Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Muh Social Contract!

“And yet we have what purports, or professes, or is claimed, to be a contract—the Constitution—made eighty years ago, by men who are now all dead, and who never had any power to bind us, but which (it is claimed) has nevertheless bound three generations of men, consisting of many millions, and which (it is claimed) will be binding upon all the millions that are to come; but which nobody ever signed, sealed, delivered, witnessed, or acknowledged; and which few persons, compared with the whole number that are claimed to be bound by it, have ever read, or even seen, or ever will read, or see.” 
― Lysander SpoonerNo Treason: The Constitution of No Authority

When I was in my undergrad, many of my political science professors seemed to profess a very strongly felt belief in social contract theory. Whether one is liberal or conservative (most of my professors were left of center), social contract theory is a wonderful statist theory that supposes that because you were born into an artificial entity known as a "country," you are automatically obligated to obey the rules of that performing civic functions such as jury duty, or pay taxes, or vote. "Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society," and all that.

And despite the fact that philosophers like Nietzsche roundly debunked and trashed this awful theory, many of my professors acted like it was matter of fact when any criticism (typically by me) was raised against it. If there is one thing that is as close to "fact" in political "science," it is social contract theory. Of course, for those of us with a more liberty based bend, this political "fact" is as much "factual"  as Descartes's demon illusion allegory - it's an interesting theory. Nothing more. And unlike Descartes's demon illusion which is insightful and provides and interesting perspective on our basis for epistemological thought, social contract theory is just assumed, and nothing really changes. Since Hobbes' time, nothing has really changed. The leviathan, whether it be a king or a constitutional republic, is still the leviathan. 

And that is thanks, in large part, to social contract theory. 


Why does anybody take that bad philosophy seriously? 

Even Philosopher-Kings are not wise enough...