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Chapter 5

The Social Contract Model*

By R.J. Rummel

Moralistic slogans abound alike in the peace movement and in the statements of governmental leaders, but the question, "What is right?" is seldom seriously considered. Currently dominant ethical views, whether stated in theological or secular terms, argue that it cannot be answered. It cannot be answered, one hears, either because there is no way to justify ethical standards or because all ethical standards are situationally based and change as particular situations change. Some refuse to deal with this question because they feel that the danger of war comes precisely from those who do assert that they are right and therefore justified in violently imposing their views on others. Those seeking an end to war need to consider the other side of that argument, for without standards by which conflict can be arbitrated or resolved, there is left only the test of violence.
----Pickus and Woito (1970:119)

Volume 5

Expanded Contents

1: Perspective And Summary
2: What is Peace?
3:Alternative Concepts of Peace
6:The Global Convention of Minds
7: The Just Peace Principles
8:The Just Peace
9:Implementation of a Just Peace:Incrementalism
10: Principles of Conflict Resolution
11: The Positive Peace Principle
12:The Grand Master Principle

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace

Other Related Work

Conflict And Violence page

Democratic Peace page


My purpose is to use the social contract model to determine what principles of social justice individuals would adopt voluntarily and fairly were their judgments not biased by self interest.1 Treating people with dignity and as ends, not means, is treating them according to principles they would unanimously and impartially choose for themselves.2 These ideal just principles constitute a social contract against which the justice of current institutions can be assessed3 and to which social reforms can be directed. Here I add that the principles of justice also must be selected so as to minimize social violence. My overall purpose is thus to define principles of a just peace.

I will model a hypothetical bargaining situation in which individuals must adopt principles to establish and govern their social institutions. Within limits set by the nature of justice, we can freely select the conditions establishing this bargaining situation and its framework and rules in order to logically entail or make most probable a particular social contract. Presumably, this situation will manifest, even explicate, our fundamental beliefs and feelings about justice and our perspective on humanity and society. The model is then an integrated whole consisting of initial conditions, bargaining situation, the actual proposals and arguments, and the resulting bargain or social contract.4 To use Rawls' terms, as a whole it is a "reflective equilibrium"5 between its various parts, and should be evaluated as such.

In this way a particular social contract, or peace, is given a clear context and explicit, even systematic, framework and argument. It provides a clear normative model for accepting a social contract. To be sure, this is not a form of proof, any more than a mathematical theory of society provides proof for the social "laws" deduced from it. The empirical confirmation of a mathematical theory, which is always and necessarily contingent,6 is based on testing its deductions or predictions against reality. Likewise, the test of the social contract is the general reasonableness and persuasiveness of its particular social consequences. If the consequences are undesirable, then the ethics or justice of the social contract are in serious question.7

Although I have argued that universality, prescriptiveness, and morality are necessary metaethical properties of ethics, and thus justice, I do not believe that these properties can so restrict the social contract model as to entail a specific ethical or just social contract.8 In so far as the social contract constrains fundamental ethical or just principles, therefore, the final appeal is to our common feelings and emotions--in sum, to our attitudes,9 as developed through experience and thought and as imbued with the historical lessons embodied in our culture and society.

The social contract model I will develop here, therefore, is to my theory of a just peace as the mathematical structure of social field theory10 is to the empirical perspective of previous volumes. Moreover, the specific conditions, framework, and rules establishing the bargaining situation are then comparable to the specification and interpretation of the concepts within an empirical theory (model). The outcome of the contract model is the social contract; that of an empirical theory is an explanation or prediction.

Surely, this ability to model the choice of just principles is a powerful reason for selecting the social contract approach, But there are several other important reasons. First, the model enables me to establish a bargaining situation whose outcome is a just social contract, which is consistent with my view of (a) society and peace as a social contract,11 and (b) social contracts formed out of a balancing-of-powers (bargaining) situation.12 I can thereby rationalize and justify the choice of a particular kind of society. Second, the social contract lends itself easily to individualism: as developed in Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field, my psychological perspective is individualistic;13 my fundamental unit for analyzing and evaluating a community is the individual.14

Third, the social contract model is consistent with my own attitude toward justice. I believe in the autonomy, dignity, and freedom of the individual. Therefore, a situation in which all people choose and commit themselves to the fundamental principles under which they will live expresses a basically just process. And if the bargaining situation guarantees impartiality and fairness, then I believe the principles that free people would thus select and assent to are just. (I hasten to add for devotees of other ideologies that their position also will be considered in the bargaining situation, and that the outcome will allow free scope for their perspectives on justice.) But why should anyone accept such an admittedly personal outcome? Because, readers should accept my propositions on justice in the same way they accepted the empirical propositions in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace: the logic, reasonableness, and evidence should convince. Similarly, if one grants my metaethics, then one should be persuaded by the logic of the social contract model, one's attitude toward the basic just premises, and the truth of whatever empirical premises are used.15 In the final analysis, I appeal to the reader's reason, understanding, attitudes.16 But this is no less true of empirical claims than it is of ethics.17

I now can outline my model. It has four aspects: conditions establishing the bargaining situation, the framework (or parameters) structuring the situation, the bargaining rules, and the decisions or outcome. I will discuss each in turn in the following chapters. But before we focus on details and are carried away by the hypothetical situation, I want to be sure the core idea is clear. Justice is, in Rawls' words, a "first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought,"18 and that societies are just that are structured by moral principles all people would select freely, fairly, and impartially.


