Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 577–594 | Cite as

Rational Cooperation and the Nash Bargaining Solution

Article

Abstract

In a recent article, McClennen (Synthese 187:65–93, 2012) defends an alternative bargaining theory in response to his criticisms of the standard Nash bargaining solution as a principle of distributive justice in the context of the social contract. McClennen rejects the orthodox concept of expected individual utility maximizing behavior that underlies the Nash bargaining model in favor of what he calls full rationality, and McClennen’s full cooperation bargaining theory demands that agents select the most egalitarian strictly Pareto-optimal distributional outcome that is strictly Pareto-superior to the state of nature. I argue that McClennen’s full cooperators are best described as reasonable agents whose rationality is constrained by moral considerations and that McClennen’s bargaining theory is moralized in this regard. If, by contrast, the orthodox concept of rationality is assumed and plausible assumptions are made about human nature and social cooperation, then a modified version of the standard Nash bargaining solution, which I call the stabilized Nash bargaining solution (Moehler in Utilitas 22:447–473, 2010), is justified. From the perspective of rational agents, the stabilized Nash bargaining solution can accommodate McClennen’s criticisms of the standard Nash bargaining solution in the context of the social contract and, for such agents, it can serve as a principle of distributive justice in deeply morally pluralistic societies.

Keywords

Full rationality Reasonableness Equality Instrumental rationality (Strict) Pareto-optimality (Stabilized) Nash bargaining solution 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy (0126)Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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