Symposium Introduction

Panelists

Arnold Farr
Fred D’Agostino
Cynthia Stark
Gerald Gaus

Overview

Very diverse societies pose real problems for Rawlsian models of public reason. This is for two reasons: first, public reason is unable accommodate diverse perspectives in determining a regulative ideal.  Second, regulative ideals are unable to respond to social change.  While models based on public reason focus on the justification of principles, this book suggests that we need to orient our normative theories more toward discovery and experimentation.  The book develops a unique approach to social contract theory that focuses on diverse perspectives. It offers a new moral stance that author Ryan Muldoon calls, “The View From Everywhere,” which allows for substantive, fundamental moral disagreement.  This stance is used to develop a bargaining model in which agents can cooperate despite seeing different perspectives. Rather than arguing for an ideal contract or particular principles of justice, Muldoon outlines a procedure for iterated revisions to the rules of a social contract.  It expands Mill’s conception of experiments in living to help form a foundational principle for social contract theory.  By embracing this kind of experimentation, we move away from a conception of justice as an end state, and toward a conception of justice as a trajectory.

Listen to Robert Talisse interview Ryan Muldoon about Social Contract Theory for a Diverse World on the podcast, New Books in Philosophy: http://tinyurl.com/j9oq324

Also, read Ryan Muldoon’s related Niskanen Center article, “Diversity and Disagreement are the Solution, Not the Problem,” published Jan. 10, 2017:  https://niskanencenter.org/blog/diversity-disagreement-solution-not-problem/

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