Covenant and Contract: Politics, Ethics and Religion

In today's world two narrations are vital for understanding human bonds: the account of reciprocal recognition, the Covenant, as told in the book of A GenesisA , extended in the works of G.H. Mead, dialogical personalism and discourse ethics; and the Contract, as this is expounded in Hobbes' A LeviathanA , which continues to be seen in all kinds of hues in the liberal tradition. The Aristotelian account of the republic, of the political community prior to any other form of community would seem to be connected with these. Covenant, Republic and Contract would thus become the three formulae for understanding human bonds. Israel, Athens (or the Italian renaissance republics) and London would be their countries of origin. Modern republicanism nevertheless turns liberal and opts for the contract between independent beings as A fiatA of the political world. But the contract is not self-sufficient, since anyone who looks back to their roots will come to the narration of reciprocal recognition. The Covenant falls similarly short, as those who forget the parable of independence may well have a disregard for justice. In a dialogue with the most relevant philosophical currents of the age, the book proposes an articulation of politics, ethics and religion appropriate for our own time, starting from the contract between independent beings and from the reciprocal recognition of those who know themselves to be human. Adela Cortina is Professor for Ethics and Political Philosophy at the University of Valencia (Spain) and Director of the Foundation ETNOR (for Business Ethics and Ethics of the Organizations). She is author of many books, including A Etica minimaA (1986), A Etica aplicada y democracia radicalA (1993), A Etica de la empresaA (1994), A Ciudadanos del mundoA (1997), A Por una etica del consumoA (2002).