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Contractualism and the Foundations of Morality$
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Nicholas Southwood

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199539659

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199539659.001.0001

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Grounding morality

Grounding morality

(p.172) 7 Grounding morality
Contractualism and the Foundations of Morality

Nicholas Southwood

Oxford University Press

The final chapter considers whether deliberative contractualism is capable of satisfying the explanatory adequacy criterion. Whereas the strategy in Chapter 6 was positive and direct, here the strategy is negative and indirect. It argues that we have good reason to believe that deliberative contractualism is explanatorily adequate because we lack good reason to believe that it is explanatorily inadequate in any of the ways that it would have to satisfy the moral accuracy criterion and yet still fail to ultimately ground morality. As argued in Chapter 1, there are five relevant kinds of explanatory inadequacy: explanatory backwardness; explanatory supersession; explanatory epiphenomenality; explanatory circularity; and explanatory non-fundamentality. The chapter considers each of these in turn and argues that the best arguments for thinking that deliberative contractualism exemplifies them fail.

Keywords:   deliberative contractualism, explanatory adequacy criterion, explanatory inadequacy, explanatory backwardness, explanatory supersession, explanatory epiphenomenality, explanatory circularity, explanatory non-fundamentality

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