2013 Christine M. Korsgaard

The Natural History of the Good

Christine M. Korsgaard, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University

The Pufendorf Lectures, 28 – 31 May 2013. All lectures took place in room 104, 3pm - 5 pm, Department of Philosophy, Lund University, Kungshuset, Lund.

Christine M. Korsgaard's website.


"Now good is considered in an absolute way by some philosophers, so that every entity, actually existing, may be considered good; but we pay no attention to such a meaning, and consider a thing as good only insofar as it has a respect to others, and it is understood to be good for some person, or on his behalf.” (Samuel Pufendorf, The Law of Nature and of Nations).

The general aim of these lectures is to defend a conception of the Good that is compatible with a naturalistic conception of the world, or, to put it another way, it is to explain how the natural world came to contain things that are properly characterized as good and bad. Simply put, my thesis is that the Good came into the world with the existence of entities for whom things can be good or bad. In support of this thesis I will defend the claim that the concept of something’s being good-for someone is prior to that of something’s being good, and explain how we get from the fact of something’s being good-for someone to its being good. I will then ask what sorts of beings can have a good, and explore the implications of the view for the existence of value in general, and for the relation between the right and the good.


  • Good and Good-For
  • Good and Good-For
  • What Kinds of Entities can have a Good?
  • The Right and the Good
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