The transcendental necessity of morality

David Gauthier tries to defend morality by showing that rational agents would choose to adopt a fundamental choice disposition that permits them to cooperate in prisoner's dilemmas. In this paper, I argue that Gauthier, rather than trying to work out a prudential justification for his favored choice disposition, should opt for a transcendental justification. I argue that the disposition in question is the product of socialization, not rational choice. However, only agents who are socialized in such a way that they acquire a disposition of this type could acquire the capacity to use language. Given the internal connection between language and thought, this means that no agent endowed with such a disposition could rationally choose to adopt another. Thus rational reflection by moral agents upon their own fundamental choice disposition will have no tendency to destabilize it
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2003.tb00295.x
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