Hegel and Social Contract Theory

In Hegel's idea of freedom. New York: Oxford University Press (1999)
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Abstract

Considers how Hegel could both accept the starting point of social contract theory and reject what contractarians take to be an obvious implication of that starting point. It also explores the alternative account of social and political legitimacy that Hegel draws from the principle of freedom. A major theme of the chapter is the importance that Hegel attaches to the ways in which the major institutions of the modern community work to develop and sustain individual free agency. Hegel's main objection to the social contract theory is that it ignores the function community plays of constituting free individuals. Through an exploration of Hegel's theory of recognition, the chapter shows that Hegel's own alternative theory of political legitimacy involves determining what a community must be like if it is to be successful in fulfilling this function.

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