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Minimal Morality: A Multilevel Social Contract Theory

Oxford: Oxford University Press (2018)

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  1. Diversity, Stability, and Social Contract Theory.Michael Moehler - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3285-3301.
    The topic of moral diversity is not only prevalent in contemporary moral and political philosophy, it is also practically relevant. Moral diversity, however, poses a significant challenge for moral theory building. John Thrasher, in his discussion of public reason theory, which includes social contract theory, argues that if one seriously considers the goal of moral constructivism and considerations of representation and stability, then moral diversity poses an insurmountable problem for most public reason theories. I agree with Thrasher that moral diversity (...)
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  • Strategic Justice, Conventionalism, and Bargaining Theory.Michael Moehler - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8317-8334.
    Conventionalism as a distinct approach to the social contract received significant attention in the game-theoretic literature on social contract theory. Peter Vanderschraaf’s sophisticated and innovative theory of conventional justice represents the most recent contribution to this tradition and, in many ways, can be viewed as a culmination of this tradition. In this article, I focus primarily on Vanderschraaf’s defense of the egalitarian bargaining solution as a principle of justice. I argue that one particular formal feature of this bargaining solution, the (...)
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  • Experimental philosophy and the fruitfulness of normative concepts.Matthew Lindauer - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (8):2129-2152.
    This paper provides a new argument for the relevance of empirical research to moral and political philosophy and a novel defense of the positive program in experimental philosophy. The argument centers on the idea that normative concepts used in moral and political philosophy can be evaluated in terms of their fruitfulness in solving practical problems. Empirical research conducted with an eye to the practical problems that are relevant to particular concepts can provide evidence of their fruitfulness along a number of (...)
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  • The Varieties of Impartiality, or, Would an Egalitarian Endorse the Veil?Justin P. Bruner & Matthew Lindauer - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (2):459-477.
    Social contract theorists often take the ideal contract to be the agreement or bargain individuals would make in some privileged choice situation. Recently, experimental philosophers have explored this kind of decision-making in the lab. One rather robust finding is that the exact circumstances of choice significantly affect the kinds of social arrangements experimental subjects unanimously endorse. Yet prior work has largely ignored the question of which of the many competing descriptions of the original position subjects find most compelling. This paper (...)
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  • Bargaining and the Dynamics of Divisional Norms.Justin P. Bruner - 2020 - Synthese 197 (1):407-425.
    Recently, philosophers have investigated the emergence and evolution of the social contract. Yet extant work is limited as it focuses on the use of simple behavioral norms in rather rigid strategic settings. Drawing on axiomatic bargaining theory, we explore the dynamics of more sophisticated norms capable of guiding behavior in a wide range of scenarios. Overall, our investigation suggests the utilitarian bargaining solution has a privileged status as it has certain stability properties other social arrangements lack.
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  • Is Mutual Advantage a General Theory of Justice? More Domain Worries.Gerald Gaus - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (5):1731-1739.
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  • Convention, correlation and consistency.Justin P. Bruner - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (5):1707-1718.
    Peter Vanderschraaf’s Strategic Justice provides a defense of the egalitarian bargaining solution. Vanderschraaf’s discussion of the egalitarian solution invokes three arguments typically given to support the Nash bargaining solution. Overall, we reinforce Vanderschraaf’s criticism of arguments in favor of the Nash solution and point to potential weaknesses in Vanderschraaf’s positive case for the egalitarian solution.
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  • HIV Prevention Clinical Trials’ Community Engagement Guidelines: Inequality, and Ethical Conflicts.Morenike O. Folayan & Kristin Peterson - 2020 - Tandf: Global Bioethics 31 (1):47-66.
    Volume 31, Issue 1, December 2020, Page 47-66.
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  • Moral Community and Moral Order.James Caton - 2020 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 13 (2).
    This work aligns James Buchanan’s theory of social contract with the structure of Michael Moehler’s multilevel social contract. Most importantly, this work develops Buchanan’s notions of moral community and moral order. It identifies moral community as the vehicle of escape from moral anarchy, where community is established upon a system of rules akin to James Buchanan’s first-stage social contract. Moral order establishes the baseline treatment of non-members by members of a moral community and also provides a minimum standard for resolving (...)
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  • Morals From Rationality Alone? Some Doubts.J. P. Messina & David Wiens - 2020 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 19 (3):248-273.
    Contractarians aim to derive moral principles from the dictates of instrumental rationality alone. But it is well-known that contractarian moral theories struggle to identify normative principles that are both uniquely rational and morally compelling. Michael Moehler's recent book, *Minimal Morality* seeks to avoid these difficulties by developing a novel "two-level" social contract theory, which restricts the scope of contractarian morality to cases of deep and persistent moral disagreement. Yet Moehler remains ambitious, arguing that a restricted version of Kant's categorical imperative (...)
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  • Game Theory and Ethics.Bruno Verbeek - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Game theory is the systematic study of interdependent rational choice. It should be distinguished from decision theory, the systematic study of individual (practical and epistemic) choice in parametric contexts (i.e., where the agent is choosing or deliberating independently of other agents). Decision theory has several applications to ethics (see Dreier 2004; Mele and Rawlings 2004). Game theory may be used to explain, to predict, and to evaluate human behavior in contexts where the outcome of action depends on what several agents (...)
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  • Between Traditional and Minimal Moralities.Chad Van Schoelandt - 2019 - Analysis 79 (1):128-140.
    Michael Moehler’s Minimal Morality: A Multilevel Social Contract Theory makes important contributions to the social contract tradition, particularly in exploring how social contract theories can address challenges that arise from deep moral pluralism. Fundamentally, the work provides a multilevel account of morality, though simplified for presentation as a two-level view of morality. These two levels of morality differ significantly in their form and in their contexts of applicability. One level is that of ‘traditional morality’, involving a rich set of practices, (...)
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