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Toward a naturalistic foundation of the social contract

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  • Christian Cordes

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  • Christian Schubert

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Abstract

This paper delivers a step toward a naturalistic foundation of the social contract. While mainstream social contract theory is based on an original position model that is defined in an aprioristic way, we endogenize its key elements, i.e., develop them out of the individuals’ moral common sense. Therefore, the biological and social bases of moral intuitions are explored. In this context, a key adaptation during evolution was the one that enabled humans to understand conspecifics as intentional agents. Since these behavioral aspects are considered to be an exaptation, they are not amenable to direct genetic explanations or to rationality-based approaches. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Cordes & Christian Schubert, 2007. "Toward a naturalistic foundation of the social contract," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 35-62, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:18:y:2007:i:1:p:35-62
    DOI: 10.1007/s10602-006-9011-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ferraro, Paul J. & Rondeau, Daniel & Poe, Gregory L., 2003. "Detecting other-regarding behavior with virtual players," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 99-109, May.
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    5. Sugden, Robert, 2001. "Ken Binmore's Evolutionary Social Theory [Review Article]," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(469), pages 213-243, February.
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    7. Selten, Reinhard, 1998. "Features of experimentally observed bounded rationality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 413-436, May.
    8. Stefan Voigt, 1999. "Breaking with the Notion of Social Contract: Constitutions as Based on Spontaneously Arisen Institutions," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 283-300, October.
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    11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521555838 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social contract theory; Fairness; Intentionality; Empathy; Human evolution; A13; B52; D63; D71; P16;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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