Dialogue 37 (1):55-64 (1998)

Tracy Isaacs
Western University
A recent account of this type of theory, from Thomas Hurka, makes an endrun around this worry by filling in “the most plausible perfectionism” as a maximizing consequentialism that is time- and agent-neutral. It provides a central action-guiding principle: the right act is the act that maximizes perfectionist value. Perfectionist value, as value typically is in consequentialist normative systems, is non-moral in character. It is non-moral because it is prior to the moral, and that in terms of which the moral is defined. According to perfectionism, the good is to be understood as the development of human nature, particularly as excellence in human achievement. Combining this theory of value with the maximizing principle that says we ought to maximize this type of value, we arrive at one way of filling in the moral picture of perfectionism that is not susceptible to the charge of vagueness with respect to its action-guiding component. Filling in the directive in somewhat more detail, Hurka explains that the most plausible version of the theory requires that perfectionist value be maximized in a time-neutral fashion, that is, that it be maximized in a way that recognizes whole lives, taking each time of a life as equally a part of the life, and so to be valued equally. In addition, it should be agent-neutral, requiring agents to focus not just on their own perfection, but to care equally about the perfection of all.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 0012-2173
DOI 10.1017/s0012217300047582
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