Contractarianism in some form has been at the center of recent debates in moral and political philosophy. Jean Hampton was one of the most gifted philosophers involved in these debates and provided both important criticisms of prominent contractarian theories plus powerful defenses and applications of the core ideas of contractarianism. In these essays, she brought her distinctive approach, animated by concern for the intrinsic worth of persons, to bear on topics such as guilt, punishment, self-respect, family relations, and (...) the maintenance and justification of the state. Edited by Daniel Farnham, this collection is an essential contribution to understanding the problems and prospectus of contractarianism in moral, legal and political philosophy. (shrink)
Contractualism/Contractarianism collects, for the first time, both major classical sources and central contemporary discussions of these important approaches to philosophical ethics. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative ethics.
Several different positions are classified as contractarian. Though there are variations among them, they all include the assumption that practical or action-guiding principles, among which are principles of moral justification and of political legitimacy, somehow have their basis in consent. A contractarian may or may not believe that there are other practical principles that are based on or justified by something besides consent. If he believes there are any others, there will be delicate issues to address as to whether they (...) yield prescriptions incompatible with prescriptions arising from the appropriate kind of consent. Roughly speaking, contractarians could be ordered in terms of the weight that they attach to principles grounded in consent. If we call the appropriate kind of consent contractual, then there are several options available, ranging from the admission of nothing but contract-based principles to the admission of noncontract-based principles that can sometimes conflict with principles based on contract. The pure form of contractarianism which will be our main focus admits only contract-based principles. (shrink)
Jean Hampton argues that we can detect exploitation in personal relationships by thinking about what we would agree to were we to set aside the emotional benefits we receive from those relationships. Hampton calls her account "feminist contractarianism," but it has recently been critiqued as decidedly unfeminist, on the grounds that it is hostile to women's interests and women's values. Furthermore, Hampton's requirement that we imaginatively distance ourselves from our emotional connections to our loved ones--the key element in her (...) contractarian test--is simply ad hoc. In this essay, I will evaluate these objections and offer a new justification for Hampton's test. I conclude that feminist contractarianism is not only a useful tool for detecting exploitation in the family, it is also deserving of its feminist label. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that neo-Hobbesian contractarianism cannot yield direct moral standing for marginal humans and animals. However, it has been argued that marginal humans and animals can have a form of direct moral standing under neo-Hobbesian contractarianism: secondary moral standing. I will argue that, even if such standing is direct, this account is unsatisfactory because it is counterintuitive and fragile.
Gauthier’s contractarianism begins with an idea of a rational deliberator but ‘finds no basis for postulating a moral need for the justification of one’s actions to others. The role of agreement is to address each person’s demand that the constraints of society be justified to him, not a concern that he justify himself to his fellows’ (Gauther 1997, 134–5). He contrasts his view with Scanlon’s contractualism, according to which agreement with others is the core of morality and each agent (...) has the burden of justifying his or her actions to others. Both of their views count as ‘constructivist’ because they reject moral realism and hold that normativity is a function of what we do, either individually or collectively. Kant’s Rechtslehre is neutral regarding moral realism and yet constructivist about moral norms. However, the relevant acts basic to Gauthier’s and Scanlon’s views concern voluntary agreements we make. Using agreement to establish basic norms faces some serious difficulties. Kant’s Rechtslehre avoids these problems by showing how basic social norms can be identified and justified independently of voluntary agreement. Moreover, it does so in a way that shows that an individual’s justification of his or her acts to others and the justification of the acts of others to any individual are inseparable aspects of one and the same justificatory reasons in which voluntary agreement plays no role. (shrink)
To show it is sometimes rational to cooperate in the Prisoner's Dilemma, David Gauthier has claimed that if it is rational to form an intention then it is sometimes rational act on it. However, the Paradox of Deterrence and the Toxin Puzzle seem to put this general type of claim into doubt. For even if it is rational to form a deterrent intention, it is not rational act on it (if it is not successful); and even if it is rational (...) to form an intention to drink a toxin, it is not rational to act on it (come the time for drinking). This article employs an extended version of Michael Bratman's theory of intention to show how to argue systematically that it can be rational to act on rationally formed cooperative intentions, while not being committed to the rationality of apocalyptic retaliation, or pointless toxin drinking. (shrink)
Because contractarians see justice as mutual advantage, they hold that justice can be rationally grounded only when each can expect to gain from it. John Rawls seems to avoid this feature of contractarianism by fashioning the parties to the contract as Kantian agents whose personhood grounds their claims to justice. But Rawls also endorses the Humean idea that justice applies only if people are equal in ability. It would seem to follow from this idea that dependent persons (such as (...) the disabled) lack claims of justice. It appears, then, that the Kantian and Humean themes in Rawls conflict. I present a reading of Rawls that resolves this tension between the Kantian and Humean themes. The first theme, I argue, allows Rawls to maintain that persons as such are owed justice regardless of their ability to engage in social cooperation. The second theme, I argue, allows him to retain Hume's connection between justice and reciprocity, but confines the reciprocity condition to relations among nondependents. I conclude that Rawls's approach permits him to rebut recent criticisms leveled by disability theorists and others who claim that his theory excludes dependents. Key Words: Rawls reciprocity disability dependency circumstances of justice. (shrink)
Epicurean contractarianism is an attempt to reconcile individualistic hedonism with a robust account of justice. The pursuit of pleasure and the requirements of justice, however, have seemed to be incompatible to many commentators, both ancient and modern. It is not clear how it is possible to reconcile hedonism with the demands of justice. Furthermore, it is not clear why, even if Epicurean contractarianism is possible, it would be necessary for Epicureans to endorse a social contract. I argue here (...) that Epicurean contractarianism is both possible and necessary once we understand Epicurean practical rationality in a new way. We are left with an appealing version of teleological, individualistic contractarianism that is significantly different from Hobbesian contractarianism. (shrink)
