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Ethics and Political Philosophy


It seems as if there are things that have what we might call personal value—special objects, artwork by our children, etc. This term is meant to mark a difference between things whose value seems tied to a particular person, as opposed to things (like the Mona Lisa) that are valuable, period. The concept of personal value hasn’t received much focused attention, but I believe that it is of not only theoretical, but practical importance. In this paper, I explore the practical angle, arguing that personal value is important to our ability to make sense of ourselves. I give several desiderata for an account of personal value, and use examples to raise questions for Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen’s recent analysis of personal value. This practical stance leads me to offer an amendment to this analysis.