The Contractarianism is one of the most influential political and moral theories, which has a considerable impact on the development of moral and political views. In this respect, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the development of the Contractarianism was closely intertwined with the development of democracy and stimulated the emergence of liberal and democratic views on human rights and liberties. At the same time the contrarian view on the moral system is particularly efficient, especially in the contemporary society. Moreover, the Contractarianism is superior to other moral theories because it implies the existence of the agreement within the society and it is only on the condition of the agreement it is possible to reach harmony and balance in the society.
First of all, the Contractarianism stands on the ground of the contract or agreement that lays the foundation to moral values and norms accepted by the society. To put it in simple terms, the society comes to agreement on moral values and norms all members of the society agree to obey and follow, whereas the violation of these rules and norms is considered to be immoral. At the same time, the fundamental idea of the Contractarianism is the existence of natural rights and liberties. In this respect, it is possible to refer to one of the founders of the Contractarianism John Locke, who argued that people are left with the liberty of the state of nature, which they had all along. When any number of men have in this way consented to make one community or government, that immediately incorporates them, turns them into a single body politic in which the majority have a right to act on behalf of the rest and to bind them by its decisions (Locke, 2000, p. 32).
In fact, the Contractarianism implies that people have natural rights and liberties and they strive to reach the state of nature. In this regard, Locke argued that though in the state of nature he has an unrestricted right to his possessions, he is far from assured that he will be able to get the use of them, because they are constantly exposed to invasion by others (Locke, 2000, p. 40).
However, people could not live according to their rights and liberties alone without violation or oppressing rights and liberties of other people. Therefore, they need the agreement, which regulates their relationships and defines moral values the society agrees upon:
if someone has once by actual agreement and an explicit declaration given his consent to belonging to some commonwealth, he is perpetually and irrevocably obliged to continue as its subject; he can never be again in the liberty of the state of nature—unless through some calamity the government in question •comes to be dissolved, or by some public act cuts him off from being any longer a member of that commonwealth (Locke, 2000, p. 39).
In such a way, the Contractarianism stresses that people elaborate their moral values on the ground of their natural rights and liberties. They agree to observe moral norms and rules and follow the principle of the avoidance of oppression of rights and liberties of other people. This means that People have their moral values but they agree to behave responsibly and to avoid offense of other people, their moral values and norms. In such a way, the Contractarianism prevents conflicts within the society based on the violation of moral values.
In this regard, the Contractarianism is superior to other moral theories. For instance, Utilitarianism ignores individual rights, liberties and moral values. Instead, the majority rules and establishes its moral norms and values. As a result, according to Utilitarianism, the majority can ignore or even offend moral values of the minority, if the majority’s action or inaction leads to the good of the majority. Virtue Ethicist is also inconsistent because it implies the existence of moral values and imposes the moral obligation on individuals to lead the virtual lifestyle. Kantian ethicists pay too much attention to the establishment of moral rules and norms, which people have to follow, but they ignore the importance of human liberty and respect of liberties of other people, including the moral domain.
In fact, the Contractarianism stands on the ground of the respect of moral norms and values. The Contractarianism pays a lot of attention to moral standing and moral values. At the same time, the Contractarianism elaborates common rules and moral values, which the society agrees upon, but the Contractarianism respects individual liberties and rights, including moral values and views of people. This means that individuals should respect common moral rules and norms but they also have an opportunity to have their own moral values and norms as long as they do not offend moral values and norms of other people. As a result, people are relatively free in their moral values that allow them to elaborate their own set of moral values and norms and live according to them. At this point, the respect of rights and liberties of other people is a crucial constraint, which prevents the violation of moral values of individuals, protects them from the oppression and allows them to live according to their moral values and norms without limitation of their own rights and liberties. In such a way, the Contractarianism maintains moral particularism of each individual and respects moral values of each individual.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the Contractarianism is one of the most influential moral theories, which pay a lot of attention to moral values and norms of each individual and provides the ground for the protection of moral values and norms of each individual. At the same time, the Contractarianism implies that the society elaborates the agreement on moral norms and values, which set the general principles on the ground of which each individual can build up his or her own moral values and norms as long as they do not offend moral norms and values of other people and meet the mainstream moral agreement existing within the society. In fact, the Contractarianism views moral values of individuals as an integral part of their natural rights and liberties, which they can never be deprived of by individuals or state.
Locke, J. (2000). Two Treatise of Government. New York: Penguin Classics.
Miller, E.S. (1994). “Economic Regulation and the Social Contract: An Appraisal of Recent Developments in the Social Control of Telecommunications.” Journal of Economic Issues. 28(3), p. 799-811.
Norton. A. (1999). People and a Nation. New York: Touchstone.