The fundamental presupposition of political philosophy is that the legitimate rule of one individual over another requires justification: political power may come out of the barrel of a gun but political authority does not. Classically, the philosopher of politics looked to nature. In the seventeenth century, however, the philosophical tide turns in a decidedly different direction: contractarianism. Political society becomes a consensual construct created through the heuristic vehicle of a hypothetical social contract. Simultaneously, within the confines of contractarianism (...) itself, a remarkable transformation occurs. The theory originates in the hands of Grotius, Hobbes and Pufendorf as a justificatory tool for political absolutism and, paradoxically, reaches its zenith in Locke with a firm commitment to constitutionalism. I explore this transformation in detail, culminating with what I term the “Lockean Synthesis.”. (shrink)
This book is the most comprehensive, rigorous critique of contemporary Hobbesian contractarianism as expounded in the work of Jean Hampton, Gregory Kavka, and David Gauthier. Professor Kraus argues that the attempts by these three philosophers to use Hobbes to answer current political and moral questions fail. The reasons why they fail are related to fundamental problems intrinsic to Hobbesian contractarianism: first, the problem of collective action arising out of the tension in Hobbes' theory between individual and collective rationality; (...) second, the classical problem of explaining the normative force of hypothetical action, a problem that can be traced to the conflicting strategies of hypothetical justification found in Rawls' and Hobbes' theories. Given the deep interest in Hobbesian contractarianism among philosophers, political theorists, game theorists in economics and political science, and legal theorists, this book is likely to attract wide attention and infuse new life into the contractarian debate. (shrink)
Over twenty years after the publication of A Theory of Justice (1971), Rawls avowed that it was an error in Theory to describe a theory of justice as part of the theory of rational choice. This paper elucidates the reasons why Rawls had to make such an avowal of the error in connection with his contractarian rational deduction project of morality, i.e., rational contractarianism. Two major issues are involved here. They are about the construction of the original position and (...) the maximin derivation of the two principles of justice. Because of the moral irrelevancy of rationality in Hobbes’ model, Rawls tries to construct a fair original position. Hence Rawls’ rational contractarianism turns out rationality cum fairness model. However, this model of Rawls’ commits the circularity of moral assumptionsprior to rationality, which might be rationally arbitrary. Furthermore, because of its highly conservative psychological attitude of risk-aversion, Rawls cannot show the superior rationality in the maximin strategic derivation of the two principles of justice over the other strategies. These are the reasons why Rawls had to admit the error. After the avowal of the error, Rawls shifted to Kantian conception of free and equal moral persons for the justificatory device of his theory of justice. Several polemical issues around the Kantian conception are discussed and adjudicated. (shrink)
Despite an impressive philosophical pedigree, contractualism (or contractarianism) has only been properly developed in two ways: by appeal to the idea of an instrumentally rational bargain or contract between self-interested individuals (Hobbesian contractualism) and by appeal to the idea of a substantively reasonable agreement among individuals who regard one another as free and equal persons warranting equal moral respect (Kantian contractualism). Both of these existing models of contractualism are susceptible to apparently devastating objections. In this article, I outline a (...) third, `deliberative' model of contractualism, which is based on the idea of a deliberatively rational agreement and which, I argue, represents a significant improvement on the Hobbesian and Kantian models in certain important respects. Key Words: contractualism • contractarianism • deliberation • deliberative rationality • Scanlon • Gauthier. (shrink)
Contractualism has a venerable history and considerable appeal. Yet as an account of the foundations or ultimate grounds of morality it has been thought by many philosophers to be subject to fatal objections. This book argues otherwise. It begins by detailing and diagnosing the shortcomings of the main existing models of contractualism, “Hobbesian” contractualism (or contractarianism) and “Kantian” contractualism. It then proposes a novel, "deliberative" model, based on an interpersonal, deliberative conception of practical reason. It argues that the deliberative (...) model of contractualism represents an attractive alternative to its more familiar rivals and that it has the resources to offer a more compelling account of morality’s foundations, one that can do justice to the twin demands of moral accuracy and explanatory adequacy. (shrink)
Retributivism is regarded by many as an attractive theory of punishment. Its primary assumption is that persons are morally responsible agents, and it demands that the social practices of punishment acknowledge that agency. But others have criticized retributivism as being barbaric, claiming that the theory is nothing more than a rationalization for revenge that fails to offer a compelling non-consequentialist justification for the infliction of harm. Much of the contemporary philosophical literature on retributivism has attempted to meet this criticism. One (...) common move has been to recast retributivism within the social contractarian tradition. The argument is that the justification for retributive punishment flows naturally from social contractarian political theories. Thus, not only is it reasonable to claim that wrongdoers merit punishment independent of any consequentialist concerns, but that fairness requires retributive punishment. While allying retributivism with social contractarianism provides retributivism with a nonconsequentialist justification for punishment (one fuller and less problematic than the conception of "desert" that worries the critics of retributivism), I will argue that far from strengthening the justification of retributivism, social contractarianism weakens it. For this version of the theory invites the Marxist charge that our society is ordered by profoundly unfair political and social institutions, and that to justify punishing the criminals disadvantaged by such institutions with the claim that fairness requires their punishment approaches a cruel joke. Some have defended the contractarian-based theory of retributivism against the Marxist criticism by claiming that it does not require the punishment of such individuals precisely because social relations are unfair. I will conclude in this paper that although such a move is appealing, it is untenable. And if such a move is not open to the retributivist, she is now in the uncomfortable position of either turning a blind eye to the injustices by which many criminals are victimized or abandoning her retributivist intuitions (the very intuitions that drove her to social contractarianism to bolster her theory of retributivism in the first place). I will conclude that attempts to bolster retributivism by appeal to social contractarianism should be abandoned and retributivists ought instead to seek to develop their theory of punishment within an alternative type of political theory. (shrink)
A contractarian moral theory states that an action (practice, social structure, etc.) is morally permissible if and only if it (or rules to which if conforms) would be agreed to by the members of society under certain circumstances. What people will agree to depends on what their desires are like. Most contractarian theories - for example those of Rawls (1971) and Gauthier (1986) - specify that parties to the agreement are mutually unconcerned (take no interest in each other's interests). Contractarian (...) theorists, do not, of course, believe that this is true of real people, but they insist (with Kant) that the basic moral constraints on conduct (if there are any) apply independently of whether individuals care about each other. I shall here argue against the appropriateness of the assumption of mutual unconcern for contractarian theories, such as Gauthier's, that are supposed to ground morality solely in rationality. (shrink)
