A book on ethics and philosophy of values

(Note: this is a non-professional translation of the original text in French. Help improve this translation: please report any mistake!)

For Moore, the concept of value is a synonym for good, but it cannot provide an analysis of its meaning. In reply to this, I would like to make two remarks.

On the one hand, in order to determine if value can provide an analysis of “good”, Moore should specifically examine the concept of value, which he has not done. We need to understand what value represents to make a decision regarding this point, and it is not the case in Moore’s work. Therefore, this argument is pointless.

On the other hand, Moore defines good as a kind of value, as we have noted. However, in order to analyze things, we have traditionally classified them into kinds or species. And even now, we understand the meaning of something when we identify its class, species and kind. For example, we can determine what a man is by defining him as a “mammal and warm-blooded bipedal animal”, etc. Moore continues this tradition by identifying the general kind to which good belongs, namely value. However, he refuses to admit, against all evidence, that it enables us to analyze the meaning of good: it is almost as if we are admitting that man actually is a warm-blooded mammal while maintaining that these words are simple synonyms, which do not provide any information about man.

5) Conclusion

The development of Moore’s thought process is fascinating and significant. At the beginning, value does not even bear the dignity of a mere synonym. Less than a concept, it is a shadow, which disappears as soon as it appears. In the second phase, value is explicitly conceptualized by Moore, who defines good as a kind of value. In doing so, he attaches significant importance to this notion, but does not realize this as he maintains his incompatible assertion that nothing can be substituted for good other than synonyms.

Value emerges as this mysterious concept that exceeds and dominates good. Good is merely a species of value, which defines its actual meaning.

Value, an obscure element, becomes the keystone of ethics. Although Moore is responsible for this, he is not aware of it. We can now see that all evidence shows that a real survey of the foundations of ethics should focus on the notion of value in order to disclose what is hidden in this concept.

The oblivion of value is not the only consequence of the confusion between moral and axiology.

We may assume that the misunderstanding of the concept of value has made it impossible to define the foundation of ethics. Founding morality probably does not amount to proving that we ought to be moral, nor that morality leads to happiness. The aim is precisely to prove that moral has a value or that being moral has more value than being immoral or amoral. Consequently, Axiology alone, as the discipline whose task is to determine what has a value or no value, could be used to discover the foundation of morality. Let us examine this new hypothesis.