Consider the question “Can regret be appropriate even apart from any belief that one’s choice was misguided or irrational if a monistic theory of the good is true?”  According to the relevant notion of regret, regretting is to be understood, roughly, as mourning the loss of a forgone good.  This notion of regret leaves room for the possibility that there may be cases of rational regret that do not involve the agent seeing her prior choice as in some way misguided.  It is commonly held that this can easily occur when there is a plurality of distinct kinds of goods at stake.  More controversial is the suggestion (which can be found in Hurka’s work) that this can also easily occur when there is only one distinct kind of good at stake.  According to Hurka (“Monism, Pluralism, and Rational Regret”), goods with different “intrinsic properties” can be distinct “in the way that matters for rational regret” without being goods of distinct kinds, and so monistic theories of the good can accommodate “rational regret” as well as pluralistic theories.  But it might be, and indeed has been, argued (by, in particular, Stocker (Plural and Conflicting Values)) that, insofar as different intrinsic properties can be distinct in the way that matters for rational regret, we can think of the different properties as tied to different values, and so we do not have a case of rational ‘monistic’ regret.  And here we seem to reach a stalemate grounded in what seems to be something like a terminological issue, namely whether to count a theory of the good that takes say, pleasure, as the only good as monistic, if it also allows for distinct kinds of pleasure that make room for rational regret.  I am trying to develop a position that gets beyond this stalemate, but am now wondering whether my characterization of stalemate seems fair or if there is a better interpretation of the dynamic of the debate that makes the dispute seem more substantial.  


2 Replies to “Regret

  1. Hi Chrisoula, cool topic! You might find my ‘Value Receptacles’ paper relevant here:
    There I argue that what’s relevant for regret (and non-fungible treatment more generally) is whether one’s axiology is, as I put it, appropriately “token-pluralistic” in nature (which it can be even if it is a “monistic” view in the sense of only allowing one type of good). Each individual person’s welfare, for example, is plausibly a distinct (token) intrinsic good; whereas qualitatively similar pleasures within a single life (especially if at the same time) are more plausibly seen as “mere (constitutive) means” to the same intrinsic good (namely, one’s aggregate pleasure-of-this-type).

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