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What Does Social Contract Mean

Rousseau also analyses the statutes in terms of risk management[17], proposing the origins of the State as a form of mutual insurance. Feminist criticism of contractual approaches to our collective moral and political life continues to resonate through social and political philosophy. One of these criticisms, that of Carole Pateman, has influenced philosophers who write outside feminist traditions. However, the situation is not hopeless. Because people are reasonable, they can see their way out of such a state by recognizing the laws of nature that show them the means by which they can escape the state of nature and create a civil society. The first and most important law of nature requires that every human being be ready to seek peace when others are willing to do the same, while retaining the right to continue waging war when others are not seeking peace. Since they are reasonable and recognize the rationality of this fundamental commandment of reason, people can be expected to build a social contract that allows them to live a different life than they have in the state of nature. This contract consists of two separate contracts. First, they must agree to found society by collectively and mutually renouncing the rights they had against each other in the state of nature. Second, they must equip a person or gathering of persons with the power and authority to enforce the original contract. In other words, to ensure that they escape the state of nature, they must both agree to live together according to common laws and create a mechanism for the application of the social contract and the laws that compose it.

Since the sovereign is endowed with the authority and power to impose sanctions for breaches of contract that are worse than not being able to act as he pleases, people have good, if selfish, reasons to adapt to the artificiality of morality in general and justice in particular. Society becomes possible because, while in the state of nature there was no power capable of “overwhelming” them all, there is now an artificially and conventionally superior and more powerful person who can force men to cooperate. While living under the authority of a ruler can be difficult (Hobbes argues that because people`s passions can overwhelm their mental health, the ruler must have absolute authority for the contract to succeed), at least it`s better than living in the state of nature. And no matter how much we can resist it, how badly a sovereign manages the affairs of the state and regulates our own lives, we never have the right to oppose his power because it is the only thing that stands between us and what we most want to avoid, the state of nature. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau popularized the idea of the social contract in the 1700s, but it is equally applicable today. As members of a society, we accept the social contract – we cooperate with each other and obey the laws of society. We also give up certain freedoms because we want the protection that society can offer. The founders of the United States believed that the social contract made citizens powerful and gave them a collective voice in their government.

According to Locke, the state of nature, the natural state of humanity, is a state of perfect and complete freedom to live one`s life as it sees fit, free from the interference of others. However, this does not mean that this is a state of the license: you are not free to do whatever you want, or even anything you think is in your interest. The natural state, although it is a state in which there is no civil authority or government to punish people for violating laws, is not a state without morality. The state of nature is pre-political, but it is not pre-moral. It is believed that people in such a state are equal to each other and therefore also capable of discovering and being bound by the law of nature. The law of nature, which Locke believes is the basis of all morality and has been given to us by God, requires that we not harm others in terms of “life, health, liberty, or possessions” (para. 6). Because we all belong equally to God and because we cannot take away what is a legitimate being, we are forbidden to harm each other. Thus, the state of nature is a state of freedom in which people are free to pursue their own interests and plans, free from interference, and because of the natural law and the restrictions it imposes on people, it is relatively peaceful.

Virginia Held argued that “contemporary Western society is plagued by contractual thinking” (193). Contract models have come to inform a variety of relationships and interactions between people, from students and their teachers to authors and their readers. Given this, it would be difficult to overestimate the impact of social contract theory both in philosophy and on culture at large. The theory of social contracts will undoubtedly accompany us in the foreseeable future. But also the critique of such a theory, which will continue to force us to think and rethink the nature of ourselves and our relationships with each other. .