Is morality rational? In this book Gauthier argues that moral principles are principles of rational choice. He proposes a principle whereby choice is made on an agreed basis of cooperation, rather than according to what would give an individual the greatest expectation of value. He shows that such a principle not only ensures mutual benefit and fairness, thus satisfying the standards of morality, but also that each person may actually expect greater utility by adhering to morality, even though the choice (...) did not have that end primarily in view. In resolving what may appear to be a paradox, the author establishes morals on the firm foundation of reason. Gauthier's argument includes an account of value, linking it to preference and utility; a discussion of the curcumstances in which morality is unnecessary; and an application of morals by agreement to relations between peoples at different levels of development and different generations. Finally, he reflects on the assumptions about individuality and community made by his account of rationality and morality. (shrink)
David Gauthier is one of the most outstanding and influential philosophers working in moral theory today, and his book Morals by Agreement has established him as a preeminent defender of contractarian moral theory. This volume brings together a selection of his best essays on contractarianism, many of which have become difficult to find.
The conception of social relationships as contractual lies at the core of our ideology. Indeed, that core is constituted by the intersection of this conception with the correlative conceptions of human activity as appropriate and of rationality as utility-maximizing. My concern is to clarify this thesis and to enhance its descriptive plausibility as a characterization of our ideology, but to undermine its normative plausibility as ideologically effective.
Economic man seeks to maximize utility. The rationality of economic man is assumed, and is identified with the aim of utility-maximization. But may rational activity correctly be identified with maximizing activity? The object of this essay is to explore, and in part to answer, this question.This is not an issue solely, or perhaps even primarily, about the presuppositions of economics. The two great modern schools of moral and political thought in the English-speaking world, the contractarian and the utilitarian, identify rationality (...) with maximization, and bring morality into their equations as well. To the contractarian, rational man enters civil society to maximize his expectation of well-being, and morality is that system of principles of action which rational men collectively adopt to maximize their well-being. To the utilitarian, the rational and moral individual seeks the maximum happiness of mankind, with which he identifies his own maximum happiness. (shrink)
This article contributes to the development of a professional responsibility theory of public relations ethics. Toward that end, we examine the roles of a public relations practitioner as a professional, an institutional advocate, and the public conscience of institutions served. In the article, we review previously suggested theories of public relations ethics and propose a new theory based on the public relations professional's dual obligations to serve client organizations and the public interest.
Law is the expression of public reason. I want to explicate and justify this assertion, which lies at the core of a normative theory of law. Primarily, I want to focus on the concept of public reason, showing what it is, relating it to private or individual reason, and finding its rationale in that relation. I shall then argue that public reason exhausts the normative space where law may be found. Appealing to public reason, I shall show that the authority (...) that law claims over the judgments and actions of citizens must ultimately be grounded in their own rationality. (shrink)
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected not only the health of populations but also their everyday social practices, transformed by orienting to risks of contagion and to health prevention discourses. This paper emanates from a project investigating the impact of Covid-19 on human sociality and more particularly the situated and embodied organization of social interactions. It discusses how Covid-19 impacts the design of ordinary actions in social interaction, how this is made publicly accountable by the participants orienting to the pandemic in (...) formatting their actions and in responding to the actions of others. Adopting an ethnomethodological and conversation analytic perspective, the analyses focus on a particular social activity: paying. The organization of payments in shops and services has been affected by the pandemic, not only by official regulations, favoring some modes of payment over others, but also in how sellers and customers situatedly adapt their practices to imperatives of prevention. On the basis of a rich corpus of video-recorded data, which spans from the pandemic’s prodromes to and after its peak, we show how money transfer is methodically achieved – imposed, negotiated, and readjusted – while variously taking into account possible risks of contagion. Thus, we show not only how pandemics affect social interaction, and how prevention is incarnated in social actions, but also how, in turn, situated solutions implemented by people during the pandemic reveal fundamental features of human action. (shrink)
Psychologists live in a globalizing world where traditional boundaries are fading and, therefore, increasingly work with persons from diverse cultural backgrounds. The Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists provides a moral framework of universally acceptable ethical principles based on shared human values across cultures. The application of its moral framework in developing codes of ethics and reviewing current codes may help psychologists to respond ethically in a rapidly changing world. In this article, a model is presented to demonstrate how (...) to use the Universal Declaration as a guide for creating or reviewing a code of ethics. This model may assist psychologists in various parts of the world in establishing codes of ethics that will promote global understanding and cooperation while respecting cultural differences. The article describes the steps involved in the application of the model and provides concrete examples as well as several useful comments and suggestions. This guide for the application of the Universal Declaration may also be used for consultation, education, and training relative to the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists. (shrink)
Feminist critics of the stigmatization of prostitution such as Martha Nussbaum and Sybil Schwarzenbach argue that the features of the practice do not, or at least need not, differ essentially from those of other more respected sorts of labor. I argue that even the least degraded forms of the current practice of prostitution remain objectionable on feminist grounds because patrons demand a semblance of sexual self-expression that engages discriminatory beliefs about women's sexuality.
Current discussion of the normative issues surrounding secession is both helped and hindered by the existence of but one philosophic treatment of these issues sufficiently systematic and comprehensive to qualify as a theory of secession - Allen Buchanan’s. He provides the unique focal point, and so simplifies the task of those who seek to begin from the present state of the art. But in providing the unique focal point, Buchanan complicates the task of those who view, or think they view, (...) secession rather differently than he does. He defends ’a moral right to secede’ but a very qualified right, focusing on state-perpetrated injustice, the preservation of group culture and, in extreme cases, the literal survival of group members. And Buchanan further insists that where preservation of group culture is at stake, ’Neither the state nor any third party has a valid claim to the seceding territory’ -or such a claim is waived so that ’secession in order to preserve a culture is permissible if both parties consent to it’- a condition that he thinks may come to apply to the situation of Quebec. (shrink)
This papers attempts to bridge business ethics to corporate social responsibility including the social and environmental dimensions. The objective of the paper is to suggest an improvement of the most commonly used corporate environmental management tool, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The method includes two stages. First, more phases are added to the life-cycle of a product. Second, social criteria that measure the social performance of a product are introduced. An application of this “extended” LCA tool is given.
Are Hobbes's laws of nature to be understood primarily as theorems of reason, or as commands of God, or as commands of the civil sovereign? Each of these accounts can be given textual support; each identifies a role that the laws may be thought to play. Examining the full range of textual references, discussing the place of the laws of nature in Hobbes's argument, and considering how the laws may be known, give strongest support to the first of the three (...) accounts, that the laws are primarily rational precepts and only secondarily civil and divine commands. (shrink)
Mention of the name of Friedrich Schiller among both critics and defenders of Kant's moral philosophy has most often been with reference to the well known quip:“Gladly I serve my friends, but alas I do it with pleasure.Hence I am plagued with doubt that I am not a virtuous person.““Sure, your only resource is to try to despise them entirely,And then with aversion to do what your duty enjoins you.''This attention, however, has served to obscure the fact that Schiller truly (...) intended his remark as a joke, representing a serious, if understandable, misinterpretation of Kantian morality. Though Schiller's various attempts to articulate a theory of moral motivation include important divergences from Kant's account, they represent a response to a set of problems that arise in the context of Kantian moral theory. As such, they may be of greatest interest to moralists who are working within the Kantian tradition. In this paper, I clarify certain points of Schiller's critique of Kant's account of moral motivation and place them in the context of his broader project of reconciling Kantianism and an ethics of virtue. (shrink)