Sunday, August 25, 2013

New book: "Democratic Justice and the Social Contract"

Democratic Justice and the Social Contract

by Albert Weale

(Oxford University Press, August 2013)

328 pages



This book offers a theory of democratic justice. According to the theory, justice emerges from collective agreement among political associates who enjoy approximate equality of power. Such situations can be seen as social contracts, and we find an empirical model for social contracts in the examples of successful common property resource regimes. In these regimes, participants craft collective rules of access to the means of production on an equal basis and producers are entitled to the full fruits of their labour. To interpret this theoretically an account of practical rationality in terms of individual and public deliberation is required.

In tracing the move from small scale to large scale societies, three important transformations become apparent: in political institutions; in the economy; and in the functions of the household. All are relevant to the understanding of justice. In great societies representative parties making policy and law in shifting coalitions in parliaments elected by proportional representation exemplify political equality and so instance one form of democratic justice. In the economy corporate hierarchies modify the full fruits principles, not always in the direction of justice. Redistribution is justified as a means of smoothing income across the life-cycle, rather than by appeal to economies of scale or a simple principle of need.

Contents [preview]

1. Justice, Social Contracts and Democracy
2. The Democratic Social Contract
3. Economic Justice and the Democratic Contract
4. The Theory of Democratic Social Contracts
5. The Great Transformation
6. Political Democracy and the Great Society
7. Just Returns in the Great Society
8. The Sense of Democratic Justice

Albert Weale is Professor of Political Theory and Public Policy in the School of Public Policy, University College London. He is the author of "Democratic Citizenship and the European Union" (Manchester University Press, 2005) and "Democracy" (2ed, Palgrave, 2007).

Some of Weale's working papers [pdf]:

* "Social Contract and Economic Justice" (2012)
* "Economic Justice and the Contract Method" (2011)
* "The Deliberative Social Contract" (2011)
* "John Rawls's Theory of Justice" (2012)

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