The aggregation problem for Scanlonian Contractualism: an exploration of the relevance view, mixed solutions, and why Scanlonian Contractualists could be, and perhaps should be, Restricted Prioritarians

Dissertation, University of Reading (2019)


In this thesis, I discuss the aggregation problem for T. M. Scanlon’s “contractualism”. I argue that Scanlonian contractualists have the following two options when it comes to the aggregation problem. First, they can choose to limit aggregation directly via a specific version of the Relevance View, “Sequential Claims-Matching”. Second, Scanlonian contractualists can adopt a so-called “mixed solution” of which I propose a specific version. My mixed solution does not limit aggregation. Rather, it either avoids some of the counterintuitive results in certain cases, or at least makes these same results look a lot less counterintuitive by putting them into perspective thanks to a plausible plurality of precisely specified values. The stakes between these two options are as follows. The first option justifies Scanlon’s intuition in one vs. many cases of which his “World Cup Case” is one example, but it comes at the cost of a seemingly quite limited range of application: any version of the Relevance View only works in cases in which we have no more than two groups of competing claimants. The second option has the exact opposite implications: my mixed solution cannot justify Scanlon’s intuition in one vs. many cases, but it could be applied to any case with any number of groups of competing claimants. In this choice between pre-theoretical intuition and feasibility, I would urge Scanlonian contractualists to choose feasibility.

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Aart van Gils
University of Berne

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Being Realistic About Reasons.T. M. Scanlon - 2014 - Oxford University Press.

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