Feminist engagements with social contract theory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


The idea of a social contact is employed in both political ans ethical philosophy. In early modern political philosophy, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the social contract was part of a conjectural history or political idea, mainly associated with Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant. They used it in order to justify obedience the the law based only upon the consent of the governed. Each author told a story about the transition from the state of nature to that of civil society, a state with a sovereign and laws, which took place as a result of a social contract. All viewed the political organization of society as something that is constructed by human beings, rejecting the previous assumptions that there is a natural hierarchy between men and that sovereigns rule as an expression of God's will. However, there is an inconsistency in these progressive stories with regard to women, whom the classic theorists- with the possible exception of Hobbes- continued to view as natural subordinates to men.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy
EditorsAnn Garry, Serene Khader, Alison Stone
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315758152
ISBN (Print)9781138795921
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameRoutledge Philosophy Companions

Cite this