Explanatory perfectionism: A fresh take on an ancient theory

Analysis (4):704-712 (2020)
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The ‘Big 3’ theories of well-being—hedonism, desire-satisfactionism, and objective list theory—attempt to explain why certain things are good for people by appealing to prudentially good-making properties. But they don’t attempt to explain why the properties they advert to make something good for a person. Perfectionism, the view that well-being consists in nature-fulfilment, is often considered a competitor to these views (or else a version of the objective list theory). However, I argue that perfectionism is best understood as explaining why certain properties are prudentially good-making. This version of perfectionism is compatible with each of the Big 3, and, I argue, quite attractive.

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Michael Prinzing
Yale University


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