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Title: Transcendental contractualism : a critique of Scanlon's notion of right and wrong
Author: Cook, Philip Andrew
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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Transcendental contractualism is an attempt to explain the objectivity of reasons against wronging. Chapter one discusses Scanlon's Contractualism and Utilitarianism. I argue that Scanlon fails to establish the motivational and normative basis for right and wrong. In chapter two I explain Scanlon's revised account of motivation and defend it from Humean and anti-Humean alternatives. In chapter three I discuss the normativity of what we owe to each other. I use the structure of Williams's distinction between internal and external reasons. I describe the varieties of internalism and externalism about normative reasons, and describe Scanlon as a weak externalist who is also committed to the objectivity of normative reasons. I argue that the combination of weak externalism and objectivity regarding the nature of normative reasons is problematic. In chapter four I endorse the general approach of the buck-passing argument, but criticise Scanlon's version. I develop an augmented buck-passing argument that is brought to bear in chapter five. I employ the augmented buck-passing argument to refute the charges of circularity and redundancy. In the second part of this chapter I describe the problems of normative scepticism, and explain that Scanlon cannot establish the objectivity and a priori nature of the reasons against wronging. In chapter six, I turn to the transcendental arguments of Strawson's Individuals, and argue that when combined with Scanlon's account of the nature of intentional action and the structure of right and wrong, they can refute the scepticism of the amoralist, and those who challenge the priority of what we owe to each other. I argue that the transcendental argument for practical personhood is able to show that original moral properties of contractualism are necessary, universal, and a priori. I conclude that the argument for transcendental contractualism is able to provide for the objectivity of normative reasons, and their necessary connection to motivation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available