Encyclopedia of Business and Professional Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: Deborah C Poff, Alex C. Michalos

Contract Theory

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-23514-1_71-1



Contract theory refers to a model of reasoning in political theory and in ethics more generally in terms of which authors aim to demonstrate the normative validity of a rule, principle, or institution, thereby making it plausible to a certain audience. In political theory these principles and institutions are often the authority of government, law, and other main social institutions. The contract model then provides a solution to the problem of “political obligation,” i.e., it gives an answer to the question “why should we obey government and the law?” In ethics the contract metaphor is used to provide a justification for the system of norms as a whole.

The core of the contract model is the idea that such a norm or institution binds a certain target group or audience addressed if it can be shown that under certain carefully specified...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

Section editors and affiliations

  • Muel Kaptein
    • 1
  1. 1.Business Ethics and Integrity ManagementRotterdam School of Management, Erasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands