Why Should I Respect You? A Critique and a Suggestion for the Justification of Mutual Respect in Contractualism

Philosophical Forum 51 (3):261-278 (2020)
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Contractualism is a normative theory which characterizes principles of right in terms of the idea of mutual respect. In this theory, mutual respect is regarded as having deliberative priority over other values. This essay aims to examine how contractualists can provide a satisfactory justification for prioritizing mutual respect. I will argue that the ‘value of mutual respect argument,’ which is a justification commonly adopted by contractualists, is inadequate because an unconditional priority of mutual respect cannot be grounded on the desirability of a relationship of mutual respect. Then I will suggest that a ‘consistency argument’ can provide a better justification of why the idea of mutual respect should have priority. Mutual respect is of special importance, not because it is highly desirable, but rather because it is required by an a priori guiding principle of consistency. Individuals become inconsistent if they ask others to respect them as reason-assessing individuals, while at the same time refusing to respect others in the same way.
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First archival date: 2020-11-02
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