The Social Contract and its contentious role for Rawls's 'Theory of Justice'
In 'A Theory of Justice' (Rawls, 1971), John Rawls tries to develop a conception of justice that is based on a social contract. His approach, doubtlessly, led to a revival of the contract theory in modern political theory. However, his peculiar conception of a hypothetical contract has also evoked a wave of severe criticism. Some of his critics settle for condemning special features of Rawls's contractual concept, while others maintain that Rawls's theory is, in effect, no real contract theory. In this paper, I will therefore focus on two research questions: Is Rawls's theory a genuine contract theory at all? If yes, does the contract play a crucial role in this theory or is there a preferable alternative available to Rawls?
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