Philosophy ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this thesis is to provide the correct definition of “good.” By correct I mean the definition in accord with the way people actually use the word. The work is carried out along the lines of the approach used by recent British philosophers such as G. E. Moore, Stephen Toulmin, A. J. Ayer, and R. M. Hare. In the first chapter the subjectivist definition of “good” is examined and rejected as inadequate. The same process is followed for non-cognitivism in chapter two and intuitionism in chapter three. In chapter four I present my own theory of the definition of ‘good” which is that “good” is a word used to refer to a thing when that thing has a certain set of natural properties. These properties are equated with the characteristic qualities of the type of thing in question. Chapter four also deals with the difference between the moral and non-moral uses of “good.” It is argued that “good” has the same meaning in both cases but that the moral use can be distinguished by its application to men and their relations. Also contained in chapter four is an attempt to show how my theory can account for the various ways in which ethical discourse is unique. The final chapter, number five, is devoted to answering a number of criticisms which might be made to the theory presented in chapter four.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Hubert Griggs Alexander

Second Committee Member

Brian Edgar O'Neil

Third Committee Member

Archie John Bahm



Document Type


Included in

Philosophy Commons