social contract theory

Recall that social contract theory says that we all enter into a contract with one another to obey certain moral and cultural rules of behavior. Social contracts can be explicit, such as laws, or implicit such as raising your hand in class to speak.

Consider some of the limitations of social contract theory as outlined on pages 136-139 of the textbook. Also, review the argument made by Martha Nussbaum beginning on page 143. According to these critiques:  

  • How can we rectify the problem of who and what is left out of the social contract?
  • Do you agree with Nussbaum that social contract theory suggests we treat certain classes of beings and people as second-class citizens?
  • How might we modify the theory to avoid treating such people or beings or things as less-than or second-class citizens?
  • Can you cite an example to argue that those who are left out of the social contract should be included? If it’s difficult for you to come up with examples, why might this be the case?

Overall, be sure to cite relevant text and course materials in your responses.

This is the ethics book I am using to reference from.


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