Article first published online: 25 NOV 2009
© 2009 The Author. Journal Compilation © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 4, Issue 6, pages 926–937, December 2009
How to Cite
Southwood, N. (2009), Moral Contractualism. Philosophy Compass, 4: 926–937. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2009.00256.x
- Issue published online: 25 NOV 2009
- Article first published online: 25 NOV 2009
This article provides a critical introduction to contractualism as a moral or ethical theory, that is, as a theory of the rightness and wrongness of individual conduct – focusing specifically on the influential ‘Kantian’ version of contractualism due to T. M. Scanlon. I begin by elucidating the key features of Scanlon’s contractualism: justifiability to others; reasonable rejectability; the individualist restriction; and mutual recognition. I then turn to discuss both its appeal and the main objections that have been raised to it – objections concerning our duties to the cognitively limited and impaired, aggregation, demandingness, normativity and explanatory adequacy. I conclude by mentioning some contractualist alternatives to Scanlon’s theory.