David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (1):24-47 (2013)
Harsanyi defends utilitarianism by means of an axiomatic proof and by what he calls the 'equiprobability model'. Both justifications of utilitarianism aim to show that utilitarian ethics can be derived from Bayesian rationality and some weak moral constraints on the reasoning of rational agents. I argue that, from the perspective of Bayesian agents, one of these constraints, the impersonality constraint, is not weak at all if its meaning is made precise, and that generally, it even contradicts individual rational agency. Without the impersonality constraint, Harsanyi's two justifications of utilitarianism on the grounds of Bayesian rationality fail. As an alternative, I develop a contractarian framework that is compatible with individual rational agency and Harsanyi's central assumptions, and that allows the derivation of moral conclusions on the grounds of Bayesian rationality. The developed framework offers a novel justification of contractarian ethics and may best be described as a combined version of Harsanyi's equiprobability model and Rawls's original position.
|Keywords||Utilitarianism Contractualism Impartiality Impersonality|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Mathias Risse (2002). Harsanyi's 'Utilitarian Theorem' and Utilitarianism. Noûs 36 (4):550–577.
Marc Fleurbaey, Maurice Salles & John A. Weymark (eds.) (2008). Justice, Political Liberalism, and Utilitarianism: Themes From Harsanyi and Rawls. Cambridge University Press.
John C. Harsanyi (1977). Rule Utilitarianism and Decision Theory. Erkenntnis 11 (1):25 - 53.
Philippe Mongin (2001). The Impartial Observer Theorem of Social Ethics. Economics and Philosophy 17 (2):147-179.
Alison Hills (2010). Utilitarianism, Contractualism and Demandingness. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (239):225-242.
Kristin Shrader-Frechette (1988). Risk Assessment and Uncertainty. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:504 - 517.
John C. Harsanyi (1979). Bayesian Decision Theory, Rule Utilitarianism, and Arrow's Impossibility Theorem. Theory and Decision 11 (3):289-317.
Samir Okasha (2012). Social Justice, Genomic Justice and the Veil of Ignorance: Harsanyi Meets Mendel. Economics and Philosophy 28 (1):43-71.
Reidar K. Lie (1986). An Examination and Critique of Harsanyi's Version of Utilitarianism. Theory and Decision 21 (1):65-83.
John C. Harsanyi (1980). Rule Utilitarianism, Rights, Obligations and the Theory of Rational Behavior. Theory and Decision 12 (2):115-133.
John C. Harsanyi (1985). Rule Utilitarianism, Equality, and Justice. Social Philosophy and Policy 2 (02):115-.
David O. Brink (1986). Utilitarian Morality and the Personal Point of View. Journal of Philosophy 83 (8):417-438.
J. Moreh (1992). Economic Analysis, Common-Sense Morality and Utilitarianism. Erkenntnis 37 (1):115 - 143.
Added to index2011-10-17
Total downloads45 ( #37,792 of 1,102,718 )
Recent downloads (6 months)7 ( #36,549 of 1,102,718 )
How can I increase my downloads?