Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Social contract
(1,124 words)

1. Definition

The history of political thought uses the term social contract (German Staatsvertrag or Gesellsschaftsvertrag, French contrat social) for the contract that forms the basis for the emergence of the state. As a rule, the concept of a social contract is closely associated with the early modern model of natural law, according to which human beings live originally in the state of nature, which they abandon with the social contract in favor of the status civilis (c…

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Klippel, Diethelm, “Social contract”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 01 December 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_027992>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20180208

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