What is the social contract according to rousseau

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what is the social contract according to rousseau

The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.

These are the famous opening words of a treatise that has not ceased to stir vigorous debate since its first publication in 1762. Rejecting the view that anyone has a natural right to wield authority over others, Rousseau argues instead for a pact, or ‘social contract’, that should exist between all the citizens of a state and that should be the source of sovereign power. From this fundamental premise, he goes on to consider issues of liberty and law, freedom and justice, arriving at a view of society that has seemed to some a blueprint for totalitarianism, to others a declaration of democratic principles.
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POLITICAL THEORY – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau () was a French philosopher and writer who lead a life rich in contradiction. In The Social Contract () Rousseau argues that laws are binding only when they are supported by the general will of the people. His famous idea, 'man is born free, but.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Social Contract

Again Geneva was the model: not Geneva as it had become in when Rousseau returned there to recover his rights as a citizen, but Geneva as it had once been—i. In the early 19th century the German philosopher G. Hegel argued that the individual realizes his true being and…. His Social Contract was banned, and this lent glamour to proposals for a constitution to enable the individual to develop without offending against the principle of social equality. The crucial question concerned legitimate authority. Rousseau rejected both natural law and force as its basis. True liberty and equality can be established, according to Rousseau, only on the hypothesis of a people who….

This essay focuses on the apparent contradiction that Rousseau strongly criticizes the social contract tradition and at the same time defends a social contract theory as the only solution to save mankind from corruption and degeneration. Next, the essay explains why Rousseau blames society for having transformed and corrupted man, who was originally innocent and how he thus criticizes the social contract tradition. Finally, it briefly analyses his paradoxical solution to end the corruption of mankind through reeducation and the Social Contract emphasizing liberty through the obligation to follow laws and the general will. Thus, three stages described by Rousseau, are investigated: a the state of nature, where man is free and independent, b society, in which man is oppressed and dependent on others, and c the state under the Social Contract , in which, ironically, man becomes free through obligation; he is only independent through dependence on law. A social contract implies an agreement by the people on the rules and laws by which they are governed. The state of nature is the starting point for most social contract theories.

Rousseau begins The Social Contract with the most famous words he ever hold different opinions and wants according to their individual circumstances, the .
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An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

Socrates uses something quite like a social contract argument to explain to Crito why he must remain in prison and accept the death penalty. However, social contract theory is rightly associated with modern moral and political theory and is given its first full exposition and defense by Thomas Hobbes. After Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the best known proponents of this enormously influential theory, which has been one of the most dominant theories within moral and political theory throughout the history of the modern West. More recently, philosophers from different perspectives have offered new criticisms of social contract theory. In particular, feminists and race-conscious philosophers have argued that social contract theory is at least an incomplete picture of our moral and political lives, and may in fact camouflage some of the ways in which the contract is itself parasitical upon the subjugations of classes of persons.

Social contract , in political philosophy , an actual or hypothetical compact, or agreement, between the ruled and their rulers, defining the rights and duties of each. In primeval times, according to the theory, individuals were born into an anarchic state of nature , which was happy or unhappy according to the particular version. They then, by exercising natural reason , formed a society and a government by means of a contract among themselves. Although similar ideas can be traced to the Greek Sophists , social-contract theories had their greatest currency in the 17th and 18th centuries and are associated with such philosophers as the Englishmen Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and the Frenchman Jean-Jacques Rousseau. What distinguished these theories of political obligation from other doctrines of the period was their attempt to justify and delimit political authority on the grounds of individual self-interest and rational consent. By comparing the advantages of organized government with the disadvantages of the state of nature, they showed why and under what conditions government is useful and ought therefore to be accepted by all reasonable people as a voluntary obligation. These conclusions were then reduced to the form of a social contract, from which it was supposed that all the essential rights and duties of citizens could be logically deduced.


  1. Hamlet B. says:

    In moral and political philosophy , the social contract is a theory or model that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and usually concerns the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual.

  2. Joel B. says:

    Rousseau has two distinct social contract theories. The first is found in his essay, Discourse on the Origin and.

  3. Mahealthdeter says:

    Rousseau's political theory differs in important [The social contract] can be.

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