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Minimal MoralityA Multilevel Social Contract Theory$
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Michael Moehler

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198785927

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198785927.001.0001

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Rational Choice Contractualism

Rational Choice Contractualism

(p.67) 3 Rational Choice Contractualism
Minimal Morality

Michael Moehler

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses contractualist theories of justice that, although they rely explicitly on moral assumptions in the traditional understanding of morality, employ rational choice theory for the justification of principles of justice. In particular, the chapter focuses on the dispute between Rawls and Harsanyi about the correct choice of principles of justice in the original position. The chapter shows that there is no winner in the Rawls–Harsanyi dispute and, ultimately, formal methods alone cannot justify moral principles. This finding is significant for the development of the rational decision situation that serves for the derivation of the weak principle of universalization for the domain of pure instrumental morality.

Keywords:   rational choice theory, contractualism, Rawls, Harsanyi, original position, formal methods

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