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Social contract facts for kids

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Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
The original cover of Thomas Hobbes's work Leviathan (1651), in which he discusses the concept of the social contract theory
Social contract rousseau page
Title page of Rouseau's book

A social contract or political contract is a perceived agreement among the people of a state about the rules that will define their government. These rules are usually called laws. Laws help to make sure people have rights and that their rights are protected. One kind of social contract is a constitution. A constitution says how decisions are made, and sets limits on the powers of leaders and other people who have authority.

In the Age of Enlightenment, philosophers John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote books about social contracts. They saw good government as coming from social contracts. Rousseau wrote a book called The Social Contract. Both the United States Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution use the theory of social contracts.

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