Social Contract Theory

The social contract theory is an Enlightenment era moral and political philosophy that posits that political authority and legitimacy derives from the people, as opposed to having a divine origin. The social contract theory challenged the European monarchs’ claim that their power and authority to govern had divine origin and, therefore, their accountability was to God. The proponents of the social contract theory insisted that the power and authority of the monarchs, and later of the state, derive from the people—and that the social contract is formed through free citizens entering into contract with one another to form a sovereign. Thus, the sovereign requires the people’s mandate to govern, and the sovereign in return is accountable to the people. As part of the social contract, ...

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