1-11 of 11 Results

  • Keyword: social contract theory x
Clear all

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

7. John Locke  

Hagar Kotef

This chapter discusses John Locke’s theory of the social contract, which became one of the primary frameworks of political thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It focuses on one of his books, The Second Treatise of Government, first published in 1689. Since Locke sees humans as essentially rational beings, he believes that even without a ‘power to keep them all in awe’, humans could live in relative peace with each other, form social lives, and regulate themselves according to the Laws of Nature. While seemingly presenting a universal individual, Locke’s social contract theory in fact contrives only specific individuals as the contracting agents: propertied, European (if not English) men. The chapter situates Locke’s contract within a global historical context by considering the voices that have been excluded from or marginalized within this story. Through these different figures—the servant (wage labourer), the wife, the Indigenous, and the slave—we see a series of tensions between formal equality and material, racial, and gender inequalities.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

8. Mary Astell  

Allauren Forbes

This chapter investigates how English philosopher, feminist, and political theorist Mary Astell offered a thoroughgoing and sustained critique of social contract theory in Some Reflections Upon Marriage (1700) and A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (1694). Like many other philosophers and political theorists marginalized on the basis of their identities, Astell was keenly attuned to the views, institutions, and systems of power that were used to perpetuate oppression. The chapter then looks at Astell’s criticisms of central features of social contract theory, particularly in the context of the socio-political institution of marriage as an analogue for the social contract. It assesses whether the analogue holds or whether it was simply a rhetorical device and what this means for how Astell understands marriage. Finally, the chapter suggests that Astell’s critique of social contract theory, especially its application to marriage, was an attempt to reshape the socio-political terrain of her time.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

10. Carole Pateman and Charles Mills  

Terrell Carver

This chapter begins by providing an overview of contractualism, explaining how social contract theories emerged in early modern north-west Europe as a critique of monarchical absolutisms. Contract theorists argued that absolutist monarchical governments were illegitimate. In recent years, political theorists Carole Pateman and Charles Mills have signally exposed the exclusionary violence and inclusionary discriminations related to gender, race, and class that lay within this apparently universal egalitarianism. To do this, they have theorized three prior contracts of domination: the sexual contract, the racial contract, and the settler contract. Each prior contract explains hypothetically how self-selected individuals have agreed that they can subordinate those whom they have already excluded. Thus, the subsequent social contract legitimates, not the human equality implied in its stated premises, but the inequalities that it fails to disclose. The chapter also registers the development of a further ‘capacity’ or ‘ableist’ contract modelled on the prior contracts of gender, race, and class. It examines the principles of contractual egalitarianism in relation to the subordinating dynamics of capitalist inequality.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

2. Justifying the State  

This chapter examines consent theory and utilitarian theory, along with some other approaches to the moral defence of the state. Before deciding how best to justify the state, the chapter explains what a state is. It considers different types of state, from liberal democracies to dictatorships, benign or tyrannical, based on military rule, a monarchical family line, or party membership. Some states promote the free market, while others attempt collective forms of production and distribution. The chapter proceeds by discussing the goal of justifying the state: to show that there are universal political obligations. It then explores a number of defences of political obligation based on social contract, utilitarianism, and the principle of fairness.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

2. Justifying The State  

This chapter examines consent theory and utilitarian theory, along with some other approaches to the moral defence of the state. Before deciding how best to justify the state, the chapter explains what a state is. It considers different types of state, from liberal democracies to dictatorships, benign or tyrannical, based on military rule, a monarchical family line, or party membership. Some states promote the free market, while others attempt collective forms of production and distribution. The chapter proceeds by discussing the goal of justifying the state: to show that there are universal political obligations. It then explores a number of defences of political obligation based on social contract, utilitarianism, and the principle of fairness.

