The Well‐Rounded Life

Thomas Hurka

in Perfectionism

Published in print June 1996 | ISBN: 9780195101164
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833276 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ethics Series

The Well‐Rounded Life

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Discusses how different perfections are compared within a single life. After arguing that physical perfection has less value than theoretical or practical rationality while those are roughly equal in value, it defends a “balancing” view that prefers a well‐rounded achievement of different perfections and, beyond that, of different instances of the same perfection. Its key is the idea, represented on indifference graphs, that the relative value of an extra unit of perfection A as against B depends on the relative extent to which A and B have already been achieved. To the objection that this idea promotes dilettantish mediocrity, the chapter replies that two plausible empirical factors imply that the best practically available lives will usually specialize moderately on one perfection or perfectionist activity. Nonetheless, well‐roundedness remains in principle a perfectionist ideal.

Keywords: balancing; comparison; dilettantism; perfectionism; value; well‐rounded

Chapter.  7156 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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