Scanlon, permissions, and redundancy: response to McNaughton and Rawling

According to one formulation of <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span>’s contractualist principle, certain acts are wrong if they are permitted by principles that are reasonably rejectable because they permit such acts. According to the redundancy objection, if a principle is reasonably rejectable because it permits actions which have feature F, such actions are wrong simply in virtue of having F and not because their having F makes principles permitting them reasonably rejectable. Consequently <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span>’s contractualist principle adds nothing to the reasons we have not to act wrongly and is redundant. In ‘<span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span>’s contractualism and the redundancy objection’ I argued that the redundancy objection is based upon the false assumption that <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span> regards his contractualist principle as a ground of moral wrongness – that is, as telling us what makes certain acts wrong. I pointed out that he does not regard his principle in this way, but regards it as telling us what moral wrongness is. So the redundancy objection is based on a mistake. Nonetheless, <span class='Hi'>Scanlon</span> is still vulnerable to a version of this objection because he regards the moral wrongness of j ing as a reason not to j. Given that he identifies the fact that j ing is wrong with the fact that j ing is permitted by a reasonably rejectable principle, he is committed to the view that his contractualist principle gives us a reason not to j. His critics can thus still insist that the only reason we have not to do such acts is provided..
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