5.2.1 The Message

I could begin by asking the reader to imagine a suitable bargaining situation with x, y, and z conditions. However, it should ease the understanding and fix ideas better if I develop a fictional situation whose conditions and framework are suitably general to model the social contract. I will use perhaps a not completely incredible science fiction tale for this purpose. Once the bargaining situation is thus posed, I will dissect its aspects and show in which way the requirements of justice are met. Chapter 6 will then discuss the bargaining. Chapter 7 will deal with the outcome.

Scene: Earth, in the near future. All awake and conscious, mature human beings, wherever they are and whatever their activity, simultaneously receive this message.

"People of earth. Please do not be alarmed. You are now receiving an urgent message telepathically beamed to you from outer space.

"We are the Conservers, a conservation association of the galactic society whose space includes your planet. We are dedicated to saving all rational and intelligent life forms from extinction by causes beyond their control. You are now faced with such a natural event endangering your species.

"A galactic warp station in your sector recently reported that a warp storm has developed near your solar system and is moving toward it.19 Unfortunately, this storm generates a radiation unknown to you but deadly to your life forms. And we calculate that it will reach your planet in 237.3 of your days, at which time all human life will terminate.

"We can protect your species from this extinction and have contacted you for this purpose.

"We have located in a distant solar system another planet whose life-support environment is similar to Earth and devoid of intelligent life. We are prepared to transport all of you to this planet with little discomfort and loss of time. We must be sure, however, that the conditions of this relocation satisfy our galactic species conservation laws, which are meant to protect you and guarantee your good start in the New World.

"The Conservation Laws are these.

"(1) Species Self-Determination. You must determine your own social structure in the New World. Your present social structures may be inadequate or unsuitable. The geography and resources of the New World differ radically. We cannot transfer whole cultures or nations to the same area; inevitably large cultures, nations, societies will become mixed, although large families, clans, or neighborhoods can be kept together.

" (2) Minimize Intraspecies Violence. We are dedicated to protecting rational species from both natural events and self-destruction during their growth to maturity as a species. We will make sure, therefore, that the principles guiding your New Society will minimize the social violence of your adjustments to the New World.

" (3) Universality. All of you, excluding children or mentally diseased or disabled, will be equally able to propose, debate, and vote on the social principles that will govern your New World. These principles must achieve a consensus among you; they must be unanimously accepted by those who will live under them.

" (4) Voluntariness. In the global discussion, debate, and voting, each of you will be anonymous: your votes will be secret. Those of you who cannot accept the social principles that win dominant support are free to remain on earth. Moreover, those who wish to remain for whatever reason also may do so.

"In accepting these laws you must know our limits and powers. With our technology we can atomize and transport your nuclear patterns through hyperspace to your new planet and reconstitute them there. However, we cannot promise that your mind and bodies will be kept together. Some, maybe most, even possibly all of your minds, may be transferred to new bodies. Your mind would then assume the memories and biochemical personality of the resident brain, so that you would not know a mind-body exchange had occurred.

"That is our limit. Telepathically, we do have these powers, however. We can mentally link all your minds so that you can collectively discuss and determine your New Society. Since this Global Convention of Minds communicates by pure thought through us, we can organize and speed up your discussion and voting so that the time involved is inconsequential.

"Billions of your minds will be involved in the Convention. To avoid creating something of a babble, we will pattern your arguments, ideas, and proposals and reduce these to the most popular competing principles. We can also assess seriousness and commitment and will assure that only principles emerge to which you will dedicate yourself in the New World. Finally, while this will be a convention of pure minds and thought, your minds will retain your memories, knowledge, and personality. Your individual selves will be fully involved.

"This message will be repeated hourly for one revolution of Your planet. At that time the Global Convention of Minds will commence. This concludes our message. "

5.2.2 The Model and Requirements of a Just Peace

Here I will make clear the social contract model underlying the above message. There is the purpose of the model, which is to define a just peace. Then there is the model itself, which presently consists of the conditions, framework, and rules for a Global Convention of Minds given by the message. And there are the requirements of justice and peace. Table 5.1 shows the relationship between this purpose and model and these requirements. I will discuss each requirement (shown on the left of the table) in turn.

A. Prescriptivity.20 The just peace to be negotiated by the Convention will be a new and future global social order. Its principles will not simply state what was or is. And since the environment of the New World will radically differ in unknown ways from the present, a principle simply cannot be a social trend line extended into the future. Moreover, it is axiomatic that people generally will select principles expressing what they socially desire and believe to be good, right, and just. The principles chosen in the Convention therefore will reflect what humanity collectively believes or feels ought to be. That is, the first condition of the model assures that the principles will be prescriptive.

