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From Social Contract Theory to Sociable Contract Theory

From Social Contract Theory to Sociable Contract Theory

Chapter:
(p.182) Chapter Eight From Social Contract Theory to Sociable Contract Theory
Source:
The Democratic Constitution
Author(s):
Brian E. Butler
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226474649.003.0009

Constitutional law theories often rest upon a foundational conception of the social contract. For instance John Rawls’ theory of justice rests upon a contractual idea whereby once and for all principles regulate all further political decisions within a society. From this a conception of constitutional law as a foundational static framework follows quite easily. In this chapter a different ideal for constitutional law is constructed – that of a “sociable contract.” Using the work of Grant Gilmore, Ian R. MacNeil, Ronald J. Gilson, Charles F. Sabel and Robert E. Scott, it is argued that an evolutionary, flexible and more empirically accurate conception of contract can inform the understanding of constitutional law in a manner that is harmonious with the demand of democratic experimentalism.

Keywords:   social contract theory, sociable contract theory, constitutional law, democratic experimentalism, Rawls, Gilmore, MacNeil, Gilson, Sabel, Scott

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