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ABSTRACT

In his book The Limits of Morality, Shelly Kagan claims that contractarian approaches to ethics are incompatible with our common, everyday, “moderate” morality. In this thesis I defend a version of contractarianism that I believe leads to both deontological constraints and options; i.e., to a genuinely moderate morality. On my account, the parties to the agreement are conceived of as being motivated not only to promote self-interest, but also to formulate a code of ethics that gives proper respect to their moral status as persons. If such a picture of the bargainers’ motivations is defensible, as I believe it is, then the ‘moderate’ may in fact have recourse to contractarianism in her defense of everyday morality, for – as my thesis argues – bargainers that are thus motivated will arrive at a moderate morality.

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