The notion of rationality underlying contemporary business and business ethics, or the “rational actor” model of moral decision-making in business, links a roughly utilitarian notion of the good to a contractarian notion of human agency. The “C-Umodel” provides inadequate means for explaining how business people do or ought to behave or think about their behavior, because the notion of rationality upon which it relies is far too narrow a picture of business people’s character. An alternative to these assumptions and to (...) the Contractarian-Utilitarian model, is offered in an ethics of virtue. Despite the traditional apparent conflict between these divergent models, the C-U model, if founded in a notion of rationality consistent with Aristotelian ethics, is recognized as a useful instrument in business ethics and business decision-making. Hence, a reconciliation is effected between the C-U model and virtue ethics. (shrink)
Are positive duties to help others in need mere informal duties of virtue or can they also be enforceable duties of justice? In this paper I defend the claim that some positive duties (which I call basic positive duties) can be duties of justice against one of the most important prin- cipled objections to it. This is the libertarian challenge, according to which only negative duties to avoid harming others can be duties of justice, whereas positive duties (basic or nonbasic) (...) must be seen, at best, as informal moral requirements or recommendations. I focus on the contractarian version of the libertarian challenge as recently presented by Jan Narveson. I claim that Narveson’s contractarian construal of libertarianism is not only intuitively weak, but is also subject to decisive internal problems. I argue, in particular, that it does not pro- vide a clear rationale for distinguishing between informal duties of virtue and enforceable duties of justice, that it can neither successfully justify libertarianism’s protection of negative rights nor its denial of positive ones, and that it fails to undermine the claim that basic positive duties are duties of global justice. -/- . (shrink)
Is morality rational? In this book Gauthier argues that moral principles are principles of rational choice. He proposes a principle whereby choice is made on an agreed basis of cooperation, rather than according to what would give an individual the greatest expectation of value. He shows that such a principle not only ensures mutual benefit and fairness, thus satisfying the standards of morality, but also that each person may actually expect greater utility by adhering to morality, even though the choice (...) did not have that end primarily in view. In resolving what may appear to be a paradox, the author establishes morals on the firm foundation of reason. Gauthier's argument includes an account of value, linking it to preference and utility; a discussion of the curcumstances in which morality is unnecessary; and an application of morals by agreement to relations between peoples at different levels of development and different generations. Finally, he reflects on the assumptions about individuality and community made by his account of rationality and morality. (shrink)
Mark Rowlands argues that, contrary to the dominant view, a Rawlsian theory of justice can legitimately be applied to animals. One of the implications of doing so, Rowlands argues, is an end to animal experimentation. I will argue, contrary to Rowlands, that under a Rawlsian theory there may be some circumstances where it is justifiable to use animals as experimental test subjects (where the individual animals are benefited by the experiments).
Epicurus is one of the first social contract theorists, holding that justice is an agreement neither to harm nor be harmed. He also says that living justly is necessary and sufficient for living pleasantly, which is the Epicurean goal. Some say that there are two accounts of justice in Epicurus -- one as a personal virtue, the other as a virtue of institutions. I argue that the personal virtue derives from compliance with just social institutions, and so we need to (...) (...) attribute only one account of justice to Epicurus. I show how this interpretation makes sense of claims about justice by Epicurus and his followers, including Hermarchus, Lucretius, and Diogenes of Oinoanda. (shrink)
This collection brings together essays which reflect on the detailed arguments of "What We Owe to Each Other", and which comment critically both on Scanlon's contractualism and his revised understandings of motivation and morality. The essays illustrate the uses of Scanlon's contractualism by applying it to moral and political problems and in so doing they provide an assessment of the ability of Scanlon's contractualism by applying it to other forms of ethical theory. So, the central questions are: "What is the (...) best interpretation of the theory advanced in "'What We Owe to Each Other?'"; "How does the theory, so interpreted, stand up to criticism?"; and "How does contractualism handle certain difficult problems in politics and ethics?". To answer these questions, the collection includes the work of distinguished political philosophers. The resulting volume will make an important and original contribution to the literature on Scanlon, on contractualism and on contemporary political philosophy. (shrink)
Classical evolutionary explanations of social behavior classify behaviors from their effects, not from their underlying mechanisms. Here lies a potential objection against the view that morality can be explained by such models, e.g. Trivers’reciprocal altruism. However, evolutionary theory reveals a growing interest in the evolution of psychological mechanisms and factors them in as selective forces. This opens up perspectives for evolutionary approaches to problems that have traditionally worried moral philosophers. Once the ability to mind-read is factored-in among the relevant variables (...) in the evolution of moral abilities and counted among the selection pressures that have plausibly shaped our nature as moral agents, an evolutionary approach can contribute, so I will argue, to the solution of a long-standing debate in moral philosophy and psychology concerning the basic motivation for moral behavior. (shrink)
In their attempt to provide a reason to be moral, contractarians such as David Gauthier are concerned with situations allowing a group of agents the chance of mutual benefit, so long as at least some of them are prepared to constrain their maximising behaviour. But what justifies this constraint? Gauthier argues that it could be rational (because maximising) to intend to constrain one's behaviour, and in certain circumstances to act on this intention. The purpose of this paper is to examine (...) the conditions under which it is rational to form, and to act on, intentions. I introduce and examine in detail what Gauthier has to say on these issues, argue that it suffers from various problems, and propose an alternative account which I claim avoids them. (shrink)
Neste texto, investiga-se a extensão diacrônica da comuni- dade moral no âmbito de teorias contratualistas. Para isso, examinam-se críticas à possibilidade lógica de sustentar obrigações em relação a gerações futuras e se abordam modelos argumentativos contratualistas de justificação dessas obrigações que se baseiam no interesse próprio e na imparcialidade. De acordo com essa pesquisa, a melhor defesa dessas obrigações se pode articular recorrendo a esse último tipo de contratualismo.
