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Well-Being and Virtue

by Dan Haybron

Perfectionist views of well-being maintain that well-being ultimately consists, at least partly, in excellence or virtue. This paper argues that such views are untenable, focusing on Aristotelian perfectionism. The argument appeals, first, to intuitive counterexamples to perfectionism. A second worry is that it seems impossible to interpret perfection in a manner that yields both a plausible view of well-being and a strong link between morality and well-being. Third, perfectionist treatments of pleasure are deeply implausible. Fourth, perfectionism rests on a misunderstanding about the nature of our interest in prudential and perfectionist values. Finally, perfectionism’s appeal seems to depend heavily on a failure to distinguish the notions of well-being and the good life.

ISSN 1559-3061
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