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David Gauthier

David Gauthier is a Canadian-American philosopher best known for his neo-Hobbesian social contract (contractarian) theory of morality, as laid out in his book Morals By Agreement. Gauthier takes value as a matter of individuals' subjective preferences, and argues that moral constraints on straightforward utility-maximizing are prudentially justified. He argues that it's most prudent to give up straightforward maximizing and instead adopt a disposition of constrained maximization, according to which one resolves to cooperate with all similarly disposed persons and defect on the rest. In other words, moral constraints are justified because they make us all better off, in terms of our preferences (whatever they may be). A consequence is that good moral thinking is just an elevated and subtly strategic version of plain old means-end reasoning.

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