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This reader introduces students of philosophy and politics to the contemporary critical literature on the classical social contract theorists: Thomas Hobbes (1599-1697), John Locke (1632-1704), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Twelve thoughtfully selected essays guide students through the texts, familiarizing them with key elements of the theory, while at the same time introducing them to current scholarly controversies. A bibliography of additional work is provided. The classical social contract theorists represent one of the two or three most important modern traditions in political thought. Their ideas dominated political debates in Europe and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries, influencing political thinkers, statesmen, constitution makers, revolutionaries, and other political actors alike. Debates during the French Revolution and the early history of the American Republic were often conducted in the language of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Later political philosophy can only be understood against this backdrop. And the contemporary revival of contractarian moral and political thought, represented by John Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971) or David Gauthier's Morals by Agreement (1986), needs to be appreciated in the history of this tradition.
Part 1 Introduction Part 2 Acknowledgments Chapter 3 1 Hobbes' War of All against All Chapter 4 2 Hobbes’ "Mortal God": Is There a Fallacy in Hobbes’ Theory of Sovereignty? Chapter 5 3 The Failure of Hobbes’ Social Contract Argument Chapter 6 4 Hobbes' Social Contract Chapter 7 5 Why Ought One Obey God? Reflections on Hobbes and Locke Chapter 8 6 Locke's State of Nature Chapter 9 7 On the Edge of Anarchy: Locke Chapter 10 8 Structure Chapter 11 9 A Possible Explanation of Rousseau's General Will Chapter 12 10 Reflections on Rousseau: Autonomy and Democracy, Chapter 13 11 Rousseau, Chapter 14 12 The General Will Part 15 Bibliography Part 16 Authors Part 17 Index