Most of us have beliefs about what constitutes, or contributes to, a valuable life. Some of us believe an essential feature of leading a good life is acting in accordance with God’s commands. Some of us believe that a good life is one that involves successfully overcoming difficult challenges that test the limits of our capacities. Some of us believe a good life is one filled with hedonic pleasure. I will refer to things that may constitute, or contribute to, the intrinsic or inherent value of life as ideals.

Is there a place for ideals in political morality? More specifically, can ideals provide the justification for particular laws or political principles? Perfectionists answer “yes.” More strongly, most perfectionists also believe that the best account of political...

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