Morality, Rational Choice, and Semantic Representation

Social Philosophy and Policy 5 (2):173 (1988)
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Abstract

In his recent paper, “Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical,” John Rawls makes use of a footnote to disown what to many readers must have seemed one of the most striking and original underlying ideas of his theory of justice, that it “is a part, perhaps the most significant part, of the theory of rational choice.” That Rawls should issue this disclaimer indicates, at least in my view, that he has a much clearer understanding of his theory, and its relationship to rational choice than he did at the time that he wrote A Theory of Justice. As I note in Morals by Agreement, Rawls does not show that principles of justice are principles of rational choice. Hence, in appropriating the idea, I can claim diat I am undertaking a pioneering enterprise. No doubt Thomas Hobbes would have undertaken it had the resources of the theory of rational choice been at his disposal, but I do not intend to pursue counterfactuals in a search for historical antecedents. Moral theory as rational choice theory is, I claim, a new venture

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Ulysses and the Sirens.Jon Elster - 1986 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (1):82-95.

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