Samuel Freeman was a student of the influential philosopher John Rawls, he has edited numerous books dedicated to Rawls' work and is arguably Rawls' foremost interpreter. This volume collects new and previously published articles by Freeman on Rawls. Among other things, Freeman places Rawls within historical context in the socialcontract tradition, and thoughtfully addresses criticisms of this position. Not only is Freeman a leading authority on Rawls, but he is an excellent thinker in his own right, and (...) these articles will be useful to a wide range of scholars interested in Rawls and the expanse of his influence. (shrink)
The work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is presented in two volumes, together forming the most comprehensive anthology of Rousseau's political writings in English. Volume II contains the later writings such as The SocialContract and a selection of Rousseau's letters on important aspects of his thought. The SocialContract has become Rousseau's most famous single work, but on publication was condemned by both the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities in France and Geneva. Rousseau fled and it is (...) during this period that he wrote some of his autobiographical works as well as political essays such as On the Government of Poland. This volume, like its predecessor, contains a comprehensive introduction, chronology and guide to further reading, and will enable students to obtain a full understanding of the writings of one of the world's greatest thinkers. (shrink)
Attempts to justify the special moral status of human beings over other animals face a well-known objection: the challenge of marginal cases. If we attempt to ground this special status in the unique rationality of humans, then it becomes difficult to see why nonrational humans should be treated any differently than other, nonhuman animals. We respond to this challenge by turning to the socialcontract tradition. In particular, we identify an important role for the concept of recognition in (...) attempts to secure rights through a socialcontract. Recognition, which involves identifying with or seeing ourselves as others, is the key to establishing the scope of justice, and we argue that this scope extends to all humans—even the so-called marginal cases—but not to other animals. If this is correct, then we have a principled reason for why all humans have certain rights that other animals lack. (shrink)
This paper argues that widely accepted understanding of the respective responsibilities of business and government in the post war industrialized world can be traced back to a tacit socialcontract that emerged following the second world war. The effect of this contract was to assign responsibility for generating wealth to business and responsibility for ensuring the equitable sharing of wealth to governments. Without question, this arrangement has resulted in substantial improvements in the quality of life in the (...) industrialized world in the intervening period. I argue that with advance of economic globalization and the growing power and influence of multi national corporations, this division of responsibilities is not longer viable or defensible. What is needed, fifty years after the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, is a new socialcontract that shares responsibilities for human rights and related ethical responsibilities in a manner more in keeping with the vision captured by the post war Declaration. I conclude by suggesting some reasons for thinking that a new socialcontract may be emerging. (shrink)
Socialcontract thought has always contained multiple and mutually conflicting lines of argument; the minimalist contractarianism so influential today represents the weaker of two main constellations of claims. I make the case for a Kantian contract theory that emphasizes the bedrock principle of consent of the governed instead of the mere heuristic device of the exit from the state of nature. Such a shift in emphasis resolves two classic difficulties: tradi- tional contract theory’s ahistorical presumption of (...) a pre-political settlement, and its impossibly high demands on citizens seeking to practice self-rule. Kant’s solutions to these problems of property rights and citizenship are found in his political works, rather than the ethical works through which Kant’s political theory is usually interpreted. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum has powerfully argued in Frontiers ofJustice and elsewhere that John Rawls’s sort of social-contract theory cannot usefully be deployed to deal with issues pertaining to justice for the disabled. To counter this claim, this article deploys Rawls’s sort of social-contract theory in order to deal with issues pertaining to justice for the disabled—or, since, as Nussbaum stresses, we all have some degree of disability—for the severely disabled. In this way, rather than questioning one by (...) one Nussbaum’s interpretive claims about Rawls’s view, one can simply see how the Rawlsian framework can work in application to this issue. Following Rawls’s lead, the paper utilizes the idealized “initial choice situation” as an analytic and comparative device for examining alternative principles of justice, developing three different interpretations of the initial choice situation that each correspond to a different set of principles that apply to people of all levels of disability. One of these sets of principles is a simple extension of Rawls’s, one is very close to what Nussbaum herself recommends, and the third is a kind of hybrid. In this way, it is shown not only that Rawls’s social-contract device can usefully be applied to these issues, but also that it is helpful for exploring the deep commitments underlying each of these competing sets of principles. (shrink)
