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Contractualism has a venerable history and considerable appeal. Yet as an account of the foundations or ultimate grounds of morality it has been thought by many philosophers to be subject to fatal objections. In this book Nicholas Southwood argues otherwise. Beginning by detailing and diagnosing the shortcomings of the existing "Hobbesian" and "Kantian" models of contractualism, he then proposes a novel "deliberative" model, based on an interpersonal, deliberative conception of practical reason. He argues that the deliberative model of contractualism represents an attractive alternative to its more familiar rivals and that it has the resources to offer a more compelling account of morality's foundations, one that does justice to the twin demands of moral accuracy and explanatory adequacy.
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Table of Contents

1. Introduction ; 2. The Limits of Hobbesian Contractualism ; 3. The Limits of Kantian Contractualism ; 4. The Structure of Deliberative Contractualism ; 5. The Normativity of Deliberative Contractualism ; 6. Getting Morality Right ; 7. Grounding Morality ; References

About the Author

Dr Nicholas Southwood is a junior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford and an assistant professor in the Philosophy Program at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. He works primarily in moral and political philosophy, with a particular focus on questions concerning practical reason and normativity, and has published widely in those areas.


I believe [Southwood's arguments] are important and advance the dialogue between contractualists and their critics. In particular, I think attractive Southwood's attempt to ground moral normativity in deliberative normativity, the latter of which seems to have enough independent normative content to avoid explanatory circularity. In the end, Southwood concludes 'I hope that ... I have shown at least that deliberative contractualism is an account of morality's foundations that deserves to be given serious consideration.' Before raising criticisms, let me say that I think he has accomplished this task. * Kevin Vallier, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews * contains many interesting and compelling arguments that deserve careful consideration. ... I recommend this book to all who are serious about contractualism and about what it means to provide an explanation for morality. * R. Eric Barnes, Australasian Journal of Philosophy * well worth reading ... a clear and worthwhile addition to the literature * Alan H. Goldman, Mind *

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