B. Universality. The universality of a just statement means that it applies to all subjects, unconditioned by time or place.21 That the principles agreed upon by the Convention will apply to all without qualification is assured by the transfer condition 2 in Table 5.1, framework parameter 1, and the consensus and unanimity rules 1 and 2. Whatever social principles are adopted will cover all those who voted for it, with the obvious exception of children and the mentally handicapped.22 The latter, in any case, would not participate in the Convention.

As to the logical universality of whatever social principles emerge, conditions 3 and 4 in Table 5.1 protect against particularization. No one will know their future resources, nor their future age,23 race, religion, height, birth, personality traits, or relative abilities. In other words, they are ignorant of any essential detail of their future circumstances to which they could tailor the principles of justice. Not even probabilities will be of much help.24 Therefore, even the most self-centered of minds25 must strive for a universality and benevolence of principle that would benefit others as they would want to be benefited.

C. Morality. Morality means obligation, duty, responsibility.26 By adopting the point of view of a convention of minds we are expressing our moral nature as free, equal, and rational persons.27 The outcome of the Convention of Minds will be a social contract--determined through free discussion and bargaining (parameter 2) and voting (rule 3) as shown in the Table. The decision among those who will live under the social principles must be unanimous; those who are unwilling must stay behind (rule 4). Also, by condition 5, those who for any reason prefer to remain on earth may do so even though they agree with the final principles. Thus, the final contract is freely determined and voluntarily accepted.28 And each person thereby promises to abide by it. The resulting contract--principles--carries the moral force of any voluntary contract.29 Since, as far as we know, the keeping of promises is a universal ethic, subscribed to in some form by all cultures, the morality involved should be general to all in the Convention.30

One other moral aspect needs mentioning. By parameter 3 in Table 5.1 all minds will have their superegos31 engaged. That is, each mind will be influenced by its moral attitudes in deciding on such basic questions as how society should be structured, the poor and rich treated, laws determined; who should have what power and what rights. In other words, in the Global Convention of Minds are all the basic social questions that have been at the core of thought about society and government. Surely we can expect that the most fundamental moral attitudes of humanity would be given hard labor. And whatever emerges as consensual social principles must thereby lie at the center of gravity of these moral attitudes.

D. Practicality. Ought implies can.32 Whatever principles of a just peace are selected should not be utopian; they must provide a framework for a society that can actually function (needs can be satisfied), be stable, and evolve. This possibility is enhanced by parameters 4 and 5 in the Table. There is no thick "veil of ignorance"33 here. Each mind can draw on its personal, social, and cultural experience and matrix; each mind's perspective transformation-its well-honed view of life and reality directly participates. Thus, each mind is a delegate for a specific sociocultural and sociopolitical life-path; the Convention thus draws on humanity's collective historical experience and cultural development. All aspects of justice in practice and as an outcome of a long historical development thereby are involved, which includes each mind's sense for historical entitlements,34 fairness, equality, impartiality, just laws, and the like.35 Moreover, each mind's abstract knowledge of psychology, society, and culture informs the bargaining. Finally, each who accepts the social principles determined by the Convention and transportation to the New World would live, at least initially, under these principles (condition 2). Each therefore has a personal stake in selecting practical principles and a reservoir of personal experience and knowledge for evaluating his realism. And the Conservers cannot intervene in this evaluation, for by galactic law they are prohibited from adding their knowledge to the Convention, aside from predicting the social violence that certain proposals will create in the New World (as will be discussed below).

E. Impartiality. Since the above requirements are satisfied by the model's conditions, parameters, and rules, whatever social principles chosen by the Convention will be principles of justice (as a quality of social institutions). However, I also will include three requirements specific to justice. The first is impartiality--in Shakespeare's words, "This even-handed justice."36 Justice means, among other things, that just decisions are not weighted by irrelevant circumstances or particularities.37 Justice is treating all similarly according to universal rules. That the outcome of the Convention will be impartial principles of justice is facilitated by conditions 3 and 4 in Table 5.1--environmental and corporeal indeterminacy.

No one knows how he will benefit in the New World from any principles he proposes or accepts. Moreover, impartiality is further enhanced by the Convention's rules. Since unanimity on the principles is required among those transported, the interests of each must be considered.38 Further, the arguments and votes taken are anonymous (rule 5) and the debate public (rule 6), thanks to the Convener's telepathic power. These rules exclude coercion, force, or buying votes during the convention or afterwards (by conditions 3 and 4 in the Table). They also exclude weighting arguments by knowledge about a participant's background or authority (whether a mind belongs to a professor of philosophy, an Indian peasant, or Arabian monarch is unknown). Principles will stand or fall on the basis of pure argument, general acceptability of evidence, and appeal to humanity's common experience and attitudes.

