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A Theory of Political ObligationMembership, Commitment, and the Bonds of Society$
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Margaret Gilbert

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199274959.001.0001

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Actual Contract Theory: Attractions

Actual Contract Theory: Attractions

(p.55) 4 Actual Contract Theory: Attractions
A Theory of Political Obligation

Margaret Gilbert (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The best-known theory of political obligation is actual contract theory: a political society is founded on an agreement, and the parties to the agreement — now the members of the society — are obligated accordingly. As is generally admitted, actual contract theory has significant attractions as a solution to the membership problem. For one, agreements are a canonical source of obligations. For another, an agreement may indeed suffice to found a social group in general. This chapter details eight analytic points that have been or might be judged to favour of the theory, and five ways in which it might appear to be morally attractive.

Keywords:   actual contract theory, agreements, membership, obligation, political society, society, theory of political obligation

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