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Relational Contractualism and Future Persons

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A moral theory should tell us something about our obligations to future persons. It is therefore sometimes objected that contractualist moral theories cannot give a satisfactory account of such obligations, as there is little to motivate a contract with persons who can offer us almost nothing in return. I will argue that more recent “relational” forms of contractualism escape these objections. These forms of contractualism do, however, remain vulnerable to Derek Parfit’s non-identity problem. Recent attempts to resolve this problem have looked to the role “generic reasons” and “standpoints” play in contractualist theories. I argue that these views provide an important line of response in cases where the deliberating agent has limited information about the identities of those their actions will affect, but that the non-identity problem is not such a case. I conclude by considering some remaining options for the relational contractualist.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Philosophy, University College, Oxford University, gibbmichael@gmail.com

10.1163/17455243-4681057
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/content/journals/10.1163/17455243-4681057
2016-03-16
2018-07-23

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