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16 November: Tony Reeves

“Contractualism as Solidarity: Risk, Hope, and the Agential Stance”

Abstract: How should contractualism address the acceptability of risk imposition? I argue that Scanlonian contractualism, even with recent modifications, cannot provide a plausible answer. Instead, we will have to draw upon more traditional contractualist strategies to find a viable approach that constrains interpersonal aggregation of advantage. The basic ideas is that each of us, as persons, has a higher-order interest in a morality that helps license an attitude of hope towards our endangered ends, so far as those ends are under the control of others. We share a common vulnerability as agents, and the moral world is partly about confronting that vulnerability together, such that responding to the above interest can be viewed as a kind of agential solidarity in our social relations. Acting in solidarity can legitimately compromise the lower-order interests (e.g., welfare interests) of persons in aggregate, even comparably important such interests.