This chapter argues that, under certain conditions, forming an intention makes an action rational which would otherwise not have been rational, since intentions (together with beliefs) in and of themselves provide deductive reasons for further intentions and actions, an argument which builds on previous work by R M Hare, Michael Bratman and others, It also provides an articulation and defense of the concept of "minimally constrained maximization" as a unified general solution to the well-known paradoxes of rationality, including the paradox (...) of deterrence and the prisoner's dilemma. (shrink)
The publicity of a moral conception is a central idea in Kantian and contractarian moral theory. Publicity carries the idea of general acceptability of principles through to social relations. Without publicity of its moral principles, the intuitive attractiveness of the contractarian ideal seems diminished. For it means that moral principles cannot serve as principles of practical reasoning and justification among free and equal persons. This article discusses the role of the publicity assumption in Rawlss and Scanlons contractualism. I contend that (...) a regard for publicity and a moral conceptions potential to provide a public basis for justification and agreement account for much of the evolution of Rawlss account of justice after A Theory of Justice . I also discuss whether contractualism can provide a basis for justification and general agreement under the social conditions that it endorses. I contend that it cannot, and conclude with a discussion showing why this should not be a problem for contractualism. Despite appearances, contractualism is a distinctive form of contractarianism, substantially different from Rawlss position and the social contract tradition out of which it evolved. Key Words: contractarianism contractualism John Rawls public justification T.M. Scanlon justice. (shrink)
So-called evolutionary error theorists, such as Michael Ruse and Richard Joyce, have argued that naturalistic accounts of the moral sentiments lead us to adopt an error theory approach to morality. Roughly, the argument is that an appreciation of the etiology of those sentiments undermines any reason to think that they track moral truth and, furthermore, undermines any reason to think that moral truth actually exists. I argue that this approach offers us a false dichotomy between error theory and some form (...) of moral realism. While accepting the presuppositions of the evolutionary error theorist, I argue that contract-based approaches to morality can be sensitive to those presuppositions while still vindicating morality. Invoking Stephen Darwall’s distinction between contractualism and contractarianism, I go on to offer an evolutionary-based contractarianism. (shrink)
Ethical Theory: An Anthology is an authoritative collection of key essays by top scholars in the field, addressing core issues including consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics, as well as traditionally underrepresented topics such as moral knowledge and moral responsibility. Brings together seventy-six classic and contemporary pieces by renowned philosophers, from classic writing by Hume and Kant to contemporary writing by Derek Parfit, Susan Wolf, and Judith Jarvis Thomson Guides students through key areas in the field, among them consequentialism, deontology, (...) class='Hi'>contractarianism, and virtue ethics Includes coverage of metaethics, normative ethics, and practical ethics Reaches beyond traditional texts by also including important, but usually underrepresented, topics such as moral knowledge, moral standing, moral responsibility, and ethical particularism Raises questions about the status and rational authority of morality. (shrink)
In response to physicians who refuse to provide medical services that are contrary to their ethical and/or religious beliefs, it is sometimes asserted that anyone who is not willing to provide legally and professionally permitted medical services should choose another profession. This article critically examines the underlying assumption that conscientious objection is incompatible with a physician’s professional obligations (the “incompatibility thesis”). Several accounts of the professional obligations of physicians are explored: general ethical theories (consequentialism, contractarianism, and rights-based theories), internal (...) morality (essentialist and non-essentialist conceptions), reciprocal justice, social contract, and promising. It is argued that none of these accounts of a physician’s professional obligations unequivocally supports the incompatibility thesis. (shrink)
This paper addresses the role of integrity in global leadership. It reviews the philosophy of ethics and suggests that both contractarianism and pluralism are particularly helpful in understanding ethics from a global leadership perspective. It also reviews the challenges to integrity that come through interactions that are both external and internal to the company. Finally, the paper provides helpful suggestions on how global leaders can define appropriate ethical standards for themselves and their organizations.
This article seeks to revisit the relationship between Rawls’s contractarianism and the moral status of animals, paying particular attention to the recent literature. Despite Rawls’s own reluctance to include animals as recipients of justice, and my own initial scepticism, a number of scholars have argued that his theory does provide resources that are useful for the animal advocate. The first type takes Rawls’s exclusion of animals from his theory of justice at face value but argues that animals can still (...) be protected within a moral realm independently of justice, or indirectly through the motivations of human contractors. The second type adapts his theory in a way that enables animals to be included within a contractarian theory of justice. It is argued, though, that none of the responses offered is successful in providing a sphere of protection for animals from within Rawls’s contractarian theory. It is doubtful if Rawls’s intention was for animals to receive a significant degree of protection within a moral realm independently of justice, and equally doubtful if the contractors in the original position would be motivated to act on behalf of animals. In the case of the second, whilst Rawlsian resources can be utilised to justify the attempt to amend the veil of ignorance so as to include animals, these are not dependent on a contractural agreement. Similarly, placing emphasis on social-co-operation as a means of incorporating animals into a theory of justice is flawed, not least because, paradoxically, it works for domesticated animals whilst they are being exploited. (shrink)
Contractarianism, as a general approach to moral and political thought, has perspective I offer, however, is not scrupulously historical. I smooth over a good deal of the twists and turns that due care to the historical record would had a long and distinguished history -- its roots are easily traced as far back as..
