[hist-analytic] Reciprocity: Rousseau vs. Locke

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Mon Jan 25 13:13:11 EST 2010

I thought I'd drop a note to the list. Business and other 
matters have kept me from the list. Sorry. But I thought 
I'd drop a note on one development in my project. 

Some may recall our discussion of reciprocals. I was 
attempting to tie this into a discussion of reciprocity 
in Rawls and, more more generally, the social contract 
philosophers. As it turns out Rousseau and Locke have 
very different ideas on what a contract is, once you 
figure in their, respective, understandings of reciprocity. 
Rawls, I believe, is much closer to Rousseau. Locke is 
very different. Again, the distinction can be drawn from 
how they deal with reciprocity - recall here the two 
examples from Lasnik's linguistic account. 

The way I'm going to package this is to say there is 
a divide between Locke and Rousseau that defines the 
difference between "classical" and "nonclassical" 
liberalism. Rawls is on this account non-classical. 
"Liberalism" occurs twice here and is not, at this 
point, an ideological lightening rod. But there are 
implications for how a social contract philosopher might 
deal with some of Popper's remarks in Open Society,
remarks that do carry ideological baggage.
I like Popper. He is a sane man writing during insane 
times, but his way of thinking coheres well with Rawls
at places. 

A more general problem for Rawls is how he borrows from 
analytical philosophy. For example, his entire treatment 
of crucial areas is dependent on what I think is an 
improper application of "reflective equilibrium." Rawls 
takes contract theory not as history but as a representational 
device. Now once you attempt to codify the role of 
reflective equilibrium beyond the "original position" 
you can "see" Rawls "falling off a cliff." My intention 
is to replace "reflective equibrium" in the discussion 
of contract. The cardinal error of much political 
philosophy is to see many issues as a contest between 
convention and nature. Reflective equibrium for Rawls 
concerns convention; for me, it concerns what I will 
call nature, but actually obtains between what most
have described either as nature or convention. Recall
a contract is not a convention per se. (D. Lewis)

In any event, I think I have something different to say 
about the Rousseau/Locke divide with respect to 
reciprocity. If anyone knows of a literature detailing 
the difference please let me know. 



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