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Social Contract

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Encyclopedia of Sustainable Management


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Social contract is a political philosophy and theory of how governments justify the existence of the state and the exercise of government power. It is based on an imaginary state in which humans living in nature decide to organize themselves in a manner which would be recognized as the modern state – i.e., surrendering to a non-clan-based authority or to an authority imposed by violent conquest. Social contract theory further assumes that there are “natural rights,” rights which are an inherent part of human nature, which can be traded and surrendered. In its simplest form, a social contract is an agreement between people to surrender these natural rights by way of agreement to create a government that would improve their well-being by limiting violent conflict for access to and control over resources.

As a theory arising in the seventeenth century, the era of the Enlightenment, Europeans were setting the philosophical foundations for challenging...

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Correspondence to Benedict Sheehy .

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Sheehy, B., Damjanovic, I. (2023). Social Contract. In: Idowu, S.O., Schmidpeter, R., Capaldi, N., Zu, L., Del Baldo, M., Abreu, R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Sustainable Management. Springer, Cham.

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