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The Absoluteness of Intrinsic Value. A Critique of the 'Principle of Universality'

GVER, Vol. 5 No. 2, (2004)

Moore’s account of the relation between his theory of intrinsic value as an
unnatural, etc. property, and the so-called ‘principle of universality’ seems to be
considered quite uncontroversial. In opposition with this assumption, this paper
argues that, given Moore’s theory of value, the ‘principle of universality’ is a non-
sequitur. In other words, there is no reason to believe, on Moorean grounds, that if
something has value, then it has it universally. In positive terms, intrinsic value is
‘absolute’, meaning completely independent from the natural features of the world.
There is no contradiction in thinking ‘goodness’ ‘ingressing’ on the natural features
that constitute, say, a murder. This outcome rules out the possibility to establish
ethics as a science: there are no universally true ethical judgments. Even if a
judgment of value remains true over time, then it is so only de facto.

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