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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L038-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Ideals are models of excellence. They can be moral or nonmoral, and either ‘substantive’ or ‘deliberative’. Substantive ideals present models of excellence against which things in a relevant class can be assessed, such as models of the just society or the good person. Deliberative ideals present models of excellent deliberation, leading to correct or warranted ethical conclusions. Ideals figure in ethics in two opposed ways. Most centrally, ideals serve to justify ethical judgments and to guide people in how to live. Sometimes, however, ideals may conflict with moral demands, thereby testing the limits of morality.

Reliance upon ideals in the development of ethical theories seems unavoidable but raises difficult questions. How can the choice of a particular ideal be justified? How might conflicts between ideals and other values, especially moral demands, be resolved?

Citing this article:
Rosati, Connie S.. Ideals, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L038-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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