Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 12, 1986/1987

Sheldon Wein
Pages 67-77

Plato and the Social Contract

This paper argues that Plato’s version of the contractarian theory of justice is superior to all other statements of that theory. The conditions any adequate theory of justice must meet are outlined and it is shown how contractarian theories attempt to meet these conditions. The great contractarian theories---those of Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Rawls, and Gauthier---are shown not to provide an adequate account of the nature of justice. The source of these failures is identified and, finally, it is shown that Plato’s version of contractarianism is immune to this sort of failure.