About The Social Contract

By The Social Contract
Volume 19, Number 4 (Summer 2009)
Issue theme: "Progressives for Immigration Reform"

The English philosopher John Locke, whose thinking helped inspire the American Revolution, said that society should be governed by an understood set of values he termed the social contract. Under the social contract, governments have obligations to their citizens, and citizens have responsibilities to society.

Most public issues are basically moral and ethical ones. What is the right thing to do? How do we decide what we think is right? When rights collide, which ones take precedence? The concept of the social contract helps us sort out the difficult issues confronting American society today and helps us find balance.

Each quarter THE SOCIAL CONTRACT journal examines trends, events, and ideas that have an impact on America's delicate social fabric. This journal addresses the following key topics:

  • Human Population issues . including absolute size, rate of growth, and distribution. Do cherished American ideals prosper or suffer through further population growth?

  • Immigration issues. In order to best facilitate meeting the highest goals of the American people, (1) how many immigrants should we admit? (2) who should he admitted? And (3) how can we humanely enforce the rules?

  • Language, assimilation, culture, and national unity considerations . What shared values are necessary to the maintenance of our social contract?

  • The balance of individual rights with civic responsibilities . Since the previous issues are so often framed in terms of rights, what are the balancing obligations?

  • Other nations' efforts at creating and guarding their own social contracts . What practical insights can be gained. from observing the failures and successes in nation-building by other societies?

THE SOCIAL CONTRACT explores these complex and interrelated issues with articles, essays, and book reviews that vary greatly in outlook and philosophy. We encourage a wide spectrum of opinion as we publish contributions from many vantage points. The opinions expressed by the writers are not necessarily those of the editors or publisher.