Perfectionism within Neutrality
Lowry, Christopher Robert
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This dissertation explores and defends a form of perfectionism, which I call ‘public value perfectionism’. It is an approach that emerges from Sen’s capability critique of Rawls’s doctrine of primary goods and I argue that this form of perfectionism is not only compatible with, but also demanded by, a general defence of liberal neutrality. It is designed to fulfill a demand of justice that is beyond the reach of neutralist tools, yet it belongs within a larger neutralist framework in virtue of being justified by the same types of reasons that support neutralism. One of the main justifications for state neutrality is that it can serve as a means to remove or reduce disadvantage imposed on vulnerable groups. I will argue that in the case of disability limited state perfectionism can serve as a means toward that same goal. The series of arguments that I make to defend public value perfectionism concern issues relevant to debates about neutrality and perfectionism, the metric of advantage, justice and disability, and health resource rationing. These issues each play a role in the argument I develop, which states, simplifying somewhat, that in order for society to make defensible rationing decisions about social spending that aims to reduce disability, we need an approach to advantage—i.e., public value perfectionism—that contains important elements of perfectionism and yet is grounded on neutralist considerations.