I am delighted that my friend and teacher Roderick Long has engaged my first foray into the blogosphere. Roderick has deeply influenced my views. For instance, if not for him, I would not be a eudaimonist.
But wait. Didn’t I say I was a contractualist? Isn’t that inconsistent with eudaimonism? In a word, no.
Like any good eudaimonist, I believe that practical reasons prescribed by the virtues are united and structured by eudaimonia as the final end for persons. I also believe that the content of the virtues cannot be determined independently of one another, so I accept a weak version of the unity of the virtues thesis, just like Roderick.
However, I believe that the content of the virtue of justice is best specified by a contractualist principle rather than the self-ownership principle. So like my teacher, I’m a kind of eudaemonist about practical reason as a whole, but unlike my teacher, I think a contractualist principle is the most “reasonable interpretation of justice’s prima facie deontological content,” not the self-ownership principle.
When it comes to institutional justice, coercion must be compatible with a contractualist principle, not a self-ownership principle. Further, personal reasons to be just are best identified by a contractualist principle, not a self-ownership principle. Consequence-based considerations can play precisely the same role with respect to specifying and grounding the contractualist principle as Roderick proposes they do for the self-ownership principle.
And that is why I claimed in my first post that eudaimonism is not really a third approach to defending libertarianism. Again, it is a broader theory of practical reason which helps to determine the content of justice but does not do so on its own and cannot be expected to. So my disagreement with my friend and teacher is about what principle is the most “reasonable interpretation of justice’s prima facie deontological content.”
I doubt that Roderick denies that one can combine a contractualist conception of justice with a broader eudaimonist theory of the virtues and practical reason. My point here is merely to clarify our present disagreement for the purpose of future discussion.
Take away: Roderick thinks that the self-ownership principle, if situated within a eudaimonist theory of practical reason, is sufficiently consequence-sensitive to escape my charge that self-ownership principles are in general too consequence-insensitive. I remain skeptical.
Or rather: I think contractualism in eudaimonist dress is much more intuitively consequence-sensitive than self-ownership in eudaimonist dress.
In my next post, I’ll offer a case that should distinguish our two views. And in future posts, I’ll outline the structure of contractualist libertarianism, of which John Tomasi’s new Free-Market Fairness is an attractive and exciting new version.