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The Impossibility of PerfectionAristotle, Feminism, and the Complexities of Ethics$
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Michael Slote

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199790821

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790821.001.0001

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Perfection, Moral Dilemmas, and Moral Cost

Perfection, Moral Dilemmas, and Moral Cost

(p.72) Chapter 4 Perfection, Moral Dilemmas, and Moral Cost
The Impossibility of Perfection

Micheal Slote

Oxford University Press

Moral dilemmas involve situations where one cannot avoid wrongdoing, and moral cost, as the notion was introduced by Bernard Williams, means that one has wronged someone even while acting in a way that was morally permissible overall. One might think that familiar examples of dilemma and cost would add to our stock of examples illustrating the impossibility of perfection, but in fact they do no such thing. If one is seeking support for the Berlin thesis, moral dilemma and cost don't as such deliver it. It also turns out that the idea that one needs to experience the bad in order to appreciate the good and the idea that morality doesn't necessarily override all other values don't in themselves push us toward the idea of inevitably imperfect happiness and/or virtue.

Keywords:   Isaiah Berlin, moral dilemmas, moral cost, organic unity, overridingness thesis, perfection, Bernard Williams

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