Ethics and Experience presents a wide-ranging and thought-provoking introduction to the question famously posed by Socrates: “How is life to be lived?” An excellent primer for any student taking a course on moral philosophy, the book introduces ethics as a single and broadly unified field of inquiry in which we apply reason to try and solve Socrates’ question. Ethics and Experience examines the major forms of ethical subjectivism and objectivism - including expressivism, “error theory”, naturalism, and intuitionism. The book lays (...) out the detail of the most significant contemporary moral theories - including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, Kantianism, and contractarianism – and reconsiders these theories in the light of two questions that should perhaps be asked more often: Is moral theory, with its tendency to regiment ethical thought and experience, really the best way for us to apply reason to deciding how to live? And, might it not be more truly reasonable to look for less system and more insight? (shrink)
Engaging a listener’s trust imposes moral demands upon a presenter in respect of truthtelling and completeness. An agent lies by an utterance that satisfies what are herein defined as signal and mendacity conditions; an agent deceives when, in satisfaction of those conditions, the agent’s utterances contribute to a false belief or thwart a true one. I advert to how we may fool ourselves in observation and in the perception of our originality. Communication with others depends upon a convention or practice (...) of presumed nonuniversal truthfulness. In support of an asserted duty of nondeceptiveness, I offer a reconciliation of pertinent Kantian passages, a sketch of arguments within utilitarianism, contractarianism, and other views, and an account arguing for application of that duty to assertions, implicatures, omissions, equivocation, prevarication, and sophistry insofar as they affect listeners’ doxastic states. For scholarship, this duty is exceptionless. I describe the kernel of intellectual honesty as a virtuous disposition such that when presented with an incentive to deceive, the agent will not deceive. Intellectual honesty delivers candor when it counts. I contrast this with complementary virtues and the surpassing virtue of ingenuousness. An account is given of the connection between intellectual honesty and an influential physical model of integrity. (shrink)
The article expresses skepticism on the alleged affinity between Hegel’s theory of conceptuality and conceptual pragmatism. Despite the intriguing philosophical impetus underlying the latter, the author formulates doubts about its compatibility with logical and metaphysical principles of absolute idealism. The criticism is articulated in four theses: (1) pragmatism’s concerns with (ultimately empirical) concept-acquisition and concept-application are largely alien to Hegel’s logical-metaphysical theory of conceptuality; (2) the interchangeability of ‘word’ and ‘concept’ in the pragmatist discussion is incompatible with Hegel’s notion of (...) thinking; (3) the distinction of Vertsandesbestimmung and Vernunftbegriff , while ignored in practice in the pragmatist approach, is pivotal to Hegel’s understanding of the nature of conceptuality; (4) finally, pragmatism’s use of the recognition-thesis from the Phenomenology of Spirit ignores the noncontractarian, non-negotiative function of the same in Hegel’s work. Key Words: concept • consciousness • contractarianism • individuality • reason • recognition • singularity • subject • subjection. (shrink)
This article focuses on the following three novel and original philosophical approaches to classical liberalism: Den Uyl and Rasmussen’s perfectionist argument from meta-norms, Gaus’s justificatory model, and Kukathas’s conscience-based theory of authority. None of these three approaches are utilitarian or consequentialist in character. Neither do they appeal to the notion of a rational bargain as it is typical within contractarianism. Furthermore, each of these theory rejects the idea that classical liberalism should be grounded on considerations of interpersonal justice such (...) as those that are central to the Lockean tradition. It is argued that these three theories, despite their many attractive features, fail to articulate in a convincing manner some central classical liberal concerns. (shrink)
In modern societies entrepreneurship and innovation are widely seen as key sources of economic growth and welfare increases. Yet entrepreneurial innovation has also meant losses and hardships for some members of society: it is destructive of some stakeholders’ wellbeing even as it creates new wellbeing among other stakeholders. Both the positive benefits and negative externalities of innovation are problematic because entrepreneurs initiate new ventures before their private profitability and/or social costs can be fully recognized. In this paper we consider three (...) analytical frameworks within which these issues might be examined: pre-commitments, contractarianism, and an entrepreneurial framework. We conclude that the intersection of stakeholder theory and entrepreneurial innovation is a potentially rich arena for research. (shrink)
This major contribution to the history of philosophy provides the most comprehensive guide to modern natural law theory available, sets out the full background to liberal ideas of rights and contractarianism, and offers an extensive study of the Scottish Enlightenment. The time span covered is considerable: from the natural law theories of Grotius and Suarez in the early seventeenth century to the American Revolution and the beginnings of utilitarianism. After a detailed survey of modern natural law theory, the book (...) focuses on the Scottish Enlightenment and its European and American connections. Knud Haakonssen explains the relationship between natural law and civic humanist republicanism, and he shows the relevance of these ideas for the understanding of David Hume and Adam Smith. The result is a completely revised background to modern ideas of liberalism and communitarianism. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In this article I defend the view that all feminists should be contractarians. Indeed, I argue that feminists should be Hobbesian or rational-choice contractarians at that. The argument proceeds by critically examining some of the main reasons why feminists have been resistant or even hostile to contractarian moral theory, and showing that the criticisms are misguided against Hobbesian versions of the theory. I conclude with a brief positive argument to the effect that contractarianism provides a plausible explanation of (...) what is wrong with patriarchy and so can serve as the theoretical basis for feminist ethics.RÉSUMÉ: Cet article propose que les féministes de toutes tendances se doivent d'être contractualistes de type hobbesien ou de choix rationnel. L'argument débute par une critique de quelques-unes des raisons principales pour lesquelles les féministes ont résisté ou se sont opposées à une morale contractualiste et établit que leurs critiques n'atteignent pas leur cible lorsqu'elles sont dirigées contre les versions hobbesiennes de cette doctrine. Un argument positif vient brièvement conclure le tout, en montrant que le contractualisme rend compte, fort plausiblement, des défauts du patriarcat, et qu'il est donc à même de fournir une base théorique à une éthique féministe. (shrink)
