Journal Article

Explaining the Social Contract

Zachary Ernst

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 52, issue 1, pages 1-24
Published in print March 2001 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online March 2001 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/52.1.1
Explaining the Social Contract

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Brian Skyrms has argued that the evolution of the social contract may be explained using the tools of evolutionary game theory. I show in the first half of this paper that the evolutionary game-theoretic models are often highly sensitive to the specific processes that they are intended to simulate. This sensitivity represents an important robustness failure that complicates Skyrms's project. But I go on to make the positive proposal that we may none the less obtain robust results by simulating the population structures that existed among our evolutionary ancestors. It is by extending the evolutionary models in this way that we should pursue the project of explaining the evolution of the social contract.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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