Wednesday, March 14, 2012
There seems to be a universal consensus among people that every human being is born free. No one has a right to subjugate a human being and make that person do things against their wishes. Pursuit of happiness is considered an inalienable right of every soul. Conflict arises when a person decides that their happiness lies in hurting others. That is where the ‘social contract’ comes in the picture.
Without being too concerned about the political theories related to the term ‘social contract’, we all understand that an unspoken agreement exists whenever we are in the company of other people. That unspoken agreement determines the code of conduct of every person in that meeting. For example, when you go and sit together with your friends no one expects you to suddenly get up and start beating the person sitting next to you, or that you would show up at the meeting totally naked.
The ‘social contract’ limits a person’s freedom, but anyone who does not wish to live alone in wilderness and instead wants to live in an organized society, has no recourse but to accept the social contract with the society (thus limiting the personal freedom).
Laws of a country are the most easily identifiable social contract one enters. The first and foremost important part of the social contract is that a person by being present in a place where a social contract exists is agreeing to the enacted social contract. Most social contracts cover the following broad categories.
1. The rights of an individual.
2. The rights related to one’s property.
3. The rights related to common property of the community (air, water, and land).
4. The procedure through which the social contract would be changed.
5. The procedure through which the social contract would be enforced and its breach would be punished.
Most modern societies are democratic in nature. The social contract is decided through mutual consensus. But in large-membership democracies it is easy to feel alienated: one to feel that things are happening without one’s consent, or in fact contrary to the wishes of hundreds of thousands of people like the alienated person. Thus there is a need to have social contracts specific to very small communities.