The social contract is a concept that symbolizes the agreement between the individual and the collective. It protects the rights of the individual and the outlines the duties each individual must accept in order to gain the benefits of the collective. In a sense, this is a case of risk management on a very high level, wherein each individual who opts in gains a way to normalize risk through the law of large numbers. The concept of the social contract comes from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and is Rousseau’s idea on how to best form a community in lieu of the problems he identified in his discourse on inequality. One of the fundamental principles within the theory is that force does not create right, and humans are only obliged to submit to legitimate powers. Therefore, a human has no duty to submit to coercion.
Furthermore, it makes no sense for a human to voluntarily submit to slavery, therefore to accept a rule in which they accept a lesser amount of rights or higher amount of duties than others makes little sense. Thus, as individuals gather intro steadily larger tribes, unless their rights and duties are equal and identical, one group or multiple groups will be enslaving the other(s).
In exchange for each member of his tribe or group pledging to protect his rights, he also pledges to protect theirs, thus he gains protection and he gains duties. This forms the basis for most of the Western democracies that we have today. Many countries have such principles outlined within their constitutions, drawing limits for both individual rights and behaviors, along with the rights and behaviors of the collective.
However, as with most deals that are struck, this has tended to somewhat breach against the original terms over time, wherein the collective Leviathan of the state slowly take away the rights of their population, while seeking more rights for itself. This is merely a function of incentive theory, that leads the individuals chosen to represent the people to act in their own best short-term interest, at the expense of the population. Continue reading