chapter  6
A SOCIAL CONTRACT?
ByAndrew Reeve
Pages 20

In this chapter, I do not wish to review the history of the idea of a social contract, nor do I want to endorse the view that the model of a social contract is the best way to consider issues broadly surrounding the questions of what we owe one another, and what political implications are generated by the answer. Instead, I want to use the idea of the social contract as an organizing thread to explore how contemporary political theorists have tried to set about answering those questions. To do so, I outline what might be called the classic view of the social contract – and of some of its problems – in Section I. In Section II, I turn to the most significant – but by no means only – application of a contractual approach in contemporary political theory, namely its application to justice, paying equal attention to the critical perspective. In Section III, I draw these threads together in an attempt to define the parameters of the problem, if not the answers.