This article begins with a detailed analysis of how the choice situation of a socialcontract for international business ethics can be constructed and justified. A choice situation is developed by analyzing conceptions of the multinational firm and the domain of international business. The result is a hypothetical negotiation between two fictional characters, J. Duncan Grey and Elizabeth Redd, who respectively represent the interests of businesses and communities seeking to engage in international trade. The negotiators agree on ethical (...) principles governing wages, the environment, and compliance social and cultural norms. These principles are then shown to rest in wide reflective equilibrium with considered moral judgments on international business ethics, which are drawn from international agreements, such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights, and voluntary business initiatives, such as the Global Sullivan Principles and the UN Global Compact. (shrink)
Socialcontract theory has been criticized as a “theory in search of application.” We argue that incorporating the nano, or individual, level of analysis into socialcontract inquiry will yield more descriptive theory. We draw upon the psychological contract perspective to address two critiques of socialcontract theory: its rigid macro-orientation and inattention to the process of contract formation. We demonstrate how a psychological contract approach offers practical insight into the impact (...) of social contracting on day-to-day human interaction. We then articulate several potentially testable propositions that emerge from this nano-level perspective. (shrink)
Urban communities in 21st century America are facing severe economic challenges, ones that suggest a mandate to contemplate serious changes in the way America does business. The middle class is diminishing in many parts of the country, with consequences for the economy as a whole. When faced with the loss of its economic base, any business community must make some difficult decisions about its proper role and responsibilities. Decisions to support the community must be balanced alongside and against responsibilities to (...) owners, shareholders and relevant “stakeholders” in a relatively new context. Corporations in urban communities “hollowed out” by white flight or urban sprawl must decide what level of support they can and should provide. This paper examines corporate decisions within the emerging urban prosperity initiatives, using the framework of integrative socialcontract theory proposed by Donaldson and Dunfee. We suggest that urban prosperity initiatives present a mandate on corporations sufficiently strong as to qualify as an authentic norm. Further, we argue that strict adherence to a corporate bottom line approach or “corporate isolationism” is not congruent with contemporary community standards. (shrink)
The constitutions of many nations have been explicitly or implicitly founded upon principles of the socialcontract derived from Thomas Hobbes. The Hobbesian egoism at the base of the contract fairly accurately represents the structure of market enterprise. A contractarian analysis may, then, allow for justified or rationally acceptable universal standards to which businesses should conform. This paper proposes general rational restrictions upon multi-national enterprises, and includes a critique of unjustified restrictions recently proposed by the Organization for (...) Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). I propose restrictions that may be tighter than the OECD and international law currently demand, because reason requires that the activities of enterprises accord with standards of environmental and governmental sustainability in addition to consortium, national law and international law agreements. I argue that it is justifiable that indictments may be presented by a citizen or a government against the local arm of a multinational enterprise in response to violations committed by an arm within a different country. (shrink)
A growing body of theory has focused on privacy as being contextually defined, where individuals have highly particularized judgments about the appropriateness of what, why, how, and to whom information flows within a specific context. Such a socialcontract understanding of privacy could produce more practical guidance for organizations and managers who have employees, users, and future customers all with possibly different conceptions of privacy across contexts. However, this theoretical suggestion, while intuitively appealing, has not been empirically examined. (...) This study validates a socialcontract approach to privacy by examining whether and how privacy norms vary across communities and contractors. The findings from this theoretical examination support the use of contractual business ethics to understand privacy in research and in practice. As predicted, insiders to a community had significantly different understandings of privacy norms as compared to outsiders. In addition, all respondents held different privacy norms across hypothetical contexts, thereby suggesting privacy norms are contextually understood within a particular community of individuals. The findings support two conclusions. First, individuals hold different privacy norms without necessarily having diminished expectations of privacy. Individuals differed on the factors they considered important in calculating privacy expectations, yet all groups had robust privacy expectations across contexts. Second, outsiders have difficulty in understanding the privacy norms of a particular community. For managers and scholars, this renders privacy expectations more difficult to identify at a distance or in deductive research. The findings speak directly to the needs of organizations to manage a diverse set of privacy issues across stakeholder groups. (shrink)
