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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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The democratic social contract

The democratic social contract

Chapter:
(p.31) Chapter 2 The democratic social contract
Source:
Democratic Justice and the Social Contract
Author(s):

Albert Weale

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684649.003.0002

Social organization can be viewed as a form of social contract, although not all forms of such contracts are just. One way of defining just social contracts is by reference to a hypothetical social contract, but this approach has a number of problems. The alternative approach is empirical, and looks for societies in which there is a balance of power among its members. Such societies are procedural democracies defined by their being self-governing, with final control over the political agenda, based on a principle of political equality and with members capable of reasoning their way to solutions to their collective action problems. Common property resource regimes exemplify such procedural democracies. These societies exhibit the circumstances of justice: equality of power; moderate scarcity; and limited altruism. They are models in the sense of intellectual constructs to enable us to identify the underlying logic of social cooperation.

Keywords:   social contract theory, procedural democracy, equality of power, moderate scarcity, limited altruism, common property resource regimes, models

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