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    Wendt, Fabian 2016. Compromise, Peace and Public Justification.

    Etieyibo, Edwin 2013. Bargaining and agreement in Gauthier's moral contractarianism. South African Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 32, Issue. 3, p. 221.

    Mintoff, Joe 1996. On a problem for contractarianism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 74, Issue. 1, p. 98.

    ALEXY, ROBERT 1992. A Discourse-Theoretical Conception of Practical Reason*. Ratio Juris, Vol. 5, Issue. 3, p. 231.

    Donohue, Laura and Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter 1991. 20 YEARS OF MORAL EPISTEMOLOGY: A BIBLIOGRAPHY. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 29, Issue. S1, p. 217.


Rationality in Agreement: A Commentary on Gauthier's Morals by Agreement1

  • Gilbert Harman (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2009

Gauthier's title is potentially misleading. The phrase “morals by agreement” suggests a social contract theory of morality according to which basic moral principles arise out of an actual or hypothetical agreement. John Rawls defends a hypothetical agreement version, arguing that the basic principles of justice are those that would be agreed to in an initial position of fair equality. I myself defend an actual agreement version, arguing that the moral principles that apply to a person derive from implicit conventions the person has accepted in dealing with other people. Gauthier's view is different from either of these sorts of contract theory. Instead, he holds that certain basic principles of impartiality are prior to actual agreements.

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Gilbert Harman , “Moral Relativism Defended,” Philosophical Review, vol.84 (1975), pp.322

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