This essay seeks to give a contractarian foundation to the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), meant as an extended model of corporate governance of the firm. It focuses on justification according to the contractarian point of view (leaving compliance and implementation problems to a related article, [Sacconi 2004b, forthcoming in the Journal of Business Ethics]). It begins by providing a definition of CSR as an extended model of corporate governance, based on the fiduciary duties owed to all the (...) firm’s stakeholders. Then, by establishing the basic context of incompleteness of contracts and abuse of authority, it analyses how the extended view of corporate governance arises directly from criticism of the contemporary neo-institutional economic theory of the firm. Thereafter, an application of the theory of bargaining games is used to deduce the structure of a multi-stakeholder firm, on the basis of the idea of a constitutional contract, which satisfies basic requirements of impartial justification and accordance with intuitions of social justice. This is a sequential model of constitutional bargaining, whereby a constitution is first chosen, and then a post-constitutional coalition game is played. On the basis of the unique solution given to each step in the bargaining model, the quest for a prescriptive theory of governance and strategic management is accomplished, so that I am able to define an objective-function for the firm consistent with the idea of CSR. Finally, a contractarian potential explanation for the emergence of the multi-fiduciary firm is provided. (shrink)
This chapter discusses central strands of the modern socialcontract tradition. Distinguishing between moral and political theories on the one hand and contractualist and contractarian theories on the other, it presents one example of each of the ensuing categories: Gauthier’s moral contractarianism, Buchanan’s political contractarianism, Scanlon’s moral contractualism, and Rawls’ political contractualism. In the conclusion, strengths and weaknesses of socialcontract theories are discussed.
The two justificatory roles of the socialcontract are establishing whether or not a state is legitimate simpliciter and establishing whether any particular individual is politically obligated to obey the dictates of its governing institutions. Rawls's theory is obviously designed to address the first role but less obviously the other. Rawls does offer a duty-based theory of political obligation that has been criticized by neo-Lockean A. John Simmons. I assess Simmons's criticisms and the possible responses that could be (...) made to them, including those offered by Samuel Freeman. I conclude they rest on a Rawlsian equivocation and ultimately fail. (shrink)
One unique part of Rousseau's SocialContract is his argument that a just society must have a specific constitutional arrangement of powers centred around what he calls the Sovereign and the Prince. This makes his philosophy different from other contractualists, such as Hobbes and Locke, who think that the principles of good government are compatible with any number of institutional structures. Rousseau's constitutional theory is thus significant in a way that has no parallel in Hobbes or Locke. More (...) to the point, any problems that exist in his constitutional theory will have consequences for his political thought as a whole. This article argues that there is a contradiction at the center of Rousseau's theory of institutions that threatens the cogency of the SocialContract. Key Words: Rousseau • separation of powers • socialcontract • sovereignty. (shrink)
I argue that social-contract theory cannot succeed because reasonable people may always disagree, and that social-contract theory is irrelevant to the problem of the legitimacy of a form of government or of a system of moral rules. I note the weakness of the appeal to implicit agreement, the conflation of legitimacy with stability, the undesirability of “public justification” and the apparent blindness to the evolutionary critical-rationalist approach of Hayek and Popper. I employ that approach to sketch (...) answers to the theoretical, historical and practical questions about the legitimacy of government or of systems of moral rules. (shrink)
Bernard Gert’s distinctive interpretation of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes in his recent book may be questioned in at least three areas: (1) Even if Hobbes is not a psychological egoist, he seems to be a desire egoist, which has the consequence, as he understands it, that a person acts at least for his own good in every action. (2) Although there are several senses of reason, it seems that Hobbes uses the idea that reason is calculation of means to (...) ends; while such calculation sets intermediate goals, reason itself does not set ultimate ends. (3) Hobbes’s political theory is best understood as a form of socialcontract theory because subjects covenant among themselves to authorize the sovereign to protect them; authorization has the consequence that subjects give some of the their rights to the sovereign; but this gifting of rights is not the essence of the origin of the civil state. (shrink)
For Rousseau, socialcontract is a hypothetical one; the paper claims that it is, in contemporary terms, a political thought-experiment (TE). The abductive way of thinking, looking for the best normative pattern in the data, finds its counterpart in the historical abduction in the Second Discourse; the analogy between the two secures the methodological unity of Rousseau’s political philosophy. The proposed reading of the work as a TE shows that it fulfills the necessary requirements put by (hopefully) intuitively (...) acceptable definition of a TE, and fits in the contractarian tradition that has been experimenting with hypothetical arrangements since its start. The reading of The SocialContract as a TE has helped to systematize some of its shortcomings from the wider perspective of methodology of political philosophy. Finally, the political thought experiment (PTE) reading of Rousseau places his central work where it belongs: in the tradition started by Plato’s Republic, continuing with Renaissance and early modern philosophical utopias, culminating in the contractarian socialcontract TE, and going all the way to the work of Rawls and his present day continuators. We hope that this can contribute to a more positive picture of Rousseau’s work, despite criticism concerning his brusque manner of thought-experimenting. (shrink)
