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James M. Buchanan on Hobbes - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 108
Hobbes/Buchanan/Gaus: [VsHobbes‘ contractualism]: suppose, following James Buchanan (1975)(1), one proposes the following contract: each keeps the holdings that each has in the state of nature, and agrees to call off the war of each against all. This would clearly benefit everyone, since each avoids the cost of protecting her holdings in the state of war. But it also seems unfair in the sense that it reflects the bargaining power of parties based on how well they did in the war that characterizes the state of nature. Such a bargain may be a modus vivendi - a compromise among competing interests that produces peace - but it hardly seems the basis of morality (for a defence of the Hobbesian contract as a modus vivendi see Gray, 2000)(?). Sophisticated analyses such as David Gauthier’s (1986)(3) contractualism seek to solve these problems (for general discussions, see Vallentyne, 1991)(4). >Contractualism/Gauthier.


1. Buchanan, James M. (1975) The Limits of Liberty: Between Anarchy and Leviathan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2. Gray 2000
3. Gauthier, David (1986) Morals by Agreement. Oxford: Clarendon.
4. Vallentyne, Peter, ed. (1991) Contractarianism and Rational Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „The Diversity of Comprehensive Liberalisms.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconBuchan I
James M. Buchanan
Politics as Public Choice Carmel, IN 2000

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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