Martin Hollis (d.1998) was arguably the most incisive, eloquent and witty philosopher of the social sciences of his time. His work is appreciated and contested here by some of the most eminent of contemporary social theorists. Hollis's philosophy of social action, routinely distinguished between understanding (rational) and explanation (causal). He argued that the aptest account of human interaction was to be made in terms of the first. Thus he focused upon the human reasons, for, rather than upon the natural causes (...) of, action. This volume, for the first time, brings together important essays on the work of Hollis, from many different perspectives. These include politics, sociology and economics in general; international relations, rational choice theory, constitutionalism and the rule of law as well as current concerns with relativism, Rousseauist contractarianism, "dirty hands" and "buck-passing". (shrink)
Contractarianism, as a general approach to moral and political thought, has had a long and distinguished history -- its roots are easily traced as far back as Plato's Republic, where Glaucon advanced it as a view of justice, and its influential representatives include Pufendorf, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, and Kant. In various ways, to various purposes, and against the background of various assumptions, each of these philosophers offered contractarian arguments for the views they defended. What binds the tradition together, (...) in the face of this variety, is the conviction that moral norms or political institutions find legitimacy, when they do, in their ability to secure (under the appropriate conditions) the agreement of those to whom they apply. (shrink)
The paper examines consensual contractarianism John Rawls proposed in his A Theory of Justice, and develops the following criticism. The veil of ignorance device requires but cannot secure the neutrality of the primary goods. In the Rawlsian ‘original position’ of contract, the only relevant information the hypothetical choosers are allowed to have is that they all prefer to have some ‘primary goods’ rather than not to have any, and that they prefer to have more rather than less of the (...) primary goods. This stipulation entails that the ‘primary goods’ are neutral with regard to the diverging preferences of the choosers. In other words, for the Rawlsian contract to yield acceptable results, neutrality of the primary goods must hold. It cannot, however. Hence Rawls’ account of a consensual contract is untenable. The paper suggests that the difficulty is not rooted in the particular features of the Rawlsian theory but in the very idea of a consensual contract. (shrink)
This article examines the extent to which Brian Barry?s contractarian political theory ? justice as impartiality ? is able to incorporate the interests of animals. Despite the initial optimism that Barry might provide a theory of justice that can provide substantial protection for the interests of animals, it is clear that he offers relatively little. Insofar as animals can be protected within justice as impartiality, they are not being protected as a result of their intrinsic value, but merely as one, (...) non-vital, human set of beliefs included within a conception of the good. As a result, those concerned about the well-being of animals need either to go beyond contractarianism, and look for alternative theories of justice that are more amenable to the inclusion of animals, or to examine the degree to which direct duties can be owed to animals within a moral realm independently of justice. (shrink)
Hobbes's central insight about ethics was that it should not be understood to require that we make ourselves a prey for others. It is this insight that both varieties of contractarianism [Hobbesian and Kantian] respect. Consider a relationship between two human beings that exists for reasons of either love or duty; let us also suppose that it is a relationship that can be instrumentally valuable to both parties. In order for that relationship to receive our full moral endorsement, we (...) must ask whether either party uses the duty or the love connecting them in a way that affects the other party's ability to realize the instrumental value from that relationship. To be sure, good marriages and good friendships ought not to be centrally concerned with the question of justice, but they must also be, at the very least, relationships in which love or duty are not manipulated by either party in order to use the other party to her detriment. (shrink)
It is widely held that environmental risks which are distributed unequally along racial or socioeconomic lines are necessarily distributed unjustly. While disproportionality may result from the perpetration of procedural injustices—what might be termed environmental racism, the question I am concerned with is whether disproportionality, in and of itself, constitutes injustice. I examine this question from the perspective of three prominent theories of justice that largely capture the range of our intuitions about fairness and justice—utilitarianism, natural rights theory, and (Rawlsian) (...) class='Hi'>contractarianism. While each of these theories provides clear grounds for objecting to the imposition of risk on individuals without their consent, none provides grounds for thinking that eliminating disproportionalities along racial or socioeconomic lines, in and of itself, is called for as a matter of justice. As a result, I suggest that the concern of environmental justice should lie with identifying (and protecting) those at greatest risk, rather than identifying correlations between average risk levels and morally arbitrary characteristics possessed by individuals, such as race or socioeconomic status. (shrink)
Defiendo la legitimidad de la pregunta acerca de cuál puede ser el estatuto cognitivo de la Teoría Económica, y sostengo que la Teoría se comprende mejor como una rama de la Filosofía Política formal, en concreto, como una especie de contractualismo. Esto parece particularmente adecuado corno explicación de la Teoría deI equilibrio general. Dado el carácter intencional de las variables explicativas de la Teoría Económica y el papel de la información al realizar una elección, se argumenta que es improbable que (...) dicha Teoría pueda garantizar el poder predictivo, que le permitiría funcionar corno teoría factual en vez de corno teoría normativa.I defend the integrity of the question of what the cognitive status of economic theory could amount to, and I argue that the theory is best understood as a compartment of formal political philosophy, in particular a species of contractarianism. This seems particularly apt as an account of general equilibrium theory. Given the intentional character of the explanatory variables of economic theory and the role of information in effecting choice, it is argued that economic theory is unlikely to secure the predictive power that would enable it to function as a factual instead of a normative theory. (shrink)
