The Contractualist Dilemma

The Harvard Review of Philosophy 24:43-62 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In moral and political philosophy many contractualist views appeal to hypothetical consent when justifying their proposed normative contents. In this paper I argue that all of them fail. In particular, I defend three claims. First, I consider and develop what I call the common objection to contractualism: that the stipulation of a hypothetical consent adds nothing to the independent reasons offered in contractualist procedures in favor of the normative content in question. Second, I hold that this objection gives rise to what I call the contractualist dilemma. Third, in light of the dilemma, I argue that contractualism should be understood in a non-justificatory way. These three claims might sound familiar to readers versed on the contractualist tradition. It is striking, however, how many contemporary authors continue to defend contractualism as a method of justification despite these arguments. This paper is thus a strong invitation to finally abandon the justificatory interpretation of this view.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,726

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Contractualist Dilemma.Moisés Vaca - 2017 - Ideas Y Valores 66 (165):191-216.
Kontraktualistische Gerechtigkeitstheorien und die Idee eingebetteter Selbste.Martin Rechenauer - 2009 - Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 95 (1):62-78.
Contractualism and Moral Status.Phillips David - 1998 - Social Theory and Practice 24 (2):183-204.
Contractualism, Politics, and Morality.Adam Hosein - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (4):495-508.
Contractualism and the Right to Aid.John M. Whelan - 1992 - Journal of Philosophical Research 17:427-442.
Contractualism and the Right to Aid.John M. Whelan - 1992 - Journal of Philosophical Research 17:427-442.
A Critique of Scanlon's Contractualism.Ashley Purdy - 2022 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 52 (7):700-713.
Contractualism, Person-Affecting Wrongness and the Non-identity Problem.Corey Katz - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (1):103-119.


Added to PP

16 (#929,156)

6 months
4 (#1,051,540)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Moises Vaca
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references