The theory of the social contract says that people live together in society in accordance with an agreement that establishes moral and political rules of conduct. Some people think that if we live according to a social contract, we can live morally according to our own choice and not because a divine being demands it. The basic idea seems simple: in a way, the consent of all persons subject to collective social agreements shows that these rules have normative property (they are legitimate, fair, mandatory, etc.). But even this basic idea is far from simple, and even this abstract presentation is offensive in many ways. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778, lived and wrote during arguably the most exhilarating period in the intellectual history of modern France – the Enlightenment. He was one of the shining lights of this intellectual movement, contributed articles on Diderot`s encyclopedia and participated in the Paris Salons, where the great intellectual questions of his time were followed. In the early days of the cosmic cycle, humanity lived on an immaterial plane and danced on the air in a kind of fairytale country, where there was no need for food or clothing, and no private property, family, government or laws. Then, gradually, the process of cosmic decay began its work, and humanity became bound to the earth and felt the need for food and protection. When people lost their primitive fame, class differences emerged, and they made agreements between them and accepted the institution of private property and the family. With this theft began murder, adultery and other crimes, and so people came together and decided to appoint a man among them to maintain order in exchange for some of the produce from their fields and herds. He was called “the Great Elect” (Mahasammata), and he received the title of raja because it pleased the people. [9] A reasoned contract must fulfil the full condition of publicity: its full justification must be effectively accepted by members of a well-ordered society.

The hypothetical agreement itself provides only what Rawls (1996, 386) calls a “pro tanto” or “as much as possible” justification for the principles of justice. “Full justification” is only achieved if “people support and become liberal justice for the particular (and often contradictory) reasons that are implicit in the full reasonable doctrines they retain” (Freeman 2007b, 19). Thus understood, rawls` concern for the stability of justice as equity, which motivated the transition to political liberalism, is itself a matter of justification (Weithman, 2010). Only if the principles of justice are stable in this way are they fully justified. However, Rawls` concern for stability and publicity is not unique and is shared by all contemporary contractual theorites. It is significant that even theorists like Buchanan (2000, 26-27), Gauthier (1986, 348) and Binmore (2005, 5-7) – who are so different from Rawls in other respects – share his concern for stability.


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