On Reasons to Live Justifiably: In Support of a Humean Contractualist Account of Moral Reasons
Rieder, Travis N
Richardson, Henry S
The goal of this dissertation is to explore a new answer to the very old question, "Why be moral?" Or, as the question is often phrased today, "What reason does one have to be moral?" I begin my investigation into this question (what I call the `WM' question) with the keen analysis of it given by T. M. Scanlon in articulating his contractualist answer in What We Owe to Each Other (1998). Although I take Scanlon's view - what he calls an account of the `motivational basis of morality' - to be quite promising, I lodge two objections against it. First, Scanlon does not avail himself of the most complete answer that he could to the WM question. And second, his account of which reason one has to be moral is imbedded in a grand theory that provides a problematic explanation of the existence of reasons. I then argue that strengthening Scanlon's account in response to the first objection makes attractive an alternative theory of reasons, the adoption of which responds to the second objection. In short, I argue that Scanlon can and should accept an account on which one has reason to act rightly because one has reason to live with others on mutually justifiable terms - a reason that one has because she has the further reason to have intimate relationships with others. This latter reason, then, is explainable in a plausible, naturalistic way by the Humean Theory of Reasons (HTR), on which an agent's particular desires explain her reasons for action.The result of modifying Scanlon's account in the direction suggested is a view that I call a Humean Contractualist Account of Moral Reasons, or HCA. After making the initial case for such a view in the first two chapters, I spend chapters 3 and 4 completing a sketch of HCA. I then spend the final three chapters defending it from important criticisms. In the end, I conclude that HCA is promising and deserving of further consideration.