Oxford University Press, USA, Apr 29, 1993 - Philosophy - 240 pages
Perfectionism is one of the great moralities of the Western tradition. It holds that certain states of humans, such as knowledge, achievement, and friendship, are good apart from any pleasure they may bring, and that the morally right act is always the one that most promotes these states. Defined more narrowly, perfectionism identifies the human good by reference to human nature: if knowledge and achievement are good, it is because they realize aspects of human nature. This book gives an account of perfectionism, first in the narrower sense, analyzing its central concepts and defending a theory of human nature in which rationality plays a central role. It then uses this theory to construct an elaborate account of the intrinsic value of beliefs and actions that embody rationality, and applies this account to political questions about liberty and equality. The book attempts to formulate the most defensible version of perfectionism, using contemporary analytic techniques. It aims both to regain for perfectionism a central place in contemporary moral debate and to shed light on the writings of classical perfectionists such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and T.H. Green.
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abilities achieve activities acts agent-neutral aggregative Aquinas argument Aristotelian perfection Aristotelian perfectionism Aristotle attractive autonomy averaging Beiseker beliefs better chess choice claim co-operation concept of nature consequentialist count desire developing human nature diminishing marginal diminishing marginal utility dispositional belief distinctive distribution doctrine dominance egalitarian ends equal essence essential properties essential to humans evolutionary biology excellence explain explanatory extended favour given gives goal hierarchy ideal Imagine implications individual inequality intends intrinsic intuitive involves judgements justified knowledge Leibniz less liberty principle lifetime value lives marginal utility Marx maximax maximize means meta-ethical moral theory narrow perfectionism Nicomachean Ethics Nietzsche objection one's options perfectionist idea person philosophers Plato plausible political possible practical perfection principle principle of charity pursue rationality realize reason reject repugnant conclusion requires satisficing single-peak someone sophisticated specific structure Summa Theologica supervaluations talents theoretical perfection Theory of Justice tion tionism true