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Rousseau – A Free Community of Equals - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Rousseau: A Free Community of Equals

Joshua Cohen


The fundamental problem of Rousseau's political philosophy is to find a form of association that protects the person and goods of each person without demanding from them a morally unacceptable sacrifice of autonomy. His solution to this problem, specified by a social contract, is the society of the general will: a free community of equals, whose members share a commitment to the common good, and in which each gives the law to him or herself. But how could it be that we accept a common authority and yet remain fully autonomous; and is such a society genuinely possible for human beings? Rousseau ... More

Keywords: autonomy, authority, freedom, democracy, equality, social contract, human nature, Rousseau, liberalism, communitarianism

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2010 Print ISBN-13: 9780199581498
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199581498.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Joshua Cohen, author
Stanford University