Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon

Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon

Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon

Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon

Synopsis

For close to forty years now T.M. Scanlon has been one of the most important contributors to moral and political philosophy in the Anglo-American world. Through both his writing and his teaching, he has played a central role in shaping the questions with which research in moral and political philosophy now grapples.

Reasons and Recognitionbrings together fourteen new papers on an array of topics from the many areas to which Scanlon has made path-breaking contributions, each of which develops a distinctive and independent position while critically engaging with central themes from Scanlon's own work in the area. Contributors include well-known senior figures in moral and political philosophy as well as important younger scholars whose work is just beginning to gain wider recognition. Taken together, these papers make evident the scope and lasting interest of Scanlon's contributions to moral and political philosophy while contributing to a deeper understanding of the issues addressed in his work.

Excerpt

T. M. SCANLÜN is one of the most important philosophers working today. Through his writing and his teaching, he has decisively shaped the questions with which research in moral and political philosophy now grapples, exerting a virtually unrivaled influence on contemporary discussions.

In moral philosophy, Scanlon is best known for the development of the theory he calls contractualism. This theory offers a comprehensive account of the central moral requirements that regulate our interactions with each other (the “morality of right and wrong,” in Scanlon’s words). On the contractualist approach, these requirements are determined by principles for the general regulation of behavior that nobody could reasonably reject. Thus, morality has its source in the idea of a kind of hypothetical agreement amongst individuals who are seriously concerned to discover a common basis for social life. The principles that are arrived at through this agreement in turn define a valuable way of relating to other people, which.… refers to as “mutual recognition.” By complying with core moral requirements, we ensure that our behavior can be justified to anyone who might be affected by it on grounds that it would be unreasonable for those persons themselves to deny.

This way of thinking about morality represents a sophisticated and attractive alternative to the consequentialist approaches that have dominated discussion in the tradition of Anglo-American philosophy. Furthermore, Scanlon’s development of the contractualist theory exhibits the comprehensive ambitions that are characteristic of the great works of moral philosophy of the modern period. Contractualism is, in the first instance, an account of the normative structure of the morality of right and wrong. But Scanlon takes its appeal to derive in part from the light it is able to shed on other issues that are of perennial concern to moral theory, such as the normative significance of moral requirements for the agents who are subject to them and the . . .

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