Miscellaneous Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in The Journal of Value Inquiry. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10790-014-9440-2


The contractualist account of wrongness faces a family of objections that all aim to show that the account is explanatorily inadequate. These objections often level claims of circularity or redundancy, and interpreted as an internal challenge they present formal objections to the account of wrongness. If correct, they show that structurally contractualism fails to provide an independent account of wrongness because its determinations of wrongness necessarily rely on a non-contractual basis. Rather than respond to particular versions of these objections, I identify the elements of contractualism that may provide a basis for a charge of redundancy or circularity: the objections to a principle of action, the basis for assessing the objections and the reason-giving force of wrongness. Then, I show that accounting for the wrongness of an action at any of these stages either fails to capture the contractual account of wrongness or does not invoke a non-contractualist standard. Building on the ideal of justifiability, contractualists can provide an in principle response to these structural challenges.


contractualism, justification, redundancy objection, circularity



Date Posted: 25 September 2019

This document has been peer reviewed.