According to Ross, there are four basic kinds of intrinsic goods. These are: virtue or the ability to do good; pleasure or happiness; the state consisting of pleasure in proportion to virtue, or the righteousness of an action based on justice; and knowledge, or the cognition obtained from something. These are the determinants of the intrinsic value of something. Pleasure is derived from satisfying ones desire. Desires could be anything depending on the wants and needs of a person. It does not matter what the desires are; what is important is to satisfy these desires.
However, some philosophers take into account that some desires could be frustrated and not fulfilled (Shafer-Landau 283). In relation to this, Ross created a thought experiment that made people consider two identical worlds, with the other world containing the presence of value”pleasure, knowledge and justice. He then asked whether the world would be as valuable as it is considering the absence of these components. Ross firmly believes that there is no strict proof of ultimate value.
Ross opposes hedonism by establishing the thought that pleasure is the only important value that could be derive from something (Shafer-Landau 283). Ross tried to explain that the intrinsic good of something could be determined if it is capable to render satisfaction to a person. Hence, for value pluralism, we could not simply say that pleasure is good and pain is bad due to the different circumstances that may result in that situation (Ross 126). In case of frustrated desires, although we may not fulfill them, the lesson of hardship is a good that was derived from that situation.
Something that is good could also be determined if we recognize pleasure and pain separately. In line with this recognition is to the realization of the duty of justice”that is, the suffering of others may benefit the other (Ross 128). Value Pluralism explains to us that there is more value in something than its capability to provide happiness to someone. This ethical theory upholds the capability of something to satisfy ones desire. W. D. Ross points out that the value of something is necessary and essential in our world by making use of his thought experiment.
He shows that the world will never be the same without these values. Ross rejects the idea of hedonism for saying pleasure is the only value of something. This rejection attracted a lot of attention and the debate about the superiority of which theory still lives on as it focuses on identifying what is most valuable in life.
Shafer-Landau, Russ. Ethical Theory: An Anthology. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2007. Ross, William David. The Right and the Good. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930.