Philosophical Studies 176 (11):2855-2875 (2019)

Authors
Fabian Wendt
Chapman University
Abstract
It seems natural to think that compromises ought to be fair. But it is false. In this paper, I argue that it is never a moral desideratum to reach fair compromises and that we are sometimes even morally obligated to try to establish unfair compromises. The most plausible conception of the fairness of compromises is David Gauthier’s principle of minimax relative concession. According to that principle, a compromise is fair when all parties make equal concessions relative to how much they can gain from an agreement and relative to how much they would lose without an agreement. To find out whether reaching a fair compromise sometimes is a moral desideratum, I discuss several paradigmatic cases in friendships, economics and politics, and I try to show that even when the parties have moral reasons to refrain from trying to maximize utility in the negotiations, they do not have moral reasons to aim at a fair compromise. My second claim is that we are sometimes morally obligated to try to establish unfair compromises, in particular when we are dealing with parties that try to establish morally very bad political arrangements. In such cases, we should try to concede as little as possible to achieve an outcome that is morally acceptable. Fair compromises, in other words, are morally much more dubious than is usually appreciated.
Keywords Compromise  Bargaining  Negotiations  Fairness  David Gauthier
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-018-1154-z
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas M. Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
Law's Empire.Ken Kress - 1986 - Ethics 97 (4):834-860.
Principled Compromise and the Abortion Controversy.Simon Cabulea May - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (4):317-348.
On the Possibility of Principled Moral Compromise.Daniel Weinstock - 2013 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (4):537-556.
Democratic Respect and Compromise.Christian F. Rostbøll - 2017 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20 (5):619-635.

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