F Fairness. This is the second requirement specific to justice.39 Fairness means giving people their due, treating equals equally and unequals unequally, judging others equitably and without bias, and being honest.40 Several aspects of the Convention assure fairness. First, all minds are involved (parameter 1 in Table 5.1) in the deliberations to whatever degree they wish (rules 3 and 5). Second, all must accept the principles of justice if they are to live under them (rule 2). Therefore, each will live within a new society to which each has consented. Finally, each counts as one; none more than one (rule 7).

G. Rightness. Justice also carries the meaning of right in law, equitable in practice; justifiable as a claim or obligation. What is right about a society therefore refers to its status quo,41 which delimits rights, obligations, duties, and the like. And this status quo is what will be delineated by the principles of justice (condition 1 in the Table). Moreover, rightness concerns interests--indeed, what is right is believed, especially by legal positivists, to be particularly concerned with the clash and balance of interests in society.42 In the Convention of Minds, interests are fully engaged (parameter 6), for each mind is a complete and dynamic psychological field, not only able to reason but also motivated by needs, attitudes, and interests.43

Particularly important in assessing right is individual entitlement to benefits or resources. Actually, for many entitlement or merit is a basic criterion of justice. For this reason I make explicit in the framework (parameter 7) in Table 5.1 historical entitlements, although these are already contained in parameter 6. By historical entitlement I mean the rightness and legitimacy that have become historically attached to roles, positions, and property in society, such as the rights of the father in traditional Asian families. Thus, across societies, different roles and positions have developed different entitlements, as of the merchant, priest, soldier, teacher, or parent. Then there is entitlement to property (land, for example). No doubt some of these entitlements are cultural; some are based on a particular class system. In any case, the bargaining over social principles should take them into account. And whatever is accepted as right in the New World must be agreeable initially to all (rule 2).

H. Peace. Since defining a just peace is the purpose of all this, peace must also be a requirement. But peace is a social contract, as established in Chapter 2. Whatever principle agreed upon by the Convention would be a social contract and, ipso facto, peace. However, by a just peace I mean something more than any social contract.

Besides fairness, rightness, and impartiality, justice also implies order. A society in a constant state of social violence, insecurity, and war is hardly just. Justice must assume a prior state of law and order to which we can then apply questions of fairness, rightness, and the like. Of course, there may be justice in defending oneself even through violence. And for me the idea of a just war is not a self-contradiction. But this defines justice at the individual level, and situationally. It is contradictory to call a violent society just.

The social contract that defines a just peace must not only be just, therefore, but must also frame a relatively nonviolent system of relations. Accordingly, the peace requirement (Table 5.1) of the social contract model means this. A just peace is a just, global social contract structuring a system of minimal social violence.

But how will this requirement be met? Is the Convention to assess alternative principles as to their potential global violence? No. This would leave to the judgment of popular majorities a social science question. Rather, as indicated in the message, once a consensual set of principles has emerged from the Convention, the Conveners will assess whether they tend to minimize global social violence. If so, a final vote will be held. Of course, "the Conveners will assess" means our weighing the social principles in the perspective of these volumes.

5.2.3 The Convention Voting Rules

Because of their particular importance, I will discuss separately the Convention's rules for voting on the social principles. There are three stages to this bargaining situation: division, consensus, and decision. These stages are governed by the conditions, framework, and rules shown in Table 5.1.

In the division stage proposed principles are offered, discussed, and debated by all. With their somewhat unusual telepathic and mental capabilities, the Conveners will mediate, organize, and pattern this exchange among billions of minds to sharply delineate the primary differences so that the basic, alternative principles of justice can emerge.

The consensus stage involves negotiating and compromising toward a single set of principles. By consensus I mean wide or general agreement, not necessarily unanimity. Specifically, a consensus should involve more than two-thirds or even three-fourths of those voting (some may prefer to opt out of the bargaining and voting for personal reasons, e.g., a disposition to leave such matters to others or a desire to stay on Earth regardless of what the New Society would be like). Only a very small, but unspecified, number likely would oppose the consensual principles determined at this stage.

Finally, there is the decision stage--the final vote. Throughout the previous stages straw votes would help to define divisions and aid negotiating a consensus. At this final state, however, the Conveners will announce a last binding vote to precisely delimit the consensus. All those voting for the consensual principles may be (some may prefer to stay on Earth) transported to the New World. Those against will remain on Earth.

I probably need not remind the reader that this is fictional. But narrating this vote has a function in the social contract model. It makes explicit the commitment to the final just principles. It underlines the consensus that the principles enjoy. And it provides a significant event--the vote--around which can be discussed a number of questions concerning this consensus and opposition to it.

One final point about these stages and the final vote. Rawls' "initial position" lacked a compelling motive for people to enter into a social contract.44 For Hobbes and Locke, we were driven into a social contract by insecurity and fear of death in the State of Nature. The social contract gave us security, for which he was willing to grant certain powers to a Leviathan or Civil Society. We should remain, in theory, committed to this contract for fear of returning to the State of Nature.

