successful – will do much to increase its plausibility. I will try to provide just such a defense.
Of course, once we decide to take up Kagan’s first challenge, it becomes imperative that we take his second challenge seriously too: we had better either avoid appealing to a social-contract scenario to ground our constraints, or else be able to take Kagan up on this challenge and show that our contractarian story does not lead to extremism, but leads instead to a genuine moderate morality complete with constraints and options. And again, though the moderate’s inability to meet Kagan’s second challenge may not necessarily be fatal to her position, her successful response to this challenge will do much to increase the plausibility of moderate morality in the eyes of the extremist. III. Why Contractarianism?
It might seem that by appealing to contractarian theories as a means of replying to Kagan’s critique of moderate morality, I am setting before myself a needlessly difficult task. For, while it may be true that the contract approach does provide a promising way to ground constraints and their principled exceptions in a common source (as Kagan himself suggests on page 135), it also has the off-setting burden of presenting us with Kagan’s second challenge – I must now additionally show that the contract approach leads to options. So perhaps a word needs to be said about my decision to utilize contractarianism in meeting Kagan’s challenges.
I have already more than once suggested that contractarianism seems, at first glance, to provide the best means of meeting Kagan’s first challenge. But why is this? I believe it is due to an essential feature of all contractarian accounts: the fact that in contractarian scenarios, bargainers will seek to minimize the ‘trade-offs’ that accompany the implementation of the social contract. That is, bargainers seeking to adopt a contract for the sake of lessening the evils accompanying the state of nature do so even as they foresee that certain trade-offs will occur. For while adopting the contract will bring about protection from a great number of the evils the bargainers would encounter in the state of nature, this protection comes at the price of certain new threats that are sure to arise in life under the contract. The bargainers accept the threat of these new evils because they prefer the trade-off; still, though, they will seek to make this trade-off as slight as