Con·trac·tar·i·an·ism

Any of various theories that justify moral principles and political choices because they depend on a social contract involving certain ideal conditions, as lack of ignorance or uncertainty.

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"Hobbes, Locke, Kant, and Rousseau spoke of contractarianism in their political commentary."


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A general ethical theory that individuals make the right choices under a hypothetical social contract.

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"John Locke thought tacit consent was a paramount feature of contractarianism."

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"Contractarianism" or "contractualism" originates from Thomas Hobbes's social contract theory. Contractarianism is based on the belief that individuals are fundamentally 'egoistic/self-interested', and as such, a rational means of 'maximizing' one's self-interest is through acting morally in circumstances were 'moral norms' are drawn from the maximization of 'mutual interests', and to consent to be 'governed' by a bureaucracy or municipal authority.

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