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Overall Lifelong Fortune: A Critique of the Intrinsic Potential Account

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


It seems clear that a fortunate life for a human being is very different from a fortunate life for a dog. But it is not clear what the appropriate measure is for determining whether a life is fortunate or not. Jeff McMahan rejects the Species Norm Account and defends the Intrinsic Potential Account of overall lifelong fortune. In this article, I argue that the Intrinsic Potential Account fails. More specifically, I will argue that it is vulnerable to numerous counterexamples; fails for the same basic reason that McMahan rejects the Species Norm Account; and is insensitive to a consideration that is morally significant.