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Overview

Cultures around the world have regarded self-fulfillment as the ultimate goal of human striving and as the fundamental test of the goodness of a human life. The ideal has also been criticized, however, as egotistical or as so value-neutral that it fails to distinguish between, for example, self-fulfilled sinners and self-fulfilled saints. Alan Gewirth presents here a systematic and highly original study of self-fulfillment that seeks to overcome these and other arguments and to justify the high place that the ...

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Self-Fulfillment

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Overview

Cultures around the world have regarded self-fulfillment as the ultimate goal of human striving and as the fundamental test of the goodness of a human life. The ideal has also been criticized, however, as egotistical or as so value-neutral that it fails to distinguish between, for example, self-fulfilled sinners and self-fulfilled saints. Alan Gewirth presents here a systematic and highly original study of self-fulfillment that seeks to overcome these and other arguments and to justify the high place that the ideal has been accorded. He does so by developing an ethical theory that ultimately grounds the value of self-fulfillment in the idea of the dignity of human beings.

Gewirth begins by distinguishing two models of self- fulfillment--aspiration-fulfillment and capacity-fulfillment--and shows how each of these contributes to the intrinsic value of human life. He then distinguishes between three types of morality--universalist, particularist, and personalist--and shows how each contributes to the values embodied in self-fulfillment. Building on these ideas, he develops a Odialectical' conception of reason that shows how human rights are central to self-fulfillment. Gewirth also argues that self-fulfillment has a social as well as an individual dimension: that the nature of society and the obstacles that disadvantaged groups face affect strongly the character of the self-fulfillment that persons can achieve.

Bold in scope and rigorous in execution, Self-Fulfillment is a powerful new contribution to moral, social, and political philosophy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1999
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400822744
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/2/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Core Textbook
  • Pages: 248
  • File size: 319 KB

Meet the Author

Alan Gewirth is Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. He is the author of "Reason and Morality, The Community of Rights, "and" Human Rights: Essays on Justification and Applications."
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Chapter 1. The Ideal of Self-Fulfillment 3
1.1. Self-Fulfillment: Pro and Con 3
1.2. Some Terminological Distinctions 6
1.3. Self-Fulfillment as Actualization of Potentialities 8
1.4. Two Modes of Self-Fulfillment 13

Chapter 2. Self-Fulfillment as Aspiration-Fulfillment 19
2.1. What Are Aspirations? 19
2.2. How Does One Get Aspirations? 30
2.3. How Does One Fulfill One's Aspirations? 37
2.4. To What Does One and Should One Aspire? 46
2.5. Three Types of Morality 52

Chapter 3. Capacity-Fulfillment and Universalist Morality 59
3.1. Capacities and Their Fulfillment 59
3.2. Weighing Values to Determine the Best Capacities:
The Purposive Ranking Thesis 66
3.3. Is Reason the Best of Human Capacities? 71
3.4. The Rational Justification of Universalist Morality 77
3.5. Universalist Morality and Fulfillment of the Reasonable Self 87
3.6. Self-Respect and Diverse Ways of Life 93
3.7. The Moral Criticism of Aspirations 101

Chapter 4. Capacity-Fulfillment and the Good Life 107
4.1. Freedom and Well-Being as the Best of Practical Capacities 107
4.2. Personalist Morality as Based upon Freedom 112
4.3. Identity and Alienation 115
4.4. Personalist Morality as Based upon Well-Being 120
4.5. Virtues and Culture 125
4.6. Duties to Oneself 134
4.7. Particularist Morality: Family, Love, Friendship 140
4.8. Particularist Morality: Community, Country, Culture 151

Chapter 5. Ultimate Values, Rights, and Reason 159
5.1. Human Dignity as the Basis of Rights 159
5.2. Spirituality as Self-Transcendent Excellence 174
5.3. The Meaning of Life 182
5.4. Individual and Social Contexts of Self-Fulfillment 189
5.5. On Varieties of Self-Fulfillment 200
5.6. Human Rights as Bases of Self-Fulfillment 204
5.7. Are Self-Fulfillment and Rights Compatible? 215
5.8. Self-Fulfillment and Rational Agency 217
Index 229

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