Maxim and Principle Contractualism


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


I argue that, in order to address the ideal world problem while remaining faithful to our concept of morality, Contractualists should no longer determine which actions I must perform by seeing whether they accord with certain principles for the general regulation of behavior. Instead, I argue, Contractualists should determine whether it is right or wrong for me to perform an action by evaluating any maxim that might be reflected by my action. I call the resulting view “Maxim Contractualism.” It states that an agent’s action is morally required just in case any maxim that he might adopt that involves not performing that action is one that someone could reasonably reject. Finally, I argue that, although Act Contractualism also provides us with the materials to solve the Ideal World Problem, it is a worse solution because it cannot account for the fact that, sometimes, what would happen if I performed an action over time is relevant to whether I am permitted to perform that action right here, right now.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ethics and Social Philosophy
Issue number3
Early online dateFeb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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