Thomas Hurka

in Perfectionism

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

Series: Oxford Ethics Series


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The book's final three chapters address the common objection that perfectionism is unacceptable because it is hostile to the central political values of liberty and equality. This chapter argues that perfectionism can give considerable positive support to liberty if it treats autonomous choice as a perfection, as there are independent reasons to do, and emphasizes how little the state can do to promote a person's perfection; as Green and others emphasize, that is mostly for him to do. The result is not an absolute commitment to the “harm principle” but considerable support. The chapter concludes by contrasting perfectionism's commitment to liberty with its rejection of the stronger ideal of state neutrality, which forbids even noncoercive promotion of the good; perfectionism strongly favors such promotion.

Keywords: autonomy; choice; good; Green; harm principle; liberty; neutrality; noncoercive; perfectionism

Chapter.  7530 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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