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Perfectionism in two liberalisms: Analysis and comparison of J.S. Mill and J. Raz.

Makris, Leonidas (2008) Perfectionism in two liberalisms: Analysis and comparison of J.S. Mill and J. Raz. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

Showing that a proclaimed perfectionist like Raz - whose rationale is often contested as illiberal - consistently follows a reasoning resembling greatly that of a celebrated liberal like Mill, could considerably strengthen the case to use perfectionism as part of a compelling liberal strand. The analysis of their distinctive theoretical features elucidates the holistic manner with which their conception of human flourishing informs all the constituent parts of their liberalism as well as its crux, personal autonomy. Against their contemporary interpretations, it is argued that a comprehensive conception of the good dominates Mill's perception of liberalism and that Raz's robust perfectionist arguments follow a logical sequence permeating not only his overall liberal stance but also his position on value-pluralism. By situating the mutual comprehensive understanding of their key liberal concepts and highlighting its advantages compared to the prevalent 'neutralist strand', the present comparison reinforces the coherency of their perfectionist arguments and their compatibility with liberalism. Contrary to what is widely thought, not only they cogently claim that promoting conditions for self-development and liberty are not contradictory but if the latter is to genuinely encompass the ideal of autonomy, the former becomes a prerequisite. Verifying that in pursuing their liberal ideals they do not resort to strong paternalistic and moralistic measures refutes the principal criticism such stream of thought faces, namely that it is ultimately illiberal. If the gist of their argumentation is indeed common, this strengthens the liberal perfectionism's position as a strand of thought with a continuous trajectory linking one of the most celebrated liberals with a theorist not considered a member of liberalism's dominant trend. The connection would prove that the latter's theory is not as 'unorthodox' as it is claimed to be, adding persuasiveness and enhancing the viability of such current of liberalism as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy, Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2533

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