PHEB507 Social contract theories


The course focuses on the conception of the social contract, its history, development and reception from the early modern debates to the contemporary political discourse. The main aim of the course is to develop an understanding of the meaning and the significance of the idea of social contract for the development of modern political philosophy, as well as for shaping today's political discourse and social institutions.

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Assoc. Prof. Hristo Gyoshev, PhD

Course Description:


After completing successfully this course the students will:

1) know:

The main concepts and ideas in the tradition of the social contract theory; the key figures in the debates on the social contract, and the contemporary interpretations of the idea of social contract.

2) are capable of:

Understanding in detail the philosophical arguments about nature and justification of the social contract and applying them in the analysis of philosophical and political texts, and in political debates.

Full-time Programmes

Types of Courses:

Language of teaching:


  1. Origins of Modern political thought
  2. The idea of the social contract
  3. The justification of sovereignty
  4. Philosophy and political views of Thomas Hobbes
  5. Hobbes's theory of the state of nature and natural law
  6. Justification, function, and rights of political authority
  7. Locke's political philosophy
  8. Natural law and the social contract
  9. Forms and limits of political government
  10. Midterm exam
  11. Rousseau's social contract theory
  12. Hume on the social contract
  13. Rawls' political philosophy
  14. Main concepts and problems of the 'Theory of justice'
  15. What we owe to each other


Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, edited by Edwin Curley. ISBN: 978-0-87220-177-4

John Locke, Political Writings, edited by David Wootton. ISBN: 978-0-87220-677-9

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Basic Political Writings, 2nd Edition, translated and edited by Donald A. Cress. ISBN: 978-


James Buchanan, The Limits of Liberty: Between Anarchy and Leviathan, The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan

volume 7. ISBN: 0-86597-226-6

Scanlon, Thomas, 1998. What We Owe to Each Other, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, edited by Erin Kelly. ISBN: 978-0-67400-511-2

Locke, John, 1960 [1689]. The Second Treatise of Government, in Two Treatises of Government, Peter Laslett (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 283–446.

Kant, Immanuel, 1999 [1797]. Metaphysical Elements of Justice, second edition, John Ladd (trans.), Indianapolis: Hackett.

Hume, David, 1985 . Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, Eugene Miller (ed.), Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 465–487.

Hobbes, Thomas, 2012 [1651]. Leviathan (3 volumes), Noel Malcolm, (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rawls, John, 1999 A Theory of Justice, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Bodin, J. 1955. Six books of the commonwealth. Oxford: Blackwell.