In the social contract model developed here, the fear of death (from the warp storm)45 is a basic motive that underlies the bargaining and is a force toward consensus.46 This fear, however, would vanish once all are transported to the New World. Why, then, should those in the New World remain party to their New Society? The answer, so we will find, is that among the alternatives the new global society best allows each individual to maximally seek and secure his own just society. Self-interests, but not necessarily selfish interests, should undergird and sustain the New Society in the beginning. However, rather than relying on this motive in the long run, as we will also see, the Convention will consider how to strengthen the New Society against deterioration into a state of social injustice.


The social contract model involves not only specified conditions, bargaining, and outcomes, but also assumptions about humanity. Particularly, our view of the Convention's bargaining or resulting social contract must involve some psychological premises. Mine are presented in Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field, and I need not retrace that ground in detail again. However, I will summarize their essence and relate them to the bargaining situation to be discussed in the following chapters, This I will do through six psychological principles.47

5.3.1 Subjectivity Principle: Perception is Subjective48

Our perception is a balance between the powers of reality to impose particular manifestations on our minds and our disposition to sense things in a certain way. This balance is our perspective. It combines not only our physical point of view and biological capabilities but also (and importantly) our cultural matrix of orienting schema, meanings, and values and our dynamic psychological field of needs, interests, and temperaments.

What we perceive is thus fundamentally subjective. We each have a point of view. We each share certain perceptions due to a common language, culture, physiology, and physical location; and to common paradigms and ideologies. But we each also have unique inheritance, experiences, and will. We have our own ideas and beliefs. In short, we add ourselves to perception. It is hazardous for others to believe or assume they can know what we perceive, especially regarding society and politics.

This subjectivity underlies our beliefs and ideas. It infuses our empirical paradigms and ideologies. It colors our empirical statements. Therefore, the debate and proposals in the Convention of ' Minds will be unavoidably personal. There will be communication, but, due to the differing perspectives of the participants there will also be a subjective barrier to complete communication and fully rational argument. We will have, in other words, a committee-like process involving many different people trying to achieve a difficult consensus. And we know how irrationally large committees can operate.

5.3.2 Intentionality Principle: We Behave to Achieve

We are future directed. We behave largely to achieve goals and not simply in response to stimuli.49 At the base of our motivations are needs of sex, hunger, gregariousness, protectiveness, curiosity, security, and self-assertion.50 These are interconnected with our attitudes ("In these circumstances I want to do this with that"), spelling out our goals, our means, and their context. Needs provide motivation toward action; when stimulated, needs transform attitudes into interests--an active disposition toward some goal. The connections among needs, attitudes, and interests (actuated attitudes) are organized by the self, which is fundamentally composed of our id, ego, and superego.51

Our interests, then, which are central to any bargaining situation, comprise future goals, means of achieving them, and their attendant situations. They engage stimulated needs. They may themselves involve norms, mores, values. They may or may not be selfish. They may be linked to our self-assertive need, to security (which was basic to Hobbes' and Locke's social contracts), or to protectiveness. They may therefore be altruistic or righteous. On this score, then, interests in the Global Convention will be partially selfish, egoistic, altruistic, or paternalistic. Some participants will be dedicated to improving humanity and society and will bargain selflessly for their theocracy or ideology which promises to bring this about.

Moreover, no single need will always dominate all people in all situations. Even self-preservation (security need) for some may be secondary to achieving an altruistic interest (such as advancing equalitarianism). This means that the bargaining situation may well involve those who will sacrifice themselves or others for a cause.

5.3.3 Self-Esteem Principle: We Strive for Self-Esteem

Our behavior has an overall direction: achieving, enhancing, completing our self-esteem.52 This is a superordinate quest that weights and screens our needs and organizes our interests; it gives basic meaning to our life and actions. The goal is to accomplish a self-ideal.

This ideal may be of a virtuous person: good wife or husband, selfless missionary, devoted Christian, brave soldier. It may be to achieve a position, such as a mayor, governor, or senator; or to be in a profession such as teaching, law, or medicine. It may be to achieve a reputation for honesty, coolness, ruthlessness. It may be to see one's cause triumph, such as of a theocratic, democratic, or Marxist society. In any case, self-esteem is not necessarily tied to what is philosophically or culturally considered the good or virtuous person. It is not necessarily being cultured, educated, honest, rational, just. Self-esteem may well be linked to always obeying orders, coolly murdering an old woman, robbing a bank, blowing up a bus full of children (as in terrorist attacks).

Therefore, to assert that self-esteem is an active, psychological motivation in the Global Convention does not imply that this necessarily weights a general good, virtuous, or Just outcome. It only means here that each participating mind focuses on a future toward which it is disposed, above all. This goal gives unity and force to the participant's interests.

