Philosophical Studies

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 161–184 | Cite as

Internalism about a person’s good: don’t believe it

  • Alexander Sarch


Internalism about a person’s good is roughly the view that in order for something to intrinsically enhance a person’s well-being, that person must be capable of caring about that thing. I argue in this paper that internalism about a person’s good should not be believed. Though many philosophers accept the view, Connie Rosati provides the most comprehensive case in favor of it. Her defense of the view consists mainly in offering five independent arguments to think that at least some form of internalism about one’s good is true. But I argue that, on closer inspection, not one of these arguments succeeds. The problems don’t end there, however. While Rosati offers good reasons to think that what she calls ‘two-tier internalism’ would be the best way to formulate the intuition behind internalism about one’s good, I argue that two-tier internalism is actually false. In particular, the problem is that no substantive theory of well-being is consistent with two-tier internalism. Accordingly, there is reason to think that even the best version of internalism about one’s good is in fact false. Thus, I conclude, the prospects for internalism about a person’s good do not look promising.


Internalism Well-Being Welfare Good Motivation Subjectivity Desire Satisfactionism Hedonism Intrinsic value 



I would like to thank Fred Feldman, Ernesto Garcia, Pete Graham, Scott Hill, Kristian Olsen, James Patten, Michael Rubin, Kelly Trogdon and an anonymous reviewer for this journal for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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