Philosophy Colloquium
Greg Bognar
University of Stockholm
Testing the Decomposition Test

Contractualism ties moral justification to the idea of "reasonable rejectability" in terms of the complaints one can make against adopting a moral principle. There is, however, sharp disagreement among contractualists whether contractualism should be based on ex ante or ex post complaints. Ex post contractualism, which is based on actual outcomes, is vulnerable to well-known objections. Ex ante contractualism, which is based on expected outcomes, is thought to be too similar to aggregative views and thereby conflict with the very motivation to embrace contractualism.

A recent proposal to defend ex ante contractualism from this objection introduces the so-called decomposition test, which extends the idea of reasonable rejectability to each stage in which a principle is implemented. In this paper, we argue that ex ante contractualism with the decomposition test faces a serious problem. We consider two interpretations of the view, and show that neither can avoid our objection. We show that the worry about the aggregative nature of ex ante contractualism not only remains, but it is exacerbated with the decomposition test.

(Based on joint work with Anders Herlitz, Institue for Futures Studies, Stockholm)

Friday, February 19, 2021