There are, in essence, three schools of thought on the nature of the good: the
intrinsic, the subjective, and the objective. The intrinsic theory holds that
the good is inherent in certain things or actions as such, regardless of their
context and consequences, regardless of any benefit or injury they may cause to
the actors and subjects involved. It is a theory that divorces the concept of
“good” from beneficiaries, and the concept of “value” from valuer and
purpose—claiming that the good is good in, by, and of itself.
The intrinsic theory holds that the good resides in some sort of reality,
independent of man’s consciousness.
If a man believes that the good is intrinsic in certain actions, he will not
hesitate to force others to perform them. If he believes that the human benefit
or injury caused by such actions is of no significance, he will regard a sea of
blood as of no significance. If he believes that the beneficiaries of such
actions are irrelevant (or interchangeable), he will regard wholesale slaughter
as his moral duty in the service of a “higher” good. It is the intrinsic theory
of values that produces a Robespierre, a Lenin, a Stalin, or a Hitler. It is
not an accident that Eichmann was a Kantian.