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How should we understand the attitude of valuing, the attribution of value to something, and appreciating what we find good in people, art, and nature? Are these significantly different? Can Kant’s moral philosophy, or a broadly Kantian theory, explain these in a satisfactory way? What role should they have in judgments about what it is right or virtuous to do?
One context is in thinking about how, if at all, theories that (in some sense) place “the right” before “the good” can explain these (valuing, attributing value, and appreciation) and account for their importance in our lives. Kantians, for example, have accounts of a good will, virtue, of the moral worth of acts, the moral duty to promote certain ends, the highest good, and aesthetic judgment, but do these adequately explain and make room for the wide range of valuing attitudes, value judgments, and appreciation that are significant to us? Is a separate (but subordinate?) theory of value called for? Can we (as Kant, Rawls, and others think) understand goodness as “the object of rational choice” in a way that avoids an independent metaphysical realism about value? Are life, liberty, and opportunities (of certain kinds) necessarily rational to want?
Another context is this: We speak of appreciation of music and art, but also of appreciating the good things that other people have done and the good (fine, cool, intriguing, admirable etc.) particular features we find in them – beyond moral judgments. To be open to recognizing and “appreciating” these might seem a virtue (or excellence) in a person, just as to be insensitive or blind to these, or unappreciative or dismissive of them, seems a defect in a person whether or not the person is to blame. Are these aesthetic judgments? Attribution of “real” intrinsic value? An attitude of appreciation that is distinct?
More specifically, I wonder whether the common (Kantian?) description of morally commendable attitudes towards persons – respect for persons and love (practical beneficence) – needs to be supplemented by an account of appreciation of the particular things one can find valuable in an individual. If so, what is it and why is it important?
Sam Bruton, Mississippi State University
Cheshire Calhoun, Arizona State University
Adam Cureton, University of Tennessee
Jon Garthoff, University of Tennessee
Adrienne Martin, University of Pennsylvania
Sean McKeever, Davidson College
Karen Stohr, Georgetown University
Valerie Tiberius, University of Minnesota
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