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Any of various theories that justify moral principles or political arrangements by appealing to a social contract that is voluntarily committed to under ideal conditions for such commitment. Also called contractualism.

con′trac·tar′i·an adj.
con′trac·tar′i·an·ist adj.
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Kantianism boils moral reasoning down to the categorical imperative; utilitarianism renders it a simple calculus of utility; and contractarianism posits an abstract, universal framework for ethics.
Hegel launches over a century of theorists rejecting contractarianism, from Marx to Heidegger, and others of all and sundry outlooks, all stridently rejecting the contractualist assumption of divorcing legal legitimacy from substantive justice--thereby, in an important sense, returning to the postures of Plato and Aristotle.
My argument is threefold: (i) Narveson's version of contractarianism can be interpreted in a way consistent with the pro-life perspective; (ii) Narveson's own understanding of his social contract produces a result that is implausible and even repellent; and (iii) even if his contractarianism did imply a unique, aggressively pro-choice stance on abortion, there are competing libertarian theories that are receptive to pro-life views.
Part I explains the transition from Berle and Means's trust paradigm, to the rise of contractarianism, to the eventual counterreaction against contractarianism.
For some, such as Samuel von Pufendorf, contractarianism can have results that look quite a bit like Grotius' system of universal practices.
The next question--actually, a set of questions--relates to contractarianism.
On Rousseau, Kant, and Rawls in relation to Hobbesian contractarianism, see infra Part V.
It relies on the analytical tools offered by transaction-cost economics and is grounded in the normative principles of constitutional contractarianism.
Combining contractarianism with concepts of democratic legitimacy and the "logical foundations of constitutional democracy" (the subtitle of James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock's book I he Calculus of Consent [(1962) 1999]) amounts, in Jasay's eyes, to deploying weapons of ideological mass destruction of liberty by means of political theory.
She covers taking citizens seriously: questioning the time modes of legal enterprise, the idea of self-constitutionalization and constitutional patriotism, the ethical fiber of constitutional patriotism and horizontal constitutionalization, institutional intersections or contractarianism by Habermas, and the prescription for the European Union.
Reference to the leading ethical theories--deontology, consequentialism and virtue ethics--as well as other ethical theories such as contractarianism informs decisions as to whether robots should be used at all in certain circumstances (for example, as therapeutic companions) and the limitations that should be placed on their use (for example, avoiding invasions of privacy).
A reviewer in the Notre Dame Lawyer lamented that Patterson's argument "never jells into complete intelligibility" and dismissed his interpretation as "a melange of nineteenth century laissez faire theory and eighteenth century contractarianism.