This paper argues that Plato’s version of the contractarian theory of justice is superior to all other statements of that theory. The conditions any adequate theory of justice must meet are outlined and it is shown how contractarian theories attempt to meet these conditions. The great contractarian theories---those of Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Rawls, and Gauthier---are shown not to provide an adequate account of the nature of justice. The source of these failures is identified and, finally, it is shown that Plato’s (...) version of contractarianism is immune to this sort of failure. (shrink)
Minha intenção é mostrar, contra o realismo em relações internacionais, que, ao abordarmos os conceitos de justiça internacional e de direitos humanos, a partir de uma perspectiva contratualista, o denominado conflito entre o interesse nacional e as exigências da moralidade se mostra bem menos problemático. Apresento os principais argumentos em favor do contratualismo através de uma reconstrução da teoria moral de David Gauthier. Em seguida, procuro mostrar que o tipo de contratualismo defendido por Rawls e seus seguidores não é capaz (...) de evitar as críticas feitas pelo realismo à tentativa de defendermos uma concepção de justiça e de direitos humanos no âmbito das relações internacionais. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Contratualismo. Realismo. Direitos humanos. David Gauthier. John Rawls. ABSTRACT In this paper I argue against realism in international relations by showing that a contractarian approach to the concepts of international justice and human rights renders the socalled conflict between national interest and morality far less pressing than it seems to be. I discuss the thrust of the contractarian approach by means of a presentation of David Gauthier’s moral theory. Then, I show that the kind of contractarian approach advanced by Rawls and his followers is not able to counter the realist contention against the ideas of justice and human rights in the context of international relations. KEY WORDS – Contractarianism. Realism. Human rights. David Gauthier. John Rawls. (shrink)
The modern state claims supreme authority over the lives of all its citizens. Drawing together political philosophy, jurisprudence, and public choice theory, this book forces the reader to reconsider some basic assumptions about the authority of the state. -/- Various popular and influential theories - conventionalism, contractarianism, and communitarianism - are assessed by the author and found to fail. Leslie Green argues that only the consent of the governed can justify the state's claims to authority. While he denies that (...) there is a general obligation to obey the law, he nonetheless rejects philosophical anarchism and defends civility - the willingness to tolerate some imperfection in institutions - as a political virtue. (shrink)
With our state-guaranteed or internationally recognized human rights, liberalism is rather a common basis of political discussion today. John Rawls’s theory of justice, which set a framework for liberal theory of justice in the last decades of the twentieth century, is notably contractarian. Martha Nussbaum, although claiming to be a neo-Aristotelian, argues that her capabilities approach (hereafter CA) can upgrade the liberal theory of justice, particularly that of political liberalism, to deal with unsolved problems of justice, namely, disability, nationality, and (...) species membership. However, this paper argues that her proposal issuccessful only when her CA-based theory proves its affiliation with political liberalism in more detail. As defined by Rawls, political liberalism produces “free-standing” political conceptions and rejects any metaphysical or religious ideas. It halts conceptions of justice that promote conceptions of good derived from particular comprehensive doctrines. I do not believe a mere convergence between CA and contractarianism is sufficient enough to secure the rational acceptability of her CA-based theory. I suggest that if she wishes to maintain her CA-based theory’s being politically liberal, she either has to prove more of the public, in particular the global public, acceptability of her intuitive ideas of human dignity without relying on her intuitions or alter the meaning of political liberalism itself so that it allows a room for some sort of comprehensive doctrine. (shrink)
During the current financial crisis, the need for an alternative to a laissez-faire ethics of capitalism (the Milton Friedman view) becomes clear. I argue that we need an order ethics which employs economics as a key theoretical resource and which focuses on institutions for implementing moral norms. I will point to some aspects of order ethics which highlight the importance of rules, e.g. global rules for the financial markets. In this regard, order ethics (“Ordnungsethik”) is the complement of the German (...) conception of “Ordnungspolitik” which also stresses the importance of a regulatory framework. This framework is needed not to tame the market, but to make it more profitable in the long run. The conception of order ethics relies heavily on contractarianism, especially on James Buchanan’s work. Unlike many other conceptions of ethics, it does not start with an aim to achieve, but rather with an account of what the social world – in which ethical norms have to be implemented – is like. Our social world is different from the pre-modern one. Pre-modern societies played zero-sum games in which people could only gain significantly at the expense of others. And the types of ethics that we are still used to today have been developed within these pre-modern societies. Modern societies, by contrast, can be characterised – by economists and other social theorists alike – as societies with continuous growth. This growth has only been made possible by the modern competitive market economy which enables everyone to pursue his own interests within a carefully devised institutional system. In this system, positive sum games are played, which makes it in principle possible to improve the position of every individual at the same time. Most kinds of ethics, however, resulting from the conditions of pre-modern societies, ignore the possibility of win-win-situations and instead require us to be moderate, to share, to sacrifice, as this would have been functional in zero-sum games. These conceptions distinguish – in more or less strict ways – between self-interest and altruistic motivation. Self-interest, more often than not, is ultimately seen as something evil. Such an ethics cannot be functional in modern societies. Ethical concepts lag behind. Within zero-sum games, it was necessary to call for temperance, for moderate profits, or for a condemnation of lending money at interest. Within positive-sum games, however, the morally desired result of a social process cannot be brought about by changes in motivation, by switching from ‘egoistic’ to ‘altruistic’ motivation. The second theoretical element introduced by order ethics is the distinction between actions and rules, which was already mentioned. Traditional ethics concerns actions: It calls directly for changes in behaviour. This is a consequence of pre-modern conditions as reconstructed before: People in the pre-modern world were only able to control their actions, not so much however the conditions of their actions. In particular, rules like laws, constitutions, social structures, the market order, and also ethical norms have remained stable for centuries. In modern societies, this situation has changed entirely. The