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Consequentialist Perfectionism*

  • Ishtiyaque Haji (a1)


Perfectionism is an ambitious and thoroughly engaging work in which Thomas Hurka sets out to formulate and defend a normative ethical theory that “is of sufficient depth and generality to be … the basis of all moral claims” (p. 32). Beginning with an axiology, Hurka proposes that the development of the properties constitutive of human nature is intrinsically good, and his fundamental moral principle enjoins us to promote the greatest development of the nature of all humans at all times.



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1 Fred, Feldman, Doing the Best We Can (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1986), chap. 2. Also see Earl Conee's Why Moral Dilemmas Are Impossible,” American Philosophical Quarterly, 26 (April 1989): 133–41.

2 Hurka says perfectionism “tells us to promote a certain quantity, which we can call global value. If perfectionism aggregates first across times, it takes global value to be some function of a quantity calculated within complete lives, or of their lifetime value. Lifetime value is a function of the essence-development or perfection humans achieve at particular times” (p. 70).

3 Hurka mentions another option: retain pure perfectionism but seek an aggregative principle that does not have disturbing implications for action (p. 75).

4 Judith, Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1 (1971): 4766.

5 John Martin, Fischer, “Abortion and Self-Determination,” Journal of Social Philosophy, 22 (1991): 513

* Thomas, Hurka, Perfectionism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), xi + 222 pp., $55.95. Page and section references are to this work.

Consequentialist Perfectionism*

  • Ishtiyaque Haji (a1)


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