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Ethics 2-25-08 - Social Contract Theory Morality is the set...

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Social Contract Theory Morality is the set of rules governing how ppl are to treat one another, that rational ppl will agree to accept for their mutual benefit, on the condition that others follow those rules as well (Rachels, pg. 137) Advantages: - The social contract tells us which moral rules we are to follow – those necessary for social living - It provides reason to follow the moral rules – its to our own advantage - Tells us when we are allowed to break the rules (ex. Throw someone in jail) - Preserves the objective basis of morality w/o treating it as something “beyond” our human society Criticism #1: What contract? “It isn’t worth the paper it isn’t written on” - In other words, there is no actual contract our ancestors made - Why accept a contract as binding unless there is a contract? Reply: In general, agreement-ruled behavior doesn’t require a formal acknowledgement of the rules. - Rachels’ example of a game you stumble upon - Our agreement is implicit in our daily social exchanges
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