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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 44, 1998

Theoretical Ethics

Josef Seifert
Pages 223-230

Moral Goodness Alone Is ‘Good Without Qualifications’
A Phenomenological Interpretation and Critical Development of some Kantian and Platonic Ethical Insights into Moral Facts which Contribute to the Moral Education of Humanity

Kant says that moral values are ‘good without qualification.’ This assertion and similar remarks of Plato can be understood in terms of a return to moral data themselves in the following ways: 1. Moral values are objectively good and not relative to our judgments; 2. Moral goodness is intrinsic goodness grounded in the nature of acts and independent of our subjective satisfaction; 3. Moral goodness expresses in an essentially new and higher sense of the idea of value as such; 4. Moral Goodness cannot be abused like intellectual, aesthetic, temperamental and other values; 5. Moral values are good in that they never must be sacrificed for any other value, because they are incomparably higher and should absolutely and ‘first’ be sought for; 6. Moral goodness makes the person as such good; 7. All three different modes of participation in moral values are linked to the absolute, most ‘necessary’ and highest good for the person; 8. Moral Values are goods "in the unrestricted sense" by being pure perfections in the sense that "neither in this world nor outside it" can we find anything that could be called good unqualifiedly except moral goodness which is absolutely better to possess than not to possess. 9. Moral Values are unconditionally good because they are never just ‘means’ towards ends. 10. Moral values imply a new type of ought which elucidates the ‘absolute sense’ in which they are good. Conclusion: These distinctions allow a better grasp of Kant and Plato as well as of a central ethical truth decisive for the moral education of humankind.

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