Friday, February 13, 2015

[PHI 3630] Enjoy your achievements...

In "The Value Problem," John Greco advances the following argument as a solution to the value problem (why is knowledge valuable?):
  1. Achievements are finally valuable.
  2. Knowledge is a kind of achievement.
  3. Therefore, knowledge is finally valuable.
This argument is valid. If it is sound, then knowledge has intrinsic value (i.e., valuable for its own sake), not merely instrumental value (i.e., valuable as a means to an end). Is this argument sound?

Greco considers mostly objections against premise (2). But what about premise (1)? Is it the case that achievements have intrinsic value? Or are they valuable as means to an end? Consider the view known as psychological or motivational hedonism. According to this view, we humans are motivated by pleasure or displeasure. If something like motivational hedonism is correct, would it follow that achievements are valuable only insofar as they give us pleasure or satisfaction? If so, does that mean that achievements are not valuable for their own sake after all?

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