Feminist Legal Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 109–112 | Cite as

Janice Richardson: The Classic Social Contractarians: Critical Perspectives from Contemporary Feminist Philosophy and Law

Ashgate, Farnham, 2009, 174 pp, price £55 (HB), ISBN 9780754670179
  • Jill Marshall
Book Review

The Social Contract Tradition

Political and legal theories are often founded on assumptions about the characteristics shared by human beings, with the political or legal system said to be formed so as to advance these characteristics. Usually the presumption is that humans have a common ‘nature’ and that certain ways of co-existing are therefore ‘natural’ and pre-social. In the twenty-first century, genetic and other biological developments have become important in informing these ideas, but previously they were frequently manifested in the field of philosophy, mainly through considerations of the importance of nature or nurture, and in the distinction between mind and body, and between reason and the passions and/or the emotions.

Along with the idea of a natural state for mankind, or state of nature, came the fiction of the social contract (see, e.g., Hobbes 1960; Locke 1988; Rousseau 1968; Rawls 1971). This story sits at the heart of contemporary political and legal theory,...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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