Rousseau on the ground of obligation: Reconsidering the Social Autonomy interpretation

European Journal of Political Theory 17 (2):233-243 (2018)
Authors
Rafeeq Hasan
Amherst College
Abstract
In Rousseau’s Social Contract, political laws are rationally binding because they satisfy the interests that motivate individuals to obey such laws. The later books of Emile justify morality by showing that it is continuous with the natural dispositions of a well-brought-up subject and is thus conducive to genuine happiness. In both the moral and political cases, Rousseau argues for an internal connection between the rational ground of an obligation and the broader aspects of human psychology that are satisfied and expressed by acting from that obligation. Yet, inspired by Kantian philosophy, the recent and influential Social Autonomy interpretation has disjoined rationality and psychology. Criticising this interpretation, I argue that for Rousseau, obligations are justified because they satisfy the demands made by our moral psychology, most notably amour-propre, i.e. the desire to have one’s worth recognised by others.
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Reprint years 2015, 2018
DOI 10.1177/1474885115599893
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Natural Right and History (Chicago, 1953).Leo Strauss - 1953 - The Correspondence Between Ethical Egoists and Natural Rights Theorists is Considerable Today, as Suggested by a Comparison of My" Recent Work in Ethical Egoism," American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (2):1-15.
Rousseau's Critique of Economic Inequality.Frederick Neuhouser - 2013 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 41 (3):193-225.

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