Contractualism on the Shoal of Aggregation

Rahul Kumar

in Reasons and Recognition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753673
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918829 | DOI:
Contractualism on the Shoal of Aggregation

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Scanlon’s contractualism clearly places itself in opposition to all forms of consequentialism in rejecting the to reasoning about what we owe to one another of any considerations having to do with aggregate value. The implications of doing so in some cases is very plausible, but in other cases it seems very implausible to deny the relevance of the numbers of persons who stand be burdened or benefitted. This has led some to argue that contractualism should be revised so as to relax its anti-aggregative strictures and allow that aggregative considerations can sometimes be relevant. In this paper, I argue that such a revision amounts to abandoning one of the animating ideas of the contractualist account, that what is central to morality is the maintenance of relationships based on mutual recognition with all others. Though this conclusion may seem in one way to damage contractualism, I argue, in the second part of the paper, that the account is in fact better able to make sense of the intuitive relevance in certain cases of the numbers than has been generally recognized.

Keywords: individualist restriction; numbers; aggregation

Chapter.  16103 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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