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Sufficient Reasons to Act Wrongly : Making Parfit’s Kantian Contractualist Formula Consistent with Reasons

Gunnemyr, Mattias LU (2017) In Philosophia 45(1). p.227-246
Abstract

In On What Matters (2011) Derek Parfit advocates the Kantian Contractualist Formula as one of three supreme moral principles. In important cases, this formula entails that it is wrong for an agent to act in a way that would be partially best. In contrast, Parfit’s wide value-based objective view of reasons entails that the agent often have sufficient reasons to perform such acts. It seems then that agents might have sufficient reasons to act wrongly. In this paper I will argue that such reasons are a symptom of a fundamental inconsistency between the Kantian Contractualist Formula and Parfit’s view of reasons. The formula requires that we consider what everyone could rationally will, while a wide value-based objective view requires that... (More)

In On What Matters (2011) Derek Parfit advocates the Kantian Contractualist Formula as one of three supreme moral principles. In important cases, this formula entails that it is wrong for an agent to act in a way that would be partially best. In contrast, Parfit’s wide value-based objective view of reasons entails that the agent often have sufficient reasons to perform such acts. It seems then that agents might have sufficient reasons to act wrongly. In this paper I will argue that such reasons are a symptom of a fundamental inconsistency between the Kantian Contractualist Formula and Parfit’s view of reasons. The formula requires that we consider what everyone could rationally will, while a wide value-based objective view requires that we consider only what the agent has sufficient reasons for doing. The same inconsistency is particularly obvious in Parfit’s version of the Consent Principle, which share important features with the Kantian Contractualist Formula. Parfit accepts that moral principles might entail that we sometimes have sufficient reasons to act wrongly. However, to accept that supreme moral principles have such implications is objectionable if you, like Parfit, also hold that principles with such implications should be rejected or revised. I suggest that we could abandon the requirement that we have to consider the reasons of everyone. This would make the Kantian Contractualist Formula consistent with Parfit’s view of reasons, at least in this respect. I also argue that we can keep most implications of the Kantian Contractualist Formula that Parfit finds attractive.

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organization
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published
subject
keywords
Kantian Contractualist Formula, On What Matters, Parfit D, Reasons, The Consent Principle
in
Philosophia
volume
45
issue
1
pages
227 - 246
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:84988702995
  • wos:000400403700014
ISSN
0048-3893
DOI
10.1007/s11406-016-9766-z
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
88bcb8be-e933-4458-9b88-1583076ec1f0
date added to LUP
2016-10-31 15:17:26
date last changed
2018-01-07 11:32:50
@article{88bcb8be-e933-4458-9b88-1583076ec1f0,
  abstract     = {<p>In On What Matters (2011) Derek Parfit advocates the Kantian Contractualist Formula as one of three supreme moral principles. In important cases, this formula entails that it is wrong for an agent to act in a way that would be partially best. In contrast, Parfit’s wide value-based objective view of reasons entails that the agent often have sufficient reasons to perform such acts. It seems then that agents might have sufficient reasons to act wrongly. In this paper I will argue that such reasons are a symptom of a fundamental inconsistency between the Kantian Contractualist Formula and Parfit’s view of reasons. The formula requires that we consider what everyone could rationally will, while a wide value-based objective view requires that we consider only what the agent has sufficient reasons for doing. The same inconsistency is particularly obvious in Parfit’s version of the Consent Principle, which share important features with the Kantian Contractualist Formula. Parfit accepts that moral principles might entail that we sometimes have sufficient reasons to act wrongly. However, to accept that supreme moral principles have such implications is objectionable if you, like Parfit, also hold that principles with such implications should be rejected or revised. I suggest that we could abandon the requirement that we have to consider the reasons of everyone. This would make the Kantian Contractualist Formula consistent with Parfit’s view of reasons, at least in this respect. I also argue that we can keep most implications of the Kantian Contractualist Formula that Parfit finds attractive.</p>},
  author       = {Gunnemyr, Mattias},
  issn         = {0048-3893},
  keyword      = {Kantian Contractualist Formula,On What Matters,Parfit D,Reasons,The Consent Principle},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {227--246},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Philosophia},
  title        = {Sufficient Reasons to Act Wrongly : Making Parfit’s Kantian Contractualist Formula Consistent with Reasons},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11406-016-9766-z},
  volume       = {45},
  year         = {2017},
}