Talk:Social contract theories

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Acceptance of any type of social contract denies ones abliity to choose anarchy or nature as a acceptable path.

As to "when may we legitimately declare that we are not morally bound to do what the government says?" Only when we step outside of any government or contract, and there maintain an existance, can we successfully break any contract.

In modern day, this would mean physically moving outside the borders of any social system. A hard thing to do given the pervasive nature of governments.

Government is given spirit by social contracts; they are given form by physical extents; they are given power by the wide-spread acceptance of the social contracts; those contracts permutate into laws.

To be born into a society that has a social-contract/goverment/law, is to accept those conditions without a voice. For you to try to change that system means that you do not or cannot accept the values that are in place. Changing the system has few options: 1. within - using the establised laws to bring about change; 2. outside - operating beyond the rules of the system to effect change; 3. existential - employing a higher power to effect change (e.g. prayer, mediatation) [I'm just trying to keep an open mind here]. -- Mick

You cannot choose your place of birth. You say that it is unfair to be born under a social contract that you may not like. But in that case, wouldn't it be equally unfair to be born in an anarchic non-contract society that you may also not like? No matter what situation people are born into, there will inevitably be some who don't like it. The only thing that can be done is to ensure that all are born with equal chances in life and that at least the majority is satisfied. That's what a proper social contract can do. -- Mihnea Tudoreanu 17:33, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)


Well, no, I don't really agree with that. Couldn't your argument be rephrased: you might say it is unfair to be held to a contract which you didn't agree to; but, wouldn't it be equally unfair to not be a party to a contract that you do wish to agree to? Put this way, isn't it evidently flawed? Anyway, I agree with the guy commenting below that the social contract theory only makes sense (insofar as it makes sense at all) when viewed exclusively in terms of mutual advantage.
We were talking about the situation a person is born into. Mick argued that it is unfair for a person to be born into a social contract. I argued that it is equally unfair (if not more so) for a person to be born OUT of a social contract, given the fact that such a person would have to suffer in a chaotic, lawless society. How many people actually wish, right now, to live in a kind of society with no government whatsoever? A tiny minority.
As for the sense of the social contract theory, keep in mind that it is the only way to justify human rights without resorting to the mystical mumbo-jumbo of "natural rights". You don't get any rights from "nature" - just try to explain your right to life to a hungry shark if you don't believe me. You get rights from the rest of society, through the social contract. -- Mihnea Tudoreanu 11:32, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The reason this page exists is because of the weird world of Larry's Text. It should very likely be merged with social contract. - Nat Krause 18:09, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I wish to carry out the merger, but there doesn't seem to be anything on this page that wasn't already discussed over at social contract, so I'm thinking of just turning this article into a redirect page... -- Mihnea Tudoreanu 11:32, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Social contract theories in political philosophy are not about (tacit) real-world agreements. They are about mutual advantage. Honestly. Go read your Hobbes, your Rawls, your Gauthier. They are about the advantages of social cooperation and how these advantages legitimize political institutions. Why are people bound to their government? Because their government is what enables social cooperation. Not because these people have somehow agreed to obey their government -- that's Lockean tacit consent, and it is completely distinct from social contract theories.


On another note, is there any reason why this article should stay separate from the main social contract article? Judging by the name, "Social Contract Theories" should present a list of different social contract theories and a summary of each. But all it contains is a short blurb, which would feel right at home in the main social contract article.

I'm going to put up a notice asking for comments. I vote to merge the two social contract articles. -- Mihnea Tudoreanu 17:39, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)