The Reasonable and the Moral

Social Theory and Practice 28 (2):277-301 (2002)
Scanlon takes contractualism to be more than a mere device of representation. Whereas many others deem the imaginary consensus among a group of parties simply to indicate the features making an act wrong, Scanlon takes the hypothetical agreement to constitute the property of wrongness itself. In this article, I consider whether this development is justified. My thesis is that it is not. I defend this thesis by critically exploring the explanatory power of Scanlon's contractualism, considering the degree to which it explains some firm intuitions about wrongness, particularly about how to treat animals. I develop an alternative account of the property in virtue of which actions are wrong, an account that retains the notion of unreasonableness but rejects the contractualist framework. Specifically, I maintain (roughly) that the property of treating another unreasonably better explains what makes an act wrong than does the property of it being prohibited by principles that contractors with an ideal motivation could not reasonably reject.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract200228211
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,879
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
R. Sala (2013). The Place of Unreasonable People Beyond Rawls. European Journal of Political Theory 12 (3):253-270.
Nicholas Southwood (2009). Moral Contractualism. Philosophy Compass 4 (6):926-937.
James Boettcher (2004). What is Reasonableness? Philosophy and Social Criticism 30 (5-6):597-621.
Ulrike Heuer (2010). Wrongness and Reasons. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (2):137 - 152.
Gerald Gaus (2008). Reasonable Utility Functions and Playing the Cooperative Way. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 11 (2):215-234.
Robert Heeger (2005). Reasonable Partiality to Domestic Animals. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (1-2):123 - 139.
Hallvard Lillehammer (2004). Moral Error Theory. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 104 (2):93–109.
Alice MacLachlan (2010). Unreasonable Resentments. Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (4):422-441.
Sarah Broadie (2002). Alternative World-Histories. Philosophical Papers 31 (2):117-143.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

17 ( #156,877 of 1,725,161 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #93,209 of 1,725,161 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.