This article assesses the quality of Integrative Social Contracts Theory (ISCT) as a social contract argument. For this purpose, it embarks on a comparative analysis of the use of the social contract model as a theory of political authority and as a theory of social justice. Building on this comparison, it then develops four criteria for any future contractarian theory of business ethics (CBE). To apply the social contract model properly to the domain of business ethics, it should be: (1) self-disciplined, i.e., not aspire results beyond what the contract model can realistically establish; (2) argumentative, i.e., it should seek to provide principles that are demonstrative results of the contractarian method; (3) task-directed, i.e., it should be clear what the social contract thought-experiment is intended to model; and (4) domain-specific, i.e., the contractarian choice situation should be tailored to the defining problems of business ethics.

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Keywords contractarianism, integrative social contracts theory, theories of business ethics
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Journal of Business Ethics
Wempe, B.H.E. (2008). Four Design Criteria for Any Future Contractarian Theory of Business Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 81(3), 697–714. doi:10.1007/s10551-007-9542-x