Social Contract

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Most libertarians violently oppose the philosophical idea of social contract. Libertarians usually misrepresent social contracts as they actually exist, referring instead to philosophical models. Not to be confused with Social Contract Theory (Cognitive Psychology).


Contractualism [More...]
An essential outline of modern philosophical ideas of social contract and some common, erroneous objections. "Thus, the core normative idea of social contract theory (contractualism) is not consent or agreement but justification."
Political Philosophy’s Fundamental Question [More...]
Libertarian philosopher Kevin Vallier explains why social contract theorists "got it right", which pretty much implies why almost all libertarians get it wrong.
The American Social Contract: A Promise to Fulfill [More...]
A history of the US social contract from the 18th century to the 21st. Details five elements of economic opportunity comprising the social contract: economic liberty, economic access, economic adequacy, economic ability and economic security.
The Ultimate Goal [More...]
Social goals and social contracts: progressivism redescribed. Part 2/4 of David Brin's Political Totemism and the Danger of Metaphors.
Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” and the Origins of Social Insurance [More...]
Thomas Paine proposed the first realistic plan to abolish poverty on a nationwide scale, a universal social insurance system comprising old-age pensions and disability support, and universal stakeholder grants for young adults. Compared to Condorcet, Locke, Spencer, Rawls and especially Hayek.


This notion, that the preservation of freedom sometimes requires the restriction of freedom, may induce incomprehension or apoplexy in the libertarian—but it should not. After all, [minarchist] libertarians are themselves committed to such a thought in their basic justification for the state: the coercion of the state frees people from the “wild” coercion of lawless individuals.
Chris Bertram, "Let It Bleed: Libertarianism and the Workplace"
All political governments today behave as if consent to a social contract is tacit and implied: just as all libertarians behave as if consent to a system of property rights is tacit and implied.
Mike Huben, "Mike Huben's Criticisms"
"Agrarian Justice" forged a path to this modern, systemic understanding of justice. In it, Paine envisioned justice as requiring that the lowest rung be above poverty level. He recognized that achieving this required forging novel, positive (legal) forms of property rights--social insurance and stakeholder grants--that could not be deduced from local or "natural" principles of justice. He saw, if only partially, the limitations of market- and desert-based justifications of property rights that ignore social externalities. Most astonishingly, he stood at the cusp of a famous systemic principle of equality--a principle defining the limits of justified inequality. In the words of its most influential advocate, John Rawls, "social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are . . . reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage."
Elizabeth Anderson, "Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” and the Origins of Social Insurance"
Hayek supported social insurance, even in The Road to Serfdom [...] He made clear that compulsory contributions to a system of social insurance were compatible with a free society. Hayek rejected laissez-faire capitalism and insisted that a free society was also compatible with various forms of economic regulation [...]
Elizabeth Anderson, "Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” and the Origins of Social Insurance"