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Morals by Agreement - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Morals by Agreement

David Gauthier


This book defends the traditional conception of morality as a rational, impartial constraint on the pursuit of individual interest or benefit. The principal obstacle faced by this conception is that the received account of rationality in economics and the social sciences identifies it with the maximization of individual interest (or more technically, utility); how then can a constraint on the pursuit of interest be rational? The key to meeting this obstacle is found in the recognition that in many situations, if each person seeks directly to maximize her utility, the outcome is sub‐optimal—i.e ... More

Keywords: bargain, bargaining, constraint, contractarian, ethics, impartiality, justice, liberal individual, maximization, minimax relative concession, morality, optimality, proviso, rationality, utility

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1987 Print ISBN-13: 9780198249924
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003 DOI:10.1093/0198249926.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David Gauthier, author
University of Pittsburgh
Author Webpage