Presenter Information

Gabriel Rusk, University of Denver

Location

Trimble Forum, Trimble Hall

Start Date

18-9-2014 1:00 PM

End Date

18-9-2014 1:50 PM

Description

Contractualism is a normative theory of ethics that posits that what an individual ought or ought not do arises from an antecedent (or prior) moral agreement, deliberation, or acknowledgement. The nature of this agreement, as in its conditions, such as the nature of the persons involved, the circumstances of the agreeing process, and the constraints on the process should produce the resulting deliberative and normative morality. In this paper I will explore the “constraint critique” of contractualism. First I will explore the necessary tenets of contractualism and why any constraints are necessary. Second, I will explain why contractualist agreements cannot necessarily possess ‘moral constraints’ where otherwise such constraints would lead to an infinite moral regress. For any ethical theory is incoherent if any moral entities exist prior to the process that purportedly is the genesis of all morality. Finally, I will explain that irrespective of ‘moral constraints’ a contractualist agreement is still tenable while possessing ‘non-moral’ rational constraints. Using contemporary ethical analysis, game theory, and discussions from famed moral philosopher David Gauthier I will argue that rational constraints are necessary to encourage, incentivize, and confine an agreement between competing agents in a “natural” condition of scarcity and competition. Thus the “constraint critique” is not a tenable argument against contractualism whereas the theory allows for rational constraints.

Type

event

Included in

Philosophy Commons

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Sep 18th, 1:00 PM Sep 18th, 1:50 PM

Narrow Bridge Games and Their Rescue of Rational Constraints in Moral Contractualism

Trimble Forum, Trimble Hall

Contractualism is a normative theory of ethics that posits that what an individual ought or ought not do arises from an antecedent (or prior) moral agreement, deliberation, or acknowledgement. The nature of this agreement, as in its conditions, such as the nature of the persons involved, the circumstances of the agreeing process, and the constraints on the process should produce the resulting deliberative and normative morality. In this paper I will explore the “constraint critique” of contractualism. First I will explore the necessary tenets of contractualism and why any constraints are necessary. Second, I will explain why contractualist agreements cannot necessarily possess ‘moral constraints’ where otherwise such constraints would lead to an infinite moral regress. For any ethical theory is incoherent if any moral entities exist prior to the process that purportedly is the genesis of all morality. Finally, I will explain that irrespective of ‘moral constraints’ a contractualist agreement is still tenable while possessing ‘non-moral’ rational constraints. Using contemporary ethical analysis, game theory, and discussions from famed moral philosopher David Gauthier I will argue that rational constraints are necessary to encourage, incentivize, and confine an agreement between competing agents in a “natural” condition of scarcity and competition. Thus the “constraint critique” is not a tenable argument against contractualism whereas the theory allows for rational constraints.