Mutual Advantage Contractualism


For most, the objections above raise too large a problem for contractualism. However, there are some philosophers who continue to defend the theory and so have put forth replies to the objections. In response to the first objection, that the rights of those who are unable to make agreements are ignored, mutual-advantage contractualism argues that the fact that some vulnerable individuals are unable to make agreements has no bearing on their moral rights. The theory says that those who have more bargaining power and are able to make agreements would still be required to treat those with less bargaining power equally and morally. This is because there are always individuals with more bargaining power that would be able to cause harm
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This is, in part, because some do not believe it to be a problem. However, it is possible to surmise the way in which each version of contractualism would deal with this objection. Mutual-advantage contractualism would perhaps argue that the guilt felt when harming an individual or the sympathy felt for an individual that has been harmed is not problematic. This is because the emotions are felt because social conventions have led to a perception of certain actions as right or wrong, despite the fact that the contract was grounded in selfishness. This means that these emotions are able to be felt because individuals are not always conscious of the underlying self serving reasons for morality. The reasonable-agreement theory would then argue that these emotions are felt because having concern for the welfare of others is part of the social contract – so, not feeling these emotions would be rejecting the agreement and would therefore make that individual unreasonable (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Contractarianism …show more content…
However, problems with selfishness and its link with morality in the first contemporary theory, mutual-advantage contractualism, led to a second contemporary theory, reasonable-agreement contractualism. The second version has been shown to have problems, especially with the rights of the weak. Despite these issues, both versions of contractualism still have followers today. It is because of this that a comparison of the two is imperative to the task of understanding whether contractualism has any merit. This essay has discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both theories – where it was shown that mutual-advantage contractualism has a more detrimental disadvantage, that morality should be self serving. Then, objections to each version revealed that both theories had problems with the rights of those who are unable to make agreements, and both had problems with certain emotions. In the final section the replies to these objections were explained. The replies for both versions of contractualism solve the problems adequately. However, mutual-advantage contractualism continues to have the detrimental problem of morality existing with selfishness – an argument that does not seem plausible, and a problem that this version is unable to solve. It is because of this that reasonable-agreement contractualism is more plausible. However, simply the fact that this version of contractualism is more

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