In this article I argue that Rorty has three separatearguments for liberalism. The pragmatic-ethnocentric argument for liberalism,as a system which works for `us liberals'', is rejectedfor entailing relativism. The socialcontract argument results in an extreme formof individualism. This renders politics redundantbecause there is no need for the (liberal) state toprotect poetic individuals, who are capable ofdefending themselves. Even if the less able areharmed, the state could not prevent this, givenRorty''s arguments about discursive enrichment withina language game. Finally, (...) the positivistic-conservative argument legitimisesliberal politics by fiat, and makes normativediscussion about the status quo illegitimate. Herethe argument is that politics is a matter of reactivetechnical piecemeal problem-solving, to restore theharmony of the status quo. As politics deals with`facts'', normative `problematisations'' of thefunctional status quo are illegitimate (in the public/political sphere). So, either anything goes, andpolitics is redundant, or discussion of politics isdepoliticised and confined to the private sphere.Consequently, Rorty has no way to explore issues ofpower, or normative contestation. Therefore he isunable to address issues of social justice withinliberal democracies, such as feminist arguments aboutan ascribed gender status limiting equalityof opportunity. (shrink)
This paper seeks to define and delimit the scope of the social responsibilities of health professionals in reference to the concept of a socialcontract. While drawing on both historical data and current empirical information, this paper will primarily proceed analytically and examine the theoretical feasibility of deriving social responsibilities from the phenomenon of professionalism via the concept of a socialcontract.
Alan Reynolds: This paper is divided into three sections. First, I describe the wide plurality of views on issues of animal ethics, showing that our disagreements here are deep and profound. This fact of reasonable pluralism about animal ethics presents a political problem. According to the dominant liberal tradition of political philosophy, it is impermissible for one faction of people to impose its values upon another faction of people who reasonably reject those values. Instead, we are obligated to justify our (...) political actions to each other using reasons that everyone can accept. Thus, in the second section I suggest that our condition of reasonable pluralism inspires us to turn toward some form of contractarianism. The socialcontract tradition emerged precisely as an attempt to think about how a society characterized by deep moral disagreement could nonetheless agree about the basic principles of justice. I will show, in this section, that although the socialcontract tradition would seem to contain the best tools for thinking about how to deal with moral disagreement, it fails to help us think through the important issues of animal ethics. In the concluding section, I suggest some ways in which political philosophy might move beyond contractarianism when thinking about this issue, including embracing an agonistic style of politics. -/- Cet article est divisé en trois sections. Tout d’abord, je décris la grande pluralité des opinions existant sur les questions de l’éthique animale, montrant que nos désaccords sur le sujet sont profonds. Cette réalité du pluralisme raisonnable en matière d’éthique animale pose un problème politique. Selon la tradition libérale dominante de la philosophie politique, une faction de personnes ne peut imposer ses valeurs à une autre faction qui rejette raisonnablement ces valeurs. Au lieu de cela, nous sommes obligés de justifier nos actions politiques en utilisant des raisons que tout le monde peut accepter. Ainsi, dans la seconde section, je suggère que notre condition de pluralisme raisonnable nous mène à une forme de contractualisme. La tradition du contrat social est justement apparue comme une tentative de réfléchir à la façon dont une société caractérisée par un profond désaccord moral peut néanmoins s’entendre sur les principes fondamentaux de la justice. Dans cette section, je montre que, bien que la tradition du contrat social semble offrir les meilleurs outils pour définir la manière de traiter le désaccord moral, elle ne parvient pas à nous aider à réfléchir aux questions essentielles de l’éthique animale. Dans la dernière section, je suggère quelques façons susceptibles de permettre à la philosophie politique de dépasser le contractualisme dans sa réflexion sur cette question, ceci comprenant l’adoption d’un style de politique agonistique. (shrink)
Although people establish norms that enable them to live together, some of these have to be coupled with a system of enforcement. This conforms to broad socialcontract theory and can also be applied to the international sphere. The international community is also based on a system of norms. However, unlike the domestic context, there is no overreaching authority to direct states on what they should do. Rather it is left to states themselves to police this framework. However, (...) this has resulted in one of the conditions envisaged by socialcontract theorists, namely a stasis between the command order and the state of nature. This may explain, for instance, the indifference to some modern human rights violations. Hence the current system of International law, with its insistence on the Westphalian principle of equality of states has caused a substantial fracture in the enforcement of international law, particularly when it comes to serious human rights breaches, and caused something akin to the state of nature envisaged by socialcontract theorists. While it may be practically impossible to provide a command system in the international sphere similar to the one in the domestic life, there is some hope that a revised deontological ethic founded on global integration may provide one impetus for change. (shrink)
In this paper certain aspects of socialcontract theory have been reconsidered in the context of contemporary political community. Special focus has been given to the meaning of the concept of coercion.
