Contractarianism/Contractualism / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $113.34
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 25%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (8) from $113.34   
  • New (6) from $113.34   
  • Used (2) from $137.26   


Contractarianism and contractualism are instances of a major approach to normative ethical theory that stresses reciprocity and mutual consent. "Contractarianism" is the name given to the idea, first broached by Thomas Hobbes, that morality can be viewed as a set of social practices that self-interestedly rational actors "adopt" in their common interest, as if by a kind of contract. "Contractualism" refers, on the other hand, to a related, but importantly different idea, found first in the thought of Rousseau and Kant, that morality consists of principles that mediate relations of mutual respect between free and equal persons. In both instances, morality is modeled on a kind of agreement or contract, with the difference that contractarians think that the underlying motivation is rational self-interest whereas contractualists believe it is mutual respect between equals. Contractualism/Contractarianism collects, for the first time, both major classical sources and central contemporary discussions of these important approaches to philosophical ethics. In addition to Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant, it includes work from David Gauthier, Gilbert Harman, John Rawls, T. M. Scanlon, and Gary Watson. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative ethics.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Contractarianism/Contractualism is an extremely valuable collection of seminal works by the major representatives of the social contract tradition. The excellent texts are well chosen; together they provide a first-rate introduction to this important area of moral and political thought.” Samuel Freeman, University of Pennsylvania

“One of the most interesting attempts to explain moral obligation traces it to a form of contract or agreement. Darwall's collection reprints classic attempts to offer this kind of explanation by Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant, along with more recent versions. The volume not only brings out the power of this approach to morality, but also usefully distinguishes a number of important variations of contractarian and contractualist accounts.” Gilbert Harman, Princeton University

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Stephen Darwall is the John Dewey Collegiate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. He has written widely on moral philosophy and its history, and is the author of Impartial Reason (1983), The British Moralists and the Internal 'Ought': 1640–1740 (1995), Philosophical Ethics (1998), and Welfare and Rational Care (2002). He is the editor, with Allan Gibbard and Peter Railton, of Moral Discourse and Practice (1997).

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
Part I Classical Sources: Contractarianism 9
1 From Leviathan 11
Part II Classical Sources: Contractualism 53
2 From The Social Contract 55
3 From Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals 80
Part III Contemporary Expressions: Contractarianism 89
4 Why Contractarianism? 91
5 From Morals by Agreement 108
6 Convention 138
Part IV Contemporary Expressions: Contractualism 149
7 From A Theory of Justice 151
8 Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory 190
9 Contractualism and Utilitarianism 219
Part V Contemporary Discussion 247
10 Some Considerations in Favor of Contractualism 249
Index 270
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)