Diversity, Stability, and Social Contract Theory

Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)
Authors
Michael Moehler
Virginia Tech
Abstract
The topic of moral diversity is not only prevalent in contemporary moral and political philosophy, it is also practically relevant. Moral diversity, however, poses a significant challenge for moral theory building. John Thrasher (Synthese, forthcoming), in his discussion of public reason theory, which includes social contract theory, argues that if one seriously considers the goal of moral constructivism and considerations of representation and stability, then moral diversity poses an insurmountable problem for most public reason theories. I agree with Thrasher that moral diversity poses a significant challenge for orthodox multistage social contract theories. In fact, I even add a further problem for such theories under the assumption of deep moral diversity. Nevertheless, I argue that my (Moehler, Minimal morality: a multilevel social contract theory, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2018) recently developed multilevel social contract theory overcomes these problems. I focus on some of the underexplored features of this theory to show that multilevel social contract theory offers one conceptually coherent and plausible way to render social contract theory viable and relevant for modern diverse societies.
Keywords Constructivism  Multistage Social Contract Theory  Multilevel Social Contract Theory  Moral Diversity  Autonomy  Compliance  Stability
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-018-1174-8
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Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory.John Rawls - 1980 - Journal of Philosophy 77 (9):515-572.
The Scope of Instrumental Morality.Michael Moehler - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (2):431-451.

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