Epicurean contractarianism is an attempt to reconcile individualistic hedonism with a robust account of justice. The pursuit of pleasure and the requirements of justice, however, have seemed to be incompatible to many commentators, both ancient and modern. It is not clear how it is possible to reconcile hedonism with the demands of justice. Furthermore, it is not clear why, even if Epicurean contractarianism is possible, why it would be necessary for Epicureans to endorse a social contract. I argue here that Epicurean contractarianism is both possible and necessary once we understand Epicurean practical rationality in a new way. We are left with an appealing version of teleological, individualistic contractarianism that is significantly different from Hobbesian contractarianism.
Thrasher, John. “Reconciling Justice and Pleasure in Epicurean Contractarianism.” Ethical Theory & Moral Practice, vol. 16, no. 2, 2013, pp. 423-436. doi: 10.1007/s10677-012-9348-5
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Ethical Theory & Moral Practice, volume 16, issue 2, in 2013 following peer review. The final publication is available at Springer via DOI: 10.1007/s10677-012-9348-5.