John Horton has argued for an associative theory of political obligation in which such obligation is seen as a concomitant of membership of a particular polity, where a polity provides the generic goods of order and security. Accompanying these substantive claims is a methodological thesis about the centrality of the phenomenology of ordinary moral consciousness to our understanding of the problem of political obligation. The phenomenological strategy seems modest but in some way it is far-reaching promising to dissolve some long-standing (...) problems of political theory. However, it fails at just the point at which a theory of political obligation is needed, namely when individuals question the grounds of their political obligation. A principle of obligation is needed to provide individuals with a reason for compliance with authoritative social rules when the exercise of that obligation is irksome. It is at this point that we need to invoke the idea of society as an implicit socialcontract, in which obligations are seen as stemming from those terms that it would be in the interests of individuals to agree in a socialcontract. This is consistent with the method of reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
The contemporary political philosopher John Rawls considers himself to be part of the socialcontract tradition of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant, but not of the tradition of Locke's predecessor, Thomas Hobbes. Call the Hobbesian tradition interest-based, and the Lockean tradition right-based, because it assumes that there are irreducible moral facts which the socialcontract can assume. The primary purpose of Locke's socialcontract is to justify the authority of the state over (...) its citizens despite the fact that those citizens are naturally free and equal. I assume that this task is of central importance to all right-based socialcontract theories: in chapter one I lay out the general problems faced by all contract theories, and in chapter two, three and four I examine in depth the accounts of political obligation offered by Locke, Rousseau, and Rawls. I conclude that all members of the right-based socialcontract tradition fail to provide an account of obligation that can explain the bond between a citizen and her state. (shrink)
This book develops a novel multilevel socialcontract theory that, in contrast to existing theories in the liberal tradition, does not merely assume a restricted form of reasonable moral pluralism, but is tailored to the conditions of deeply morally pluralistic societies which may be populated by liberal moral agents, nonliberal moral agents, and, according to the traditional understanding of morality, nonmoral agents alike. The book draws on the history of the socialcontract tradition, especially the work (...) of Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Rawls, and Gauthier, as well as on the work of some of the critics of this tradition, such as Sen and Gaus. The two-level contractarian theory holds that morality in its best contractarian version for the conditions of deeply morally pluralistic societies entails Humean, Hobbesian, and Kantian moral properties. The theory defines the minimal behavioral restrictions that are necessary to ensure, compared to violent conflict resolution, mutually beneficial peaceful long-term cooperation in deeply morally pluralistic societies. The theory minimizes the problem of compliance for morally diverse societies by maximally respecting the interests of all members of society. Despite its ideal nature, the theory is, in principle, applicable to the real world and, for the conditions described, most promising for securing mutually beneficial peaceful long-term cooperation in a world in which a fully just society, due to moral diversity, is unattainable. If Rawls’ intention was to carry the traditional socialcontract argument to a higher level of abstraction, then the two-level contractarian theory brings it back down to earth. (shrink)
This rich collection will introduce students of philosophy and politics to the contemporary critical literature on the classical socialcontract political thinkers Thomas Hobbes , John Locke , and Jean-Jacques Rousseau . A dozen essays and book excerpts have been selected to guide students through the texts and to introduce them to current scholarly controversies surrounding the contractarian political theories of these three thinkers.
