Contractualism is a term in philosophy that refers either to a family of political theories in the social contract tradition (when used in this sense, the term is synonymous with contractarianism),or to the ethical theory developed in recent years by T. M. Scanlon, especially in his book What We Owe to Each Other.
In moral and political philosophy, the social contract is a theory or model that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and usually concerns the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority in exchange for protection of their remaining rights or maintenance of the social order. The relation between natural and legal rights is often a topic of social contract theory. The term takes its name from The Social Contract, a 1762 book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau that discussed this concept. Although the antecedents of social contract theory are found in antiquity, in Greek and Stoic philosophy and Roman and Canon Law, the heyday of the social contract was the mid-17th to early 19th centuries, when it emerged as the leading doctrine of political legitimacy.
Thomas Michael "Tim" Scanlon, usually cited as T. M. Scanlon, is an American philosopher. He was the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity in Harvard University's Department of Philosophy until his retirement at the end of the 2015–2016 academic year. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2018.
Social contract theorists from the history of political thought include Hugo Grotius (1625), Thomas Hobbes (1651), Samuel Pufendorf (1673), John Locke (1689), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762), and Immanuel Kant (1797); more recently, John Rawls (1971), David Gauthier (1986) and Philip Pettit (1997).
Hugo Grotius, also known as Huig de Groot or Hugo de Groot, was a Dutch jurist. Along with the earlier works of Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili, he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law. A teenage intellectual prodigy, he was born in Delft and studied at Leiden University. He was imprisoned for his involvement in the intra-Calvinist disputes of the Dutch Republic, but escaped hidden in a chest of books. Grotius wrote most of his major works in exile in France.
Thomas Hobbes, in some older texts Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book Leviathan, which expounded an influential formulation of social contract theory. In addition to political philosophy, Hobbes also contributed to a diverse array of other fields, including history, jurisprudence, geometry, the physics of gases, theology, ethics, and general philosophy.
John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.
Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.
Logical positivism and logical empiricism, which together formed neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was verificationism, a theory of knowledge which asserted that only statements verifiable through empirical observation are meaningful. The movement flourished in the 1920s and 1930s in several European centers.
In metaphysics, nominalism is a philosophical view which denies the existence of universals and abstract objects, but affirms the existence of general or abstract terms and predicates. There are at least two main versions of nominalism. One version denies the existence of universals – things that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. The other version specifically denies the existence of abstract objects – objects that do not exist in space and time.
In metaphysics, the problem of universals refers to the question of whether properties exist, and if so, what they are. Properties are qualities or relations that two or more entities have in common. The various kinds of properties, such as qualities and relations, are referred to as universals. For instance, one can imagine three cup holders on a table that have in common the quality of being circular or exemplifying circularity, or two daughters that have in common being the female offsprings of Frank. There are many such properties, such as being human, red, male or female, liquid, big or small, taller than, father of, etc. While philosophers agree that human beings talk and think about properties, they disagree on whether these universals exist in reality or merely in thought and speech. The ″problem of universals″ relates to a number of questions in close relation to not only metaphysics but, to logic and epistemology, all in efforts to understand how the thought of universals has a connection to those of singular properties. An example best used to explain this, is the question of the Pythagorean theorem. How does one know that this formula will be true universally at all times for all triangles?
The philosophy of perception is concerned with the nature of perceptual experience and the status of perceptual data, in particular how they relate to beliefs about, or knowledge of, the world. Any explicit account of perception requires a commitment to one of a variety of ontological or metaphysical views. Philosophers distinguish internalist accounts, which assume that perceptions of objects, and knowledge or beliefs about them, are aspects of an individual's mind, and externalist accounts, which state that they constitute real aspects of the world external to the individual. The position of naïve realism—the 'everyday' impression of physical objects constituting what is perceived—is to some extent contradicted by the occurrence of perceptual illusions and hallucinations and the relativity of perceptual experience as well as certain insights in science. Realist conceptions include phenomenalism and direct and indirect realism. Anti-realist conceptions include idealism and skepticism.
David Gauthier is a Canadian-American philosopher best known for his neo-Hobbesian social contract (contractarian) theory of morality, as developed in his 1986 book Morals by Agreement.
