Bargaining and the impartiality of the social contract

Philosophical Studies 172 (12):3335-3355 (2015)
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Abstract

The question of what a group of rational agents would agree on were they to deliberate on how to organise society is central to all hypothetical social contract theories. If morality is to be based on a social contract, we need to know the terms of this contract. One type of social contract theory, contractarianism, aims to derive morality from rationality alone. Contractarians need to show, amongst other things, that rational and self-interested individuals would agree on an impartial division of a cooperative surplus. But it is often claimed that contractarians cannot show this without introducing moral assumptions. This paper argues that on the right understanding of the question contractarians are asking, these worries can be answered. Without relying on moral assumptions, the paper offers a novel derivation of symmetry, which is the axiom responsible for the impartiality of the most famous economic bargaining solutions appealed to by contractarians

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Johanna Thoma
Universität Bayreuth

Citations of this work

Morals From Rationality Alone? Some Doubts.J. P. Messina & David Wiens - 2020 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 19 (3):248-273.

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References found in this work

Morals by agreement.David P. Gauthier - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Evolution of the Social Contract.Brian Skyrms - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Natural justice.Ken Binmore - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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