Pluralistic Perfectionism and Autonomy

Robert P. George

in Making Men Moral

Published in print April 1995 | ISBN: 9780198260240
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682063 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Pluralistic Perfectionism and Autonomy

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This chapter is concerned with perfectionist liberalism as envisioned by Joseph Raz. Perfectionist liberalism is against anti-perfectionist liberalism in many ways. Perfectionist liberals do not adhere to the morally-neutral government espoused by the anti-perfectionist; instead, they hold that morally upright governments should choose moral conceptions that respect individual autonomy and liberty. Raz was very much against the Rawlsian claim that ‘rights’ have priority over ‘the good’. He was also against the individualistic and selfish nature of rights espoused by the anti-perfectionists. For Raz, true autonomy can only be realized in choosing morally good options; he denies the value of autonomy if it is used in pursuit of evil or selfish ends. However, he still argues that government should limit the use of coercion, especially in victimless or harmless immoralities.

Keywords: Joseph Raz; perfectionist liberalism; autonomy; liberty; harmless immoralities; coercion

Chapter.  11392 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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