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Viable Values examines the most basic foundations of value and morality, demonstrating the shortcomings of major traditional views and proposing that morality is grounded in the objective requirements of human life. Smith argues that human beings need to be moral in order to live, explaining how life is the standard of morality, how flourishing is the proper end and reward of living morally, and how an intelligent egoism is the path to flourishing.
Chapter 1 1 Introduction Chapter 2 2 Why Be Moral? Chapter 3 3 Intrinsic Value: A False Foundation Chapter 4 4 Morality's Roots in Life Chapter 5 5 Morality's Reward: Flourishing Chapter 6 6 Principled Egoism: The Only Way to Live
Posted February 20, 2004
This book does an incredible job of reviewing the failings of most contemporary explanations of morality and why ¿one should be moral¿. It then builds a solid case of why a ¿should¿ must be based on an ¿if¿. For example, *if* one wants to do well in a course, then one *should* study. The book then shows why one *should* be moral *if* one wants to live, provided that morality is a life-furthering morality.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2002
Tara Smith begins Viable Values by carefully examining today's dominant schools of moral thought and demonstrating both the lack of and the need for an objective, fact-based answer to the question: Why be moral? Then, using a broad range of examples and anecdotes, she presents the facts that give rise to man's need of morality and ultimately shows that one should be moral because one's life depends on it. That is a good reason to be moral--and a good reason to read this book. In essence, after exposing the baseless nature of contemporary ethical theory, Smith elaborates Ayn Rand's life-based metaethics and demonstrates that moral values are certain kinds of facts--facts pertaining to the requirements of human life and happiness. She presents a lucid validation of Rand's principle that man's life is the standard of moral value; and she shows that, accordingly, moral action is action that promotes one's life. In support of her thesis, Smith offers a trove of crucial distinctions, essential integrations, and clarifying analogies. An example of the latter is her apt comparison of the theory of "intrinsic" value to the "look-say" method of teaching reading. Here is a brief excerpt: "Look-say attaches sounds to particular letter strings and trains students to recognize those strings and pronounce the corresponding sounds. Because look-say does not teach the underlying architecture of words, however, a child acquires no techniques for navigating new words. He is trained to know what to say when he is confronted with words he has already seen but develops no understanding of why strings are pronounced as they are and thus is helpless when faced with previously unseen terms.... "The intrinsic value thesis resembles look-say teaching insofar as it offers no conceptual understanding of value. In renouncing objective criteria, advocates assume the same position as the instructor who points to a word, pronounces it, and prods students to mimic him.... The advocate of intrinsic value insists that he can spot it but provides no satisfactory account of how--and thus no means of verifying his claims. "[The notion] that we can recognize intrinsic value when it occurs, although we cannot state its conditions.... conjures former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's infamous declaration that he might never be able to define hardcore pornography, 'but I know it when I see it.' Such a stance should be an embarrassment to systematic ethics." (pp. 69-70) Viable Values is an excellent book that should be required reading in philosophy departments worldwide. Unfortunately, however, although it was published almost three years ago, it still has not been recognized by Smith's peers or reviewed in an appropriate journal. This is a gross injustice--both to Smith and to students of philosophy. If you are a philosopher, I urge you to read this book and review it in an academic journal. If you are not a philosopher, I urge you to read it and encourage any philosophers you know to do so as well. Your life depends on it, and if you read Viable Values, you will know why.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.