Encyclopedia Articles

SEPthinker_0Contractarianism Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2012
There are two distinct strains of social contract thought: “contractarianism” and “contractualism.” Contractarianism, which stems from the Hobbesian line of thought, holds that persons are primarily self-interested, and that a rational assessment of the best strategy for attaining the maximization of their self-interest will lead them to act morally and to consent to governmental authority. Contractualism, which stems from the Kantian tradition, holds that rationality requires that we respect persons, which in turn requires that moral principles be such that they can be justified to each person. In this view individuals are not motivated by self-interest but rather by a commitment to publicly justify the standards of morality to which each will be held.
This entry is specifically about the contractarian strain wherever the two diverge.

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