Social Contract Theory

by heatfeed

Life in society is only possible thanks to implicit and explicit covenants that we all sign. This is a frequent topic among analytical essay writers lately, and we want to give some summary of their thoughts, so we will discuss how this social contract can benefit or harm you.

Living in society has innumerable benefits; in fact, it is necessary for our survival and development as a species. In return, we are pressured to comply with a set of rules.

This exchange between people, which has a cost but also has a gain associated with it, is called a social contract, and it can be difficult to comply with at times.

Such acceptance depends, to a large extent, on the type of culture prevailing in the society of which we are a part, but also on certain personal characteristics. In any case, adhering to this social contract, although it is an option, can benefit us in many ways.

What is the social contract theory?

This concept is actually ancient and was used by philosophers such as Socrates to explain how this exchange works.

However, Thomas Hobbes expounded on and developed this theory, influencing the moral and political fields.

Broadly speaking, the social contract advocates that people establish an agreement among themselves to live together in society. This agreement is a fundamental reference for individual decision-making because it speaks of possibilities and imposes limits.

By accepting these norms, which can be explicit (such as laws) or implicit, we understand that others will do the same. And that, in this way, despite having to make some sacrifices or adjustments, we will be able to benefit from living together and living together.

The degree to which each person adheres to this contract depends in part on the cultural environment. Some societies are more collectivist in nature, advocating and rewarding coexistence, the search for the common good, and social harmony.

On the other hand, others have more individualistic approaches and encourage individuals to differentiate themselves, stand out and remain true to themselves.

Should we adhere to the social contract?

This individualistic model prevails in the West and makes people aware of their rights and use them. But it also, in some cases, leads to disconnection from the community and a breach of that contract: we want to enjoy the benefits without fulfilling our duties.

This is what happens, for example, with affective irresponsibility. The opposite extreme would lead us to dilute ourselves in the collective, to sacrifice ourselves excessively for the common good, and to forget about ourselves. Therefore, the key lies in the balance.

Beyond political theories, the social contract has implications for daily life, well-being, and relationships with others. For example, by accepting a job, paying taxes, or forming a partnership with another person, we agree to abide by these rules of mutual exchange.

Although at times, the obligations and demands may seem excessive, and we may be tempted to disassociate ourselves from this common formation, the truth is that accepting the social contract benefits us in several ways:

It brings us a sense of belonging by binding us together and making us part of a larger community. This connection can protect our physical and mental health.

We can access support and validation from others. Something that, because of our social nature, we all need to a greater or lesser extent.

It allows us to engage and form strong and meaningful bonds.

 It facilitates personal and societal development. If we all acted under our own rules and desires, harmony and progress would not be possible.

Know your personal agenda

It is a fact that, living in communion with other people, we are all subject to a series of rules, expectations, and limits. However, in order for this social contract to work in our favor, it is important to know our personal agenda.

That is, to know our desires and needs, as well as our limits and red lines in every area, especially in what involves others. In other words, it is about clarifying with ourselves what we expect, needs, and wish to obtain from a particular exchange.

For example, in the area of work, we want to know the type of job we are looking for, the hours and conditions we want, and the conditions that suit us.

And in a marriage, we need to know what kind of communication, expressions of affection, and degree of commitment we expect to get.

Only by having these ideas clear can we assess whether such a social contract is in our best interest, whether it suits us, and whether we are willing to be involved in it.

Similarly, it is essential that we know the other party’s agenda and what they expect and want from us. While in a job, these conditions may be clearer; in personal relationships, expectations are often implicit and not verbalized.

Thus, we may find ourselves in a situation where the other person demands something from us that we are not willing to deliver.

In short, before making the conscious decision to adhere to the social contract, we must know what it consists of, what rights it entitles us to, and what obligations it commits us to.

If we do not undertake this task of reflection and analysis rigorously, we may find ourselves in unsatisfactory experiences.

Thus, bearing in mind that any social benefit will require some sacrifice, we must decide to what degree we want to participate in this contract.