Contractualism for Us As We Are

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):529-547 (2018)
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A difficult problem for contractualists is how to provide an interpretation of the contractual situation that is both subject to appropriately stringent constraints and yet also appropriately sensitive to certain features of us as we actually are. My suggestion is that we should embrace a model of contractualism that is structurally analogous to the “advice model” of the ideal observer theory famously proposed by Michael Smith (1994; 1995). An advice model of contractualism is appealing since it promises to deliver a straightforward solution to the so-called “conditional fallacy.” But it faces some formidable challenges. On the face of it, it seems to be straightforwardly conceptually incoherent. And it seems to deliver a solution to the conditional fallacy at the cost of being vulnerable to what I shall call “the concessional fallacy.” I shall consider how, if at all, these challenges are to be met. I shall then conclude by considering what this might mean for the so-called “ideal/non-ideal theory” issue.

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Nicholas Southwood
Australian National University

Citations of this work

Contractualism.Jussi Suikkanen - 2020 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Too many cooks.Alex Horne - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-22.
Integrated Moral Agency and the Practical Phenomenon of Moral Diversity.Michael Moehler - 2021 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 14 (2):53-77.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Morals by agreement.David P. Gauthier - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.

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