On Goodness

ISBN : 9780190688509

David Conan Wolfsdorf
296 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Apr 2019
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On Goodness attempts to answer the question "What is goodness?" It is natural to associate this question with ethics; but goodness is not confined to ethics. Water and wine, a strategy for streamlining maintenance operations, and an oil painting may all be good and in non-ethical ways. Goodness figures prominently in ethics; so the study serves ethics. But it serves other domains as well.

On Goodness is a contribution to the foundations of value theory. It is also a metaphysical inquiry, for two reasons. As the examples indicate, the entity under investigation is extremely general. Goodness occurs in potables, plans, and paintings, among countless other kinds of things. Second, it is particularly obscure what sort of being the entity is. Besides the description "good," is there a single thing that good drinks, strategies, and artworks share? Is their goodness related in a more complex way? And regardless of these relations, in any instance, just what is that goodness?

The question "What is goodness?" has been central to philosophy since Socrates and Plato made it their polestar. The distinctive contribution of On Goodness lies in its methodology. The method of pursuing the metaphysical question is linguistic. The basic proposal is that achieving the answer depends on clarifying the meaning and use of the words "good" and "goodness." Consequently, the study is pervasively informed by and critically engaged with contemporary linguistic theories and ideas.


Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Ambiguity
Chapter 3. Gradability
Chapter 4. Value
Chapter 5. Dimensional Specification
Chapter 6. Adjectival Nominalization
Chapter 7. Bare Noun Phrases

About the author: 

David Conan Wolfsdorf is Professor of Philosophy at Temple University in Philadelphia. Previously he taught at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He is the author of Trials of Reason (Oxford University Press, 2008) and Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

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