Contractualism for Us As We Are

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A difficult problem for contractualists is how to provide an interpretation of the contractual situation that is both subject to appropriately stringent constraints and yet also appropriately sensitive to certain features of us as we actually are. My suggestion is that we should embrace a model of contractualism that is structurally analogous to the “advice model” of the ideal observer theory famously proposed by Michael Smith (1994; 1995). An advice model of contractualism is appealing since it promises to deliver a straightforward solution to the so-called “conditional fallacy.” But it faces some formidable challenges. On the face of it, it seems to be straightforwardly conceptually incoherent. And it seems to deliver a solution to the conditional fallacy at the cost of being vulnerable to what I shall call “the concessional fallacy.” I shall consider how, if at all, these challenges are to be met. I shall then conclude by considering what this might mean for the so-called “ideal/non-ideal theory” issue.
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The Moral Problem.Smith, Michael

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