5.3.4 Expectations Principle: Expectations Guide Behavior

This is a major psychological principle53 underlying my previous discussion of the structure of expectations.54 Relevant here is that we are disposed to behave in a certain way by our interests (particularly our self-esteem), temperament, moods, and psychological states. How we behave in a situation depends on the relationship between these dispositions and our expectations of the outcome of our behavior. What expectations people take into the Global Convention about each other and society will therefore considerably influence their bargaining and the outcome.

5.3.5 Responsibility Principle: We are Responsible for Our Behavior

No doubt we are influenced by our environment, delimited by heredity. But our will is also free. This is a necessary hypothesis of reason and morality.55

Free will introduces into the bargaining situation indeterminacy about positions and outcomes. Past patterns may not always be helpful. Moreover, reasonable inferences drawn from a knowledge about common needs and interests may be wrong. People may do what is expected, of course. But this is not determined. It is not necessitated.

5.3.6 The Individuality Master Principle: We are Individuals

This is my core psychological principle. Each of us is a universe unto ourselves. Our perception is subjective, our interests private. Our self-esteem is integral to our life-stream. And our expectations evolve from our personal history.

If the Global Convention is to involve several billion minds, therefore, it will involve several billion individuals.

We can now meld this into the bargaining situation.


* Scanned from Chapter 5 in R.J. Rummel, The Just Peace, 1981. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

1. In one sense all interests are self-interests. Here I mean only those interests specifically concerned with personal gains and losses, as of wealth, power, or prestige.

2. In different words, Rawls (1971:180) makes the same point. Rawls tried to structure a bargaining situation, which he calls an "initial position," such that its conditions would serve as logical premises for a social contract--his two principles of justice (p. 302): "Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all." "Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both: (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity." He was not successful. Most informed reviewers agree that he did not logically derive, or even reasonably establish, his two principles of justice from his initial conditions. See particularly Barry (1973), Fishkin (1975), Harsanyi (1975), and Wolff (1977). Nonetheless, all would agree that whether or not he failed in his main effort, there otherwise is still much of great value in his work.

3. See Rawls on this point (1971:13):

No society can, of course, be a scheme of cooperation which people enter voluntarily in a literal sense; each person finds himself placed at birth in some particular position in some particular society, and the nature of this position materially affects his life prospects. Yet a society satisfying the principles of justice as fairness comes as close as a society can to being a voluntary scheme, for it meets the principles which free and equal persons would assent to under circumstances that are fair. In this sense its members are autonomous and the obligations they recognize self-imposed.

4. On the social contract method, see Rawls (1951); on Rawls' method, see Delaney (1977).

5. See Rawls (1971:20-21, 48-51). I believe Rawls has been unjustly criticized for this conception. Apparently, some of his critics have a linear view of systematic models and normative theory, seeing them as involving in sequence, choice of model (or theory); arguments, analysis, and data; and results or outcome. But the application of a model or theory and their development is really more an interactive balance among these elements. One may first select a model, analyze and apply it, find it does not perform well, adjust it, try again, readjust other aspects of the model, and so on. A model in reflective equilibrium is the outcome of a process of research and thought--that is, of rubbing together intuition, theory, and data or experience until the sharp edges are smooth and the parts fit together into a seamless whole. Once so established, however, a model (or theory) may develop an authority to dominate a project or domain so that it becomes a given. Then one actually may have the linear paradigm: an authoritative model, application or test, and results.

6. The contingency of confirmation is due to the logical possibility that false premises (theory) can entail true conclusions. That is, even though a theory's predictions are true, its premises may be false. For example, the false premises "all men are rocks" and "all rocks are mortal" logically imply the true conclusion that "all men are mortal." However, true premises (theory) cannot logically imply a false conclusion. If a theory's predictions are false, the premises cannot be true. For this reason true predictions whisper for a theory; false predictions thunder against it. On this, see Popper (1965, 1968).

7. See Hare (1965:II.6.3). Hare notes the analogy between moral argument and Popper's theory of scientific method. For Popper, particular statements can falsify but not prove a theory correct (for the reason I give in Note 6); for Hare, particular actions implied by a moral principle can cause us to reject but not accept a moral principle.

8. Rawls' failure is instructive in this regard. See Note 2.

9. See Section 4.2.4F.

10. See, for example, Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9).

11. See Section 2.3.4B.

12. Interestingly, Rawls also considers his principles of justice as a balance of powers, in my terms. He uses the term "equilibrium," refers it to price theory, and draws an analogy with agreements determined by bargaining among traders (1971:119-120).

13. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 33.4 of Chapter 33). I assume the individual is above the community--that social institutions flow from the individual. On this see Rawls (1971:107), who affirms individualism while denying rational egoism, as Rapaport (1977:107) points out.

14. This does not imply that individual decision and relations are unaffected by society or that macroanalysis is less useful than microanalysis. Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix, Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective, and Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace should prove otherwise. To talk in terms of a conflict helix, exchange society, or social field is to recognize that individual choices are patterned and structured, and these in the aggregate feed back on individual choices.