Very diverse societies pose real problems for Rawlsian models of public reason. This is for two reasons: first, public reason is unable accommodate diverse perspectives in determining a regulative ideal. Second, regulative ideals are unable to respond to social change. While models based on public reason focus on the justification of principles, this book suggests that we need to orient our normative theories more toward discovery and experimentation. The book develops a unique approach to socialcontract theory (...) that focuses on diverse perspectives. It offers a new moral stance that author Ryan Muldoon calls, "The View From Everywhere," which allows for substantive, fundamental moral disagreement. This stance is used to develop a bargaining model in which agents can cooperate despite seeing different perspectives. Rather than arguing for an ideal contract or particular principles of justice, Muldoon outlines a procedure for iterated revisions to the rules of a socialcontract. It expands Mill's conception of experiments in living to help form a foundational principle for socialcontract theory. By embracing this kind of experimentation, we move away from a conception of justice as an end state, and toward a conception of justice as a trajectory. (shrink)
This major study of Hobbes's political philosophy draws on recent developments in game and decision theory to explore whether the thrust of the argument in Leviathan, that it is in the interests of the people to create a ruler with absolute power, can be shown to be cogent. Professor Hampton has written a book of vital importance to political philosophers, political and social scientists, and intellectual historians.
Future technological developmentsconcerning food, agriculture, and theenvironment face a gulf of social legitimationfrom a skeptical public and media, in the wakeof the crises of BSE, GM food, and foot andmouth disease in the UK (House of Lords, 2000). Keyethical issues were ignored by the bioindustry,regulators, and the Government, leaving alegacy of distrust. The paper examinesagricultural biotechnology in terms of a socialcontract, whose conditions would have to be fulfilled togain acceptance of novel applications. Variouscurrent and future GM applications areevaluated against (...) these conditions. Successwould depend critically on how far a sharedvision can be found with the public. Tore-establish trust, significant changes areidentified in the planning and pursuit ofbiotechnology. (shrink)
The perfect books for the true book lover, Penguin’s Great Ideas series features twelve more groundbreaking works by some of history’s most prodigious thinkers. Each volume is beautifully packaged with a unique type-driven design that highlights the bookmaker’s art. Offering great literature in great packages at great prices, this series is ideal for those readers who want to explore and savor the Great Ideas that have shaped our world.
This paper critically reviews Ken Binmoreâs non- utilitarian and game theoretic solution to the Arrow problem. Binmoreâs solution belongs to the same family as Rawlsâ maximin criterion and requires the use of Nash bargaining theory, empathetic preferences, and results in evolutionary game theory. Harsanyi has earlier presented a solution that relies on utilitarianism, which requires some exogenous valuation criterion and is therefore incompatible with liberalism. Binmoreâs rigorous demonstration of the maximin principle for the first time presents a real alternative to (...) a utilitarian solution. (shrink)
In addition, this edition offers the best available translation of the late and important Government of Poland and the only published English translation of the fragment Constitutional Project for Corsica, which, says Watkins, provides the ...
In addition, this edition offers the best available translation of the late and important Government of Poland and the only published English translation of the fragment Constitutional Project for Corsica, which, says Watkins, provides the ...
