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What Is Rousseau`s Social Contract

In most cases, feminism defies any simple or universal definition. In general, however, feminists take women`s experiences seriously, as well as the impact that theories and practices have on women`s lives. Given the pervasive influence of contract theory on social, political, and moral philosophy, it is therefore not surprising that feminists have much to say about whether contract theory is appropriate or appropriate from the perspective of taking women seriously. Examining all feminist responses to social contract theory would take us far beyond the limits of this article. I will therefore focus on only three of these arguments: Carole Pateman`s argument on the relationship between the contract and the subordination of women to men, feminist arguments on the nature of the liberal individual, and the argument of care. The account of Rousseau`s general will is marked by ambiguities and ambiguities that have aroused the interest of commentators since its first publication. The main tension is between a democratic conception, in which the general will is simply what the citizens of the state have decided together in their sovereign assembly, and an alternative interpretation, in which the general will is the transcendent embodiment of the common interest of the citizens, which exists in the abstraction of what one of them really wants (Bertram 2012). Both views find some support in Rousseau`s texts, and both have been influential. Contemporary epistemic conceptions of democracy often refer to Rousseau`s discussion in Book 2, Chapter 3 of the Social Contract. These accounts usually take Condorcet`s jury theorem as a starting point, where democratic procedures are conceived as a method of discovering the truth about the public interest; they then interpret the general will as a deliberative means of seeking results that correspond to the preferences of the individual and legitimize the authority of the state (see, for example, Grofman and Feld 1988).

The tension between the concepts of “democratic” and “transcendental” can be reduced if we understand that Rousseau defends the idea that, under the right conditions and subject to the right procedures, citizen legislators are persuaded to agree on laws that are in their common interest; In the absence of these conditions and procedures, however, the state inevitably lacks legitimacy. With such a reading, Rousseau could engage in something like philosophical anarchism a posteriori. Such a view asserts that in principle it is possible for a state to exercise legitimate authority over its citizens, but not all real states – and indeed all states we are likely to see in modern times – will meet the conditions of legitimacy. Charles Mills` 1997 book The Racial Contract is a critique not only of the history of Western thought, institutions, and political practices, but especially of the history of social contract theory. Inspired by Carole Pateman`s The Sexual Contract, it seeks to show that non-whites have a relationship similar to the social contract as women. As such, it also challenges the supposed universality of the liberal individual, who is the agent of contract theory. In the first Platonic dialogue, Crito, Socrates convincingly explains why he must remain in prison and accept the death penalty instead of fleeing and going into exile in another Greek city. He embodies the laws of Athens and declares that with their voice he has acquired an overwhelming obligation to obey the laws because they have made possible his entire way of life and even the fact of his very existence.

They allowed his mother and father to marry and thus have legitimate children, including himself. After the birth of the city of Athens, his laws required his father to take care of him and educate him. Socrates` life and how that life flourished in Athens depend on the laws. However, it is important that this relationship between citizens and the laws of the city is not enforced. Citizens, when they are adults and have seen how the city behaves, can choose to leave, take their property with them or stay. Staying implies an agreement to comply with the law and accept the sanctions they impose. And after concluding an agreement that is himself just, Socrates claims that he must respect this agreement he has concluded and obey the laws, in this case by suspending and accepting the death penalty. It is important to note that the treaty described by Socrates is implicit: it is implicit by his decision to stay in Athens, although he is free to leave. In addition to subjectivism, Hobbes also concludes from his mechanistic theory of human nature that humans are necessarily and exclusively selfish. .

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