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Single Idea 19842

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract]

Full Idea

The act that institutes the government is not a contract but a law.

Gist of Idea

The government is instituted by a law, not by a contract

Source

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1743], III.18)

A Reaction

This is a law which implements the general will. There is nothing for citizens to make a contract with, since the sovereign is an abstraction, whereas a social contract is made between actual people. I like Rousseau's big idea.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.202