The concept of a social contract has been central to political thought since the seventeenth century. Contract theory has been used to justify political authority, to account for the origin of the state and to provide foundations for moral values and a just society.In The Social Contract from Hobbes to Rawls, leading scholars from Britain and America survey the history of contractarian thought and the major debates in political theory which surround the notion of social contract. The book examines the critical reception to the ideas of thinkers such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel and Marx, and includes the more contemporary ideas of Rawls and Gauthier.It also incorporates discussions of international relations theory and feminist responses to contractarianism. Challenging the notion that there is a single tradition that can be traced back beyond Hobbes to classical Greece, three distinct traditions are identified, alongside a series of anti-contractarian arguments which have played a role in shaping the debate to the present day. Together, the essays provide a comprehensive introduction to theories and critiques of the soical contract, within a broad political theoretical framework.