University of David
Perfectionist goods contribute to or are components of an excellent human life. Historically, as noted above, perfectionists have related these goods to the development of human nature. For example, the development of rationality is often considered to be a perfectionist good because it is a capacity essential to and distinctive of human nature. Following Aristotle, a number of contemporary writers have sought to develop accounts of the human good along these lines (Hurka 1993; Foot 2003). We can use the term human nature perfectionism to refer generally to accounts of the human good that relate perfectionist goods to the development of human nature. Other writers, however, have characterized perfectionism without any reference to human nature. John Rawls, for example, characterizes perfectionism in terms of the maximum “achievement of human excellence in art, science and culture” (Rawls 1971, 325). Derek Parfit likewise characterizes perfectionism in terms of the achievement or realization of “the best things in life” (Parfit 1986, 162). Here it is the existence of the objective goods, and not their relation to the development of human nature, that is highlighted. Similarly, other writers have identified perfectionism with the realization of a specified list of objective goods (Finnis 1980; Griffin 1986; Arneson 2000). We can use the term objective goods perfectionism to refer generally to accounts of the human good that identify perfectionist goods without relating them to the development of human nature.