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Contractualism - Morality of right and wrong / What we owe to each other

Christy Connolly

on 12 December 2012

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Transcript of Contractualism

Contractualism The Morality of Right and Wrong What we Owe to each Other John Locke
Treatise’s of Government David Gauthier
Morals By Agreement John Rawls
A Theory of Justice Scanlon
What we Owe to Each Other Jean Jacques Rousseau
The Social Contract Thomas Hobbes
Leviathan A brief History of Contract theory ‘Judgments about what would be permitted by principles that could not be reasonably rejected by people who were moved to find principles for the general regulation of behavior that others, similarly motivated, could not reasonably reject’. (Scanlon 1998, p.4.

Thus an action is morally wrong if, and only if, any principle that permitted it could be reasonably rejected by those legitimately motivated. Or if it were prohibited by a principle no one could reasonably reject. A wrong act is therefore unjustifiable. Narrow Domain Broad Domain of
Morality Homosexuality Religious Practices Natural law Idleness Animal Cruelty Environmental ethics Apostasy Requirement of aid
Prohibition against: harming, killing, coercion, deception, etc.
Promise Keeping
Property rights
And many more. ‘An agreement between two or more parties'

Often associated with ‘rational’ agreement in which agents bargain for their own self-advantage.

This is what separates Scanlon from many Contractualist accounts.

For Scanlon the motivational basis of moral agreement is in finding principles that others, similarly motivated, could not reasonably reject

Each peson has equal moral status of persons as autonomous, rational agents Scanlon's Contract Rationality Why Reasonable Rejection instead of Rational Rejection? Reasonable Seems to reduce morality to mere strategy of getting what one wants A judgement about the suitability of certain principles which serve as the basis of mutual recognition.
Not Reducible to rationality.
Recognizes the needs and interests of others.
Willingness to restrict one's actions in a way that respects other agents' legitimate interests. It seems that moral claims may conflict with what is in someone's rational self-interest. What is Reasonable Rejection I may reasonably reject a principle if, and only if:
- It imposes some negative effect upon me.
- There is some alternate course of action by which a less negative effect will occur.

However if any alternate course of action would result in a greater negative impact upon someone else then it would NOT be reasonable to reject it! Principle:
A General conclusion about the status of various kinds of reasons for action Moral Motivation Because we see that human life has inherent value, we understand that we have reason to treat others in ways that accord to principles they could not reasonably reject.

Our motivation in the morality of 'what we owe to each other' comes from the central value of human life. BUT why give this kind of Priority to Moral judgements? Morality Other value Other value 1st
Place 2nd
Place 3rd
Place Williams objects to impartial moral theories since they demand people to give up other values that actually matter to them!!!!!! Important Issues affecting Contractualism: Can it avoid Circularity
Plurality objection
Can Contractualist protect future people
Can it be applied to the broader domain of morality? Can it defend animal rights?
How does Contractualism distinguish itself from Utilitarianism and Kantianism. Can Contractualism avoid such fate? The Contractualist project:
1. To account for what constitutes rightness and wrongness.
2. To account for the authority of moral standards. (plato.stanford.edu, 2012) The famous argument against Utilitarians:
You are trapped in a house on fire and must choose between saving your mother or a doctor who has the cure for cancer!
Who Do you choose? . Certain people understand what moral judgements are but they are ‘left cold’ by such judgements. They fail to see (and perhaps even deny) how they should care about such judgments.

. There lives are made poorer by their failure to recognize these reasons as valuable.

. Let us consider the game of chess:
. If someone does not value chess then how can I converse with them about chess?
I can't!
. Analogous with Morality; I simply cannot discuss morality with someone who does not recognise its value. However morality far more fundamental to life than chess... Explaining the Amoralist Away What we Owe to Each Other Firstly the grounds for which I may reasonably reject are not confined to well being.
For example, if a principle leaves no room for an agents personal projects then it is reasonable for that agent to reject it. However I will
still accept that morality
can and does come into conflict with other values and when it does it's demands are priorititized.
This is because Morality is not just good in itself, but it is an instrumentally beneficial way of living with other people on grounds of mutual recognition As such Morality is not only congruent with other values but it is also supportive Further Reading:
Scanlon, Timothy (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
Sen, Amartya Kumar (1982). Utilitarianism and beyond. Cambridge U.P. Chapter: Scanlon, T. M., 'Contractualism and utilitarianism'
Brad-Ballard, J., 2004, 'Contractualism and deontic restrictions', Ethics, vol. 114, issue 2, pp. 269-300
Kumar, Rahul, 1999, 'Defending the moral moderate: contractualism and common sense', Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 28, issue 4, pp. 275-309
Freeman, S., 1991, 'Contractualism, moral motivation, and practical reason', Journal of Philosophy, vol. 88, issue 6, pp. 281-303
Dworkin, G., 2002, 'Contractualism and the normativity of principles', Ethics, vol. 112, issue 3, pp. 471-482
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