How do we judge whether an action is morally right or wrong? If an action
is wrong, what reason does that give us not to do it? Why should we give
such reasons priority over our other concerns and values? In this book, T.
M. Scanlon offers new answers to these questions, as they apply to the
central part of morality that concerns what we owe to each other. According
to his contractualist view, thinking about right and wrong is thinking
about what we do in terms that could be justified to others and that they
could not reasonably reject. He shows how the special authority of
conclusions about right and wrong arises from the value of being related to
others in this way, and he shows how familiar moral ideas such as fairness
and responsibility can be understood through their role in this process of
mutual justification and criticism. Scanlon bases his contractualism on a
broader account of reasons, value, and individual well-being that
challenges standard views about these crucial notions. He argues that
desires do not provide us with reasons, that states of affairs are not the
primary bearers of value, and that well-being is not as important for
rational decision-making as it is commonly held to be. Scanlon is a
pluralist about both moral and non-moral values. He argues that, taking
this plurality of values into account, contractualism allows for most of
the variability in moral requirements that relativists have claimed, while
still accounting for the full force of our judgments of right and wrong.

Thomas Scanlon—What We Owe To Each Other

  • 9780674004238