social contract theory


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social contract theory

a theory of the origins and/or present basis of the STATE, which, in its simplest form, holds that the state arises from a ‘contract’ in which each member gives up his own ‘natural rights’ (see NATURAL RIGHTS AND NATURAL LAW) in return for new rights under the law (see also LOCKE, ROUSSEAU). Social contract theory does not apply to most historical cases of state formation, though it does apply to the foundation of new constitutions such as that of the US in 1787, which, in part at least, have been explicitly enacted under the guidance of social contract theory. Rather than as a straightforwardly explanatory or sociological theory, the historical role of contract theory is an ethical or logical theory, advanced to provide moral evaluation and reconstruction of existing constitutions, to justify revolutions, etc. See also JUSTICE, RAWLS.
References in periodicals archive ?
What we need to see in this tradition of the liberal social contract theory is that despite these thinkers' theoretical provisions to ensure the equality of all contractual parties, their equality clause actually excludes those who would not be regarded as equal by failing to do justice to them.
1 shows how an Islamic bank can exist in a society using social contract theory.
Social contract theory and the principle of justice informs police in this area by reminding officers that all citizens have agreed to transfer to government their own power to enforce their basic rights.
Social contract theory traditionally answered this question by the controversial mechanism of consent.
Despite its origins in Greek philosophy, social contract theory is usually associated with the seventeenth century when it played a central role in European, and particularly English, constitutional conflicts.
Second, the social contract theory presupposes atomistic individualism as its theory of human nature, a conception that is highly problematic psychologically and sociologically.
The second half provides a detailed practical test of the adequacy of the social contract theory and ethical standards defended by philosophical argument in the first half.
How might the social contract theory motivate us, given the pressures to immorality, to be moral?
Classical political economy and Lockean social contract theory also share one important premise: Starting from complete economic self-interest, both proceed to a theory of market and state in which private ordering is given the highest priority.
His general theme is that general equilibrium theory (which he assumes constitutes the essence of neoclassical economics) fits into epistemology as a subsection of social contract theory, or alternatively as a branch of applied mathematics.
Gert also believes that Hobbes's moral theory is a natural law theory and his political philosophy is neither a natural law nor a social contract theory.
As to the content of morality, the theory seems to be an odd grab bag of social contract theory, intuitionism, Kantian theory, natural rights, Mill's Harm Principle, and Mill's utilitarianism.