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February 26, 2005

Social Contract Theory

A. Rousseau, Jean - Jacques. The Social Contract and Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. New York: Washington Square Press,
18. Conditions being equal for all.
In short, each giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; and as there is not one associate over whom we do not acquire the same rights which we concede to him over ourselves, we gain the equivalent of all that we lose, and more power to preserve what we have.

B. 2 crimes against the social contract.
1. Crime against the state, for example, destruction of public property.
Apparently, this is the only way to demonstrate your lack of consent against the social contract. By abiding the law you give tacit consent.

2. Crime against an individual, for example, murder, rape, or theft.
When held to justice according to the social contract the victim sees no restitution because society claims the loss and therefore the rightful reconstitution. The victim is at a loss this contradicts Rousseau's above assertion.

Meiners held that the victim is due restitution not from the criminal but from society which has failed to uphold its side of the bargain at protecting the individual against injustice. Victim compensation comes from the state. This is logistically inefficient. Why have a middleman apparatus of justice?

C. Social contract is the giving up of individual freedoms so as to receive the benefits of society. The freedoms they speak of are not freedoms at all but aggressions. Individual behavior and rational human action can diminish the incentives of the aggressor enough to deter crime. Individuals can protect themselves through explicit contracts better than through the social contract.

Society does not need to seek justice from the criminal because individuals are inclined to seek justice as a condition of basic human action and self interest. Individuals want to be same from murder, rape and theft.

D: Cost Benefit Analysis of a free market in justice services:

In the proposed system of justice in which individuals are left to provide their own system or systems of justice through contractual relationships and insurance, there exist market forces to lead towards an existence of peace and prosperity.

Take the following example. At time 1, person x has $5, and person y has $0. Y aggresses against X and steals his money. So at time 2, person x has $0 and y $5. For justice to ensue, the money would have to be returned to x from y. Justice would be if at time 3 x had $5 again and y had $0. We can say that the administration of justice is simultaneous positive force returned to x and a negative imposed upon y.

Lock, John. The Second Treatise of Government. Indianapolis: Library of Liberal Arts, 1980, pp 70 - 73.

The social contract is man giving up his right to punish his aggressors. It claims that this is an agreement on the part of the victim to feel more secure in the protective abilities of the state than his own. If this is a willing arrangement why must it be funded through coercive methods? Coercive methods have implied losses; if they benefited the individual being coerced he would have chosen their course as his most highly valued preference. The provision of justice at the hands of the state is protected not by the social contract but rather by forceful monopoly. If you don't pay your taxes you go to jail. There are no opting out mechanisms available for the individual to seek justice against his aggressors without the state.

E: Cost benefit analysis of the social contract.

To walk through the administration of justice under the social contract assumption is a different task. At time 0 a state exists which imposes a level of taxation upon both x and y. Lets assume x and y produce nonetheless and we are faced with the same scenario of time 1, x has $5 and y $0. Y aggresses against x and steals his money so at time 2 x has $0 and y $5. As Hoppe demonstrates crime is a participation of high time preference, so it is reasonable to assumer that y stole said money for the means of consumption. At time 3 x has $0 and y has $0. At this point the state steps in to institute justice. It claims that the social contract has been broken by the mis-action of y. It assumes that it has felt a loss when in fact it has not. If both x and y exist within the society than y's consumption of x's money is no different from the perspective of the state if x had consumed it himself. Society seeks justice nonetheless. In an attempt to mimic the administration of justice in our previous example, the state imposes a negative force upon y. But y has squandered the wealth he has stolen from x, so y becomes imprisoned. Does society receive the positive restitutional force as seen before, only if it relies upon forced prison labor. X receives an assumed benefit from societies benefit but as this benefit is distributed amongst all of society it is reasonable to assume that he is still at a loss in comparison to his initial state at time 1.

From a purely utilitarian perspective the former scenario is preferable to the latter.

Benson, Enterprise:

"James Buchanan asked, if government is dismantled "how do rights re-emerge and come to command respect? How do 'laws' emerge that carry with general respect for their legitimacy'?" He contended that collective action would be necessary to devise a "social contract" or "constitution" to define rights and to establish the institutions to enforce those rights. But collective action can be achieved through individual agreements, with useful rules spreading to other members of a group (p 13)."

Posted by djdamico at February 26, 2005 8:10 PM

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