even if they do not bring about greater good.”39 While the bargainers’ belief that persons are worthy of aid and concern generates an agent-neutral pro tanto reason, in general, to promote their well-being, their belief that persons are also ends-in-themselves generates a sort of agent-relative pro tanto reason for persons to promote their own individual good. If both of these are to be legitimate, neither one can be insistent. Simply stated, a person’s status as an end-in-itself is incompatible with the priority given to the impartial perspective presupposed by the claim that there is an insistent pro tanto reason to promote the good. Similarly, the rejection of any sort of pro tanto reason to promote the overall good is incompatible with the agent-neutral value that arises from our bargainers’ concern to preserve persons’ status as beings who are worthy of concern. (It is worth noting, too, that this very dimension of our bargainers’ motivations that leads to the acceptance of the non-insistent pro tanto reason is an indispensable component of a successful defense of contract-based moderate morality. For it is this belief that persons are worthy of concern that generated the threshold modifications to constraints, and thus enabled us in the first place to defend a non-absolutist – and thereby plausible – version of moderate morality.)
In conclusion, then, we see that the bargainers’ personhood-respecting motive leads to the acceptance of the validity of both agent-relative and agent-neutral values as sources of reasons for an agent’s actions. Thus, our moderate can agree with Kagan in accepting the pro tanto reason to promote the greater overall good (as a consequence of her commitment to persons’ worthiness of concern), while still defending options (as a necessary consequence of her belief that persons are ends-in-themselves). These options, too, are compatible with the bargainers’ insistence on the inviolability of persons and with their commitment to promoting self-interest (expressed in their appeal to cost as an argument in favor of options). III. Concluding Remarks
If the contract-based account I have sketched in this thesis is plausible, then it seems that Shelly Kagan’s claim that the moderate cannot appeal to contractarianism as a means of defending moderate morality is mistaken. For I have shown that if (as may reasonably be assumed) a set of rational bargainers is motivated not only to arrive at a
Kamm 1992, p. 355.