Good people are not like good knives


Is anything good simpliciter? And can things count as ‘good’ independent of the context in which ‘good’ is used? Traditionally, a number of meta-ethicists have given positive answers. But more recently, some philosophers have used observations based on natural language to argue that things can only count as ‘good’ relative to ends and contextual thresholds. I will use work from contemporary linguistics to argue that ‘good’ is ambiguous, and that it has a moral disambiguation that attributes a fixed degree of goodness. This implies that things can count as ‘good’ simpliciter, independent of context. Not only does this result provide support for the traditional view, but it also vindicates some aspects of the more recent view.

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