Chapter

Cover European Integration Theory

11. Normative Political Theory and the European Union  

Richard Bellamy and Joseph Lacey

This chapter highlights the three main positions that have come to dominate the normative debate on the European Union: cosmopolitanism (premised on a social contract between individuals globally), statism (premised on a social contract between states), and, more recently, demoicracy (premised on a social contract between states and all their individual citizens). The main body of the chapter attempts to understand each of these normative perspectives, both as freestanding political theories and as they have been applied to the EU. Proponents of each view maintain that the EU embodies some of the principles that comprise their respective theories, but fall short in other regards. Using each of these three theories to evaluate the European response to the refugee crisis, which peaked in 2015, the authors of this chapter attempt to further illustrate the similarities and differences between them. Final reflections concern directions for future research on political theory and the EU.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

12. Hobbes  

Deborah Baumgold

This chapter examines Thomas Hobbes's key political ideas. After providing a short biography of Hobbes, the chapter traces the development of his political theory as articulated in the Leviathan. In particular, it considers whether Hobbism rests on the assumption of egoism and whether Hobbes's theory depends on the idea of a social contract. It also describes the sequential composition of the three versions of Hobbes's theory and shows that his basic assumption about human nature is a form of solipsism. According to Hobbes, our thinking is necessarily self-referential, which need not be equivalent to holding that we are necessarily self-interested (egoistic). The chapter concludes with a discussion of Hobbesian contractarianism, agency, and authorization as well as three strands of contractarian reasoning to illustrate the importance of the idea of consent in Hobbes's political arguments.

Book

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

Edited by Manjeet Ramgotra and Simon Choat

Rethinking Political Thinkers is composed of six Parts. Part I looks at the boundaries of the political. This Part considers the view of philosophers, such as Plato, Socrates, Sojourner, Aristotle, bell hooks, and Kautilya. Part II discusses social contract theory and criticisms of the theory. The text then turns to liberal modernity and colonial domination in Part III. Part IV covers freedom and revolution and Part V looks at inclusion and equality. Part VI considers violence, power, and resistance. The text then moves on to cover the liberal self and Black consciousness. Part VIII is about sex and sexuality, with a chapter on Michel Foucault among others. The final chapter examines the environment, considering it in both the human and non-human contexts.

Chapter

Cover Global Politics

10. The State  

This chapter explores why the state is treated in International Relations (IR) as the most significant actor in global politics. It looks into interrelated myths that the state was founded by some divinely inspired social compact, and that today’s versions of sovereignty and anarchy are the only way to truly grasp the mechanics of global politics. These IR building blocks suggest that the locus of all power in global politics lies naturally and exclusively with the state. However, the chapter demonstrates that states are more often shaped and maintained by a myriad of power relations which operate beyond the remit of state authority. It also discusses the social contract theory variations of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

11. Hugo Grotius  

Camilla Boisen

This chapter examines Hugo Grotius' key political ideas. Grotius, one of the most prolific and erudite writers of the seventeenth century, sought to formulate a set of universal rights and duties that would secure peace by constraining states in their internal and external relations. Drawing on a wide range of philosophical and literary sources, including Roman law, ancient classics, theology, and poetry, Grotius rehabilitated the natural law in an attempt to achieve harmony in an increasingly splintered political environment. After providing a short biography of Grotius, the chapter analyses his views on natural law, natural rights, property rights, sociability, self-preservation, and social contracts. It also discusses Grotius' arguments regarding international order in the context of just war theory and punishment and concludes with an assessment of Grotius' legacy in the area of political thought.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

3. Liberal Equality  

This chapter examines the notion of liberal equality by considering John Rawls’s alternative to utilitarianism. In his A Theory of Justice, Rawls complains that political theory was caught between two extremes: utilitarianism on the one side, and what he calls ‘intuitionism’ on the other. The chapter presents Rawls’s ideas, first by discussing the two arguments he gives for his answer to the question of justice: the intuitive equality of opportunity argument and the social contract argument. It also analyses Ronald Dworkin’s views on equality of resources, focusing on his theory that involves the use of auctions, insurance schemes, free markets, and taxation. Finally, it explores the politics of liberal equality, arguing that liberals need to think seriously about adopting more radical politics.