TED Conversations

william clegg


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What do you think of the Social Contract?

Do you understand what it is? When do we agree to it?
What's it good for? Should we change it? Can we change it?

The Social Contract is an implied co-operative relationship between a government and those governed and has been around as long as governments have existed. The people surrender their inherent freedom to do "as they darn well please" to the government in exchange for a safe and secure life.

The Constitution of a nation sets down the rights and responsibilities of its citizenry as well as of its institutions and its government. Citizenship then becomes a complicate agreement - the Social Contract - to adhere to the strictures of that Constitution and the government of the day. .

Yet from what i have learned over the years few are aware that a Social Contract even exists never mind what its intent or content is. Even fewer seem to respect it with the proliferation of aggressive drivers, tax 'avoiders', criminal enterprises and contempt for politicians - those who end up in government - as classic examples.

So, please share your thoughts and feelings on the whole Social Contract issue.


Closing Statement from william clegg

Amongst those who spoke for a social contract there was strong support for its continued existence and importance as a binding commitment between the state and the citizenry and integral to citizenship.

However, there seemed to be more voices that refute the existence and/or any importance to the premise of a social contract with blatant self interest - whether the speakers or the speaker's view of others - as the principle barrier to embracing the concept. .

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  • Nov 11 2013: the social contract is the contract stating "i live in THIS geographical location, i swear to abide by all rules imposed by the source of political power in this region". the concept is crucial for a developed society to be. i think what need be changed or paced behind amendments to the constitution is the values each law defends so that, should any other law stand closer that value we shall adopt it if it doesn't impose on the freedom of our citizens. an example of a value would be maintaining a certain ratio of voting power between individuals and corporations. or keeping government simple. building the core competence of the public etc
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      Nov 12 2013: I agree that assuming citizenship/membership is a clear indication of a social contract being undertaken and that the details of that undertaking - both the responsibilities and privileges -- need to be made a lot clearer to all involved.

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