Research articles

Bargaining and agreement in Gauthier's moral contractarianism

Published in: South African Journal of Philosophy
Volume 32, issue 3, 2013 , pages: 221–233
DOI: 10.1080/02580136.2013.837652
Author(s): Edwin EtieyiboDepartment of Philosophy, South Africa


Bargaining and distribution of benefits accruing from social cooperation are central topics in contractarian accounts of morality or distributive justice in general and David Gauthier's Morals by Agreement (MbA) in particular. In this paper, I raise some problems for MbA both with regards to bargaining over the benefits of social cooperation and the distribution of such benefits. The worries I raise piggyback on a couple of Jan Narveson's earlier queries of some of the topics in MbA: those of ‘questionable foundation’ and redundancy. However, I go beyond the substance of these queries by arguing that they raise fundamental worries about the correctness of the description of the elements of the bargaining situation, and the role and significance of agreement in MbA.

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