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.
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