Utopian goals: Four objections and a cautious defence

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 15 (1):139-154 (2008)
Abstract
The normative criterion of attainability, or non-utopianism, is often referred to in discussions of goal-setting rationality. Goals should be realistic, it is argued, since it is unreasonable to adopt goals that cannot be achieved and that are of no use in the selection of means toward their realization. However, despite the proposed requirement of attainability, utopian or semi-utopian goals are often adopted in political contexts, the Swedish Vision Zero for trafflc safety being one example. This paper develops and analyzes four objections that can be raised against the use of utopian goals and to support the normative criterion of attainability: that utopian goals are too imprecise and too far-reaching to guide action effectively, counterproductive, and morally objectionable. A tentative defense of utopian goal-setting is built on the counter-arguments that can be put forward to weaken each of the four objections.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 1077-1999
DOI 10.5840/pcw200815113
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