There is a different and more basic question here, however. A split exists in the social contract tradition between the individual self of Locke--an empirical self living totally on the plane of phenomena--and the nominal self of Kant living in an underlying world of pure, practical reason (see Sumner, 1977:41f). I involve in the bargaining both selves: the full and complete self with phenomenal perception, needs, interests, expectations, and behavioral dispositions; and the moral self.

15. As pointed out in Section 4.2.4E, just principles (statements) cannot be derived from empirical premises alone. There must be at least one ethical or just premise.

16. Another way of putting this is that the social contract should be what one would accept were one in the Convention of Minds. Therefore, one should accept it to the extent that this correspondence is true.

17. An empirical claim should persuade one to the degree that one becomes convinced that using the same data, applying the same methods, and making the same assumptions leads one to find the empirical statement true.

18. Rawls (1971:3).

19. This "warp storm" is obviously the excuse in the model for establishing the bargaining situation. It was not chosen lightly. The problem is to establish a situation (that is neutral with regard to different principles of justice and consistent with our knowledge of social violence) that (a) involves all people and perspectives; (b) entails a strong motivation toward agreement (that is, the Convention is not simply academic but vital), and (c) requires consensus. I carefully weighed many alternative story lines for this, including the Conservers simply asking for volunteers to settle an uninhabited planet; their providing an opportunity for people to escape from contemporary social violence and injustice; or their dramatically saving humanity from the worldwide fallout of an all out nuclear war. I also considered variations on a group from earth colonizing a new planet and thus establishing a new society. In any case, any reader unhappy with my story line can simply imagine the required bargaining situation occurring with the conditions, framework, and rules to be given later.

20. See Section 4.2.4B.

21. See Section 4.2.4C.

22. To avoid the problem of an exclusionary, dichotomous criteria applied mechanically across children, handicapped, and cultures, allow for the Conservers to apply a person-specified criteria. That is, any person, child, or possible mentally handicapped can participate fully in the Convention if the Conserver telepathically determines he can understand the situation (after careful presentation and simplification) sufficiently to vote on alternative principles.

23. Although the participants will not know their future age group, and thus should not favor one generation over another, theoretically they could favor those now living against those yet to be born. But I do not see this as a problem here. First, how each participant will define and treat the just claims of generations is a matter of sociocultural and political perspectives. It cannot be assumed that all will egoistically plunder the future for the present (or even consider their personal interests for the present). Some will try to subordinate present and future generations to the past (traditionalists, reactionaries); or past and future generations to the present (e.g., hedonists, democrats); or past and present to future generations (e.g., socialists, communists). These perspectives will contend in the Convention (Section 6.2) and the outcome will take them all into account (Section 7.2).

Second, the social principles are meant to be universal, not ultimate--not to bind all future generations. Like scientific universals, these principles will reflect the attitudes and experience of the present and, through our cultures that live within us, past generations. Future generations are expected to have new knowledge and experience and different attitudes, and may therefore revise the social principles. For these reasons I believe it unwise to set up a Convention of Minds from all past, present, and future, actual and possible generations. On Rawls' inclusion of all actual generations in his initial position, see Hare's (1973b:243-245) insightful comments.

24. See Section 6.2.1.

25. See Section 6.2.2 and Section 6.2.3. I allow for altruistic and paternalistic motives and choices, as well as selfish and egoistic ones.

26. See Section 4.2.4D.

27. Rawls elaborates on this (1971:256):

The original position may be viewed, then, as a procedural interpretation of Kant's conception of autonomy and the categorical imperative. The principles regulative of the kingdom of ends are those that would be chosen in this position, and the description of this situation enables us to explain the sense in which acting from these principles expresses our nature as free and equal rational persons.

I agree that this does capture Kant's moral ideas. So does the Kantian philosopher Wolff (1977:115).

28. The choice may seem overly stark: between accepting the consensus or death. What kind of voluntariness is this for the small minority who disagree with the consensus? However, we will see (Section 7.4.3) that the final choice is between being free to follow your own beliefs in the New World consistent with others doing the same and death because you cannot persuade others to live the way you want. The choice of death to allowing others and yourself to live your own lives is fanaticism. Thus, condition 5 is reasonable up to a very small and extreme moral margin. Moreover, it is a question whether such fanatics have a moral claim at all. Morality requires universality. But one cannot universalize the fanatic's maxim that any person i should prefer death to allowing all, including i, to live by different beliefs. Such a universalized maxim would cause humanity to self-destruct.

29. The condition, framework, and rules of the Convention also satisfy what Nielson (1967:131-132) calls "procedural rules" of ethics. These concern the reasoned pursuit of the interests of all, the equal welfare of all similarly alike and situated, and impartiality.

30. See Hobbes (1952:91):

From that law of nature, by which we are obliged to transfer to another, such rights, as being retained, hinder the peace of humanity, there follows a third; which is this, that men perform their covenants made: without which, covenants are in vain, and but empty words; and the right of men to all things remaining, we are still in the condition of war.

