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Unformatted text preview: husius, which envisages the union of individuals into families and other private associations, of private associations into lesser public associations and of the lesser public associations into commonwealths. Althusius also incorporated the ancient concept of a contract between the people and its (future) ruler, both at the institution of the state and at the election of a new prince; and this element is not only plausible, but is even a reasonable interpretation of the constitution of some medieval European kingdoms. Nevertheless, as history, the Althusian theory suffers from several defects. First, the plausibility of the contract between people and ruler depends on one's willingness to allow that the people can act through representatives, and its accuracy as history requires that certain magnates, not delegated by the people, may be considered as occupying this representative role. Here, it is hard not to side with Filmer in rejecting such a notion. Second, it would not be sufficient if the constitutions of some particular medieval states did indeed incorporate a contract between ruler and people for contract theory claims to be a general theory of legitimate government. And third, a degree of plausibility is not the same thing as actual historicity, and while the Althusian sequence of events may not be too implausible, this is not to say that it actually occurred (the sequence in its Aristotelian version, as a natural progression, may well seem the more plausible of the two). SLHS Value File PEOPLE IN THE STATE OF NATURE WOULDN'T BE SOPHISTICATED ENOUGH TO FORM A CONTRACT Robert Solomon, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas, A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, 1990, p.56. But we are evidently very clever at figuring out what is good for us, and we are capable--according to the theory--of getting together and negotiating our personal and mutual interests and hammering out a contract that spells out the terms of our agreement and provides incentives and sanctions for our compliance. That is asking an awful lot from a first gathering of presumably primitive creatures who probably know very little about one another and certainly do not share even the beginnings of a...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13