Reconciling Justice and Pleasure in Epicurean Contractarianism

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2):423-436 (2013)
Epicurean contractarianism is an attempt to reconcile individualistic hedonism with a robust account of justice. The pursuit of pleasure and the requirements of justice, however, have seemed to be incompatible to many commentators, both ancient and modern. It is not clear how it is possible to reconcile hedonism with the demands of justice. Furthermore, it is not clear why, even if Epicurean contractarianism is possible, it would be necessary for Epicureans to endorse a social contract. I argue here that Epicurean contractarianism is both possible and necessary once we understand Epicurean practical rationality in a new way. We are left with an appealing version of teleological, individualistic contractarianism that is significantly different from Hobbesian contractarianism.
Keywords Epicurus  Social contract  Lucretius  Mixed-motive games  Stag hunt
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-012-9348-5
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