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Contractualism is a political position that holds that if an individual breaks the contract then the other person(s) involved no longer need to respect the condition of the contract.

For instance: Bob has an abstract contract with Billy stating that if Billy lets Bob use his toys then Bob will let Billy play with his toys. Contractualism states that if Billy stops letting Bob use his toys, since the abstract contract is broken, Bob no longer has to let Billy use his toys.


Moral theories based on social contract theory, are also known as contractarianism, which argue that what people ought to do is determined by contracts or agreements reached between those people.[citation needed]

Modern critiques

T. M. Scanlon is a proponent of the standpoint as developed in the 1998 publication What We Owe to Each Other. Earlier on J. Rawls wrote on the idea in the work A Theory of Justice published 1971.[1][2]

According to some, the creation of welfare contractualism, represented coincidentally the choice away from the social citizenship credited to T.H. Marshall as proposed in the work Citizenship and Social class published 1950. The idea in any case is inherently to have propose the issuing of money to citizens only on the condition of the individual having fulfilled criteria such as the pre-agreed effort to find or maintain employment of energies as work focused.[3][4]


  1. M Matravers. Scanlon and Contractualism. Psychology Press, 5 Mar 2004. ISBN 0714655732. Retrieved 2012-06-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. J Rawls. A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press, 1971. ISBN 0674017722. Retrieved 2012-06-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. S White. "B.J.Pol.S.507-532 30". Cambridge University Press 2000. Retrieved 2012-06-06.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Thomas Humphrey Marshall - Citizenship and social class: and other essays University Press, 1950

Futher reading

  • Ashford, Elizabeth and Mulgan, Tim. 2007. 'Contractualism'. In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (accessed October 2007).
  • Cudd, Ann. 2007. 'Contractarianism'. In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Summer 2007 Edition).
  • Matravers, M. 2003. Scanlon and contractualism. Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass.
  • Reibetanz, S. 1988. 'Contractualism and Aggregation'. Ethics, 108 (2): 296-311.
  • Scanlon, T. M. 1998. What We Owe to Each Other. Cambridge, Mass.
  • Wallace, R. Jay. 2002. 'Scanlon's Contractualism'. Ethics, 112 (3): 429-470.