Citizenship, Political Obligation, and the Right-Based Social Contract

Dissertation, University of Southern California (1998)
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The contemporary political philosopher John Rawls considers himself to be part of the social contract tradition of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant, but not of the tradition of Locke's predecessor, Thomas Hobbes. Call the Hobbesian tradition interest-based, and the Lockean tradition right-based, because it assumes that there are irreducible moral facts which the social contract can assume. The primary purpose of Locke's social contract is to justify the authority of the state over its citizens despite the fact that those citizens are naturally free and equal. I assume that this task is of central importance to all right-based social contract theories: in chapter one I lay out the general problems faced by all contract theories, and in chapter two, three and four I examine in depth the accounts of political obligation offered by Locke, Rousseau, and Rawls. I conclude that all members of the right-based social contract tradition fail to provide an account of obligation that can explain the bond between a citizen and her state
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