on intrinsic goodness. One view, moral monism, claims that there is only one category of intrinsic goodness. The other view, moral pluralism, claims that there is more than one category of intrinsic goodness. The question is this one: how many kinds of things are intrinsically good? There is only one way to settle this question. We must examine why we claim that various things are good. To do this I will examine both knowledge and friendship to show that both are intrinsically good and both are different kinds of things.

Knowledge is intrinsically good. We show this by promoting education, encouraging the use and construction of libraries, praising those who choose to learn more about a subject and other activities like this. However, not everyone in our society agrees with this explicitly. Some people believe that knowledge is only good because it is practically useful. Although they treat this as if it were obvious – which it is not – and fail to give arguments for it, their opinion must still be considered. How do we know that knowledge is intrinsically good? We simply consider an element of knowledge that has no practical value. If knowledge is only good because it has practical value, then that element of knowledge will have no value. It will not be good. Such elements of knowledge include much of philosophy, mathematics and history. Let no one claims that the majority of these things are not good. We value history, accept those few who value math and the same with philosophy. So practically speaking, we all agree that knowledge is an intrinsic good. For now, I will consider that as proof.

Friendship is intrinsically good. By friendship I am not referring to casual friendship for fun, or work-friendships, but the closest forms of friendship. These kinds of friendship are ones in which the company of the other person is valued, their opinion is valuable, and their life is proceeding in a compatible direction with our own. This is seen – ideally at least – in marriage. In these sorts of friendships, the friend is not valued for something they do or for something that they have in common with someone else. This is know as “conditional love” and is condemned by our culture. The friend is valued as a person for themselves as an individual. This is the definition of intrinsic goodness!

Friendship is a different kind of thing than knowledge. This is an obvious thing. Friendship is a relationship with a person. Knowledge is the contemplation of truth. Since no person is identical with truth, no friendship is the same as knowledge. (Platitudes that claim otherwise in the case of Jesus Christ are both annoying and false.)  Therefore, we have good reason to believe that moral pluralism is true. Unless there is some argument for moral monism, then it should be rejected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>