Renegotiating the Social Contract: Hobbes to Rawls

Dissertation, University of Hawai'i (2003)
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Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Rawls set out different versions of the social contract theory. In this dissertation, these different versions are treated as iterative accounts within an on-going meta-conversation. To facilitate this conversation, a generic social contract is developed that sets out a uniform way to look at the different versions of the social contract. The generic social contract highlights specific features of the contract process for comparison by creating a set of questions that are posed to each theorist. This conversation reveals a series of progressive choices regarding the values and standards incorporated into the moral and political institutions designed to bring about social order. Taken as a whole, the different versions are subsumed under a social contract paradigm that reinterprets the social contract as a diagnostic tool that goes back and forth between assessing problematic moral and political situations and the societal institutions that manage them. The social contract paradigm offers a technique of continuous inquiry that permits renegotiation of the social contract in light of progressive refinement of the demands placed upon moral and political institutions



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Deb Kissinger
University of Hawaii

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The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):246-253.
The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 1993 - Critical Inquiry 20 (1):36-68.

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