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Perfectionism Hardcover – Apr 29 1993

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr (Txt) (April 29 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195080149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195080148
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,006,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Hurka's book is a clear formulation of perfectionism. It is historically informed and philosophically sophisticated. All readers will benefit."--Canadian Philosophical Reviews

"Readers accustomed to the high conceptual and argumentative standards characteristic of analytic philosophy at its best will not be disappointed by Hurka's discussions. In every case, whether or not his arguments win conviction in the end, they invariably illuminate and leave the impression that the issues have been explored in a fair and even-handed way. Hurka's conclusions are also often becoming in their tentativeness and modesty: where he can find no definitive resolution of a question he has the candor to say so....Hurka has done a remarkable job of building an elegant and attractive version of perfectionism. Written with admirable rigor and clarity, his book will surely remain the definitive treatment of the theory by an analytic philosopher for a very long while. By presenting perfectionism in the best possible light he has done a great service to the theory's supporters and critics alike."--The Philosophical Review

"This is a brilliant book....I know of no other discussion of human and moral good that is so rewarding....Highly original and deeply insightful."--Philosophical Books

"Hurka's book is of most interest to ethicists, but it offers a useful device for evaluating utopian assertions about human perfection....His work is intellectually challenging..."--Utopian Studies

"...the book is engaging and carefully argued. It will be of good use for graduate courses and advanced undergraduate courses on normative theory."--Teaching Philosophy --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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10 line illus. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0xa46dc750) out of 5 stars 1 review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa43d1d14) out of 5 stars Not Your Father's Perfectionism; 4.5 Stars April 9 2011
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting and very well argued effort to produce a plausible modern version of perfectionist moral philosophy. Hurka draws on a very rich prior perfectionist tradition that goes back to Aristotle and that Hurka argues includes an impressive variety of contributors including Aquinas, Marx, and even Kant. Hurka, however, dispenses with some of the historic justifications for perfectionism including Aristotle's teleology and Aquinas' dependence on theism. What follows is a form of Aristotelian perfectionism based on the basic intuition that the good is the development of the essential distinctive feature of human nature, rationality. From this plausible foundation, Hurka systematically develops a form of perfectionism which emphasizes development of human capacity with a strong consequentialist orientation. Hurka's development is quite impressive, leading to a form of perfectionism that is relatively liberal and egalitarian, as he says quite compatible or even favoring a mixed economy or social democratic state. He also discusses other versions of perfectionism, such as Nietzschean-like versions which he terms maximax versions in which perfectionism aims at cultivating the perfection of an elite few.

Hurka is quite frank about some of the limitations of perfectionist approaches. In this case, perfectionism is constrained by appeal to reasonable moral intuitions but without such constraints, very different and less attractive alternatives are plausible. Perfectionist approaches may not necessarily to lead to endorsement of common moral values, can lead to destructive elitism, and in some interpretations, denies the existence of rights. While Hurka's perfectionism is attractive, his discussion of limitations of the general approach points out what may be a major weakness of Hurka's approach. Hurka's perfectionism is plausible only by appeal to certain moral intuitions. But how firmly grounded are these intuitions? There is a relatively popular version of perfectionism that has little in common with Hurka's thoughtful program - Ayn Rand's Objectivism. This fervently elitist faux-Nietzchean ideology has a quite a few followers, some of them quite influential. Since few of Rand's followers have subjected Rand's books to the careful level of analysis used by Hurka, it must have considerable intuitive appeal.