Michele Paolini Paoletti


The Good and the Powers


According to Neo-Aristotelian views of goodness (e.g., by Hursthouse, Foot, Oderberg), the goodness of an agent primarily concerns (and possibly reduces to) the essential goals of that agent. Namely and roughly, an agent is good insofar as it realizes/tends towards realizing its essential goals. In this talk, I shall show how these views could greatly benefit from accepting the idea that final causes should be constructed in terms of causal powers. More precisely, I shall suggest that the essential goals that confer goodness upon agents should be interpreted in terms of strongly teleological tendencies. In the first part, I shall briefly introduce the Neo-Aristotelian views of goodness and some desiderata that such views should satisfy. In the second part, drawing upon some previous works on the metaphysics of powers, I shall present strongly teleological powers, i.e., basic and essential powers that at least contribute to the activation of further powers of a substance. I shall also talk of tendencies, i.e., powers endowed with degrees of activation. Such degrees ground the probability that tendencies get activated at certain times/in certain circumstances. Crucially enough, such degrees may also vary - and be caused to vary - over time. In the third part, I shall introduce Goodness-Conferring Powers (in short, GC-powers). GC-powers are strongly teleological tendencies that confer goodness upon their bearers, i.e., ‘good’ agents. A number of options will be singled out, depending on the number of GC-powers an agent may have, on whether all of the strongly teleological powers of an agent count as GC-powers and on whether all of the GC-powers of an agent have the same weight. Finally, in the fourth part, I shall show how my theory satisfies the desiderata and how it solves some problems, including that of making sense of entities seemingly endowed with bad essential goals (e.g., good missiles) and that of justifying the single-track status of GC-powers.


June 22nd / 14:30 /aula magna