The Rationality Premise

[email protected] 9 (1):59-83 (1997)
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Abstract
Many contemporary moral theories accept and rely upon a singular (often unstated) premise. Contractualisms, traditionally construed rights theories and Millian utilitarianisms all accept a uniquely indefensible claim about the nature of the moral value of rationality. As a result, these moral theories are, despite their differences, equally and seriously marked for reliance on what I will call "the rationality premise". In this work I explain how it is that said reliance guarantees that a theory is impervious to demonstration of soundness. My conclusion deals a serious blow to any theory which relies on the aforementioned premise. (I elsewhere defend an "alternative rights theory" which does not turn on the unique value of rationality, or reason. The work at hand provides the groundwork necessary to a move away from longstanding insistence on human superiority in the carving out of moral theory.
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