Philosophical Studies 167 (2):431-451 (2014)

Michael Moehler
Virginia Tech
In The Order of Public Reason (2011a), Gerald Gaus rejects the instrumental approach to morality as a viable account of social morality. Gaus' rejection of the instrumental approach to morality, and his own moral theory, raise important foundational questions concerning the adequate scope of instrumental morality. In this article, I address some of these questions and I argue that Gaus' rejection of the instrumental approach to morality stems primarily from a common but inadequate application of this approach. The scope of instrumental morality, and especially the scope of pure moral instrumentalism, is limited. The purely instrumental approach to morality can be applied fruitfully to moral philosophy only in situations of extreme pluralism in which moral reasoning is reduced to instrumental reasoning, because the members of a society do not share, as assumed by traditional moral theories, a consensus on moral ideals as a basis for the derivation of social moral rules, but only an end that they aim to reach. Based on this understanding, I develop a comprehensive two-level contractarian theory that integrates traditional morality with instrumental morality. I argue that this theory, if implemented, is most promising for securing mutually beneficial peaceful long-term cooperation in deeply pluralistic societies, as compared to cooperation in a non-moralized state of nature.
Keywords Evolutionary morality  (Moral) pluralism  (Pure) moral instrumentalism  Two-level contractarian theory
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Reprint years 2014
DOI 10.1007/s11098-013-0106-x
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References found in this work BETA

Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785/2002 - Oxford University Press.
Morals by Agreement.David Gauthier - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Ethical Project.Philip Kitcher - 2011 - Harvard University Press.
Evolution of the Social Contract.Brian Skyrms - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Justification, Coercion, and the Place of Public Reason.Chad Van Schoelandt - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):1031-1050.
The Rawls–Harsanyi Dispute: A Moral Point of View.Michael Moehler - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (1):82-99.
Diversity, Stability, and Social Contract Theory.Michael Moehler - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3285-3301.

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