<i>The Anonymity Requirement and Counterweight Principles</i>

Catherine Wilson

in Moral Animals

Published in print July 2004 | ISBN: 9780199267675
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601859 | DOI:
The Anonymity Requirement and Counterweight Principles

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Establishes a metaethical constraint on moral theorizing, the Anonymity Requirement, whose relation to John Rawls’ ‘veil of ignorance’ and to the utilitarian presumption that everyone's pains and pleasures must be impartially considered are discussed. One cannot posit privileges and exemptions ‘for me’ or ‘for us’ within a genuine moral theory as opposed to an ideology. Further, certain ‘counterweight principles’ intrinsic to our moral psychology are shown to offset the force of costs to agents in establishing demand levels. While contractualist theories do provide for universal representation of needs and wants, they confound the question of confirmation by idealized theorists with the question of fair distribution to non‐ideal agents.

Keywords: anonymity Requirement; contractualism; counterweight principles; ideology; impartiality; moral theory; non‐ideal agents; Rawls; utilitarianism

Chapter.  14865 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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