SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Moehler, M. (2013). Contractarian ethics and Harsanyi’s two justifications of utilitarianism. Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 12, 24–47.

Abstract: Harsanyi defends utilitarianism by means of an axiomatic proof and by what he calls the ‘equiprobability model’. Both justifications of utilitarianism aim to show that utilitarian ethics can be derived from Bayesian rationality and some weak moral constraints on the reasoning of rational agents. I argue that, from the perspective of Bayesian agents, one of these constraints, the impersonality constraint, is not weak at all if its meaning is made precise and that generally it even contradicts individual rational agency. Without the impersonality constraint, Harsanyi’s two justifications of utilitarianism on the grounds of Bayesian rationality fail. As an alternative, I develop a contractarian framework that is compatible with individual rational agency and Harsanyi’s central assumptions, and that allows the derivation of moral conclusions on the grounds of Bayesian rationality. The developed framework offers a novel justification of contractarian ethics and may best be described as a combined version of Harsanyi’s equiprobability model and Rawls’s original position.

Journal Article 2: Bykov, A. (2016). Altruism: New perspectives of research on a classical theme in sociology of morality. Current Sociology. doi:10.1177/0011392116657861

Abstract: Since coined by Comte, altruism has become one of the most controversial concepts in social and behavioral sciences, although altruistic behavior and related topics have been successfully studied within a number of fields. Oddly, while the theme of altruism was of primary significance in classical sociology of morality, modern sociology seems to have relatively little interest in studying altruism and altruistic behavior (although there are some exceptions) and the field is largely dominated by other social and behavioral sciences. The article aims at reconsidering altruism as a concept and as an area of research in sociology of morality by reviewing the major concepts of altruism in classical sociology and modern behavioral sciences. The article argues that, although for the ‘new’ sociology of morality it is necessary to take into account behavioral and psychological perspectives, a promising sociological approach to the study of altruism in different social contexts can be based on renewing the classical focus on the normative components of moral behavior.