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It is, for Hobbes, rational to form a free social contract with a sovereign, providing that the sovereign maintains the social order and delivers peace. This approach is developed in the liberal tradition. A state is perceived to have authority in so far as its rules and laws would be acceptable to all rational citizens, independendy of any particular interests they may wish to pursue. John Rawls’s (1972) thought experiment of an ‘original position’, in which potential citizens plan a society in ignorance of their own talents and interests, is the most sophisticated contemporary version of such social contract accounts.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Marx’s view of human beings as fundamentally beings that transform and create their own environment through labour, offers some awareness of embodiment. It is perhaps only in American pragmatism, at the end of the nineteenth century, that the importance of the embodied, practical experience of the world is given thorough and rigorous treatment in philosophy. It is here that the importance of taken-forgranted knowledge of the world, carried in the habitual skill and competence with which we use our bodies to manipulate and test the world, comes to the fore.

Second, the worker is alienated from the act of production, so that it ceases to have any intrinsic satisfaction. The ability to labour itself becomes no more than one more commodity, having value only in so far as it can be exchanged for any other. Third, the worker is alienated from other workers and from society as a whole. The worker is treated as an isolated individual, and is judged by his or her ability to fulfil a pre-existing function within the production process. Production therefore ceases to be a genuinely co-operative or communal process.

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