rules governing our actions have increasingly come under our control. In this situation, ethics has to focus on rules. Morality must be incorporated in incentive-compatible rules. Direct calls for changes in behaviour without changes in the rules lead only to an erosion of compliance with moral norms. Individuals that continue to behave ‘morally’ will be singled out, because the incentives have not been changed. Moral norms which are to be justified cannot require people to abstain from pursuing their own advantage. People abstain from taking ‘immoral’ advantages only if adherence to ethical norms yields greater benefits over the planned sequence of actions than defection in the single case. Thus ‘abstaining’ is not abstaining in the long run, it is rather an investment in expectations of long-term benefits. By adhering to ethical norms, I become a reliable partner for interactions. The norms do indeed constrain my actions, but they simultaneously expand my options in interactions. And people consent to rules only if these rules hold greater advantages for them, at least in the long run. In general, ethics cannot require people to abandon their individual calculation of advantages. However, it may suggest improving one’s calculation, by calculating in the long run rather than in the short run, and by taking into account the interests of our fellows, as we depend on their acceptance for reaching an optimal level of well-being, especially in a globalized world full of interdependence. The problem of implementation can now be placed at the beginning of a conception of order ethics, justified with reference to the conditions of modern societies I have sketched. Under the conditions of pre-modern societies, an ethics of temperance had evolved that posed simultaneously the problems of implementation and justification. The implementation of well-justified norms or standards could then be regarded as unproblematic, because the social structures allowed for a direct face-to-face enforcement of norms. Pre-modern societies not only favored an ethics of temperance, they also had the instrument of face-to-face-sanctions within their smaller and non-anonymous communities. This instrument is no longer functional in modern anonymous societies, and so we have to face up to the problem of implementation right at the start of our ethical conception. Simultaneously, an order ethics relies on the implementation of sanctions for enforcing incentive-compatible rules. In modern societies, rules and institutions, to a large extent, must fulfil the tasks that were, in pre-modern times, fulfilled by moral norms, which in turn were sanctioned by face-to-face sanctions. Norm implementation in modern societies thus works by setting adequate incentives in order to prevent the erosion of moral norms, which would happen if ‘moral’ actors were systematically threatened with exploitation by other, less ‘moral’ actors. This conception of order ethics is then elaborated further in the area of business ethics. (shrink)
Philips defends a middle ground between the view that there is a set of standards binding on rational beings as such (universalism) and the view that differences in morals reduce ultimately to matters of taste (skepticism). He begins with a sustained critique of universalist moral theories and some familiar approaches to concrete moral questions that presuppose them (most appeals to intuitions, respect for person's moralities, and versions of contractarianism and wide reflective equilibrium). He goes on to criticize major recent (...) attempts to develop nonuniversalist alternatives to skepticism, arguing that they rely on excessively abstract and philosophically indefensible preference satisfaction theories of the good. According to Philips's positive alternative, moral standards are justified to the extent that they support reasonably valued ways of life. He devotes considerable attention to clarifying this idea and draws conclusions from it about the role and limits of reason in ethics. Philips's theory provides us with a theoretical basis for dealing with actual moral controversies and for approaching questions of applied and professional ethics in a systematic way. (shrink)
Animal rights and moral theories -- Arguing for one's species -- Utilitarianism and animals : Peter Singer's case for animal liberation -- Tom Regan : animal rights as natural rights -- Virtue ethics and animals -- Contractarianism and animal rights -- Animal minds.
In Moral Knowledge? New Readings in Moral Epistemology, editors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Mark Timmons bring together eleven specially commissioned essays by distinguished moral philosophers exploring the nature and possibility of moral knowledge. Each essay represents a major position within the exciting field of moral epistemology in which a proponent of the position presents and defends his or her view and locates it vis-a-vis competing views. The authors include established philosophers such as Peter Railton, Robert Audi, Richard Brandt, and Simon Blackburn, (...) as well as newer voices in the field. Topics covered include moral skepticism, moral truth, projectivism, contractarianism, coherentism, feminist views, quasi-realism, and pragmatism. The lively and clear selections do not presuppose specialized knowledge of philosophy, and the philosophical vocabulary used throughout the anthology is uniform, in order to facilitate understanding by those not familiar with the field. The first chapter includes a sustained critical discussion of the major views represented in the following chapters, thereby furnishing beginning students with appropriate background to understand the selections. The volume is further enhanced by an index and an extensive bibliography. An excellent text for undergraduate and graduate courses, Moral Knowledge provides the most up-to-date work on moral knowledge and justification. (shrink)
The world's economy expands, food production increases, and technology links people as never before. But the human population grows, rainforests decline, species become extinct, climate change threatens extreme weather, cancer kills more than ever, and nearly a billion people starve as the gap between rich and poor widens. Environmental Ethics Today addresses these matters by exploring beliefs of fact and value guiding human interactions with nature. The style is journalistic, featuring actual controversies and individual stories, but the content is philosophically (...) rigorous. Abstract theories, ideas, and methods, such as utilitarianism, contractarianism, and hermeneutics are introduced as needed to understand and solve practical problems. Should respect for nature limit genetic engineering? Is economic growth the best measrure of progress or can materialism inhibit family values? Does globalization mostly help Third World countries or harm people and poor women? Are experiments on animals immoral? Is biodiversity valuable apart from any human advantage? Overall, does human welfare conflict with nature's integrity. Environmental Ethics Today considers many views including those of Aldo Leopold, Vandana Shiva, Garrett Hardin, Peter Singer, Julian Simon, David Korten, Jane Goodall, Holmes Rolston III, J. Baird Callicott, Karen Warren, Tom Regan, Val Plumwood, Wendell Berry, Father Thomas Berry, Daniel Quinn, and Arne Naess. (shrink)