FINAL CFP: Social Contract Theory: Past, Present, and Future



Social Contract Theory: Past, Present, and Future

University of Lisbon, 15th-16th May 2014


Social contract theories are typically philosophical attempts to explain the origins of society and the legitimacy of political institutions over individuals. They are based upon the presupposition that society and its connecting political structures are formed by an agreement (or a set of agreements) whose contracting parties are individuals.

The last few decades, however, have witnessed the appearance of serious challenges to the idea of the social contract. International organizations, transnational corporations, lobbyists, investment funds, and ONG’s (all of which are neither individuals nor parties to social contracts) seem quite often more capable than actual individuals or elected representatives of influencing political decision-making processes. Moreover, the network structure of human relations provided by globalization makes it possible for individuals to establish more intense connections with individuals who are not parties to the same contractual cohesive model rather than with fellow citizens.

Can such novelties constitute a potential deathblow to social contract theories? Or are they evidence that the idea of the social contract is in need of being recovered or perhaps even reformulated? The purpose of this conference is to consider the viability of social contract theory in the light of both practical and theoretical challenges.

We invite philosophers, political theorists, historians and other theoretically-minded scholars and practitioners to submit abstracts pertaining to this problem. Our interests include:

  • The idea of the social contract in the history of political theory;
  • Is there a future for social contract theory?
  • Is there a contractarian legitimacy for today’s political structures?
  • Social contract in moral philosophy;
  • The nature of agreement in collective action;
  • Theoretical criticisms of social contract theory (communitarianism, libertarianism, Marxism, anti-contractarian feminist and racial studies, etc.);
  • Social contract theory in international relations.

Proposals that fall beyond these interests are also welcome, provided they relate to the main theme.


Proposals should include an abstract of up to 500 words, name and institutional affiliation, as well as a short biographical note. They must be prepared for 30 minute presentations. We intend to publish a selection of the best papers in an international publisher still in 2014. Working language of the conference is English. Please send your proposals to José Gomes André ( or Andre Santos Campos (, by 15 February 2014.


Organizing Committee: Andre Santos Campos (IFL, New University of Lisbon) and José Gomes André (Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon).

Fees: 30€ (includes conference materials and Lunch for two days)

Please note that the organization of the conference does not provide support for travelling and accommodation.



Deadline of abstract submissions: 15 February 2014

Notification of selected papers: 25 February 2014

Conference date: 15-16 May 2014

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About Andre Santos Campos

Andre Santos Campos (PhD), Assistant Professor, Nova Institute of Philosophy, Nova University of Lisbon. His current research concentrates on issues that connect contemporary political theory with jurisprudence and intellectual history, such as the concepts of sovereignty, political representation and intergenerational justice, on which he has published in a wide range of journals. Recent books include, as editor, "Challenges to Democratic Participation" (Lexington, 2014), "Spinoza and Law" (Ashgate, 2014), "Spinoza: Basic Concepts" (Imprint Academic, 2016); and, as author, "Jus sive Potentia" (CFUL, 2010) and "Spinoza’s Revolutions in Natural Law" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), "
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