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Democratic Justice and the Social Contract$
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Albert Weale

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199684649

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684649.001.0001

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Justice, social contracts, and democracy

Justice, social contracts, and democracy

(p.1) Chapter 1 Justice, social contracts, and democracy
Democratic Justice and the Social Contract

Albert Weale

Oxford University Press

Within all modern democracies political controversy arises over property and justice. One important tradition of political theory addresses these questions by reference to the idea of a social contract. Social contract theory is a procedural theory of justice, and so links to democracy, which is a procedural theory of government. Among modern contract theories, there is an important distinction between contractarian and contractualist approaches. The theory offered in this work builds upon the idea that a democracy is a political system in which power is distributed equally, and models a social contract for justice. The theory can thus be designated as democratic contractarianism. Societies can be regarded as an implicit contract, involving a balance between individual and collective interests, in which bounded rational individuals have to come to an agreement. This links in turn to the long-standing ideological controversy between individualism and collectivism.

Keywords:   justice, property, social contract, deliberative democracy, democratic contractarianism, bounded rationality, individualism, collectivism

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