Morality and Happiness

Kelly James Clark and Andrew Samuel

in Evidence and Religious Belief

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199603718
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729287 | DOI:
Morality and Happiness

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Social contract theorists offer well-developed answers to the question ‘Why Be Moral?’. According to social contract theories of morality, right and wrong are constituted by the agreement among rationally self-interested individuals to give up the unhindered pursuit of their own desires and interests for the security of living in peace with one another. In order to secure this peace, one willingly forgoes the liberty of total self-determination and takes on the constraints of conventional morality. It is in my best interest, so the argument goes, to have my desires constrained by entering into a society where the desires of everyone are constrained by an agreed upon power. This paper argues, using game theory, that the social contract theory is motivationally deficient and that theism provides a better motivation for rationally self-interested persons to be moral.

Keywords: social contract; morality; Kant; God; theism; Gauthier; Plato; self-interest; happiness; Thrasymachus; Prisoner’s Dilemma; game theory; Hobbes; kingdom of ends

Chapter.  9371 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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