Contractarianism and Rational Choice: Essays on David Gauthier's Morals by Agreement

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David Gauthier's Morals by Agreement (1986) is the most complete and suggestive contractarian theory of morality since the work of Rawls. In this anthology, prominent moral and political philosophers offer a critical assessment of Gauthier's theory and its three main projects: to develop a contractarian foundation for morality, to defend a theory of rational choice, and to defend the claim that under many circumstances rationality requires that one keep one's agreements. An introduction sets out Gauthier's project, and Gauthier himself has the last word, responding to the critiques.

This stimulating collection could be used as a textbook for graduate seminars on contractarian theory.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521391344
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/22/1991
  • Pages: 339
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Notes on the contributors xi
Biographical note on David Gauthier xv
1 Gauthier's three projects 1
Introduction 1
Gauthier's moral methodology 1
Gauthier's contractarian theory 3
Gauthier's rational-choice framework 5
The initial bargaining position 6
The bargaining solution 7
The rationality of complying with rational agreements 9
Conclusion 11
Part I Gauthier's contractarian moral theory
Overview of the essays 13
2 Why contractarianism? 15
3 Two faces of contractarian thought 31
4 Gauthier's foundations for ethics under the test of application 56
Deliberation 58
Revolution 64
Accumulation of exceptions 66
5 Contractarianism and the assumption of mutual unconcern 71
6 Moral standing and rational-choice contractarianism 76
Rational-choice contractarianism 78
Moral standing 81
Moral standing in rational-choice contractarian morality 83
Self-interest and moral standing 90
Part II Minimax relative concession and the Lockean Proviso
Overview of the essays 97
7 The Lockean Proviso 99
Moralities and starting points 101
Slaves, servants, and serfs 102
The market as moral anarchy 104
Prerequisites for social agreement 106
Three rejoinders 108
8 Providing for rights 112
9 Gauthier on distributive justice and the natural baseline 127
Introduction: Gauthier's contractarianism 127
Gauthier on distributive justice 129
Gauthier on predatory gains and the Lockean Proviso 136
On the Hobbesian starting point 144
Relations between states 146
Summary 147
10 Equalizing concessions in the pursuit of justice: A discussion of Gauthier's bargaining solution 149
11 Gauthier's approach to distributive justice and other bargaining solutions 162
Nash's bargaining solution 163
The Kalai-Smorodinski solution 168
Gauthier's maximin solution 170
Concluding remarks 175
Part III The rationality of keeping agreements
Overview of the essays 177
12 Deception and reasons to be moral 181
13 Contractarianism and moral skepticism 196
The skeptical problem: First account 198
The contractarian solution 200
Rational compliance and skepticism 204
The relevance objection: Substantive impartiality 208
The relevance objection: Archimedean impartiality 212
Justification: Internal objections 219
Justification: External objections 224
The skeptical problem: Revised account 225
14 Deriving morality from rationality 229
Introduction 229
Gauthier's core argument for the rationality of compliance 232
Comment on premises 1 and 2 235
Does constrained maximization maximize expected utility? 238
The alleged rationality of carrying out rational intentions 244
The derivation of morality from rationality 249
15 Morality and the theory of rational choice 254
The rational-choice framework 255
Fairness and constrained maximization 261
Fairness and bargaining 262
Fairness and stability 265
Broad and narrow compliance 272
The arguments from rational and costless bargaining 286
Conclusion 289
16 Closing the compliance dilemma: How it's rational to be moral in a Lamarckian world 291
The compliance problem 291
Substantive rationality 297
Procedural rationality 306
Morality 316
Conclusion 322
17 Rational constraint: Some last words 323
Bibliography 331
Index 337
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