In this pithy and highly readable book, Brian Skyrms, a recognised authority on game and decision theory, investigates traditional problems of the socialcontract in terms of evolutionary dynamics. Game theory is skilfully employed to offer new interpretations of a wide variety of social phenomena, including justice, mutual aid, commitment, convention and meaning. The author eschews any grand, unified theory. Rather, he presents the reader with tools drawn from evolutionary game theory for the purpose of analysing and (...) coming to understand the socialcontract. The book is not technical and requires no special background knowledge. As such, it could be enjoyed by students and professionals in a wide range of disciplines: political science, philosophy, decision theory, economics and biology. (shrink)
The challenge that confronts corporate decision-makers in connection with global labor conditions is often in identifying the standardsby which they should govern themselves. In an effort to provide greater direction in the face of possible global cultural conflicts, ethicistsThomas Donaldson and Thomas Dunfee draw on socialcontract theory to develop a method for identifying basic human rights: Integrated SocialContract Theory . In this paper, we apply ISCT to the challenge of global labor standards, attempting to (...) identify labor rights that could serve as guides for corporations producing or outsourcing outside of their home country. In addition to identifying areas of universal agreement, we also examine whether ISCT is, in fact, a sufficient basis for determining worker rights; we seek to define the parameters of the “sweatshop” problem; we include the application and results of our ISCT analysis as applied to labor standards: the global labor rights hypernorms; and conclude that ISCT is sufficient only for rights that are universal. We also discuss whether market-driven decisions can identify the boundaries of labor rights, or at least assure that market outcomes are compatible with maintaining labor rights, in order to respond to the shortcomings of ISCT. We conclude with some comments on directions of analysis for labor rights determination. (shrink)
This article sets out two central theses. Both theses primarily involve a fundamental criticism of current contractarian business ethics(CBE), but if these can be sustained, they also constitute two boundary conditions for any future contractarian theory of business ethics. The first, which I label the self-discipline thesis, claims that current CBE would gain considerably in focus if more attention were paid to the logic of the socialcontract argument. By this I mean the aims set by the theorist (...) and method of reasoning by which normative conclusions are drawn in the contract model. The second, to which I refer as the domain-specificity thesis, argues that current CBE needs to be better adapted to its field of application and the specific goals which it aims to establish. I will substantiate these two theses on the basis of a comparative analysis of CBE with two earlier families of socialcontract theories. (shrink)
Socialcontract theory has a rich history. It originated among the ancients with recognition that social arrangements were not products of nature but convention. It developed through the centuries as theorists sought ethical criteria for distinguishing good conventions from bad. The search for such ethical criteria continues in recent attempts to apply socialcontract theory to organizations. In this paper, I question the concept ofconsent as a viable ethical criterion, and I argue for an alternate (...) principle of impartiality as a more appropriate moral norm in a social contracttheory of organizations. (shrink)
By combining normative philosophy and empirical social science, we craft a research framework for assessing differential expectations embodied in normative conceptions of the economic socialcontract in the United States. We argue that there are distinctviews of such a contract grounded in individualist and communitarian philosophical ideologies. We apply this framework to organizational downsizing, postulating that certain human resource practices, in combination with the respective ideological orientations, will affect perceptions of the justice of downsizing policies.Living up (...) to one’s word is a decisive measure of moral character. Within the microsocial realm of the family, promises and commitments derive their social force and cultural meaning from the idea that love or biology binds people together in an absolute way. But outside of this world, in the larger society, the only thing binding people together is a sense that there is a socialcontract, a set of common obligations held collectively by society as a whole. But today’s workers say no one seems to care whether these promises are kept. (shrink)
Drawing on the Second Discourse and the SocialContract and Notes from Underground and “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” this essay examines the striking similarities and fundamental differences between Dostoevskij’s and Rousseau’s treatment of the problem of individual vs. society and their notions of ideal social relations. The essay investigates Rousseau’s attempt to absorb morality into politics and “to concretize” Diderot’s universal moral man into citizen. It also suggests that Dostoevskij takes Rousseau’s attempt at concretization a (...) step further by exposing humanist conceptions of man and society in general as fiction and creating a model of ideal society that absorbs morality, not into politics (as does Rousseau’s model), but into the sanctity of the Word. (shrink)
The law of insider trading has progressed from an expansive approach, according to which all trading on nonpublic information was considered illegal, to a constricted approach, under which corporate outsiders are permitted to trade on nonpublic information provided such trading does not breach a fiduciary duty. This article analyzes both the former, expansive theory and the currently utilized constricted theory, within a framework of basic tenets of the American capitalist socialcontract regarding legitimacy of property claims. The existing (...) constricted approach to the regulation of insider trading is found to be deficient in meeting the expectations of two core components of the socialcontract: it discourages procedural equality of opportunity, and it endorses claims to property that are not characterized by legitimate methods of acquisition or transfer. Because the old, expansive regulatory interpretation was more consistent with the terms of the socialcontract in regard to property claims, it served our economic and ethical expectations more effectively than the system presently in place. Accordingly, the article culminates in a recommendation that the expansive approach to regulating insider trading be reestablished under Unites States law. (shrink)