2.31 Social Contract Theory

Category: History of Philosophy

Keywords: hobbes, reid, rousseau, sovereign, powers, slave, master, authority, power, sovereignty, slavery, locke, obedience, obey, contract

Number of Articles: 176
Percentage of Total: 0.5%
Rank: 81st

Weighted Number of Articles: 194.1
Percentage of Total: 0.6%
Rank: 83rd

Mean Publication Year: 1966.4
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1963.9
Median Publication Year: 1968
Modal Publication Year: 1940

Topic with Most Overlap: Ordinary Language (0.0459)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Liberal Democracy (0.0215)
Topic with Least Overlap: Cognitive Science (0.00035)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Quantum Physics (0.00029)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the social contract theorytopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1876 when 2.2% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1905 when 0.1% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.31 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.78: Social contract theory.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Social Contract Theorytopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.5%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.7%. Ethics - 1.9%. Philosophical Review - 0.8%. Analysis - 0.3%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 1.4%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.4%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.5%. Philosophy of Science - 0.3%. Noûs - 0.4%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.2%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.2%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1943 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 2.2% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1905 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.1% of the articles.

Figure 2.79: Social contract theory articles in each journal.

Table 2.69: Characteristic articles of the social contract theory topic.


One of the first courses I ever taught was on the history of social contract theory. It was an easy enough class to teach, because there are so many versions of the Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau course around to use as a basis. And this is basically the Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau topic.

As you can see, Ethics used to include a lot more papers on history, but now they do very little. And Philosophy and Public Affairs has never done much history. So this becomes a rather small topic, relative to its historical importance. But since none of these articles ever troubled the citation indices enough to appear here, maybe the journal editors are just reacting correctly to the signals they are getting from the market.