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Old 04-03-2011, 07:25 AM
Florian Florian is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,118
Default Re: Science Saturday: Of All the Souls I Have Encountered (Robin Hanson & Brian Christian)

Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
Can you define "intrinsic value"? I don't know what that means.

Why would a guy take Advil if he didn't value taking Advil? I don't think it's possible. He must also value his job, or he wouldn't do it. He may be desirous of a headache-free job, but I assume that he does not have that option, otherwise he would take it. And if you don't have an option, or if you cannot obtain something, then what meaning does "value" have? I would say the value is undefined.

Therefore the value of a single Advil pill exceeds the value of the dream job, as long as that job is unobtainable.
Non-sequitur, it seems to me.

Would you accept the idea that some values (goods) are instrumental to, or the means to, some other values (goods), and that other values are good in themselves (intrinsic values)? To be free of pain is an intrinsic good, and Advil is the (temporary) means to that end. That is its instrumental value. To have a job, even if it is not a dream job, can be considered both as an intrinsic value and as the intrumental means to other values (goods). There is a certain amount of disagreement among people about this. Is work a necessary evil or an intrinsic good? Or both? In any case, it is unavoidable in any modern society. I seriously doubt, though, that anyone, even someone who considers work to be a necessary evil (the means to other intrinsic goods) would rank it as equivalent to a pain-killer.

So I cannot see how the value of a single Advil pill could exceed the value of a job, let alone a dream job.
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