John Bordley Rawls was an American moral and political philosopher in the liberal tradition. Rawls received both the Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy and the National Humanities Medal in 1999, the latter presented by President Bill Clinton, in recognition of how Rawls's work "helped a whole generation of learned Americans revive their faith in democracy itself."
Simplicity is the state or quality of being simple. Something easy to understand or explain seems simple, in contrast to something complicated. Alternatively, as Herbert A. Simon suggests, something is simple or complex depending on the way we choose to describe it. In some uses, the label "simplicity" can imply beauty, purity, or clarity. In other cases, the term may occur with negative connotations to suggest, a deficit or insufficiency of nuance or of complexity of a thing, relative to what one supposes as required.
Moral skepticism is a class of metaethical theories all members of which entail that no one has any moral knowledge. Many moral skeptics also make the stronger, modal claim that moral knowledge is impossible. Moral skepticism is particularly opposed to moral realism: the view that there are knowable and objective moral truths.
Legal positivism is a school of thought of analytical jurisprudence largely developed by legal thinkers in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Jeremy Bentham and John Austin. While Bentham and Austin developed legal positivist theory, empiricism set the theoretical foundations for such developments to occur. The most prominent legal positivist writing in English has been H. L. A. Hart, who in 1958 found common usages of "positivism" as applied to law to include the contentions that:
Computational epistemology is a subdiscipline of formal epistemology that studies the intrinsic complexity of inductive problems for ideal and computationally bounded agents. In short, computational epistemology is to induction what recursion theory is to deduction.
Michael E. Bratman is an American philosopher who is Durfee Professor in the School of Humanities & Sciences and Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University.
Antireductionism is the position in science and metaphysics that stands in contrast to reductionism (anti-holism) by advocating that not all properties of a system can be explained in terms of its constituent parts and their interactions. E.g. it is a fact of classical reductionistic physics--that the electromagnetic potential exists as a continuum. The opposite of reductionism is holism, that understanding a system can be done only as a whole. One form of antireductionism (epistemological) holds that we simply are not capable of understanding systems at the level of their most basic constituents, and so the program of reductionism must fail. The other kind of antireductionism (ontological) holds that such a complete explanation in terms of basic constituents is not possible even in principle for some systems. Robert Laughlin, e.g. supports this view. Disciplines such as cybernetics and systems theory embrace a non-reductionist view of science, sometimes going as far as explaining phenomena at a given level of hierarchy in terms of phenomena at a higher level, in a sense, the opposite of a reductionist approach.
In the most general terms, a reason is a consideration which justifies or explains an action, a belief, an attitude, or a fact.
Moral sense theory is a theory in moral epistemology and meta-ethics concerning the discovery of moral truths. Moral sense theory typically holds that distinctions between morality and immorality are discovered by emotional responses to experience. Some take it to be primarily a view about the nature of moral facts or moral beliefs —this form of the view more often goes by the name "sentimentalism". Others take the view to be primarily about the nature of justifying moral beliefs —this form of the view more often goes by the name "moral sense theory". However, some theorists take the view to be one which claims that both moral facts and how one comes to be justified in believing them are necessarily bound up with human emotions.
In philosophy, animalism is a theory according to which human persons are animals. The concept of animalism is advocated by philosophers Eric T. Olson, Paul Snowdon, Stephan Blatti, and David Wiggins. The view stands in contrast to positions such as Locke's psychological criterion for personal identity. Note that whilst the animalist is committed to something like the claim that human persons are essentially animals, the animalist is quite to content to allow non-human persons - e.g. sufficiently advanced robots, aliens, or other animals.
Jennifer Lackey is a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. She is known for her research in epistemology, especially on testimony, disagreement, memory, the norms of assertion, and virtue epistemology. She is the author of Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge and of numerous articles and book chapters. She is also co-editor of The Epistemology of Testimony and The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays.
Political obligation refers to a moral requirement to obey national laws. Its origins are unclear, however it traces to the Ancient Greeks. The idea of political obligation is philosophical, focusing on the morality of laws, rather than justice. Discussion of political obligation grew during the era of social contract theory, in which Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were crucial in explaining the idea and its importance. Political obligation is distinct from legal obligation.