In “A Society of Individuals,” I sketch a society that has no good of its own, no social end, but exists to enable each individual member better to pursue his own good, facilitating cooperation, and resolving the basic Interaction Problem (exemplified by the Prisoner’s Dilemma): that utility-maximization and Pareto-optimization are sometimes incompatible. The orthodox defend the rationality of maximization; I defend Pareto-optimization. I argue that if (per impossible) we could determine the features of our society by prior agreement we would agree to a Society of Individuals, and that we would agree ex ante to some social practice or institution is the best possible justification of it holding for us.
I then sketch some of the main features of the Society. In doing this I assume that members of the Society are not all adherents of contractarianism, but may hold any of a number of reasonable views, which the Society must seek to accommodate. I consider how several alleged rights, such as a right to resources, fare in the Society. And I conclude with the idea that contractarianism, in arguing that each adult member of society enjoys equal citizenship, must afford each the right to participate in choosing and dismissing governments. We may then think the emergence of a Society of Individuals is democracy’s fulfillment.