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Ethics, Economics, and PoliticsPrinciples of Public Policy$
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I. M. D. Little

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199257041

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0199257043.001.0001

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(p.74) 7 Contractarianism
Ethics, Economics, and Politics

Ian Malcolm David Little

Oxford University Press

Contractarianism is more than a theory of the origin or legitimacy of states. Agreements required for productive cooperation, or merely for peaceful coexistence, are held to be the basis for morality, or a large part of it. Game theory is used to analyse the rationality of such agreements. Social conventions, which are not strictly agreements, also evolve over time in a community and acquire moral force. Although morality and society thus march together, individuals may always hold some social conventions to be immoral.

Keywords:   agreement, Binmore, community, contract, convention, game theory, Gauthier, Scanlon, society, Sugden, veil of ignorance

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