- Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value.
- Most of the important human activities are a mixture of what we might call [...] 'instrumental' goods and 'intrinsic' goods. That's to say, the activities are valuable to us partly because of what else they enable us to do, and partly as ends in themselves. Things aren't always that clear-cut, and there's a lot that can be said about this distinction. But for the present it points well enough to the two different idioms or registers in which we need to couch the justification of the activities carried on in universities. The danger is that if we have a public discourse which can only accommodate the idea of instrumental goods, then we not only find it hard to justify things which are largely intrinsic goods, but we even find ourselves starting to think about them as if they were instrumental goods. And this is obviously self-defeating in the long run. After all, each chain of instrumental reasoning has to stop somewhere, when there is no further instrumental answer to the question 'And what is that good for?'
Beyond a certain level of competence in literacy, numeracy, and so on, education is an activity in which the proportion of intrinsic good is relatively high. If we say that the goal of a given activity is 'to enable human beings to flourish and to exercise their capacities', it doesn't make much sense to press on and say: 'Yes, but what is that good for?' It may, of course, be that philosophers would want to press on and ask that kind of question, since one definition of philosophy might be that philosophy is that form of enquiry in which no question can be ruled out as inappropriate in advance. However, general political and cultural debate, unlike philosophy, necessarily has to take certain categories for granted, and that includes the category of some things being intrinsic goods. But we have become uncomfortable with, or suspicious of, the language of intrinsic goods, and so we tend to think that a particular case is strengthened if we can go on to say 'And such activities are after all valuable because they increase our economic competitiveness', though the truth is that this slides us all the way down to the bottom of the snake of instrumental reasoning again. (s 137-138)