What are the Meanings of Social Contract?

A contract is an agreement that can be established in writing or orally. Social, on the other hand, is that which is linked to society: a community of individuals with common interests.

The idea of social contract is used in the field of law, sociology and political science to refer to the agreement that takes place within a group of individuals. The concept supposes that all the members are in favor of what has been agreed upon, accepting to submit to the common norms and recognizing the existence of an authority that regulates order.

This theory of the social contract is used to explain the origin of the State. Human beings, with the intention of living together in society, implicitly establish a social contract that gives them certain rights, but in exchange requires them to set aside the freedom they would have if they lived in a state of nature, since they must submit to the laws. The clauses of the social contract, in this way, establish the rights and obligations of citizens, with the State being the institution that people agree to create to guarantee compliance with the pact in question.

Men, ultimately, delegate the use of force to the State, which has the power to legitimately exercise violence so that the social contract is respected. It is important to keep in mind that the terms of the social contract are not natural and, therefore, can be modified according to the will of the individuals.

The characteristics of the social contract can change for various reasons, and the most common of all is the very evolution of life in society, of ideas about justice and freedom, which generate an impact impossible to resist in the history of being. human. The milestones of our existence as a species mark a before and after that forever modifies this tacit and implicit contract, adding, removing or amending clauses so that they reflect the most recent image we have of ourselves.

The Greek philosophers were already debating about this topic, and that is why we have some documents that can help us study it in depth. For example, we have Plato’s work entitled The Republic, which brings together a series of ideas that he considered fundamental to his philosophy Of him. In short, it is a dialogue between Socrates and various people, including some of his disciples and relatives.

One of these people is Glaucon of Athens, the brother of Plato himself, who also turned to philosophy. According to him, justice is a pact that is born from selfish rational beings. On the other hand, the philosopher Epicurus of Samos reflects on politics and asserts that natural law does not exist, and that the concept of justice was born when the human being began to be aware of the common good.

According to Epicurus, our ancestors lived submerged in violence and had no knowledge of the common good, until the social contract emerged: from then on, they stopped harming each other and began to walk a common path, thanks to which our species has been and can evolve. His view of reality prior to this pact has been debated on many occasions.

One of the leading social contract theorists is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who actually wrote a work known as “The Social Contract” in the 18th century. For Rousseau, the human being voluntarily agrees to give up his natural state to submit to the norms of society, with the aim of obtaining the benefits that arise from social exchange. This voluntary consent is specified through the social contract.

Social Contract