Rousseau- Social Contract Notes

Topics: Political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Social contract Pages: 3 (967 words) Published: March 11, 2013
Book 1
- Aims to discover why people gave up their natural liberty, which they possessed in the state of nature - How political authority became legitimate.
* "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." -> These chains result from the obligations that each person has to the community. * This sense of communal duty is founded upon convention -> Denies that a legitimate, political authority can be found in the state of nature.

- Oldest and only natural society is the family
* Children are only bound to their father as long they depend on him to take care of them -> Once a child has reached maturity, the members of the family return to their previous state of independence * Family is the prototype for all political societies: the father is the leader, and his children are the populace * Each person gives up his liberty to receive the protection of the family and thus promote his own utility

- Force cannot be the foundation for legitimate political authority * People obey those stronger than themselves out of necessity, not by choice -> the right of the strongest cannot create the sense of a duty that is necessary to establishing a true right * Since strength is a relative term, the effect of this right changes with the cause * As soon as one person makes himself the strongest, all previous claims established on the right of the strongest are nullified -> The primary flaw with this right is that it can be broken legitimately.

- Because no man has a natural authority over other men and because force cannot establish right, all legitimate authority must depend upon convention * Grotius argues that a state can be legitimate even if the people are slaves and the government is their master * Rousseau disputes his claim that the people can alienate their liberty and give themselves to a king * No one will give up his liberty without getting something in return * Popular argument made by political...
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