OK, here are the two concluding paragraphs to my section on social contracts.
Nevertheless, the idea of society
involving a kind of social contract between its members arguably remains a
helpful way of conceptualizing the tension between individual freedom and the
corporate benefits of a society as a whole.
Both biblically and historically, Christians believe that all human
beings are loved by God and are thus significant and valuable. And even from a secular standpoint, societies
that consider all individuals within them to be meaningful members of their
social contracts seem to prosper far more than those that repress or ignore
some group or portion. Historically,
these ignored groups have a tendency to revolt and exact their revenge on those
who ignore them, often subjugating the others in turn.
We remember that this same era of
European history also produced utilitarianism, the idea that governments should
strive to enact what brings about the greatest good for the greatest
number. In the light of social contract
theory, we can modify this proposal to say that the people of a nation would
ideally set down a relatively limited number of common rules with the goal of bringing
about the greatest good for the greatest number without unduly sacrificing the
freedom of other individuals within the contract. How these basic principles play out varies significantly
within those governments that practice this sort of social contract (e.g., will
it include universal health care?). But
some variation on this form of government has become the ideal standard
worldwide today, the “constitutional democracy.”