Two Regulative Ideals in Religion

  • Dorothy Emmet


I have been looking at certain concepts which I see as Regulative Ideals: standards to be approached, but not types to be instantiated. They are not fully realisable, yet they can inspire many different attempts and enterprises, each with its own special excellence. Moreover, even if there were a perfect specimen this would have limitations proper to its context; it would be anomalous to treat it as a pattern to be copied in all other contexts. The generality of master Regulative Ideals — the Idea of the Good and the Idea of final comprehensive Truth — precludes their being given a specific content. There are other Regulative Ideals which come nearer to this — the General Will, for instance, and the Ideal Society — where it can be tempting to claim exemplars. But this is to deflate the Ideal and to inflate the exemplars. The Ideal may be reached nearly, but not quite.


Moral Judgement Moral Decision Regulative Ideal Special Excellence Open Morality 
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Copyright information

© Dorothy Emmet 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorothy Emmet
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.University of ManchesterUK
  2. 2.Lucy Cavendish CollegeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.OxfordUK

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