Contractualism and the Counter-Culture Challenge

Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 7:184-206 (2017)
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T. M. Scanlon’s contractualism attempts to give an account of right and wrong in terms of the moral code that could not be reasonably rejected. Reasonable rejectability is then a function of what kind of consequences the general adoption of different moral codes has for different individuals. It has been shown that moral codes should be compared at a lower than 100% level of social acceptance. This leads to the counter-culture challenge. The problem is that the cultural background of the individuals who have not internalized the majority code affects the consequences of the codes and furthermore there does not seem to be a non-arbitrary way of choosing the minority cultures. This chapter first surveys and critically evaluates different responses to this challenge. It then outlines a version of ‘Real World Contractualism’, which offers the best response to the counter-culture challenge.

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Jussi Suikkanen
University of Birmingham


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