R&D sharply separate their perfectionist virtue ethics from law. Their account “does not suppose… that the sine qua non of ethical reasoning is providing impersonal prescriptions.” (146) I assume it means they agree that no one’s self-perfection ever can possibly consist in committing violent crimes. As soon as one’s legal duties are satisfied, one is free to seek his self-perfection or self-actualization however he pleases.

But it seems to me that the scope of their ethics is far too broad. If I go make myself a sandwich, am I by that very fact perfecting myself? And if not, is this action permitted?

Is even the sandwich an “objective good”? If another person does not like sandwiches, is he making a cognitive error? Is he perhaps morally corrupt?

They keep talking about “proper” habits of character, “correct” choices, “right” actions for the sake of “moral excellence.” Proper and correct from whose point of view? Practical wisdom, Aristotle writes, “conduces to the good life in general.” What is the “good life”?

Now far be it from me to neglect the analysis of virtues of character and self-discovery. In fact, it has been my secret ambition at some point to update Summa Theologica, II-II for the modern world. But as Rothbard wrote, criticizing the left, “No person can pick up a spoon, go for a walk to his favorite pub, or turn on TV, without being carefully watched and denounced for taking a wrong political line, or for not molding all of his values and his life in accordance with ‘genuine revolutionary’ standards.” Likewise, must every thought and action in one’s life be performed with an explicit end of “perfecting” oneself?

It may be true that “a human being is more than a bundle of passions and desires,” (136) but a human being is in part a bundle of passions and desires, as this quote obviously acknowledges! Why must satisfying a passion, indeed, say, for a sandwich, have anything to do with ethics? Why can’t I just, in the final analysis, have some fun?


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