What Is a Social Contract Theory

Rousseau`s theories of the social contract together form a unique and coherent vision of our moral and political situation. We are inherently endowed with freedom and equality, but our nature has been corrupted by our contingent social history. However, we can overcome this corruption by invoking our free will to reconstitute ourselves politically, according to strongly democratic principles, which is good for us both individually and collectively. The theory of an implicit social contract is also part of the principles of explicit consent. [25] The main difference between implied consent and express consent is that express consent must leave no room for misinterpretation. In addition, you must specify directly what you want, and the person must respond concisely who confirms or rejects the proposal. Since the problem of justification has appeared in the foreground, the second aspect of contemporary social contract thinking seems to be taking its place: its dependence on hypothetical agreement models. The aim is to model citizens` reasons, and that is why we ask them what they would accept under conditions where their agreements are supposed to pursue their reasons. Contemporary contract theory is typically doubly hypothetical.

Certainly, no eminent theorist believes that questions of justification will be clarified by an actual investigation of attitudes towards existing social arrangements and will not be clarified until such an investigation is conducted. So the question is not: “Are these agreements currently the subject of a real agreement between citizens?” (If that were the question, the answer would usually be “no.”) Rather, the question is, “Would these agreements be agreed upon if citizens were consulted?” Although both questions are somehow likely to be read empirically, only the latter is at stake in today`s theorization. The treaty is still hypothetical today, at least in that first sense. Beyond the problem of inequality, there are other obstacles to the use of States as representatives of legal persons in the process of concluding an international social contract. Many States, for example, do not adhere to basic moral principles regarding how they treat their own people. It is therefore unlikely that they will argue in accordance with the principles set out in section II. If tyrannical regimes treat their citizens shabby or are unable or unwilling to represent all their citizens equally at home, they are unlikely to introduce norms of justice and reciprocity into international relations. Eighteenth-century theories of the social contract justify a political system based on the equality of all citizens. The simultaneous emergence of republican democracies is no coincidence. The idea that citizens were equal was not particularly new, as the earlier theory of treaties began with a state of a pre-political nature in which everyone was equal. But the idea that individuals in the political state should retain their equality creates an entirely new conception of government.

The idea of a social agreement or treaty continues to be invoked by politicians. In 1974, for example, the British Labour Party proposed saving the UK through a social contract with the trade union movement. In 1994, the Republican Party in the United States conducted its political campaign on the basis of a treaty with America. The usefulness of social contract theory is its ability to ask what rational individuals would do if they had a choice, and then criticize a system based on an argument about what is best for everyone. Even in Hobbes` defense of the monarchy, he begins by assuming what is best for everyone, not just a minority. Rawls extends this idea to justice and the distribution of resources to criticize any historical situation. Both approaches have been addressed indirectly in discussions of a social contract for science, but it remains to be shown that such rhetoric draws deeply on the tradition of social contract theory. The analysis so far is based on a kind of symbiosis between science and technology in what is often called technoscience. But in fact, it can be argued that the situation with technology, especially the form of technology known as engineering, must be distinguished. For engineers, at least in the United States, any presumed social contract usually manifests itself in the market. Industrial or commercial success replaces statutes.

When it comes to engineering, the problem is that there is no social contract – and yet technologies developed and commercialized often have social implications that consumers cannot intelligently anticipate, and government regulation is not enough to control them. Social contracts can be explicit, like laws, or implicit, like raising your hand in class to speak. The U.S. Constitution is often cited as an explicit example of part of the American social contract. It determines what the government can and cannot do. People who choose to live in America accept to be governed by the moral and political obligations set forth in the social contract of the Constitution. It is important to note that the theory of the social contract emerged not only in historical association with the rise of modern democracy, but also in relation to the rise of modern science and technology. In fact, the theories about the state of nature in Hobbes and Locke provide justifications for the pursuit of technology.

In Hobbes, justification is one of the necessities of escaping the oppression of nature. With Locke, the justification is rather to seize opportunities for advancement. Moreover, the social order within science is no different from that of Rousseau and Kant: that of free and equal members in a well-ordered politics. In fact, Enlightenment scholars often referred to the Republic of Literature and the Republic of Science – and saw this democracy in science as a model for this to be established outside of science. The term Republic of Science continues to be used by advocates of science such as Michael Polanyi (1962) and Ian Jarvie (2001). According to Filmer, political relationships and obligations stem from historical and family relationships and customs. Locke repeated this argument directly in the first treatise of his Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689. In the second half of the text, Locke described an alternative to the biblical and cinematic representation of political legitimacy.

According to Locke`s model and the model of all social contract theorists, individuals are extracted from the socio-historical constraints that Filmer emphasized and placed in an artificial construction generally referred to as the “state of nature.” From this starting point, the theory of the social contract affirms the principle of consent instead of primogeniture as the basis of political legitimacy. While the theory of social contracts, particularly in the works of Hobbes and Locke, begins as a representation of the origins and legitimacy of the state, later thinkers such as Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and John Rawls also applied the theory of social contracts to the international scene (in part, citing Grotius` project of international justice in On the Laws of War and Peace). .