Relativist Dispositional Theories of Value


  • Andy Egan


Adopting a dispositional theory of value promises to deliver a lot of theoretical goodies. One recurring problem for dispositional theories of value, though, is a problem about nonconvergence. If being a value is being disposed to elicit response R in us, what should we say if it turns out that not everybody is disposed to have R to the same things? One horn of the problem here is a danger of the view collapsing into an error theory—of it turning out, on account of the diversity of agents' relevant dispositions, that nothing is really a value, since nothing is disposed to elicit R in everybody. Alternatively, there is a danger of an objectionable fragmentation of value, according to which there is no such thing as a value simpliciter, but only valuesme and valuesyou, valuesus and valuesthem. I advocate a de se relativist version of a dispositional theory of value. If we go for this sort of de-se-ified dispositional theory, we get to keep our theoretical goodies, but we avoid the problem of nonconvergence that leads to a danger of either collapse into an error theory, or else talking-past, and a loss of common subject matter.