A book on ethics and philosophy of values

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This would lead to the idea that the concept of value can be synonymous with "Good", but cannot provide an analysis of its meaning. Two remarks can then be made.

To determine whether or not value can provide an analysis of "Good", Moore would have to examine the concept of value in its own right. But once again, Moore never carries out this examination. Moore therefore deprives "value", without any justification, of the dignity of being able to provide an analysis of "good".

We should also remember that Moore defined good as a kind of value. Now, to analyse things, thought has long proceeded by classifying them according to genus and species. We thought we understood the meaning of a thing when we could identify the species to which it belonged, then the class, then the genus, and so on. In other words, it was accepted that to analyse a thing or a concept, you had to identify the class in which it was embedded. We knew what man was by defining him as a "mammal, warm-blooded biped, etc.". Moore takes up this traditional approach by identifying the genus to which the good belongs: value, but he refuses to admit, against the evidence, that this makes it possible to analyse the meaning of the word "good", a bit like admitting that man was indeed a warm-blooded mammal but that these were simply synonyms that shed no light on what a man is.

5) Conclusion

The fascinating thing about the evolution of Moore's thinking is that it points in the direction we want to take. In the beginning, value does not even have the dignity of a synonym. It is no more than a signifier, a shadow that appears only to disappear. Then it is explicitly conceptualised by Moore who, without realising it because he maintains the irreconcilable assertion that nothing can replace the good except synonyms, gives it the highest importance by defining the good as a kind of value.

Value turns out to be this mysterious concept that overhangs the good, which is only one kind of good, and gives it its meaning, its conditions of intelligibility.

Value goes from being an obscure element to becoming the keystone of ethics, without the author who promotes it even noticing.

Everything points in this direction: an authentic enquiry into the foundations of ethics must turn to the concept of value, to see what is hidden in this concept that has not yet been able to develop in its own field.

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

We can assume that the lack of understanding of the concept of value has made it impossible to find a basis for morality. To found morality, in fact, is probably not to prove that we should be moral, or to prove that being moral makes us happy. It is precisely to prove that morality has a value, or that being moral has more value than being immoral (or amoral). As a result, only axiology, insofar as its task is to determine what has value and what does not, might be able to uncover the basis of morality. This is the new hypothesis we are about to examine.