Hegel and Social Contract Theory

Alan Patten

in Hegel's Idea of Freedom

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251568
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598180 | DOI:
 Hegel and Social Contract Theory

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Considers how Hegel could both accept the starting point of social contract theory (the commitment to freedom) and reject what contractarians take to be an obvious implication of that starting point (the social contract theory of political legitimacy). It also explores the alternative account of social and political legitimacy that Hegel draws from the principle of freedom. A major theme of the chapter is the importance that Hegel attaches to the ways in which the major institutions of the modern community work to develop and sustain individual free agency. Hegel's main objection to the social contract theory is that it ignores the function community plays of constituting free individuals. Through an exploration of Hegel's theory of recognition, the chapter shows that Hegel's own alternative theory of political legitimacy involves determining what a community must be like if it is to be successful in fulfilling this function.

Keywords: Communitarianism; Hegel; Individualism; legitimacy; recognition; social contract theory; state

Chapter.  15161 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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