Theory of the Social Contract by Hobbes Rousseau Smith and Kant

The following brief discussion will outline Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theory of the social contract and compare and contrast that with Thomas Hobbes’ concept of the social contract. Subsequently, the work of Adam Smith and Emmanuel Kant as it relates to social contract theory and, specifically, the relationship of their work on social contract theory to the work of Rousseau and Hobbes will be considered.
For Rousseau, the social contract is the keystone of civil society. "At once, in place of the individual personality of each contracting party, this act of association creates a corporate and collective body…receiving from that act its unity, its common identity, its life, and its will."(The Social Contract, 1.6)
Moreover, it is a corporate and collective body that grants equal rights to all, and in so doing, constrains every individual while satisfying each. The social contract is "the total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole community [italics added]….the alienation being without reserve, the union is as perfect as it can be, and no associate has anything more to demand…"(The Social Contract, 1.6)
Each individual has the right to make demands of another, but only in so much as he would be willing to respond to their demands: "As the citizens, by the social contract, are all equal, all can prescribe what all should do, but no one has a right to demand that another shall do what he does not do himself."(The Social Contract, 3.16) Thus, the social contract grants all citizens equal rights, equal restraints and equal responsibilities.
Authority is created by the free association of all within the social contract. Government is only a manifestation of the social contract. According to Rousseau, the social contract possesses independent existence. The social contract results from the free association of individuals. Having committed themselves to the social contract citizens agree to abide by the General Will. "The General Will is always upright, but the judgement that guides it is not always enlightened," Rousseau wrote.