The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Mon Feb 10, 2020
Howison Library, Moses Hall, 4:10–6:10 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Jed Lewinsohn
Terms of Service: Two Conceptions of Exchange

I scratch your back, you scratch mine—how must these services relate in order to constitute a quid pro quo exchange? This paper elaborates two conceptions of quid pro quo exchange – one cast in the motivational terms of reciprocal inducement, the other in the normative terms of reciprocal payment. The motivational conception views exchange as a method of extracting services from those who require an incentive – on this account, a quid pro quo is defined in terms of the instrumental motives that typically animate it, where each service is rendered as a means of bringing about the other. The preferred normative conception views exchange as a method of giving and receiving benefits without incurring lasting bonds and responsibilities – on this account, two services constitute a quid pro quo when each one satisfies the debt incurred by the other, such that after the sequence of performances the parties will be “all paid up” as far as the performances are concerned. The normative conception appeals to the notion of debt – a species of obligation with a distinctive conceptual structure – which is in turn given an analysis. Finally, the two accounts are compared with respect to the light they shed on our fraught attitudes towards quid pro quo exchange in the context of friendship.