And in this law of nature, consists the fountain and original of justice. For where no covenant has preceded, there has no right been transferred, and every person has right to everything; and consequently, no action can be unjust. But when a covenant is made, then to break it is unjust: and the definition of injustice, is no other than the not performance of covenant. And whatsoever is not unjust, is just.

31. See Note 57 of Chapter 4; and Section 6.2.2.

32. See Section 4.3.3.

33. To remove egoistic self-interest, Rawls (1971: Section 24), lowered a "veil of ignorance" over those in his "initial position," hiding from them any specific knowledge of themselves. This was a mistake. It deprived his participants of the personal memories, experience, and attitudes essential to evaluating social and moral principles, and did not succeed in leading to well-defined principles. On this see Hare's review (1973a-1973b).

I have avoided the problem of Rawls' approach by dropping a "veil of ignorance" only over the participants' future sociocultural position, resources, and capabilities.

34. Rawls' (1971: Section 24) veil of ignorance forecloses on any historical entitlement conception of justice. His participants have a general knowledge of social laws, but no personal ideas or knowledge of merit or entitlement. But this denies fair play in the bargaining for one important view of justice as fairness: people receiving what they are due. On this criticism see Nozick (1974:202-204).

35. Thus, each participant may apply his own conception of the Good to the proposed principles. This differs from Rawls (1971), who denied his participants any personal moral perspective. To do so, Rawls felt, would make a solution impossible. On this, see Nagel (1973:227-229). Rawls erred here by trying to force a first-order (in my terms) solution. See Section 7.2.

With due consideration given to Rawls' work, Runciman (1966: Chapter XIII) also develops a social contract theory of justice. He is not clear about how much information his participants have, but surely they do not labor under the same restrictions as Rawls imposed by his veil of ignorance (for a comment on Runciman in this regard, see Barry, 1973:13). In any case, he seems to allow his participants information about themselves, while denying them knowledge of their future conditions. He does claim a first-order solution, but this solution--his principles of distributional justice--is persuasive only if one believes that all people accept his democratic and socialist values and perspective. (This in no way is meant to detract from his excellent empirical analysis of relative deprivation and status.) A classical liberal, authoritarian, Buddhist, Hindu, or communist could hardly agree with his arguments and outcome. See Section 6.2 on bargaining in the Global Convention.

36. Macbeth I, vii, 10.

37. Impartiality can also be considered a transcendent and universal moral principle--one that must be correct if moral discourse is to be at all possible. Two other such principles may be rational benevolence and liberty. Impartiality and rational benevolence are requirements for bargaining in the Convention; liberty, as we will see, turns out to be the outcome (Section 7.2). For the transcendental arguments for these three principles, see Griffiths (1967:180-181).

38. See Section 5.3.2 and Section 5.3.3.


Although "justice" is sometimes used as a synonym for "law" or "lawfulness," it has a broader sense, closer to "fairness".
----Benn, 1967a:298

40. Benevolence or compassion may also be considered an aspect of fairness. Benevolence is guaranteed here by the corporeal and environmental indeterminacy conditions 3 and 4 and unanimity (rule 2) in Table 5.1. Since one does not know how he might fare under any principle, he must impartially select principles that would treat others as he would want to be treated. That is, each must practice the Golden Rule. See Hare (1973a: 154),

41. See Section 2.3.1A.

42. See Kelson (1961:13):

Justice is an irrational ideal. However indispensable it may be for volition and action of men, it is not subject to cognition. Regarded from the point of view of rational cognition, there are only interests, and hence conflicts of interests. Their solution can be brought about by an order that either satisfies one interest at the expense of the other, or seeks to achieve a compromise between opposing interests. That only one of these two orders is "just" cannot be established by rational cognition.

Kelson's positivist theory is most fully developed in What is Justice? (1957: see pages 1-24).

43. The psychological principles underlying the bargaining situation will be described in Section 5.3.

44. This point is also made in Bloom's (1975:652) review of Rawls' book.

45. See Note 19.

46. This does not mean fear for one's own life, necessarily. It could be fear for the death of others or for humanity.

47. Each of the following principles is grounded in Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field. Each is a chapter in In The Minds of Men (1979a). [See The Conflict Helix] These principles have also been summarized in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Section 20.1).

48. The basic analysis is in Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Part II).

49. This is a teleological view of behavior. I reject the behavioral model for, among other things, its determinism and mechanism. See, for example, Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Sections 2.2, 3.1, 32.1, 33.1; and Chapter 19).

50. These are the needs that psychologists have most consistently identified through multivariate quantitative analyses. The literature is cited in Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (especially Section 21.2 of Chapter 21).

51. Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 20.3 of Chapter 20).

52. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 21.5 of Chapter 21).

53. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Part III).

54. Section 2.2.2 and Section 2.3.1.

55. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapter 28 and Chapter 29). For a more specific analysis of how well it combines with other psychological elements in affecting behavior, see Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Section 8.1).

For citations see the Vol. 5: The Just Peace REFERENCES

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