Guy Kahane: Value and Philosophical Possibility

Abstract: Much seems to be at stake in metaphysical questions about God, free will or morality. One thing that could be at stake is the value of the universe we inhabit—how good or bad it is. We can think of competing philosophical positions as describing possibilities, ways the world might turn out to be, and to which value can be assigned. When, for example, people hope that God exists, or fear that we do not possess free will, they express attitudes towards these possibilities, attitudes that presuppose answers to questions about their comparative value. My aim in this paper is to distinguish these evaluative questions from related questions with which they can be confused, to identify structural constraints on their proper pursuit, and to address objections to their very coherence. Answers to such questions offer one measure of the importance of philosophical disputes.

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