Perfectionism and Endorsement Constraint
Keywords:liberalism, neutrality, perfectionism, endorsement constraint, Arneson, Dworkin, Hurka, Kymlicka
The article deals with Hurka’s critique of Kymlicka and Arneson’s critique of Dworkin on endorsement constraint thesis, according to which a person cannot have a valuable life if values are imposed on her – primarily by state action – overriding her preferences and convictions on the good life. This thesis has often been identified with neutral liberalism and counterposed to perfectionism. The text argues against Hurka’s and Arneson’s argument that mild coercion and paternalistic reduction of trivial, bad or worthless options can indeed bring about a more valuable life. Their argument does not acknowledge adequately the difference between coercion from a person’s immediate social environment and state coercion, which are not equally legitimate. My critique, however, does not exclude the legitimacy of perfectionistic measures, as a person could accept as justified state intervention concerning the support of particular values or goods, while at the same time not endorsing those values and goods. Not all endorsed goods or activities should be treated equally, as more relevant and valuable ones can be legitimately supported by particular policy.
Arneson, Richard J. (2003), “Liberal Neutrality on the Good: An Autopsy”, in Wall, Steven and Klosko, George (eds.), Perfectionism and Neutrality, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., pp. 191–218.
Barry, Brian (1995), Justice as Impartiality, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Couto, Alexandra (2014), Liberal Perfectionism: The Reasons that Goodness Gives, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.
Dworkin, Ronald (2000), Sovereign Virtue: The Theory and Practice of Equality, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Hurka, Thomas (1993), Perfectionism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hurka, Thomas (1995), “Indirect Perfectionism: Kymlicka on Liberal Neutrality”, The Journal of Political Philosophy, 3 (1): 36–57.
Kymlicka, Will (1989), “Liberal Individualism and Liberal Neutrality”, Ethics, 99 (4): 883–905.
Kymlicka, Will (2002), Contemporary Political Philosophy (2nd Ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Larmore, Charles (2015), “Political Liberalism: Its Motivations and Goals”, in David Sobel, Peter Vallentyne and Steven Wall (eds.), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy Volume 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 63–88.
Macedo, Stephen (1990), Liberal Virtues: Citizenship, Virtue, and Community in Liberal Constitutionalism, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Mason, Andrew D. (1990), “Autonomy, Liberalism and State Neutrality”, The Philosophical Quarterly, 40 (161): 433–452.
Mill, John Stewart (2003), On Liberty, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Rawls, John (1985), “Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 14 (3): 223–251.
Strauss, Leo (1959), “The Liberalism of Classical Political Philosophy”, The Review of Metaphysics, 12 (3): 390–439.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Filozofija i društvo / Philosophy and Society
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Articles published in Philosophy and Society are open-access in accordance with the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License.